By Noah Joseph
Wednesday is the biggest and one of the best days of the racing season at Canterbury Park. It’s the Mystic Lake Northern Stars Turf Festival featuring six stakes races, five on the grass, headlined by the $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby. More than $600,000 in purse money is up for grabs and the races have brought together some of the most well-known horses, owners, trainers, and jockeys to Minnesota. Here are some fun facts for each stakes race.
- The first stakes race of the day, race 3 on the 10-race card is the $100,000 Curtis Sampson Oaks at one mile on the grass. Originally called the Northbound Pride Oaks, the race was renamed last season to honor the memory of former chairman Curtis Sampson, who helped to re-open Canterbury in 1994, bringing back live racing to Minnesota in 1995. Curt passed away in 2020.
- The 3-1 morning line favorite for the Oaks is Schlofmitz, who will be ridden by Javier Castellano. A winner of over 5,500 career races, Castellano won the Eclipse Award for Most Outstanding Jockey four consecutive times from 2013-2016. He has won the Preakness Stakes twice, 12 Breeders’ Cup races, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2017. This is Castellano’s first visit to Canterbury Park.
- Captaire may be 15-1 on the morning line, but she has the pedigree of a champion. She’s by one of America’s leading sires in Uncle Mo and out of the mare Love the Chase, making her a half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner and champion California Chrome.
- Next up is the Dark Star Turf Sprint at a distance of five furlongs on the grass. This race is being run for just the fourth time, as it was introduced in 2018 and not run in 2020.
- Jazzy Times is the defending champion of the Dark Star, and if he is to win, he’ll become the first horse to ever win back-to-back editions of the race. Jazzy Times also owns the stakes record time for this race.
- Valorie Lund has two horses entered in this race in Ship It Red and the also-eligible Bodenheimer. Lund trained the 2019 winner of the race, Satellite Storm.
- The MTA Stallion Auction for three-year-olds is the only stakes race of the day that isn’t on the turf and the only race that has a purse of under $100,000. It’s run at 6 ½ furlongs on the dirt for a purse of $60,000.
- This race is unique in the fact that the horses entered are foals of 2019 whose sires’ breeding services were sold at the MTA Stallion Auction the previous year.
- Two trainers who have horses in this race have won this race before. Mike Biehler, who trains Queenscaballo in this year’s edition, won this race in 2013 with Bet Your LIfe. Miguel Angel Silva, who trains morning line favorite Royals’ Lil Diva this year, won the race in 2018 with Speeding Kid.
- The Lady Canterbury is one of Canterbury Park’s most important stakes races and is rich in history. In fact, it was the first ever race run on the turf course in Canterbury history in 1986. Wednesday will be the 30th rendition of the Lady Canterbury. It’s run at one mile on the turf for fillies and mares.
- This year’s edition of the Lady Canterbury features a re-match of the top two finishers from last year’s Curtis Sampson Oaks. Saranya and Amalfi Princess ran in the Oaks, with Saranya getting the better of Amalfi Princess on that day. Can Amalfi Princess turn the tables this time around?
- If Beach Flower is to win, she will become the second horse in Canterbury history to win the Lady Canterbury twice. The first was Awesome Flower, who did it in 2013 and 2014. Beach Flower would also become the oldest horse to win the Lady Canterbury at the age of nine if she is triumphant.
- The betting favorite has won just four of the 29 Lady Canterburys.
- The Mystic Lake Mile is next on the docket. At mile on the turf, this race is for males three-years-old and up.
- Two jockeys will be looking to win the Mystic Lake Mile for a 2nd time. Florent Geroux, who rides Dyn O Mite, won the race last year on Hieronymus. Roimes Chirinos, who rides Two Emmys, won the race in 2020 on Tut’s Revenge.
- Tut’s Revenge, he looks to become the first horse to win the Mystic Lake Mile twice.
- Finally, we come to the featured race of the day: The $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby. Set for three-year-olds on the grass, it is the richest race of the season.
- This year’s running of the Mystic Lake Derby features a re-match of the Columbia Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in March between Heaven Street and Bens Malice. Heaven Street won the race from an on-charging Bens Malice.
- Dowagiac Chief is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line. This horse was on the Kentucky Derby trail this spring, in fact he earned 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby when he ran fourth in the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park in March. But what about the horse who finished ahead of him in 3rd place? That horse turned out to be Rich Strike, this year’s upset winner of the Kentucky Derby.
The history, horses, and people involved in the stakes races that compose the Mystic Lake Northern Stars Turf Festival will lead to an even more fun and exciting evening of racing Wednesday. Hope to see you there! First post is 5:10 p.m. CT.
For all the info about Wednesday racing, the handicapping contests, and expert analysis go HERE.