12-race program handles Festival record $2,446,940
Canterbury Park’s Saturday 12-race Minnesota Festival of Champions program was a celebration of Minnesota-bred racehorses and their owners and breeders. Horses owned by Robert Lothenbach of Wayzata, Minn. won four of the six $100,000 thoroughbred races and also won a $36,000 allowance. Joel Berndt trained all Lothenbach winners.
The first stakes victory came in the Princess Elaine with Midnight Current who has won five consecutive races this season at Canterbury. She paid $3.20 as the favorite with leading rider Harry Hernandez aboard.
Lothenbach next won the Northern Lights Futurity with favorite It’s Bobs Business. The 2-year-old (pictured above) missed the break but was able to navigate through traffic, circling the field and drawing off to win by 7 1/4 lengths under Constantino Roman. He paid $2.80.
Love the Nest won the Crocrock Sprint for Lothenbach and Berndt with rider Ry Eikleberry. The Minnesota Derby winner, facing older horses for the first time, raced behind a pace battle between
The Alligatorhunter and Doctor Oscar before passing both to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Love the Nest returned $7.00.
Eikleberry was aboard the fourth Lothenbach winner as well. Charlie’s Penny prevailed in the Bella Notte Distaff Sprint by 5 1/4 lengths over Ready to Runaway and defending champion Clickbait, returning $3.80. Eikleberry has now won 11 Festival thoroughbred stakes in his career, tying Scott Stevens for the third most in the 29-year history of the event. Eikleberry also has five additional Festival wins aboard quarter horses.
The allowance win came earlier on the card when Loring Park won as the favorite with Eikleberry riding. Lothenbach was also the breeder of Loring Park, Midnight Current, It’s Bobs Business and Charlie’s Penny.
Lover Girl, trained by Matt Williams and ridden by Karlo Lopez, secured the Northern Lights Debutante as a longshot. The two-year-old filly paid $28.80, defeating odds-on favorite Thunders Rocknroll by two lengths. The winning filly was bred and is owned by Gary and Brenda Bergsrud
Stitzy won the Blair’s Cove Minnesota Turf Championship with jockey Ezequiel Lara aboard. The gate-to-wire winner is trained by Jose Silva, Jr. and owned by 5th Street Stables. He paid $17.80.
Trainer Jason Olmstead won both $70,000 stakes for state-bred quarter horses. Beep Beep Rev Rev won the Minnesota Quarter Horse Futurity. The two-year-old filly is owned and was bred by Paul Luedemann’s Summer Run, Inc. She paid $3.00.
Olmstead, Canterbury’s leading quarter horse trainer, closed out the evening with Relentless Courage winning the Minnesota Quarter Horse Derby and returning $8.40. Jesus Salazar was the jockey and the owners are Luedemann and Tom Maher.
Wagering reached a Minnesota Festival of Champions high $2,446,940 bet, the fourth largest handle total of the season. The previous Festival handle record was the 2020 total of $2,048,915.