It’s a simple race, Saturday’s fourth _ $7,500 claimers going six furlongs.
But the horse in the No. 6 hole, a three-year-old named Northbound Beauty, should garner some sentimental backing in this one. She is a daughter of Northbound Pride, a member of Canterbury Park’s Hall of Fame and one of the early stars of Canterbury Downs.
A week ago Friday, the night before the Claiming Crown, Northbound Pride was killed in a freak accident at Shamrock Valley Farm in rural Stillwater, where she had lived the last several years.
Northbound Pride’s owners tried to piece together the evidence after she was found lying at the base of a tree on Saturday. Northbound Pride apparently set out running with other mares on the farm during a storm that produced loud thunder and ran headlong into a tree in the dark. The evidence suggests she died instantly.
Northbound Pride was bred by the late Vic Myers at his Northbound Farm outside Stillwater. She was a daughter of Proud Pocket from the Our Native mare Our Trelawny.
Northbound Pride ran in open company and on every kind of surface, turf or dirt, dry or wet and at any distance from a short sprint to a route of ground. She won 11 times, was second nine times and third nine times from 38 career starts and earned $213,983. She ran 22 times at Canterbury, seven times at Oaklawn Park, eight times at Arlington park and once at Louisiana Downs.
She won six of seven races at Canterbury as a three-year-old in 1989, including three stakes. She was the track’s champion three-year-old filly that year and was in the running for Horse of the Meet, but lost out to Hoist Her Flag.
“I don’t know of any horse like her,” said Les Martens, one of Northbound’s owners. “She could run any distance, on any surface. I think she only turned in one clunker, on a muddy, heavy track that was just drying out one day.”
Bob and Lisa Dainty own Shamrock Valley and found Northbound Pride about 10 a.m. on July 24 near the base of the tree she encountered in the dark.
They were still struggling emotionally with the horse’s death as they talked about her a week later.
The Daintys conducted a memorial service for the horse as they buried her on the farm the evening of July 24.
“We covered her head in an Irish flag (for the farm and Lisa’s heritage) and her body with a flag of a mare and baby that we fly during foaling season,” Bob said.
Then the Daintys gathered a number of flat rocks and inscribed them with mementoes to the fallen horse. On one they inscribed the word “Poohdy,” the nickname given Northbound Pride by her former groom, Sherry Nolan.
Bob Dainty said that the five mares who ran with Northbound Pride the night she died stood nearly motionless for hours a stone’s throw from the gravesite as they dug it.
Lisa Dainty made a headstone of rock in the shape of a heart. “We just came from there about 20 minutes ago,” Bob said Friday night, “and the mares were all gathered around the site. It’s almost as if they’re showing a kind of reverence.”