BY JIM WELLS
Horse racing produces its share of rags to riches stories, yarns about champion horses nearly dying as weanlings and horses counted out long before they developed.See Seabiscuit and John Henry for examples.Sometimes, the tales are not about honored champions but simply colorful or out of the ordinary.
See Sunday’s sixth race at Canterbury Park for an example. The winner of that race was a brown five-year-old gelding named Ty Two, a son of Unusual Heat (Nureyev) from the Raise a Champion mare Raise a Rebelette. How this horse got away from the gate as an 11-1 underdog will remain one of the mysteries of the season. He has done nothing but win or come close all year, with four wins and three seconds from 10 starts in 2008.Throw in the fact that he had Canterbury’s defending riding champ, Derek Bell, on his back, and the mystery becomes a real puzzler.
Bell put Ty Two on the rail and he ran down the fast tiring frontrunner Ruba Dub Dub, the post-time favorite, in the.stretch run of the 5 ½-furlong sprint for $5,000 claimers.The winner is owned by HBPA president Tom Metzen, who bought him from trainer Doug Oliver in Phoenix. And the sale came about in a most unusual way. You’ve heard of the bus not leaving the curb until someone gets off. Well, in this case, the van wasn’t leaving Phoenix until someone got on.
“Billy Parker was hauling a load to Grand Island, Neb.,” Metzen recalled. “Chad Anderson, Bobbie Grissom and Dave Van Winkle were supposed to have two horses each on the van. Anderson only had one, and Parker said he wasn’t leaving with an empty stall.”
Metzen bought the horse and Ty Two headed to Fonner Park and promptly proved his mettle. He was a winner three times and a runner-up three other times in six starts, running for the final time in Nebraska on May 2.
Sunday, he made his first start in Minnesota and, once again, found the winner’s circle.”That trip to Fonner did him good,” said Oliver. “He wasn’t doing anything in Phoenix and his owner wanted to sell him. They put him on the rail, and on those tight turns at Fonner he just zipped around that track. Now he knows how to win.”
The horse that his previous owner didn’t want was sold for $1,000. “He got him cheap,” said Oliver.
This much is certain about Ty Two: He will not get away at 11-1 next time..
A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION FOR SEVERAL REASONS
“Happy Birthday, Todd,” someone yelled to trainer Todd Hoffrogge before the fourth race.
Hoffrogge turned 40 on Sunday.
Now throw in the fact that Kay Owens of Eagan was celebrating her birthday (the race was sponsored in her name: “The Kay’s Birthday Sprint”) and picking a winner on pure whim was a simple matter.
Paul Nolan brought in the winner, Ribot’s Rift, for Sand and Cee Stables of New Prague. And he was trained by? Hoffrogge, of course.
“It’s not about me, though, ” the trainer said. “It’s about the owners and the sponsors.””It’s a 60th birthday and retirement celebration,” said Mike Owens, Kay’s husband, who was joined by numerous family and friends. Kay Owens worked for the American Red Cross for 30-plus years and actually celebrated her birthday last week.
Her brother, Dave Hansen, is vice president of finance at Canterbury Park.