By JIM WELLS
Sometimes the doors that open and those that close, the roads not taken and those that are, lead to interesting places and mysterious corners in the thoroughbred business.
Take Saturday’s second race for example. Paul Nolan rode a 2-year-old Minnesota-bred colt named Bet Your Boots to a lopsided victory in maiden open company.
Ah… what do you say to 17 lengths…in 58.46 for five furlongs.
A very nice effort this son of the most celebrated sire of the 3-year-old season, none other than Birdstone.
Cheryl Sprick and Richard Bremer of Lake City went to the February Fasig-Tipton sale three years ago hoping to buy the mother to this colt’s dam, Gully who was in foal to Birdstone.
“We got outbid by the Sampsons for her mother,” Sprick said Sunday. “That’s the mare we were after.”
Instead, Sprick and her husband bought Gully’s daughter, an unraced mare named Thigh High Boots who also was in foal to Birdstone.
Sometimes an opportunity lost leads to something gained just as satisfying.
The Lake City couple raise horses to sell not necessarily to race. So, they took Thigh High Boots’ foal to the MTA yearling sale last year.”We bring our horses to sale not intending to bring them home,” Sprick said. They did in this case, however.
Bet Your Boots had a front splint bone that wasn’t resolved. “We wanted to sell a prospect not a project,” Sprick added. “So we took him home.”
He ran a close second in his maiden start on May 23 and was clearly much the best in Sunday’s race.
Thigh High Boots is by Storm Boot. “That’s where the speed (displayed by Bet Your Boots) comes from,” Sprick added.
The split bone clearly is no longer a problem, but Bet Your Boots also required throat surgery to get him to the form he displayed on Sunday under Paul Nolan.
Bet Your Boots was the first of two winners on the card for trainer Troy Bethke, who also saddled a winning longshot the day before.
Sprick and Bremer have a half dozen mares, five of them in foal, at their Steepwood Farm, located on the shores of Lake Pepin outside Lake City.
They call it the most beautiful paddock in the world, an idyllic setting with horses grazing and the lake in the background.
Naturally, they had a favorite horse for the Kentucky Derby this year. Birdstone was also sire to Mine that Bird.
And to Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird.
An interesting side note to this story is that a horse named Birdstone Gulch won at Canterbury earlier this season. He was the son of Gully, the mare Steepwood Farm was outbid for by the Sampsons.
Russ Sampson recalled an interesting piece to the story. Bet Your Boots was scheduled to run in the same race won by Birdstone Gulch but scratched due to illness.
Could a match be in the offing?
LOVGANO, WALLY’S CHOICE WIN
Lovango, under Derek Bell, was a clear winner in the $35,000 stakes on Sunday’s card, but winning owner Barry Butzow was just as impressed and excited about the winning horse in the previous race, Wally’s Choice.
Butzow pointed out all the Wally has done, recovering from multiple surgeries while remaining a solid local performer who picked up his 15th career win on Sunday.
Wally’s Choice won for the fourth time in nine starts on the Canterbury lawn for his owners, Curtis Sampson and Joyce and Wally McNeil, the latter more widely known as Wally the Beerman, who is recovering from recent heart bypass surgery.
The fifth running of the Shot of Gold Stakes produced a clear winner as Lovango passed tiring horses and drew off from Bobadieu and the field over the final 16th for a commanding victory under Derek Bell.
The win was the sixth in 22 career starts for Lovango.
QUARTER HORSE FUTURITY
Oak Tree Boulevard, a son of Oak Tree Special, won his second race in two career starts on Sunday, the $15,000 Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ Quarter Horse Futurity under Ry Eikleberry.
The winner was bred by and is owned by Bob and Julie Peterson of Cokato. Ed Ross Hardy trains.
Sea N Lace, ridden by Jerry Winters, finished second for trainer Ron Winget and owners Al and Claire Lundgren.
NOLAN HAS BIG DAY
Jockey Paul Nolan rode four winners on Sunday’s card. He was on Bet Your Boots in t he second race,Denndi Moore in the third,Brook Ghazer in the fourth and Wally’s Choice in the seventh.