BY JIM WELLS
The year of unending storms and unpredictable weather continued unabated Saturday when the Shakopee area attracted some more unneeded rain, accompanied by distant lightning and slight breezes.
Consequently, racing was postponed temporarily as a thunderstorm moved through the area around 3:30 p.m.
Nine minutes before post for race five, the horses returned to paddock to let the storm pass. Announcer Paul Allen informed the crowd of 5,623 to stay put in the meantime and let Mother Nature do her thing. Some had already headed to their cars, having seen the darkening skies, but most of the day’s turnout did stay put.
Weather reports indicated that some Twin Cities areas might receive heavy rain, dangerous winds and some hail. The Shakopee area got only some rain, but enough that the racing conditions changed from ‘good’ to ‘muddy.’
A rainstorm earlier Saturday had already impacted the track when the afternoon showers arrived. The final two races on the card were run under a warm sun that continued to change racing conditions, if ever so slightly.
“It’s gotten slippery,” said jockey Derek Bell after the fifth race.
For the second consecutive day, the turf races were moved to the dirt, and trainers grumbled, every so softly, about the unpredictable weather.
Bell, who is off to a promising start, got another win in the first race on the card, aboard Rita’s Cheetah, trained by Mike Biehler.
Bryan Porter has demonstrated a consistent ability to have his horses ready over the last couple of years in particular. The current meet is no expection, as Martin Escobar demonstrated, aboard Porter’s Danube’s Edition in the second race.
Bell rode another winner race three, this time guiding El Seventyseven for Mac Robertson. Escobar and Porter teamed up again in race four with Buca Primo.
Butler, the two-time defending riding champ, has seven wins for the meet and is tied with Bell for the lead.
Rhone has five wins, one more than Porter and two more than Robertson.
ZIMMERMAN DEDICATION SET
A small gathering will assemble on the backside before Sunday’s race card to dedicate an addition to the stable area in honor of a friend.
Skip Zimmerman, a former president of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Assn., died in early 2007. Each year a race is run in his honor, as it will be once more on Sunday.
Friends and relatives will gather at the Dean Kutz Memorial Chapel today to dedicate the large white cross that was erected outside the building last September in honor of Zimmerman.
The cross was built with money donated by Vivian Zimmerman, Skip’s widow.
The project was spearheaded by Jim Olson, a member of the MQHRA and friend of Zimmerman’s. Stillwater horseman and architect Steve Erban designed the chapel and the cross.
The cross, white in color, was constructed by Schilz Ornamental Iron in Shakopee at a cost of $2,720. It is approximately 17 feet high. Its arms are 13 feet in width.
The Skip Zimmerman $15,000 Memorial Stakes will be run as the last race on Sunday’s card and has attracted a field of six. Expected to attend the backside ceremony are Jim and Sandy Olson, Lenny and Linda Christ and Skip’s brother, Dave, among others.