Some of the trailers are lined up like sentries on the backside, ready to receive their cargo when the meet officially closes on Monday. They have been swept out and lined with fresh straw in anticipation of the awaiting trip, to farms where their cargo will be turned out or to other racetracks where they will be assigned new stalls.
The men and women who have ridden those horses this summer in Shakopee are making plans as well, preparing to take short breaks before engaging in a new meet at another racetrack, in Chicago, Oklahoma or in Phoenix.
Many of the riders who spend their winters riding at Turf Paradise in Phoenix shift their tack to Shakopee in the spring because the two meets dovetail perfectly.
Scott Stevens, for one, is heading home to Phoenix for the first time in the last four years prepared to ride when Turf Paradise begins its meet the first week of October. This is the first Canterbury meet in four years Stevens has been able to complete, and it was a good meet at that. Through Friday’s card he has ridden 27 winners.
Now it’s on to Phoenix.
“I’m anxious for that,” he said. “It’s been a while.” Stevens has been either injured, undergoing therapy or awaiting surgery and unable to ride when the Phoenix meet began for the last three autumns.
But first there is a scheduled trip. “I’m going for a week to Hawaii,” he said.
Sounds great, but it is hard to match the journey Lori Keith plans to take before dusting off her tack for the Phoenix meet. She’s planning on a respite in the South of France where her parents have a restaurant. “For some good food, good wine and fine company,” she said.
And then there is the sad tale of Canterbury Park’s 2012 riding champion, Tanner Riggs, who struggles to maintain his riding weight and is best off staying busy rather than taking a break.
“I think I’ll catch the last three weeks of Arlington and then go to Hawthorne,” he said.
Not much of a vacation, he was told.
“Can’t really take one,” he responded.
Patricia Trimble heads out on Wednesday with her husband, Rusty Shaw, who has spent the summer on injured reserve and is still awaiting surgery. Her five-year-old daughter, Taylor Page, is beginning kindergarten, at a school not far from Turf Paradise.
Nik Goodwin, the 2012 quarter horse riding champion, is headed to Ocala, Fla., where he intends to spend the next few months breaking babies. But first he and his wife will take a trip to Yellowstone National Park, while the boys, four-year-old Layne and one-year-old Hunter, spend some time with grandpa and grandma in Bemidji. “We’re going to fly them up to spend time with my parents,” Goodwin said.
Bobby Walker, Jr. will head home to West Monroe, La. His son Aaron, 13, will begin the eighth grade in either West Monroe or Bossier City. The uncertainty has to do with Walker’s daughter Brittany, a radiology technician, who has agreed to help out if Aaron goes to school in Bossier City where she lives.
Wilson Dieguez will head home to Phoenix, too, for his 12th season at Turf Paradise. He intends to return to Shakopee for a second time next spring. “I’ll be back, for sure, God willing,” he said.
Derek Bell will take a five-day trip to Canada to angle for walleyes but intends to see if he’ll be allowed to ride at Arlington Park, now that the “flag” on his name has been eliminated.
Carlos Castro is bound for Charles Town for three or four weeks and later will give Hawthore a shot.
He’s a Phoenix native, who’ll take some time off and “gain some weight,” he said facetiously.
Dean Butler, who is likely to finish second this season in the standings after winning three consecutive titles at Canterbury, hasn’t taken any time off since he started in 1992. “If I get days or something,” he said. “Or sick.”
So, it’s off to Remington Park and then home to Tampa Bay Downs for the winter.
About that time, Stevens look up at a television in the jockeys’ lounge with the horses for the fourth race Thursday night parading in front of the grandstand.”Hey, that’s the horse that broke my shoulder last summer,” he said, referring to Proud Kylean, who had Geovanni Franco on her back.
Another reminder for Stevens that it’s been a good summer indeed.
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.
Photo Credit: Coady Photography