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One For The Road

By Noah Joseph

The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler, and the leaves are changing colors. The signs of autumn are among us, and with it come the final days of racing at Canterbury Park. It’s always a difficult time when the season ends, especially when the track had a year full of great moments.

During the 2022 season, Canterbury saw three moments of incredible history made. Trainer Mac Robertson became the first trainer in Canterbury history to win 1,000 races at the track, when the two-year-old filly Magic Glass won on July 30. And on June 25, jockey Alonso Quinonez got his 1,000th career victory aboard Magic Castle. Alex Canchari also rode his 1,000th career winner here on May 25 aboard Tonka Warrior. Congratulations to Mac, Alonso, and Alex for achieving such wonderful milestones.

Canterbury was home to star power of both the human and equine variety. The aforementioned Robertson could potentially win his 15th Canterbury training title, although Joel Berndt is not too far behind in terms of total wins, just one off Mac to start the final week. It may come down to Saturday to decide a winner. Other trainers with strong seasons at Canterbury this year include Tony Rengstorf, Robertino Diodorio, Karl Broberg, Tim Padilla, Nevada Liftin, David Van Winkle, and Valorie Lund.

Jockey Harry Hernandez had a season for the ages. Harry has won 75 races en route to the Leading Rider title in his first season at Canterbury. Other jockeys who had a successful year at Canterbury included Luis Fuentes, Lindey Wade, Alonso Quinonez, Ry Eikleberry, Ezequiel Lara, Karlo Lopez, and Constantino Roman.

It was a great year for the horses too. This season saw Love the Nest go from a good two-year-old last year to a dominant three-year-old this year. Other equine stars who lived up to the hype this season include Thealligatorhunter, Ready to Runway, and Clickbait.

The Mystic Lake Northern Stars Turf Festival saw some of the biggest names in horse racing come to Canterbury Park. Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano won the Curtis Sampson Oaks with the Mike Maker trained Schlofmitz, Adam Beschizza won the Dark Star Turf with Spycraft for trainer Joe Sharp recording the fastest five furlongs on the turf thus far, Reylu Gutierrez piloted Mr. Dumas to victory in the Mystic Lake Mile for trainer John Ortiz, and Florent Geroux won his second Mystic Lake Derby, this time on Stitched for trainer Greg Foley. But by far the biggest star this year was Midnight Current; 2022 saw the daughter of Midnight Lute go on a run of success that few horses in Canterbury history could have achieved, as she went undefeated in five starts, with each victory more impressive than the last. Two of her wins came in the Minnesota Turf Distaff Stakes and the Princess Elaine Minnesota Distaff Turf Championship Stakes. With that kind of a season, Midnight Current is almost guaranteed the crown of Canterbury Park Horse of the Year.

Canterbury had events that catered to all ages. Wiener dog races, bulldog races, and corgi races helped make the dog days of summer at the track much more fun. Extreme Day, with its camel, ostrich, and zebra races once again were a smash hit. And the Fireworks Extravaganza lit up the Shakopee sky with unparalleled light and color. Indeed, Canterbury had something for everyone this year.

It’s always sad when the racing season comes to a close, as nobody truly wants it to end. What makes it so worthwhile are all the wonderful memories that were made along the way, and the fact that those memories will not only last forever, but will keep us excited for the next season. So let’s take our memories from this season and neatly tuck them in our minds before we go, because when we may feel down about the season ending, when we leave the track for the final time, we’ll always have one for the road.

Thank you for reading. It’s been a great season.