BY JIM WELLS
Sometimes the name game works as well as more time honored methods for handicapping a race. Other times, turns of phrase are required, too.
Saturday, for instance: A horse named Beach Flower demonstrated she is no wall flower, another named Giant Payday didn’t live up to his name but was a winner just the same and nothing but sunshine and happiness have followed a third named Satellite Storm in the past few weeks.
In addition to the championship round of the Indian relay competition, three stakes races were part of Saturday’s card.
$50,000 MINNESOTA HBPA DISTAFF
Beach Flower, with Dean Butler in the irons, held off a stretch long challenge from Dontmesswithjoanne and Orlando Mojica, with nothing definitive until Beach Flower’s head finished in front of her pursuers.
Those two were head to head several times from the sixteenth pole to the wire. “Looks like Butler outrode Mojica to me,” said winning trainer Mac Robertson.
The official margin was a head with a winning time of 1:35.68 after a mile on the turf. Third place went to Tiz Little Bull, with Stormy Music next
Beach Flower became a two-time winner of this race, having won it in 2017 also. She is owned by Hugh Robertson, John Mentz and Jeff Larson.
. $50,000 BROOKS FIELDS STAKES
This race is named in honor of the man largely responsible for bringing horse racing to Minnesota and for the construction of what was previously known as Canterbury Downs.
Giant Payday, with his rider changing strategy from their previous two races, was a clear winner this time, with plenty left in the tank for the stretch drive. Giant Payday’s return was anything but. He was sent off at 7/2.
Leandro Goncalves, riding Giant for the third consecutive time, asked trainer Joel Berndt to let him take the horse back a bit instead of running close to the lead.
“When we ran too close to the lead, he didn’t seem to have any kick for the drive,” Goncalves said. “Joel told me he had complete confidence in me to do what was needed.”
“Sometimes, if you run a horse like that close to the lead, it takes the finish out of them,” said Berndt.
Not this time.
Goncalves kept his horse at midpack in the field of seven. He was running third at the stretch call, three lengths off the lead when Payday began his move, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Majestic Pride and another ¾ length in front of Nobrag Justfact, the 7/5 favorite. The winning time for the mile on grass was 1:34.85.
The trophy for this race was presented by Sarah Nessen, the daughter of Brooks Fields. It was mentioned to her afterwards that her father, in view of wonderful weather throughout this week, might have described such good fortune by saying “we’ve been kissed by an angel.”
“That’s exactly what he would have said,” she said.
MYSTIC LAKE TURF SPRINT
Satellite Storm was a $12,500 claim at Turf Paradise in Phoenix in April and has won his last three starts, including this one, worth, oh, $30,000.
His last three races have been on the turf. Trainer Valorie Lund was asked what she saw that precipitated the switch.
“Well, he doesn’t like the dirt track here,” she said. “Maybe, we just got lucky.”
“Not likely,” was the consensus.
After all, she looked for sometime before putting in a claim on the horse for her owners, Julie Welle, John Miller and Peter Seals, who race under the name “Grace and Gamblers, LLC.”
Goncalves was once again on the winner, finishing 2 ¾ lengths in front of Win Lion Win, with Luvin Bullies next, another half length back, in :55.43
Lund said that after the claim she noticed a nervous streak in the horse. ‘He was 100 pounds lighter then,” she said.
His heavier and wealthier now.
. INDIAN RELAY RACES
Little Badger claimed the title with a late stretch run, overtaking Tissidimit, a two-time winner of the Canterbury relays.
Chris Carlson put his horse into a stretch sprint to overtake Dallon Race Horse, rider for the second-place team.
Little Badger recently won the relays at Fort Hall, Idaho, as well. “They’re just like the Lakers in the 80s,” a sideline supporter commented.
Loren Croff, mugger, Andy Whiteman, back holder and Jostin Lawrence, set-up and owner, complete the winning team.
The consolation championship was decided in similar fashion. Nolan Werk put on a late rush, inside the last 16th, to overtake Awa Daa Hey, for Mountain River of Montana
The women’s race, conducted at Canterbury for the first time, was won by Tia Tiger of the Standing Rock tribe in South Dakota. Tiger, 19, has been riding for three years. She rode Saturday in honor of her father, Jeffrey Cadotte, 39 years old when he was killed in July.