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It’s Almost Canada…

Ike Green 5-24-13Ike Green had every intention of racing in Canada this summer, and with very good reason. “I’m engaged to a Canadian girl there, and she wanted me at Assiniboia Downs,” he explained.

So, there he was on a May day at the Canadian border and being denied entry to our neighbor to the North.

Seems that a former driving offense treated more leniently in the U.S. is considered a felony up north.

As Green recalls now the panic alarm went off. He had driven from Sunland Park in New Mexico, and now he was stopped cold at the Canadian border with horses in tow.

“And they had been in the trailer nearly 20 hours,” he said. He turned around, stopped in Fargo and unloaded.

He began considering his options during the layover and put in a call to Canterbury Park. He was not prepared to go any farther south at that point.

“Come on down,” stall superintendent Mark Stancato told him.

So Green has spent the first summer of his career in Shakopee, pretty much pleased with what he’s seen. “I like it here. I’m going to try to come back,” he said.

Green is a native of Cortez, Colo., and worked as a young man for his grandfather, a horse trainer who raced primarily at Arapahoe Park and Centennial Race Track.

Green’s father always had a few horses on the side and still dabbles with one or two from time to time but was employed in the oil fields and in construction for his livelihoods.

Green arrived in Shakopee for the first time certain he would be a stranger, wouldn’t know a soul. Imagine his surprise. “The trainers in my barn, I know them all,” he said.

Phil Hartmann, Larry Sharp, Kasey Willis and Carl Clevenger.

It is frequently a small world in the racing industry.

Green, 34, got his training license at age 18 but “I probably had a few before that,” he said. He raced horses a few summers at Lone Star Park, has run a few times at Remington Park, Oaklawn Park and throughout Louisiana, but has stabled primarily in New Mexico. He counts the $50,000 Adios Amigos Stakes at Sunland Park among his career wins. The winning horse was a bargain.

“I bought him in a package deal,” Green recalled. “Got two horses in that purchase for $2,500.

Green has six brothers and sisters but only he and his brother, Greg, 32, followed their grandfather into racing. Greg Green trains a stable of 50 in New Mexico.

Their father still dabbles in the business. “He had one horse last summer but it bowed and he had to retire him,” Green said. “But he’ll get the itch sooner or later and get another one or two.”

Green arrived at Canterbury Park with four horses and is handling eight as the meet winds down. He has won three of his 21 starts.

“I’d certainly like to win a few more,” he said, “but you always want that. With the money up here, I’ve made a little. I have three or four more to run this month. Hopefully, they’ll all win.”

The Flying Whizzer was not on that wish list in Thursday night’s opening race on the card, running out of the money.

Green plans to finish the meet at Canterbury or nearly so. “I’m going to Zia Park afterwards. I might have to leave a week early. But I’m glad I’m here.”

He has found Canterbury a good place to be after getting turned away by our Canadian neighbors. “I had a past DUI on my record and that’s not a good thing in Canada,” he explained.

So maybe there is wisdom in the axiom that when one door closes, another one opens.

Canada wouldn’t let him in the country, so his fiancée, Aidan Mooney, is coming to the U.S.

Green hasn’t kept a stable at Turf Paradise in Phoenix but has shipped horses there for races over the years.

“I have relatives there, and it’s an easy spot for her relatives, too,” Green explained.

Clearly, not everyone in Canada closed the door on him.

The wedding is planned for Oct. 12 in Phoenix.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.