By Noah Joseph
One of the surprises of this 2019 season is the return of Canterbury Hall of Famer and champion jockey Derek Bell. A long-time Canterbury favorite, Bell has returned to Canterbury for the first time since 2014, and to overall riding since 2016. From his debut at Canterbury in 1997, Bell has won six riding titles and is the leading rider in the history of Canterbury Park or Downs in number of wins with 1,061. He’s been a part of many great moments in track history, including one that put his name in the record books. That moment, or series of moments, occurred June 14th, 2002, as Derek won six races on the card, the first rider to do so in the history of the Shakopee racetrack.
The first win of the night came in the second race aboard Call Me Elaine for owner and trainer Kenneth Wirth. Bell then took the next race as he guided the favorite Zen’s Silverbuck home to victory for owner and trainer Cynthia Crandall. But Derek wasn’t done yet, he won again on K.C Jazz for trainer Michelle Sinn. The wins kept on coming, as once again Bell scored, this time on To Wit for trainer Pat Cuccurullo and owner Lothenbach Stables. It was an exact repeat for owner, trainer, and jockey, as Slewp’a Doop gave Bell his fifth win in as many consecutive races. The streak came to a halt as Bell didn’t win the next two races, but it wouldn’t be the last win of the night as he guided The Hot Corner, a quarter horse for Jerry Livingston. Paul Allen was so impressed that he said that Derek could guide a pinto to win at Indy.
Later that evening Bell looked back on the accomplishment. “When I got here this morning I had no idea what I was on,” said the jock who at that time had won two riding titles. “Right before the races I knew I had two or three pretty good shots.”
To this day, no jockey has broken Derek’s record for most wins on a single card. But this might be the year it happens, and just maybe, it could be broken by the man who set it. Welcome back, Derek!
The list of local horses Derek rode throughout his career is impressive. Here is a sample:
J. P. Jet
Phone the Diva
Shot of Gold