The small talk and the tall tales began the moment a fellow walked into the Mac Robertson barn on Wednesday morning, trailing Seth Martinez who was horseback by several minutes. The fellow had picked up the trail as Martinez rode past the racing office after a morning gallop.
“What time are you done?” the fellow hollered.
“I’m done now,” Martinez said.
So, too, was this particular fellow as he meandered short of breath into the Robertson barn, located a healthy jaunt from the racing office. Try keeping pace on foot with a thoroughbred sometime. Even one that stops to do a salsa dance every so often.
Standing next to his office in the barn were Robertson and a client, Bob Ryan. “Are you lost?” Robertson asked the visitor. “The Mike Biehler barn is over there. How could you miss it. You spend most of your time there.”
It might help to know that the visitor is a chronicler of events for the Canterbury blog, and that Robertson, Canterbury’s perennial training champ, is trailing Biehler by one win in the current standings.
Robertson was wearing his favorite t-shirt, the one that says Genz-Ryan on it. The small talk and the needling had already begun, and the point of the entire visit nearly got overlooked.
Seth Martinez, 31, Canterbury Park’s champion jockey in 2002 and 2005 and the second or third place rider three other times in the early 2000s is back in Shakopee. With three Canterbury riders on the shelf after last week’s horrendous spill, the timing is right for Martinez to step in, although he was assured of a spot before he ditched Emerald Downs in Washington to try his old stomping grounds again.
He rode in several races last week.
Martinez’s ostensible reason for returning for Canterbury is to be near his children, Seth, Jr., 7, and Casey, 1 1/2. Martinez said that it was the lure of his children that got him back to Minnesota. When Robertson mentioned that Martinez will ride all of his horses except those that have just won races, Martinez responded, “Well…Mac’s just like family.”
Suffice to say, Martinez and Robertson once ruled the grounds at Canterbury and are hooking up again. “I guess I just fell into the mix,” Martinez deadpanned.
Martinez was wearing the belt buckle he won at Turf Paradise in Phoenix as its riding champ in 2008. He also won the riding title at Emerald Downs that year, his first at the Washington track. “I wasn’t doing all that well there this year,” he said, adding that it’s hard to concentrate on one’s chosen profession with family matters looming.
The conversation between Martinez and Robertson shifted to fishing at that point and some of their visits to any of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, from the Twin Cities to Bemidji. Locally, was Riley Lake the place to be or O’Dowd?
One thing seemed a bit more certain than a definitive answer on that issue.
Martinez got to the barn well before the fellow trailing him on Wednesday morning. It’s a good bet he’ll get to the wire before some of the competition on several occasions this summer, too.
A BENEFIT FOR THE FALLEN RIDERS
Jockey agent Richard Grunder is spearheading an effort to put on a benefit for the riders injured in the spill in the sixth race last Friday night at Canterbury.
Paul Nolan and Don Proctor both had broken vertebrae in the accident. Veteran rider Scott Stevens was hurt worst of all, suffering broken ribs, punctured lungs, a ruptured spleen, back and other internal injuries.
Grunder said Wednesday that a spaghetti dinner and auction of some kind will be held on Monday, July 19 at the American Legion banquet hall in Shakopee from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8.
In addition, Grunder said that other donations can be made by check to the Canterbury Park Jockey Benefit and mailed to the track at 1100 Canterbury Road, Shakopee, Minn., 55379 in care of Richard Grunder in the Racing Office.
Grunder can be contacted at 727 560-5231.
OH, MY ACHING BACK
HPBA executive director Patrice Underwood knows what to do whenever she’s enduring a headache associated with a stiff neck or shoulders. Just what she did Wednesday morning.
She headed to Dr. John Harder in the recreation room of the racing office, where the Shakopee chiropractor sets up shop on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The HBPA has arranged with Harder to visit the track, something he has done for around 15 years. Harder is with Shakopee Family Chiropractic.
“I’ve never seen a group of people who can use this (service) any more than racetrack people,” Harder said. “Horses jerk people around whether they’re walking them or riding them.”
The HBPA has a financial arrangement with Harder. “He gives us a very good deal,” said Underwood. Patients pay only a $10 co-payment.
During Wednesday morning’s session a stable hand walked through the recreation room with two things to say. “I’ll get the $10 I owe to you tomorrow,” she said, adding: “He’s the only one I’ve ever been to who can straighten out my back and neck.”