By JIM WELLS
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
GROOM OF THE WEEK