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It’s A Big Deal But It’s Not


He didn’t want to make a big deal out of it even though it was a bit of a big deal.
Dusty Shepherd, 19,who spent his summers as a youngster on the Canterbury Park backside, got the first Canterbury win of his riding career.

For the record, it came on the ninth day of the meet _ Sunday, May 30 _ in the second race, on his 31st mount, aboard a six-year-old gelding out of the Bryan Porter barn.

The horse?

Cry Me No River, a gelded son of Fine n’ Majestic from River of Tears.
“It took a long time,” said Shepherd, hastily adding…”but there’s no reason to get excited. I knew it would come sometime.”

In his heart of hearts, Shepherd was glad to have it done with just the same. As he mentioned to Jerry Simmons, the jockeys’ room boss, “I needed my GPS to find the winner’s circle here.”
Now he can get on with the business of getting No. 2, No. 3 and so forth.

“Maybe things will pick up from here,” he agreed. “Yeah, it was good to finally get one at home, my second home,” he said.

Shepherd guided the winner to an easy victory, eight lengths in front of Man o’ Wonder.
Shepherd, 19, has impressed several trainers with his work ethic. He galloped horses for Vic Hanson at the start of the meet, and the trainer liked his ambition.

“He’s got some talent and he’s smart. He’ll pick up the program the night before and study the horses on tape so he’s ready the next day.”

Shepherd does his homework before every card. “My dad taught my brother and me how to study the horses,” he explained.

His dad, Dave Shepherd, rode on and off at Canterbury from 1985 forward and currently is breaking babies for Joe Merrick in Oklahoma.

The younger Shepherd does his homework, the academic side to the sport, but is still acquiring street smarts on the track _ learning when to save ground, how to deal with cagey rivals etc.
There was one rider in particular he had to learn about.

“This one guy back East, Tony Black,” Shepherd said. “If he got in front, you couldn’t get your horse past him.”

He’d try to block you, move in front of you, eh!

“Yeah, or move you,” Dusty added.


Amber Blair was back in the winner’s circle Sunday afternoon after an impressive outing from her three-year-old filly A Sweet Gamble.

Ridden by Thomas Wellington, the Sweet First Down filly had a field of nine rivals for lunch, easily winning the 350-yard dash in :17.73.

“She’s a nice filly and still had plenty left,” Wellington said. “She was just out there galloping.”
A Sweet Gamble finished a solid 1 ½ lengths in front of Check Out Kaelie from the Ed Hardy barn. It was another neck to the Carl Clevenger gelding Wheely Fast.

Blair, owner and trainer of the winner, was pleased to hear Wellington’s assessment.
“That’s good to hear that she had something left,” said Blair, “because in about three weeks she has to go 400 yards.”

Blair’s reference was to the Canterbury Derby on June 26.

As Blair gathered up the winner’s trophy, someone asked if she had a place for it.

“I’ll make room for it,” she said with a grin.