This spring Cameron Mahlum, managing partner for North Star Stable, breeders and owners of Ray’s Angel, did not see their homebred 5-year-old by the sire Kela as an entrant in Wednesday’s $100,000 Crocrock Minnesota Sprint Championship, one of eight stakes in the annual Minnesota Festival of Champions.
“No. Not when you’re in the same foal crop as Mr. Jagermeister and you have Hot Shot Kid out there and they’ve dominated Festival for three years.”
But there he is, Ray’s Angel, 7 to 2 on the morning line in tomorrow’s Sprint.
Mahlum credits his trainer Mike Biehler, and time, for the success Ray’s Angel has had. “Mike’s done a great job,” Mahlum said. He was unraced at 2. “He’s big, 1,300 pounds.” And he had an issue early in his career. He was bolting on the turn. “Unless you’re a quarter horse, you are going to have to turn.”
It was at Remington Park last fall that Ray’s Angel began to put everything together. “He was improving,” Mahlum said after competitive races against open company. “Kelas get better as they get older.”
He won first out at Will Rogers Downs in April, was off the board the next time, and then came Shakopee where Ray’s Angel has won two of four starts, hitting the board in the other two, all with Francisco Arrieta aboard. “Francisco keeps him relaxed,” Mahlum said.
The most recent start and win came on the turf, a surface Ray’s Angel had not run on for two years. “He got beat twice by Cave Run, so I went to Mike and said ‘Let’s try something different.’ Mike said that surface won’t matter. He just likes to run.” Ray’s Angel ran a bang-up race, beating some salty open company horses, and earned a career best speed figure.
And now he will try to win the biggest purse of his career in the six furlong, main track, Crocrock. Mr. Jagermeister is on the sidelines and Hot Shot Kid is entered in the turf stake but the competition is still stiff.
“Cinco Star is the horse to beat in my opinion,” Mahlum said. Yet he likes his horse’s chances.
“He deserves it. He has a shot. That’s all you can ask.”