By Noah Joseph
When horse racing returned to Minnesota in 1995, many faces from the Canterbury Downs days returned to Shakopee. Two of those people were Marlene Colvin and her husband, the late Robert Colvin, who was nicknamed Bun. They had made history in their own right in 1985, as their Sultan’s Gold was third in the first ever race in Canterbury history. During the Downs’ Days, they enjoyed success with not just Sultan’s Gold, but with horses such as Smooth Shinee, Little Wombli, and others. And when racing returned at Canterbury Park, they aimed to enjoy more success. This time, it would come from a horse named Plana Dance.
Plana Dance was bred in Minnesota by Bun Colvin, who trained her throughout her entire career, and owned by Marlene Colvin. She was sired by Northern Flagship, and was out of Planajinsky, a horse the Colvin’s owned who competed in 1990 at Canterbury Downs. Plana Dance proved that she had the makings of becoming a star early on. She won her debut on August 3, 1995 at Canterbury Park by three lengths under Mike Ziegler, then followed it up with a third-place finish in the Northern Lights Debutante. As a 3-year-old, Plana Dance continued her upward trajectory to success by winning four times at Canterbury, including a victory in the Canterbury Oaks with Alan Patterson in the irons. She also finished third in the Minnesota Oaks. A major reason for her stellar season was that Plana Dance was an adaptable horse who could win at different distances and surfaces. She could also run well against not just Minnesota bred horses, but also against open company. Plana Dance was named Champion Three-Year-Old Filly and Champion Grass Horse at Canterbury Park for the 1996 season, but the best was yet to come for her.
The 1997 meet saw Plana Dance win three races at Canterbury, including two consecutive stakes races. Her first stakes victory was in the Princess Elaine. Originally scheduled to be run on the grass, the race was moved to the main track due to weather. Most horses would have some sort of difficulty adjusting to a surface change, but Plana Dance adjusted to the change just fine. However, it was a tense race, as Plana Dance just got up to win by a nose in the final strides over the classy Argenti. She then went on to compete in the Minnesota Distaff Classic on Festival of Champions Day, and went wire to wire to win. Although she only won by 1 ¾ lengths, she won with such incredible ease that the winning margin seemed larger than that. Chad Anderson rode Plana Dance in both stakes triumphs. Anderson became Plana Dance’s regular rider that year and would remain her rider for the rest of her career. Plana Dance even ran in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron at Arlington Park, and although she finished last in that Grade 3 event, local fans knew Plana Dance was a star to behold.
As a five-year-old, Plana Dance and her connections looked to continue her winning ways. They certainly did in that regard, and in the process, Plana Dance made history. The 1998 Canterbury Park season saw Plana Dance win the Princess Elaine Stakes for the second year in a row, becoming the first horse in Canterbury history to win that race in back-to-back years (and one of only two horses to achieve such a feat). She then won the Minnesota Distaff Classic for the second year in a row, and just like in the Princess Elaine, she became the first horse to win the Minnesota Distaff Classic in consecutive years. Plana Dance was retired in 1999 after finishing second in an attempt to win the Princess Elaine for a third straight year. She retired with 11 career wins from 26 career starts. All 11 of her wins came at Canterbury, with five of them in stakes races. She finished in the money 19 times, and earned over $171,000. As great as she was on the track, Plana Dance’s main contribution comes in the form of being a successful broodmare for the Colvin’s. As a broodmare, she produced the multiple stakes placed mare Sahm Sweetheart. However, her greatest offspring was a horse who captured the hearts of racing in Minnesota. Plana Dance was the dam of Heliskier, one of the greatest Minnesota bred horses to ever compete on the racetrack. Heliskier is a member of the Canterbury Hall of Fame.
With that kind of success, whether it was on the track or in the breeding shed, Plana Dance is the true definition of a star.