QUARTER HORSE STAKES LAST RACES BEFORE SHUTDOWN
BY JIM WELLS
There was no shortage of opinions at Canterbury Park Thursday night as 8,585 patrons wolfed down hot dogs, swigged cold beers and pushed their dollars through the windows for, maybe, the final time for God only knows how long.
The track was prepared to shut down at midnight. “And we’ll open up at noon,” said trainer Jerry Livingston, voicing an opinion shared by others, as much out of hope as certainty.
Meanwhile, patrons wrestled with the notion that nobody in the state’s courts or lawmaking bodies seems to understand how the real world works, that they are preoccupied with keeping their jobs or pushing ideology ahead of representing the people who put them in power.
“Next time, I’m going to vote against everyone I voted for last time,” said Bill Walker of Minneapolis. “Simply out of spite.”
Although there were more reasoned approaches to the topic at hand _ the shutdown of the racetrack _ fans were outraged that a private business could be closed along with state agencies.
“Canterbury has escrowed all the money necessary to fund the oversight required by the state, but because of a bunch of red tape and legal mumble jumble, the track is going to close,” Walker added. “No wonder Americans are fed up with the government. If the country’s system is broken, it starts in places like Minnesota.”
And so it went, among fans, horsemen and horse owners, throughout the evening, which began earlier than usual, 6:30 p.m., and lasted later than usual, 11:30 p.m.
Not all was somber Thursday, not by any means.
Take Terry and Mary Louis Pursel, who made the 470 mile trip from Leavenworth, Kan., to watch their filly, Cruzin The Wagon, run in the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Northland Futurity, worth $64,000.
It will be a nice ride home after the Pyc Paint Your Wagon filly beat eight rivals and is now 4-for-4. The Pursels never had a horse win two straight let alone four straight. They never before had a futurity winner, either, after getting into the game when the Woodlands opened in Kansas City in 1990.
“It would have been a long ride home,” Terry said.
But not now, not after Cruzin swept past the finish first in :17.75.
“She didn’t get away real good but she picked it up. She’s got a lot of heart,” said trainer Brent Clay. The winner was ridden by Stormy Smith.
The last race of the card, the last race before the shutdown, the $25,050 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, went to I Am That Hero in :20.1, giving Smith and Clay a sweep of the stakes.
“It worked out,” said Clay. “And Stormy’s my son-in-law so I have to throw one his way.” And the owners of the winner? Brent and Karen Clay. It worked out just fine.
The winner returned $6.40, finishing in front of Icecarver.
The two stakes were moved from Sunday to Thursday, just in case.
It this case, it was a wise move.
STEVENS TO UNDERGO SURGERY
Scott Stevens will miss the remainder of the meet at Canterbury Park and the opening of the meet at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, he learned this week.
The Canterbury Park Hall of Fame rider will undergo surgery July 19 on his left shoulder, injured when a horse flipped over on him during a gate work earlier in July. A piece of bone was broken off the top of his left shoulder, and the right scapula behind and below that shoulder was also broken. That shoulder is healing well.
Stevens said that the recovery period is four to six months, which means he might be sidelined longer than he was last year after suffering life-threatening injuries in a spill at Canterbury.
“That was 4 ½ months. This might be longer, ” he said.
Stevens injured a knee three years ago that required surgery and kept him out of action for eight months.
Although he knew surgery was a distinct possibility this time, too, and wasn’t surprised, Stevens was hopeful he could avoid the procedure and return to the saddle sooner.
“You know I can move around just fine and then I’ll make a certain move and it will almost bring me to my knees,” he said.
Stevens said that surgery might be performed earlier if a scheduling opportunity opens. The procedure he will undergo is designed to tighten up the muscle and bone that help support and stabilize the shoulder.
He hopes to have arthroscopic surgery but that approach won’t be possible if doctors need to insert a plate in the shoulder.
The surgery _ called the Bankart Procedure _ will be performed at the Tria Orthopedic Center in Edina. “I feel very confident in the doctor there,” Stevens said. “He comes highly recommended. They treat the Twins players there.”
Now they will get a jockey.
IT’S NOT THE HORSE’S FAULT
Patriate wanted to run on opening day at Yavapai Downs in Arizona
this year. One problem. The track didn’t open. No money.
Patriate wanted to run, and was entered, in the seventh race on Friday’s card. One problem. The state shutdown included Canterbury Park.
What’s a horse to do.
This six-year-old gelded son of Muqtarib showed up in Bob Johnson’s barn about 10 days ago and has a bullet work over the Shakopee track, on June 25.
Other than that, Johnson doesn’t know much about the horse, other than it belongs to someone he knows pretty well.
Linda Parker. His mother-in-law.
“He’s a stout horse, not very big, but a good lookin’ horse,” Johnson said. “I just hope he doesn’t get that “dreaded horse” reputation now for shutting down racetracks.”
Patriate has won eight times with 10 seconds and three thirds from 33 career starts, the last 10 at Turf Paradise.
He’s a California-bred waiting for a chance to run somewhere, Arizona, Minnesota; he just wants the chance.
Meanwhile, his trainer was trying to adjust to the onslaught of heat and humidity that hit the Twin Cities on Thursday.
“I’m not likin’ it,” he said. “It’s way too hot for a guy from South Dakota.”
Meanwhile, a horse named Patriate would have fit in nicely on the Fourth of July.
TRAINER, GROOM OF THE WEEK
Dave Van Winkle has been running a public stable for 20 years, alternating between his home in Phoenix, where he races at Turf Paradise, and at Canterbury Park summers. He won training titles at Canterbury in 1995, 2002 and 2003 and is enshrined in the track’s Hall of Fame.
Van Winkle was honored on Thursday as the track’s Trainer of the Week.
Named the track’s Groom of the Week was Mario Soto Vejar, who has worked for Francisco Bravo the last four years.
Bravo describes Soto Vejar in glowing terms. “His dedication to his horses is unmatched by anyone I’ve ever known,” said Bravo. “He is a very honest man.”
Soto Vejar is a soccer fan and plays the game as well. He also enjoys cooking.