By JIM WELLS
The Amundson stable has been down to one horse for quite some time, but that might change in the near future.
Craig Amundson promised his wife, Debra, that he wouldn’t buy another horse until the one they own won another race.
That wasn’t an issue for the last two years.
Louisiana Song, who currently makes up the entire Amundson stable, supplied Craig’s half of the bargain by winning the fourth race on Saturday at Canterbury Park.
As recently as 2005 Amundson had nine horses in the stable. Then, the family itself expanded with the arrival of Ashton, now four years old, and family focus changed.
Some of their horses were claimed, one or two got hurt and were retired and another one, the best of the bunch, was sold.
“I promised Debra that I wouldn’t expand the stable or make a decision of some kind until Louisiana Song won again,” Craig said.
Louisiana Song hadn’t won a race since July of 2007, although the five-year-old daughter of Gold Tribute came close on a couple of occasions.
On Sept 22, 2007, she made a stretch challenge but came up a half-length short in a race at Louisiana Downs. On March 23, 2008, she staged another stretch challenge but came up a 1 1/4 lengths short in a race at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans.
Then, on July 31, 2008, she came up a neck short of the winner in a race at Louisiana Downs.
The fourth race at Canterbury Park on Saturday changed everything.
Running for the first time in Shakopee and with Canterbury Hall of Fame rider Scot Stevens on her back, Louisiana Song won the mile turf race in 1:37 and 1/5 to break the losing streak; the duration was extended to some extent by long layoffs because of what amounts to swollen ankles.
“I gave her 75 days off the first time and 145 days off the second time,” Craig said.
The Amundsons were present in force to witness the win on Saturday: Mom and dad, Aston and 10-year-old Emily.
The elder Amundsons were residents of Apple Valley until 11 years ago when they relocated to Hudson.
Craig Amundson, who owns Raymond Auto Body in St. Paul, was originally interested in owning a greyhound. When he discovered it took nearly two years to develop a dog, he reconsidered.
“I could just go out and claim a horse,” he said.
Troy Bethke, a veteran trainer at Canterbury Downs, did just that in 1990, claiming a horse named Broadcast News for Amundson. “Troy kind of spoiled us,” Craig recalled. “That horse won the first time he ran it.”
Todd Hoffrogge and Bryan Porter, who conditions Louisiana Song, have also trained Amundson-owned horses.
Amundson has owned about 25 horses and the best of those was Rue de Reves, who won the $100,000 Lady Canterbury, the track’s richest race, in 2005. “We tried to make it two in a row,” Amundson said, “but she finished second (to Radiant Avie) the next year.”
Now, the only horse in the stable, also a distaff runner, has forced the issue.
Does the expansion begin?
“Well, I’ll be looking at Churchill Downs and Keeneland (Racecourse) in the fall for something to take south for the winter, Amundson said. “Of the 25 horses I’ve had, it seems I have the best luck with route (mile) turf fillies.
Tie Rod, with Juan Rivera, up eclipsed the record for (about) a mile and 1/16 on the turf that has stood for 10 years in Sunday’s seventh race.
Diplomat’s Reward was clocked in 1:41.34 for the distance on July 17, 1999.
Tie Rod, trained by Joe Johnson, who owns the horse in partnership with John Pendergast of Glendale, Az., won Sunday’s race in 1:41 and 1/5.