BY JIM WELLS
Saturday afternoon’s steamy, oppressive weather conditions were just the ticket for a filly named Polar Plunge and a colt named Victory Sled.
Clearly the tropical weather conditions were no hindrance for these horses with arctic-like appellations.
Polar Plunge is clearly a filly to keep an eye on. Her commanding six-length victory in the $35,000 Frances Genter Stakes for 3-year-old state-bred fillies established her as a horse to reckon with.
Victory Sled, on the other hand, got everything to go right for a 1 ¼ length victory over Samendra in the $35,000 Victor S. Myers Stakes.
You could pick up comments among horsemen and onlookers alike after the Genter Stakes.
“She’s the real deal.” “That’s a horse.”
“She’s a filly of the future,” said winning trainer Gary Scherer.
Owner Cam Casby was filled with uncertainty before the race. “We didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “We didn’t know if she was all the way back.”
Polar Plunge, the 3-5 favorite Sunday, underwent ankle surgery in January. She won an allowance outing easily on June 19, but…
“That one didn’t count,” Casby said.
A daughter by Successful Appeal from Shakopee, Polar Plunge’s chief competition was Esprit de Bleu. Those two fillies were born a week or two apart at Bleu Valley Farm in May Township.
The dams to the two fillies raced against one another at one time, as well.
Shakopee won the Frances Genter, just ahead of Bleu’s Apparition in 2004. The two met three times in all. Bleu finished ahead of Shakopee in the Minnesota Oaks; it was the other way around in the Minnesota Distaff Sprint.
Jeff Hilger, who owns Esprit de Bleu with his wife, Deb., joined the winner’s circle continent after the race. “I told you a horse foaled at Bleu Valley Farm would win this race,” he cracked.
Casby was gleeful with Saturday’s result after her horse took command in the stretch to finish six lengths in front of Esprit de Bleu, who had ¾ length on Bert’slittlesister.
“We’ve been waiting for a horse like this a long time,” she said.
“She’s really, really nice,” said winning rider Dustin Dugas. “She’s doing everything right so far. She’s getting better and better.”
And she’s three-for-three.
The winning time was 1:01 and 4/5.
The boys were on stage in the Victor S. Myers Stakes. Samendra was the 4-5 favorite, Black Tie Benny was second choice at 2-1 and Desert Alley was next at 5-1. But it was Victory Sled at 15-1 who took a trip to the winner’s circle, rallying with a stretch drive to finish 1 ¼ lengths in front of Samendra and another half length in front of Desert Alley.
Winning trainer Bruce Riecken had a succinct appraisal of the race after his horse broke from the No. 1 hole and took the rail to the winner’s circle.
“Good Post. Good ride. Saved ground. Fast fractions. Smart jockey,” Riecken said.
“Good horse,” added winning rider Derek Bell.
BIG WEEKEND FOR ALMAR FARMS
Al and Marlys Goebel were frequent visitors to Canterbury in years past, running their horses in the colors of Almar Farm and producing state-bred champions many times over the years.
The Gobels advancing years prevent them from attending the races these days, but their horses still leave an impression.
Friday night, For Instance, ridden by Anne Von Rosen, was a winner. The horse is owned and bred by the Goebels.
The Gobels’ daughter, Claudia, heads Almar Partners. Their horse, Speakfromyourheart, was also a winner on Friday.
“I brought the win pictures over to show my dad at 8:15 this morning,” Claudia said. “He smiled when he saw them, especially a winner he bred.”
Claudia will have more to show her parents after Saturday’s card. Mesa Mirage, another Almar Farms owned and bred horse, won the fourth race.
There could be more today. Almar Partners’ First Captain is in the Blair’s Cove Stakes.
“We’re in real tough in that one,” Claudia said.