by JIM WELLS
Donations are coming from around the nation in response to the benefit planned on July 19 for the Canterbury Park jockeys injured 12 days ago in the worst spill in track history.
A spaghetti dinner is planned in conjunction with a silent auction at the Shakopee American Legion from 4 to 7:30 p.m. next Monday to raise funds for the three riders _ Scott Stevens, Paul Nolan and Don Proctor _ who continue to recover from injuries suffered in the four-horse accident.
Jockey agent Richard Grunder, who is planning the benefit, said on Wednesday that he expects ticket sales to surpass 500. “I don’t think we’ll have any problem with that number at all,” he said.
In addition, Grunder is accepting the donation of items for sale at the silent auction.
“We’ve got some great items to offer in the auction,” he said. “We plan to run that from the time we open until the cutoff, at 7 p.m.”
Among the expected items is a donation from Wally (McNeil) the Beerman. “I don’t know everything for sure,” said Grunder, “but he plans to help us out with some things from the (Minnesota) Wild, Twins and Timberwolves.”
In addition, a donation from the Fair Grounds is forthcoming. Eric Halstrom, the former vice president of racing at Canterbury Park and now vice president and general manager of racing at the New Orleans track, has assisted with procuring items for the auction.
The piece de resistance of that donation is a three-night stay at the Monteleone Hotel in the French Quarter which includes a $200 gift certificate for a nearby restaurant.
Another item for the auction is an American Inn gift certificate, courtesy of John Voss; also, four rounds of golf at Stonebrooke Golf Club in Shakopee as well as a Tori Hunter autographed bat, courtesy of Emerald Bay Stable.
Also, two Fred Stone prints from the artist himself. And a box for eight at the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby, including buffet tickets.
Grunder said he expects more donations within the next couple of days.
A WET TRIP AND A WET RETURN
Blan Wilson stood at the door on the southeast end of the Dave Wolochuk barn Wednesday morning and watched the rain come down, at first gently and then torrentially. No use trying to reach the racing office at the point. Might as well sit it out.
“I usually watch these puddles here,” he said, pointing to a small pool outside the door. “If there’s a lot of action on that water, no sense heading out.”
Just then the gentle rain turned rain-forest fierce, accompanied by a loud rumble from above and then a pitch-fork strike of yellow electricity beyond the line of barns. It reminded Wilson of some of the storms he’s seen at tracks around the country and of a recent trip to Iowa.
The wind at that point wound its way through the barn, blowing wraps hung out to dry like wind-socks and upsetting numerous other items near the barn-door and even the interior stalls.
“The alarms went off earlier today in the barn,” Wilson said. “Have no idea what caused it.”
It might have been the wind, stirring something up that the alarm found disturbing. “The dorms have their own alarms so it couldn’t have been from up there,” he said.
Wilson got on nine horses Wednesday morning before the thunderburst hit. Two days earlier after he had finishing galloping for the morning, he set out for Prairie Meadows with three horses and wound up with two winners.
“It rained the whole way down there,” he said. “Couldn’t even see the road at times.”
The horses from the Wolochuk barn were able to find the wire nonetheless.
Outlaw Annie won at a mile and 70 over a sloppy track on Monday for a purse of $14,782. Illuminigee won in the final stride by 3/4 length on Tuesday in an allowance/optional claiming race for an $18,000 purse.
There was another winner with a Shakopee connection on Monday at Prairie Meadows, too. Flying Leatherneck, ridden by Chris Fackler, and trained/owned by Larry Donlin won at six furlongs.
Despite the purse attraction at Prairie Meadows, Wilson said it doesn’t have the ambiance or appeal or Canterbury. “They don’t have so much as a pool table to play on down there,” he said.
Like Canterbury, the place did get rain, however.
UPCOMING YEARLING SALE
The Minnesota Thoroughbred Assn. has tacked up some reminders on the backside and elsewhere reminding horsemen that the yearling sale isn’t upcoming.
The 2010 yearling sale is scheduled the first week of August at Canterbury. The parade of yearlings is scheduled on Aug. 6 at 4:30 p.m. The sale will take place on Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m., following the races.
An enticement? The notice includes mention that last year’s sale topper won at first asking.