The horses had been checked, watered, grazed and mudded down, so a weary husband and wife, still tickled by the evening results, headed home to bed, dead tired, with just enough energy left to issue a few thanks.
“Me and Randy were in bed talking,” said Stacy Charette-Hill. “I said that the good Lord has surely been good to us. We’ve had a good year. We’re blessed, truly blessed. We have good horses and good owners.”
Not to mention 85 percent of the $133,550 pot they won in the Mystic Lake Northland Futurity earlier Friday night.
The purse was the largest ever for a quarter horse race in Shakopee, and the Charette-Hill barn not only had the winner but the second and third-place horses, too.
Anyone in the winner’s circle after the race couldn’t help but witness joy associated with factors other than merely money. Barn employees, including the trainer and her husband, Randy Hill, were overwhelmed by taking the first three places. In addition, Stacy, who is leading all quarter horse trainers at Canterbury, once raced the dam of the fourth place horse.
Improbability such as this cannot be processed quickly.
She was still digesting events on Saturday.
Her winning horse was a 2-year-old gelding named Eyesa Wagon Maker, ridden by Stormy Smith, a winner at 35-1. Mighty Coronas First, a restive filly capable of putting on a show in the gates, was calm enough to claim second. Little PYC was next.
The favorite in the race, High Ace, ridden by Jose Torres, turned in the fastest qualifying time in the nine-horse field but finished fifth after slipping at the start.
“He was a little ouchy last night,” said Charette-Hill. “Not because anything was wrong. He slipped leaving the gate and tried to catch himself. I think he’s fine but it might be time to give him a rest.”
The slip surely cost High Ace a better placement, but there are other reasons Charette-Hill thinks it’s time for a rest.
“I’m going to ship him home,” she said. “That colt was a late baby, and he’s not a big colt. I told Randy that maybe it’s time to back off him till next year. He’s maybe still a little immature and needs to grow up. There is a time when enough is enough.”
Yet, all in all, she said that her horses came back sound and healthy.
Charette-Hill is a believer in placing horses’ needs ahead of monetary desires. Most of her owners, she says, are in agreement.
Her philosophy has not always found willing listeners, however. Charette-Hill can be adamant about her beliefs, even with big money on the line.
She once pulled a filly, with the second fastest qualifying time, from the Remington Park Futurity, which offered nearly a million dollar purse.
She pulled the horse even though X-rays and exams from two doctors didn’t show any conclusive evidence of an injury, and two riders couldn’t detect a problem. “A shadow showed up on the pictures both times,” she said. “They thought it might possibly be a break that hadn’t opened.”
She wasn’t willing to take a chance, so she turned the filly out to heal.
X-rays a while later showed that the “shadow” had disappeared.
“That was the hardest thing in the world to do, to not run that filly,” she said. “But I was seeing something in her that kept eating at me. I didn’t scratch her until the day of the race.”
Horses first. Other concerns next. “I’ve had some owners who didn’t agree, but I’m real fortunate right now. I have real good owners.”
And horses, we’ve discovered this summer.
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.