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Sporty Horses

By Noah Joseph

This weekend, many of the local sports fans will be focused on the retirement ceremony of Joe Mauer. The former Twins catcher is having his uniform number 7 retired by the Twins organization. Over the years, many local sports have played a part in Canterbury’s history, with many horses being named after sports terms and athletes. Some of the horses have even gone on to be top runners. Let’s take a look at some of the best horses with related names.

One such horse recently raced at Canterbury. That horse is Ibaka, named after current NBA player Serge Ibaka. This Oklahoma-bred gelding was already a pretty good horse, having won seven stakes in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. He even competed in the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby in 2014. Transferred to trainer Francisco Bravo in 2018 by owner Doug Wall, Ibaka won his Canterbury debut on June 1 on the grass and instantly garnered attention. He then stepped up in class and ran in the Mystic Lake Mile, facing both local and out of state horses. Ibaka led for most of the race, but faded and finished 5th behind My Bariley. After two allowance race defeats, Ibaka would get his revenge on My Bariley in the Brooks Fields Stakes at Canterbury. Once again, Ibaka took the lead from the start and this time he was still on top in the stretch. However, Majestic Pride was closing fast. He made a late lunge at Ibaka, but it was a bit too late, as Ibaka won by a head. Ibaka recently ran and won here on May 31st in impressive fashion. Could we see him in the Mystic Lake Mile?

Dorsett came into the 2013 Mystic Lake Derby as the favorite after good efforts in two grade stakes races in Chicago, but hadn’t quite cracked the big score. Dorsett, a son of Artie Schiller, was named after former NFL running back Tony Dorsett, who had a famous 99 yard touchdown against the Vikings as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. The equine Dorsett showed the same class and flash as his human namesake in a dramatic and sweeping come from behind victory under jockey Lori Keith. Keith, as well as owner Terry Hamilton and trainer Michael Stidham, celebrated their second straight Mystic Lake Derby win, having won the year before with Hammers Terror. This would be the last U.S. win for Dorsett, but his story wasn’t done yet. Later in his career, Dorsett won the Barbados Gold Cup, a Grade 1 race in Barbados, two years in a row.

Heliskier was, and still is, one of Canterbury’s greatest horses. The way he ran and the way he won drew local, and even national attention after winning his first seven starts. Heliskier was named after the sport Heli-skiing, which is a form of downhill skiing or snowboarding in which the top is reached by helicopter instead of a ski lift. His name also came from his sire, Appealing Skier. Heliskier won his first seven starts in his career. Five of them in stakes company between August 2011 and May 2013, and at one point was being considered as the greatest horse to race in Minnesota. But the bubble soon burst as he lost for the first time on June 16th, 2013. He stumbled at the start and never recovered, finishing 9th. After a second place finish on the grass a month later, Heliskier was back in the winner’s circle in August, and showed flashes of his old self the following month in winning the Minnesota Sprint Championship Stakes. That would be his final victory, as after that, he just wasn’t the same horse. He retired in 2016 with nine wins from nineteen starts, six stakes wins, and earnings of over $275,000.

Much like Heliskier, A P Is Loose is also a Canterbury classic. A son of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos,  A P Is Loose was named for the call Paul Allen used when former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson  broke free with a rush. The thoroughbred A P Is Loose did not have the same rush early on, but he did have a late closing kick that helped him finish third in two stakes as a 2-year old, yet he still hadn’t won. He finally did break his maiden on June 20th, 2014, and although he didn’t win much at age three, he was consistent. He had his first wave of success at age four, in which he won three times from six starts, twice in stakes company. At age five, he won the Blair’s Cove Stakes for the second straight year. As a 6-year old, A P Is Loose won the inaugural Minnesota Turf, but failed to win the Blair’s Cove Stakes for the third year in a row, but at age seven, he won the Blair’s Cove for the third time in four tries. Later that year, he also became the winningest horse in Canterbury history in total earnings. A P Is Loose is still racing today and hopefully throughout the rest of the summer. If he does, we will all hear those rousing words “A P Is Loooooooose!”