By Noah Joseph
During the summer months, Canterbury Park is known for its fun and exciting horse racing. But this week, racing takes a backseat for something else. There will be no racing at Canterbury until July 27 due to the three-day Twin Cities Summer Jam concert festival held in the racetrack infield. This event will feature many popular names in music. But while racing takes a brief hiatus, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be discussed. And since there’s a music festival happening, why not take a look at some of the best musical named horses to have competed at Canterbury.
One of these horses is currently in the Canterbury Park stables. That horse is Jazzy Times. The son of Discreetly Mine out of a mare named Jazzy Melissa, Jazzy Times started his career under the ownership of Zayat Stables and trainer Bob Baffert, the duo most famous for campaigning Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Jazzy Times looked like a surefire star as a three-year-old, finishing off the board only once in 2016, including a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. But soon the luster began to fade, and eventually, Jazzy Times became a claimer, bouncing from one owner and trainer to the next. But during that time, he showed flashes of his former self, including in 2018 when he won the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint Stakes at Ellis Park. In fact, he even ran in some graded stakes races, but just couldn’t quite get over the hump.
His luck changed in January of 2021, when he arrived in the barn of trainer David Van Winkle. After a good winter in Florida, Jazzy Times made his Canterbury debut that May in the Honor the Hero Stakes, in which he finished a solid second. He used that race as a prep for the Dark Star Turf Sprint. Despite his recent outing, the wagering crowd at Canterbury weren’t sold on Jazzy Times, and sent him off at odds of 10-1. Jazzy Times, pictured above, broke well and laid just off the lead, then swung wide into the stretch and maintained a strong rally to catch the favored leaders Wellabled and High Crime to win by a head under Chad Lindsay. It was a great victory for Jazzy Times, who was so often the bridesmaid in his career, and now it was his time to shine. He finished 11th in his attempt to win the Dark Star Turf Sprint again this year, however he finished fourth in a race here just a couple weeks ago. But for that one day last year, Jazzy Times was smooth jazz.
Also in that Dark Start Turf Sprint last year was the Minnesota-bred Mister Banjoman. While he didn’t fire that day, he had his time as a star on the Canterbury Park stage. Mister Banjoman began his career as a two-year-old in 2018 with a victory in his first by 6 ½ lengths and had the makings of something special. He finished second in the Northern Lights Futurity, then followed that performance with a gutsy win in the Shakopee Juvenile in his first start against open company. While his juvenile season was impressive, his sophomore season was even better. Mister Banjoman won three races at Canterbury in 2019, including the two biggest races for Minnesota-bred three-year-olds, the Victor S. Myers Stakes and the Minnesota Derby. These triumphs helped Mister Banjoman win the award of Champion Three-Year-Old Male at Canterbury that season for his owner Novogratz Racing Stables and trainer Mac Robertson. Since that time, Mister Banjoman has not won a race, but during his heyday, Mister Banjoman strung together some great moments in Canterbury history.
While the final years of Canterbury Downs could be considered a sad song, one horse at least tried to drum up a few happy times. That horse was Prince Of Drummers. A Minnesota-bred son of
Prince Forli out of a mare named Sure Drummer, Prince of Drummers won his debut as a two-year-old in 1991 as the favorite. Later that season, he won the MTA Stallion Auction Laddie Stakes. With the potential for even greater things to come, Prince of Dummers was entered in the Victor S. Myers Stakes, which he won and his connections were getting ready to celebrate good times. But as abruptly as a record scratch, the stewards called for an inquiry. It turns out that Prince Of Drummers interfered with his rival Circle Hawk in the stretch. This infraction forced the stewards to disqualify Prince Of Drummers from first to second, reminding us that even in racing, you can’t always get what you want. Prince of Drummers returned to Canterbury the following season, and had a decent campaign, winning one time and finishing third in both the Hopkins Stakes and the Minnesota Stallion Derby. He even competed in the Minnesota Sprint Championship Classic Stakes during the inaugural Minnesota Festival of Champions Day. That day was the final day of racing of Canterbury’s 1992 season. After that, Prince Of Drummers went to Arizona, while Canterbury Downs turned out the lights, because the party was over. Canterbury closed and racing wouldn’t return to Minnesota until 1995. But during those last two seasons, Prince Of Drummers marched to the beat of his own drum.
The history of racing, including its horses, are like multiple songs of all genres. It has hip and proud moments that make people want to shout, while some moments make those want to sing the blues. But regardless of what may happen, these horses have all played a part in the ballad of Canterbury history. And right now, it’s fair to say that horse racing in Minnesota and at Canterbury is certainly a sweet tune and music to everyone’s ears.