Star of the North will be favored in Wednesday’s Minnesota Oaks. Thealligatorhunter will be favored in the Minnesota Derby. Both are deserving of the wagering support and both are 3 to 5 on the morning line. Each won their July 14 six furlong prep race for Minnesota-bred 3-year-olds. They both did it with ease. Star of the North went gate to wire in the $50,000 Frances Genter Stakes as the odds-on choice, winning by 3 1/4 lengths. Thealligatorhunter took control of the Victor S. Myers Stakes mid-race and cruised home by four lengths. Ry Eikleberry rode Star of the North for trainer Francisco Bravo. Alonso Quinonez rode Thealligatorhunter for Tim Padilla.
Both made their next start in a one mile allowance, stretching out in distance for the first time. Star of the North again led her field gate to wire, winning easily as the unchallenged 1 to 9 favorite. Thealligatorhunter faced a bit tougher task. He was bumped at the start before dueling throughout with the older Minnesota Miracle. At the sixteenth pole Thealligatorhunter shifted out, making contact. He held a 3/4 length edge at the finish line but was disqualified to second by the stewards for interference. A jockey agent was overheard declaring that the talented 3-year-old “still thinks he won.”
That may very well be the case. What is known is that Thealligatorhunter has crossed the wire in front in all four local starts in 2021, was credited with three victories, has a five for nine career record, and will be very difficult to beat in the $100,000 Minnesota Derby where he faces five foes, three which he has beaten already and the two others are maidens including Sota King.
There will be talk about Sota King, the first Minnesota bred by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. His ballyhooed debut July 18 produced a closing fifth-place finish after a slow start in a 6 1/2 furlong maiden race. Trainer Tony Rengstorf adds blinkers in the one mile 70 yard Derby and switches to rider Israel Hernandez. The bullet workout Aug. 11 will encourage the supporters.
As for Star of the North, she is three for three this summer at Canterbury and seven for eight
lifetime with earnings of $261,100. The 2020 Northern Lights Debutante winner has been on the lead in all of those starts, in many cases unchallenged. Star of the North can provide her Hall of Fame trainer with his first Oaks win since 1995. She will face six others, five of which have only watched her tail in previous races and one zero for two maiden.
Hell of the North is second choice on the line at 7 to 2. She faced Star of the North in the Debutante and recently in the allowance route and both times sat off the pace. If that is the strategy again Wednesday, they all will be chasing the chalk once again.
Owner Pete Mattson of Prior Lake, also co-owner of Thealligatorhunter, has a pair entered in the Oaks. Owens Pleasure is a closer that has made up ground against the favorite but never has been a threat to beat her. She will have an additional 70 yards to make up the 3 3/4 length margin she lost by on July 14. Molly’s Angel, favored in last year’s Debutante, should have a pace pressing trip and is switching from turf to dirt.
The Minnesota Derby, race six, and Oaks, race seven, anchor Made In Minnesota Night with co-features the $50,000 Wally’s Choice Stakes and the $50,000 Glitter Star Stakes, both restricted to horses bred in the state. Racing begins at 5:00 p.m.