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Racing Free Visits Canterbury

RacingFreeThere was a visit to the racing office to start things off and then a trip to the Minnesota Racing Commission and after that a visit with horsemen throughout the grandstand and beyond.

Danielle Bryan, director of marketing for Racing Free, was pitching the benefits of her program to anyone who would lend an ear on Thursday, selling an additional incentive program for drug free racing to horsemen competing at Canterbury Park.

Generally, the program has made inroads with the quarter horse industry and is expanding into the thoroughbred ranks too.

Bryan,24, is an animal science major from Purdue University and Indiana native with a longstanding love of horses. With three years of work at the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie, Okla., Bryan had a background that Micah McKinney and Leslie McKinney, founders of Racing Free, found appealing. The opportunity to work was clearly too good to pass up from Bryan’s viewpoint and she joined Racing Free during its inaugural season in 2012.

The program works on incentives to help promote clean racing and additional safeguards for horses.

Bryan has visited most of the major quarter horse tracks and is now focusing on visiting thoroughbred tracks. She was clearly pleased with the reception she got from Minnesota horsemen and Canterbury Park.

“This is a wonderful racing program here,” she said while winding up her visit to Minnesota Thursday night.

Bryan said she got a cordial reception from most horsemen she spoke with as well as racing office officials and the racing commission.

Basically, her program works like this: owners register their horses with the organization for a $300 fee per horse. At the conclusion of a meet, registered horses are rewarded $1,500 per win if the horse has a clear drug test in each race. A single violation will eliminate the horse from the program for a year.

The program includes a breeder incentive program which allows a breeder “to purchase a voucher membership into the Racing Free Incentive Program. For $300, a breeder may purchase and publicize the voucher for his or her racehorse to be a member at any one participating track in the program.” If the horse is sold, the new owner is allowed to enter the horse into the program at any one participating track. A drug free win is worth $750 to the new owner and the same amount to the breeder.

Trainers, owners and jockeys with the most racing free horse wins are awarded bonuses at the end of the meet as well.

Bryan encourages anyone interested in the program to visit the organization’s website at

The organization states its program is “designed to reward industry participants that stand against performance-enhancing drugs and desire a level playing field in racing. As the program expands, the Racing Free team will be working with tracks to determine how to improve testing methods.”


Gedda Quinonez was at Canterbury Park for the races Thursday night, enjoying a trip home for a wedding this weekend.

She is the wife of Luis Quinonez, a Canterbury Hall of Fame rider who won five consecutive titles in Shakopee.

Quinonez is recuperating from broken vertebrae in his neck, the result of a morning accident at Churchill Downs the week before the Kentucky Derby. It was to have been Quinonez’ first meet in Louisville.

Instead, he is recuperating at home in Jones, Okla. “He would have loved to have been here,” Gedda said.

Doctors told him he would need three months to heal but he was “pretty much healed in six weeks,” Gedda said. “He just had a good meet at Oaklawn and was really looking forward to riding in Kentucky.”

Quinonez had surgery to repair an injured knee during his rehab. He and Gedda have four children: Nate, 27; Lexie, 18; Ryan, 16 and Alayna, 14.

Lexie will be a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. She intends to study biochemistry.

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.