BY JIM WELLS
The Minnesota Legislature and the state’s court system are wrestling with one of the truly complicated riddles of all time.
Is Canterbury Park’s money really Canterbury Park’s money.
And should it be used for its intended purpose.
Meanwhile, the 1,133 employees of Canterbury and the thousands more who make their livings supplying grain, bailing straw, doctoring horses, breeding horses, foaling horses, selling horses and shoveling horse poop are making contingency plans if the powers that be can’t figure out the answer to a question most fourth graders know. The state’s horse industry will be out of work and can’t convince their mortgage holders to hang loose for a while.
Gee! Let’s see now. Canterbury Park escrows thousands of dollars in fees that pay expenses for the Minnesota Racing Commission and the stewards, the referees at the racetrack. But that money is no longer around. It has been swallowed up and digested by an animal known as the General Fund.
AND so the shutdown looms.
Be all of that as it may, Canterbury Park’s riders are optimistic…for the most part.
“Oh, I’ve already put me application in at Burger King,” said Paul Nolan.
“But what I can’t figure out is why nobody in this country gets riled up. Hey, Lori,” he yelled to fellow countrywoman Lori Keith. “If this happened in England we’d be rioting and protesting, wouldn’t we. Over here, you just sort of throw up your arms and say ‘OK.’ You don’t fight.”
That allegation drew a hasty comment from the jockey room security official. Bill Chestnut.
“We don’t fight?” he queried. “Hey, let me tell you about 1776.”
“I don’t think we’ll shut down,” said Anne Von Rosen. “If we do, I’ll just gallop in the morning. That will keep me going for a while.”
Most jocks figured that if a shutdown occurs it will be for a couple of days, a week at most. So, what if a shutdown occurs and it lasts indefinitely?
“Oh, all summer,” said Keith. “Well, then, I guess I’d have to break down and be forced to join my parents in the South of France. They have a restaurant there. I guess I could waitress.”
“Hey, I’ll go, too,” said Juan Rivera.
“We could use a bartender,” Keith responded.
And so it went throughout a dreary, lightly attended Saturday race card. Plans were being made and not being made. And everyone was going about his or her business, something they hope to be doing a week from now as well.
BELL SAYS ‘GOOD NIGHT’ EARLY
Derek Bell acknowledged his small visitor in the jockey’s lounge shortly before the sixth race Saturday.
“Hey, there, Hailey Bell,” he said, an instant before she jumped into his arms.
Hailey, 8, was there to say good night to her father, who headed to Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa., immediately after the seventh race.
“It’s a 3 ½ hour drive,” he said. “I’ll be back tonight but you’ll be in bed. It will be 3 in the morning.”
Eight-year-old Hailey will enter the third grade in the fall, but right now she is wherever dad is, primarily at Canterbury Park this summer with occasional visits to Iowa for stakes events.
The two-day Iowa Festival of Racing ended Saturday night and Bell had the mount on the Mike Biehler-trained Stachys in the Grade III $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap at a mile and 1/8.
Stachys won the $60,000 Jim Rasmussen Memorial by 1 ¾ lengths earlier this spring at Prairie Meadows under Bell.
“There’s a very good horse in this one tonight,” Bell said. Indeed. Awesome Gem, the 3-1 morning line favorite has won $2.5 million-plus over his career. “But it’s a mile and 1/8. I like my chances in this one.”
Awesome Gem won the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap in his last out, a length in front of Flat Out and Santa Anita handicap winner Game On Dude. Awesome Gem has Robby Albarado on his back once more for the Cornhusker, which drew an 11-horse field that included Steve Asmussen-trained It Happened Again with Mike Smith up. Stachys was the 9-2 second choice in the morning line.
Headache is owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker, who thinks he has this erratic runner figured out.