Danjer, 2021 AQHA World Champion, headlines Grade 3 Canterbury Park Championship Challenge
Jockey Ry Eikleberry returns to ride Love the Nest in Myers Stakes
Stakes races, both thoroughbred and quarter horse, populate the Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday programs this week at Canterbury Park. Danjer, AQHA 2021 World Champion, is 2/5 favorite to win the $52,360 Canterbury Championship Park Challenge for the third consecutive year in Thursday’s headliner. The Championship Challenge is one of two Grade 3 stakes run this season at Canterbury, the other being the Distaff Challenge where two-time winner of the race Lynnder 16 is the 5/2 favorite for trainer Jason Olmstead.
Danjer has won 16 of 28 career starts and earned $1,665,813 in purses. The 6-year-old quarter horse was bred and is trained by Dean Frey who co-owns Danjer with Downtime Enterprises LLC.
Cody Smith has the mount and will break from the rail in the five-horse 440 yard race. Also on Thursday is the 870 yard Distance Challenge and the Bob Morehouse Stakes.
The stakes action begins Wednesday with the $61,220 MQHRA Stallion Auction Futurity Final. Beep Beep Rev Rev was the fastest qualifier in trials held June 23. The 2-year-old Minnesota bred quarter horse filly, owned by Summer Run, Inc. and trained by Olmstead, is the 8/5 morning line favorite.
Saturday’s Hall of Fame Night card offers four thoroughbred stakes. The six furlong Victor S. Myers and Frances Genter Stakes, each with a $60,000 purse, are traditional preps for the longer Minnesota Derby and Minnesota Oaks in August but have merit on their own as stand-alone tests for the fastest Minnesota-bred 3-year-olds. State-breds also race 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf in the $50,000 Ralph Strangis and $50,000 Minnesota Turf Distaff.
Love the Nest, champion 2-year-old-of the 2021 meet, has not raced since a May 1 allowance win at Hawthorne Park in Chicago. He is the 8/5 favorite in the Myers. Winner of last year’s Northern Lights Futurity, Love the Nest (picture is trained by Joel Berndt and will be ridden by Ry Eikleberry who returns to the Shakopee racetrack for the first time this season.
“He’s definitely matured both mentally and physically,” Berndt said of the behemoth colt. “He was such a big-framed two-year-old. He’s really filled out.”
Doctor Oscar defeated Love the Nest, who was disadvantaged by a tardy start, when they debuted July 13, 2021 but finished third in the Northern Lights when Love the Nest led gate to wire. Doctor Oscar has won both 2022 starts decisively. He is trained by David Van Winkle and will be ridden by Chad Lindsay. Love the nest drew the outside post in the seven-horse field while Doctor Oscar will break from post position two.
Eikleberry, who won the Canterbury riding title in 2014, 2018 and 2020, has nine mounts on Saturday’s 10-race program. He will return Sunday to Lone Star Park in Texas, where he is second leading rider, to finish out that meet with plans to ride at Canterbury for the remainder of the summer beginning July 27.
Eikleberry had success at the Sam Houston Race Park meet early in the year and made several connections with new barns which led to riding at Lone Star Park. “It was a hard decision to not be [at Canterbury] for the beginning of the meet,” Eikleberry said. “Canterbury feels like home for sure.” Eikleberry has won 678 thoroughbred races at Canterbury and is third in all-time purse earnings with $12,066,116. He also won the track’s quarter horse jockey title from 2008 to 2010 and is second overall in quarter horse wins, 121, and purse earnings, $1,299,112.
Racing begins Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 5 p.m. CT with racing Sunday at 1 p.m. Following the Sunday program, racing will be on hiatus until July 27 as Canterbury hosts the three-day Twin Cities Summer Jam music festival in the track infield.