The 12-race Minnesota Festival of Champions card on Saturday night attracted $2,446,940 in handle, a record for the Festival which has been conducted 29 times. The previous Festival handle record was the 2020 total of $2,048,915. Saturday’s handle is the fourth largest of the 2022 season.
Owner/breeder Bob Lothenbach took center stage throughout the evening winning four stakes, the Princess Elaine, the Northern Lights Futurity, the Crocrock Sprint and the Bella Notte Distaff Sprint, plus an undercard allowance race. Lothenbach’s blue and red silks were evident in five of the night’s six $100,000 stakes. He bred three of his stakes winners and also was the breeder of Stitzy who won the Blair’s Cove for trainer Jose Silva, Jr.
Lothenbach of Wayzata has now won 53 races this meet, a record at the track, and $1,468,166 in purses, also a record for an owner. He is 35 wins in front of second-place Joe Novogratz. Lothenbach tied for leading owner in 2002 with Jer-Mar Stables and has been meet champion the past two years.
Joel Berndt trained all of Lothenbach’s winners and is just a win behind Mac Robertson in the trainer standings with 58 victories. With 35 races yet to be run in the final three days of the meet, Robertson has 39 entered and Berndt has 12.
Robertson has won 14 training titles at Canterbury and Berndt one. He has been a dominant force in the Festival of Champions winning 39 races, 19 more than Bernell Rhone. Getting shut out on Festival night is a rarity for Robertson who has won at least one Festival race each year since 2006.
With Saturday’s four stakes wins, Lothenbach has a total of six victories on the state-breds’ marquee night. He is tied with Almar Farm and Dale Schenian, both Hall of Famers. The Eatons have 10 wins, Curtis Sampson nine and Kissoon Thoroughbreds seven.
Five jockeys got their first Festival wins. Jesus Salazar won the Quarter Horse Derby on Relentless Courage, Karlo Lopez the Northern Lights Debutante on Lover Boy, Harry Hernandez the
Princess Elaine on Midnight Current, Zeke Lara on Stitzy and Constantino Roman the Northern Light Futurity on It’s Bobs Business.
Odds-on choice to win Canterbury Horse of the Meet is Midnight Current (pictured above), owned and bred by Lothenbach who is undefeated this season winning five consecutive turf races. Love the Nest, another Lothenbach runner, is likely to be Champion 3-year-old of the Meet with his Derby win and Crocrock Sprint win being major accomplishments.
Edwin Escobedo and Jason Olmstead repeated as leading quarter horse jockey and trainer. Olmstead has won the training title eight consecutive meets. Tom Maher, who won the owner title in 2021, tied with Lunderborg LLC this season. Each had seven wins.
Racing Wednesday and Thursday will begin at 5 p.m. There are 10 races Wednesday beginning with the Post Time Pick 4 and a $23,000 carryover in the 10% takeout pool. Field sizes are 6,7,9 and 10 with the second and fourth legs on the turf.
Thursday there will be 12 races and Saturday, the final day of the season, there will be 13. Post time Saturday is 4pm.