Dusty Shepherd had to work a horse Wednesday morning so he borrowed a pair of boots a couple sizes larger than he normally wears.
He’s still healing from a staph infection that left the upper front part of one foot raw and painful, so Mike Luark’s loose-fitting boots were a lifesaver.
“I told him he looked like Ichabod Crane,” said Barb Noll, Shepherd’s agent.
Shepherd has been limping around the racetrack for the last couple of weeks. He assumed originally that he had a broken bone in his foot but later discovered it was an infection. He had broken the blood vessels on the top of the foot and the wound became infected.
Shepherd was injured in a gate accident on July 29 when his horse flipped. . He felt just fine once in the saddle afterwards, but walking any distance was painful. His boot rubbed against the top of the foot, where it was injured, and grew more painful with each passing day.
“I’m OK once I’m on a horse,” he said last weekend. “It’s that walk from the jocks’ room that is so painful.”
He suggested at one point that someone take him to the paddock in a wheelchair because he’d be just fine once mounted. A paddock official, upon hearing the suggestion, remarked: “Can’t you just see a trainer or owner seeing the rider of their horse pull up in a wheelchair.”
Shepherd tried off and on to ride, with limited success, after the accident. But he was determined to ride in Canada on Aug. 2.
He drove all night to reach Assiniboia Downs Sunday night, promising trainer Nevada Liftin he would be there.
“I ran into him early that morning in the track kitchen. He was dressed in a sport coat and said he had driven 7 1/2 hours to get there,” said Liftin. “I assume he went right to the jocks’ room and went to sleep, but he’s a real professional.”
Shepherd’s hip was out of place after the gate incident as well, but it apparently popped back into place while he was riding a couple of days later.
“Can’t you just imagine. The little so-and-so drove up to Canada all by himself,” Noll added.
Liftin had other riders available if Shepherd wasn’t able to ride. Eddie Martin, Jr. and Ry Eilkeberry were there with mounts in other races. Both were available.
Shepherd put off getting his foot x-rayed, as recommended by Canterbury medics, until after the race in Canada, a $30,000 stakes for two-year-old fillies. He won the race on Paris By Night, who had broken her maiden at Canterbury and is now two-for-two, and then returned to Shakopee.
WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
You had to be able to walk on water to reach the chapel Wednesday morning.
Or, have a pair of waders.
The deluge that hit Canterbury Park on Tuesday morning and again that night left standing water at various locations around the track. The drainage tanks throughout the grounds were filled to capacity so they simply backed up into surrounding areas.
That left standing water on the north and west sides of the general parking area outside the racing office, water that reached all the way up the walk area to the chapel front door.
The drainage pond immediately to the north of the Dean Kutz Memorial Chapel and the racing office was full. You had to walk around standing water to reach the horsemen’s viewing stand next to the track.
The thunderstorm hit so hard on Tuesday morning that water penetrated the stalls in some barns, driven through the doorways by the wind. “It was driving so hard you couldn’t see the grandstand,” said trainer Troy Bethke.
“This has been a terrible summer. My papers all curl and my hair goes straight,” said Peggy Davis, clerk of course and placing judge.”
Davis had a suggestion for dealing with the recent deluge.
“We need seahorses around here,” she said.
The grandstand was hit hard in certain areas, too. Water had to be mopped up throughout the turf club and in certain other areas on the third floor, keeping maintenance crew _ even some of the electricians were recruited to bail water _ busy throughout the day.
“It was impossible to get a toilet fixed on the backside yesterday,” said stall superintendent Mark Stancato.