Saturday marks the final day of the season racing for quarter horses at Prairie Meadows and the first day of the Turf Paradise meeting, which runs predominantly thoroughbreds. Both will offer Canterbury familiarity for those that played the Shakopee meet this spring and summer.
Prairie Meadows begins at 4 p.m. Saturday and will run 11 races including eight stakes. Canterbury’s five-time leading quarter horse trainer Jason Olmstead ,with 28 victories, leads the Iowa meet by 10 wins over Alex Wessels with racing tonight and Saturday.
Olmstead, who finished second in the standings the past five seasons, is seeking his first Prairie Meadows title.
“I’ve always been chasing Stacy [Charette-Hill] and just never could get in front,” Olmstead said.
He signaled the strength of his stable by winning three races on their opening day, Aug. 17.
Southard Queen, Five Bar Bodee who previously won Canterbury’s richest QH race the $156,200 Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity, and Eagle Deluxe, victorious in the Keokuk Stakes that day, all won.
“Even when his horses aren’t winning, they’re competitive,” Prairie Meadows racing analyst John Hernandez said. “Case in point: Sunday October 6, Olmstead had seven starters, with six seconds and one third.”
Olmstead has started more horses and earned more purses than any trainer at the meet. On Saturday, Olmstead will saddle 15 horses, one in the opener and 14 over six stakes races.
“They’re all sitting on go,” the trainer said.
Olmstead teamed up in Altoona with jockey Justin Shepherd, better known for his thoroughbred prowess – he has 1,098 career thoroughbred wins and multiple graded stake victories. Together they have won 15 times. Berkley Packer also has ridden several trials and stakes for Olmstead, winning 10 races.
“[Shepherd] was doing well and winning races before I really had anyone running,” Olmstead said. “He’s having fun with it, riding good horses. He can ride with any of them.”
Owned by Tom Maher, Apollitical Mogul, was the fastest qualifier for Saturday’s $129,794 Altoona Derby.
“She’s running as solid as you can ask a horse to run,” Olmstead said. The filly has finished on the board, winning six times, in nine of 10 starts in 2019.
He has three runners in this 400 yard race. Packer qualified aboard both Apollitical Mogul and Minnesota-bred Jess Doin Time, and chose to ride the former Saturday.
“Apollitical Mogul has looked strong winning three straight here, one over a muddy track, and weather could be a factor this weekend,” Hernandez said.
Jess Doin Time, had trouble in her qualifying effort. “She stumbled, but got lined out and still managed to qualify,” Olmstead said. Shepherd has the call on the Minnesota Quarter Horse Derby winner.
The Grade 3 Valley Junction Futurity closes out the night and Olmstead should have something to say about the results as he qualified four to the richest race.
“All of his horses in the $219,894 Valley Junction Futurity have run well here this season,” said Hernandez, who has been selecting winners at a high rate. “Five Bar Bodee might have won his trial, but there was a short delay after all the runners were loaded and Southern Sunshine beat him out of the gate.” Southern Sunshine, trained by Charette-Hill, ran the fastest time of the 10 qualified. Her go-to pilot Jorge Torres is aboard.
“Bodee is doing well,” Olmstead said of the 2-year-old gelding that has won three of six starts with two seconds and $108,218 in purse earnings. “He might get outrun Saturday but he’ll leave there and give it all he has.”
Turf Paradise Has Much To Offer
Turf Paradise, in Phoenix, kicks off its 64th season with an eight-race program beginning at 2:55 p.m. Many Shakopee regulars winter there including perennial Turf Paradise leading trainer
Robertino Diodoro. He has earned the title the past six seasons and is odd-on to add another.
David Van Winkle, Jose Silva Jr., Shawn Davis, Valorie Lund, and Matt Williams will also be well represented. Jockeys include last season’s leading rider Francisco Arrieta, Chad Lindsay, Denny Velazquez, and Patrick Canchari. Canterbury Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens calls Turf Paradise home as well. He has won the riding title in Phoenix three of the past five meets and eight times total.
The meet will run 138 days through May 3 of 2020, with a Saturday through Wednesday schedule. Offering both dirt and turf racing, Turf Paradise makes for a good early week addition to the simulcast schedule.
“We’ve got a lot of horses here,” racing secretary Robbie Junk said. “We will have a very competitive meet.” Junk expects to attract nearly 200 trainers and 1,600 horses to the stable area.
Wagering on all the action is available in the Canterbury Park Racebook.