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PA’s Big Day

PaulAllenThere is something eerily suggestive about a man being fired out of a cannon on Memorial Day, but that is the featured act of Monday’s sideline activities. All in all, the idea is not any stranger than other events that have unfolded over the weekend.

On Saturday’s card, for example, track announcer Paul Allen, who began handicapping professionally for Brad Free at the Pasadena Star-News in 1989, had the first eight-win day of his career. “I’m pretty sure I had a bunch of sixes,” he said, “but never an eight before.”

Then, on Sunday, Allen made this proclamation after the sixth race. “Yesterday was the wedding. Today’s the funeral. I’m down $100.”

Also on Sunday, Tony Rengstorf, who was 0-for-32 on the turf last season, took the first turf win of 2013 with a horse named Minnesota Thunder. So… no wins in 2012, then the first grass win of the new season and Rengstorf was attending a family function and wasn’t on hand for the occasion.

“So, his assistant, Jackie Anderson, gets credit for the win,” quipped Russ Sampson, whose father owns the winning horse.

In view of Allen’s grand day on Saturday, pressbox impresario Jeff Maday had this to say (tongue in cheek):

“I picked five and felt inadequate.”

Pestered by the press on the best day of his career, Maday would say only: “Oh, I don’t know, I guess maybe I’ve had seven. But I simply don’t rest on my laurels. Every day’s a new day, every card’s a new challenge. And, of course, I can’t ride those animals myself.”

Later, Maday added – after calling the first and second place horses in the sixth race in the track program – “the readers all know that I’m red hot. No need to rub anything in by saying I’ve won seven, eight or whatever number of races. They’re all happy with what I’ve provided them.”

Humility is highly regarded in the newly-named Dark Star Pressbox, and there is never a shortage of the cherished virtue.

Allen’s big day went something like this:

Sikura’s Gift was the winner in the first race. “Finished gamely for my first of eight winners,” said Allen.

Policio came through for Senor Allen in race two. “I knew he had talent from last year and he looked the part.”

Raton Pass was winner number three and Getting Birdie made in four.

Allen was four-for-four but down $18.

Ladyofthelillys broke slowly and that ended the streak at four straight, but Kale’s Courage was winner No. 5 in the next race and Allen’s biggest win bet of the day. He bet the next winner, Gentle As A Breeze, to win also and cashed in.

Allen cashed out the day by picking both winners of the quarter horse heats, BP Painted Lady and Atsi Hero, Allen’s proudest pick of the day. Because?

Well, it paid $19 to win and Allen had it, admitting that he typically doesn’t do all that well on the Qs.

Allen’s triumphant day brought forth recollections of a similar kind from another pressbox regular, Ms Angela Hermann, who shared a winning pick four ticket worth more than $60,000 on…???

“It was Dec. 17th or 18th in 2011,” Ms. Hermann recalled. “We were playing Hollywood Park.”

Ms. Hermann and her partner that day had three horses in the first race, including the favorite, and a 33-1 choice that got up for the win… by a nose.

They singled Imperialistic Diva in the second race and she won by six.

They had two horses in the third, including the winning second choice at 5-1, Vicki Victoria.

That made race No. 4 a gimme since they had all 10 horses.

Here’s the clincher to that glorious day: There were two tickets in the nation with the 33-1 winner of race one.

And the strangest part of it all?

One of the horses Ms. Hermann included on her winning Hollywood Park ticket that big, big day didn’t win. His name was Porfido and he ran in Sunday’s sixth race at Canterbury.

Didn’t win Sunday either.

There were other stories Sunday, too.

Tote board messiah and all-around handy man Andrew Offerman recounted the day he and Allen had a friendly side bet on the eight races.

“We made a bet on most winners on the card with the longest-priced winner to be a tiebreaker if needed,” Andrew recalled.

Offerman had a 6-5 lead going into the final race on the card and a $15 winner to boot.

It was in the bag. That’s all she wrote. Sealed, signed and delivered, right?

Allen not only had the winner of the final race but the horse paid $15.40.

Oh yeah, it was also a horse Allen used to own in partnership, Chief Magistrate.

But, as Senor Maday put it so eloquently at the end of Sunday’s card:

“Oh, we had some prices today. I just didn’t have them. But tomorrow we crush.”


Donations for the silent and live auctions that will take place as part of this fundraiser can be placed by contacting Rosemary Higgins at 612 940-4324 or 763 389-0883. The fundraiser will be held at Silks bar in the grandstand at 6 p.m. on June 5. Dinner and entertainment are included for $15. The silent auction begins at 6 p.m., the live auction at 7:30 p.m.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.