BY JIM WELLS
Alex Canchari brought in a horse named Daydreaming Diva in Saturday’s first race, in and of itself not a terribly significant event unless of course you are counting wins in the jockey, owner or trainer standings __ or maybe even days remaining to the racing season.
For anyone without a calculator, what that particular win meant at that particular moment was that Canchari had battled back to within four wins of the leader, Dean Butler, tightening up a race that two weeks ago was anything but.
It also meant that Mac Robertson expanded an already insurmountable lead in his quest to regain the training throne he held so long, and that owner Joe Novogratz kept the pressure on in the race for leading stable.
By the time the card concluded, the owner and jockey races were right back where they started the day, with Canchari and Butler notching two wins apiece. The stable of Novogratz and that of Cheryl Sprick and Richard Bremer were locked again the way they started the day after each recording a win. And there were still a mere three cards left in the race meet.
Once all of those issues are settled, there will be other takeaways from the summer of 2016. There already are some.
“Yes, the rain,” said director of racing Andrew Offerman. “Will we dry out in time to start the 2017 meet?”
The wet summer, with numerous races moved off the turf as a consequence, seems now like almost a constant, at least on particular days.
“I know we were off the turf on a lot of Thursdays,” said the Oracle, who added that his summer wasn’t all that good overall, although on Saturday he hit a 38-1 simulcast longshot.
“It’s been a good summer for the locals,” he added. “People like Mac back on top, to me that’s one of the biggest things.”
Indeed, Robertson regaining the spot he occupied on the training throne, beginning in 2005 until Robertino Diodoro supplanted him two years ago, was at the top of many people’s lists.
“That made it exciting,” said media relations director Jeff Maday. “The return of Mac. He and Diodoro fighting it out. ”
Of course, there was that weather.
“We did have some bad weather,” Maday added.
And, of course, numerous injuries depleted the jockey colony, cutting the list nearly in half from start to finish.
And, as Maday pointed out, there are still things to do. Arriving at agreements in the next few weeks, for one, that are to the benefit of all concerned, the track, the horseman, the betting public.
Ted Grevelis and his wife Heather publish the Midwest Paddock Report online in addition to their membership in ownerships involving four horses. One of the biggest recollections for him will be the climb of Cheryl Sprick and her husband, Richard Bremer, to the top of the ownership ranks.
“They’ve done it with horses they’ve bred and raised themselves,” Grevelis said. “That’s what was supposed to happen because of the agreement between the track and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.”
Dave Miller, the chart caller for Equibase at Canterbury, was once a regular in Shakopee but left seven years ago before returning this summer.
“I returned to a track that is in subtle transition,” he said. “These guys make this work with their promotions. Attendance is up. The food is better. It’s a better track than it was seven years ago.”
On a much different note, Miller said the most compelling detail of the summer was the death of Tom Metzen, the long-time president of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “That was the most significant news of the summer,” he said.
Kevin Gorg, the former paddock analyst at Canterbury, filled in for track announcer Paul Allen on Saturday. Gorg is impressed by the crowds Canterbury continues to attract while racetracks across the nation continue to decline in numbers. “It’s really amazing,” he said. “I don’t know how they do it, but the crowds keep turning out for the special events.”
There is another takeaway for Gorg, as well. “The competition,” he said. “It was tougher to pick winners this year. There were numerous long-shot winners.”
And Gorg gave a shoutout to new paddock analyst Brian Arrigoni. “Brian did a great job. He had a very good year of picking winners for the public.”
Eric Halstrom, vice president of racing operations, is reserving his analysis until all the details are compiled. “Ask me next week,” he said.
And, of course, there is always a takeaway that has nothing to do with racing. Just ask Oscar Quiroz, the righthand man to Shawn Coady in the photo department.
For Quiroz, the memorable moment of the summer came on a day off, at Stonebrooke Golf Club.
His first hole in one.
“No. 11 hole, 187 yards into a headwind,” Oscar said.