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Life-altering circumstances presented Milt Suter and his wife, Janice, a chance to begin racing their own stable. Life-altering events put that operation on hold for several years.
Milt, 74, was told to give up farming if he wanted to live a while longer. “I had three strokes and a heart attack at age 50,” he said. “I turned everything over to my son, Ron. We had had horses at the track with other people. I had to do something and I liked racing…”
The Suters started out slowly when they first struck out on their own. “We went to the little tracks, in South Dakota and Nebraska, kinda worked our way up,” Milt said.

All went relatively well until tragedy struck in 2000. “Our daughter, Sharon, was killed in a car accident and her husband died of cancer,” Suter added. “They had three children, teenagers, so we went home to raise the grandchildren.”

Suter was born and raised near Clara City, Minn. He and Janice returned and spent the next several years getting the three grandchildren through high school.

“I’m proud of all of them,” Suter said. Matthew was a high school wrestler, a heavyweight. That set him up for his present avocation. “Right now, he does the rodeo,” Milt added. “He’s a steer wrestler.” He’s also a full-time farmer near Clara City working with 52,000 head of hogs.

Then there’s the other grandson, Thomas. “He went to the high school state tournament and finished fourth at 189 pounds,” his grandfather added.

Thomas is studying to become a CPA. Oh, yes, on the side he shoes horses.

The Suters’ granddaughter, Andrea, is married with three young ones of her own and lives near New London, Minn.

The Suters also have two sons. Ron still farms his parents’ farm along with his own, about 1,000 acres in all.

Patrick lives near Monticello and works for a telecommunications company and has a scrap metal business on the side.

Milton describes himself as a low profile trainer. Indeed, he and Janice have a three-horse stable; it includes La Malinche, Stratus and Marina Nolan.

It is truly a joint operation. “We’ve been married for 50 years,” Milt said. “Everything we’ve done has been together.”

Janice studies the charts and whatever other information she can gather when the Suters are out to claim a horse. “She says when we should claim one,” Milt added. “That’s her job.”

Suter has grown to love Canterbury over the years. “There’s not a track that’s any better,” he said. “Management here knows what it is like for people on the backside. They’re devoted to the people. Other places you’re just a number.”

Suter compares Canterbury to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where he had his heart bypass operation. “They’re both first-class facilities,” he said.

The Suters claimed La Malinche this spring at Fonner Park and have run her five times at Canterbury, where she has won her last two outs and finished second once.

“I had never seen the horse, but Janice checked it out and said we should claim her. That’s what we do when Janice says to claim one. If they all made money like this one does it would be a really good game.”

The Suters claimed their other two horses at Canterbury last summer. “I don’t like to claim horses too much,” Suter said. “People get mad when you claim their horses, although I’ve had them claimed from me. It’s the name of the game.”

La Malinche will make her sixth start in Shakopee in Friday’s second race. On Saturday, Marina Nolan will start in the third race, written for nonwinners in 2011.

Milt will also receive a commendation, a blanket and a check from the HBPA as its trainer of the week.

“That’s quite an honor,” he said, “for a low profile trainer.”

The way he sees it, each day is its own reward, particularly after the news he got from his heart surgeon. “I asked him if the bypass surgery was really necessary,” Suter said. “He said that in his best opinion I had less than six weeks if I didn’t have it.”

That was 24 years ago.


David “Eli” Jones was named groom of the week by the HBPA for the work he has done in the barn of Miguel Silva. Jones has worked the track for several years and handles Rare Sunset, Tooby Me, Avorian and Caboasian Lass in the Silva barn.
In his free time, Jones loves trips to the lake, fishing and cooking.