There was a welcome change for the racing card on Saturday:
Low humidity and no thunderclouds.
That was a decided improvement over Friday night when thunderstorms and lightning stopped the show twice, extending it by more than an hour while the weather threat passed through.
Conversely, Saturday’s patrons were greeted with plenty of sunshine and downright balmy conditions.
There were other changes. The dulcet tones of Kevin Gorg, America’s favorite public handicapper, were missing. Gorg is gone this weekend for family activities. Media relations director Jeff Maday jumped into the void and filled in on six of the eight races with analyses from the paddock. Paul Allen stepped away from the press-box microphone and picked up the paddock mike for the other two.
The day clearly belonged to trainer Justin Evans and jockey Dean Butler, who had three wins apiece.
Also starring on Saturday, from the breeding shed at Dove Hill Farm in Farmington, was Shot of Gold, the 2001 Canterbury horse of the year and two-time champion sprinter.
Shot of Gold’s offspring have had a good week in Shakopee. Thursday night, With Envy, owned by Hall of Fame owners/breeders Art and Gretchen Eaton, hit the winner’s circle in one race. Shot a Go was the winner of another, in which Shots of Money ran third.
Saturday, Shot of Gold, left another impression. Not Just Any Gizmo, owned by the Eatons, won the fourth race for maiden sprinters and Colonel Joe, another Shot of Gold son owned by Bev and Dan Mjolsness, ran third.
Something else changed on Saturday. A couple of times, in fact.
Evans saddled the winners of the second and third races to pull one in front of Mac Robertson for the training lead. Robertson fired back with the winner of the fourth to forge another tie. Evans sent out Mary’s Secret for race seven and pulled in front once more. In the last race of the day, Robertson tied it up again with Zero Ego Lady.
Benefiting alongside Evans was SEJ Stables, the leading owner at Canterbury last year and well in front at this stage of the 2008 meet. Evans saddled two more winners for the Detroit Lakes stable, which now has 21 for the season, 15 in front of its nearest competitors.
Butler rode three winners on the card and pulled into second place in the riding standings, one win in front of Paul Nolan and 15 behind defending champ Derek Bell.
Oh, yeah, and Curlin maybe shouldn’t pack his bags for Paris quite yet after running second to Red Rocks in his Man O’ War turf debut.