by Noah Joseph
Once in a while, a horse comes along that becomes a mark of success almost instantaneously. Canterbury Park has been home to many such horses throughout its time, and in recent memory, no horse better exemplified consistency and success like Pinup Girl.
Pinup Girl was bred in Minnesota by Gary Bergsrud, who co-owned her with wife Brenda Bergsrud. She was sired by Stephen Got Even, out of Vicar’s Daughter. Pinup Girl began her career in 2016 as a two-year-old and showed that she had the potential to be a star right off the bat. She won her debut race while overcoming a less than stellar break from the gate, displaying the kind of courage very few young horses possess. Pinup Girl then finished second in her stakes debut in the Northern Lights Debutante, capping off her year.
At age three, Pinup Girl started to unlock her potential even further. After a fourth-place finish in her 2017 debut in open company competition, she followed it up with two consecutive wins before back-to-back third place finishes in the Frances Genter Stakes and the Minnesota Oaks. Those two races helped Pinup Girl prepare for the biggest race of her young career, as she was entered in the Glitter Star Minnesota Distaff Classic Championship on Minnesota Festival of Champions Day.
Sent off at odds of 9-1, she tracked the leaders before swinging wide on the turn, and came flying down the stretch to catch the leading and heavily favored Double Bee Sting just in time to win. It was a perfectly timed ride by Leslie Mawing that guided Pinup Girl to her first stakes triumph.
As a four-year-old, Pinup Girl embarked on a season that saw levels of success rarely seen at Canterbury. She won her first two starts of 2018, both of them in stakes races. First, she won the Lady Slipper Stakes sprinting, then followed up that performance with a win in the Minnesota Turf Distaff Stakes, which ironically had to be moved to the dirt due to rain. After a disappointing sixth in the Princess Elaine Stakes and a solid third against open company in an allowance race, Pinup Girl returned to her winning ways in an allowance race against open company , and then went on to defend her title in the Glitter Star. That would be the final victory for Pinup Girl, who raced at ages five and six and remained a hard-knocking runner who gave her best even in defeat, including four stakes placed finishes at Canterbury. Pinup Girl was retired after the 2020 season.
All in all, Pinup Girl raced 28 times with 24 of those starts coming at Canterbury. All eight of her wins came in Minnesota, four of them in stakes races, and she finished in the top three 20 times in her career, and all but one at Canterbury. She earned $352,380 in purse money, with $341,080 coming from races at Canterbury. Her Canterbury earnings rank sixth all-time for money won at Canterbury. She was also named Champion Older Filly or Mare at Canterbury in 2018.
The Bergsruds report that the classy mare is in foal to Midshipman and shares a pasture with her mother, Vicar’s Daughter, on their property in northern Minnesota. Pinup Girl will go down as not just one of the best Minnesota-bred fillies and mares of all-time, but one of the best fillies or mares to ever race at Canterbury.