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Battle of the Surfaces
Battle of the Surfaces

Here’s some advice for our draught-stricken brethren in California: Throw a big event. You’ll get all the water you can stand.

            Hey, it works in Minnesota….at Canterbury Park.

            There was the distinct possibility, with the gray skies turning darker by the moment, that another Canterbury event might get washed out on Saturday, the annual Extreme Day which last year drew a record turnout of 20,000-plus.

            A washout Saturday would have been in perfect form what has transpired much if not most of this season at the Shakopee track: gorgeous weather most of the week, torrential rains on Saturday.

            It appeared that would again be the case on Saturday as a small cell, about the size of the Canterbury grounds, dropped what it carried on the racetrack, parking lot and stable area and moved on within minutes. Perhaps, though, the answer to the track’s weather problems is close at hand. The cell missed everything in the surrounding area except Canterbury Park.  A jinx, a curse, a plague?  Stayed tuned.

            Extreme Day wasn’t quite as extreme as 2013, yet a crowd of 18,915 did turn out, many of them to witness the camel, ostrich and zebra races, featuring jockeys, valets and members of the gate crew as their riders.

            Dave Borunda, a valet and member of the gate crew, rode the winner in the Camelbury Dash, Rock N’ Spit, the defending champion.  Lori Keith rode the fellow to victory last year.

            Spaghetti Leg Steve was in fine form while winning the Don’t Lay an Egg Dash, limited to ostriches of any age. The winner was ridden by Quincy Hamilton, riding a big bird for the first time.

            “It was kind of overwhelming,” he said. “I had no idea how to steer him.” So, Hamilton gave the bird its head and Spaghetti Leg Steve ran his long legs off. Afterward, Hamilton plucked a feather from his mount as a souvenir.

            Jerad Howard from the gate crew had the winning mount in the zooming  zebras event, outlasting three rivals. Nate Quinonez was thrown from his mount, a Zonkey named No Shades of Grey, but in an effort truly appreciated by the Extreme Day crowd, hung onto the reins and made a couple of attempts to remount, something he learned, he said.  from watching the Indian Relay racers last year.

            One truly disappointed observer of these events vented her frustration afterward. “I’m truly hurt that no one asked me to ride in one of these events,” said Clair Kratochvil from Player Development.

            “I didn’t know you liked to ride ostriches or zebras,” said media relations director Jeff Maday.

            “You didn’t ask,” Clair responded.

            Maybe next year.      



The hit of the day was the Battle of the Surfaces, which presented that largest field in the nation to leave the gate, or in this case, gates, this season.

A field of 20, one more than the Kentucky Derby offered, raced on opposing surfaces, 12 of them on the turf, the other eight on the dirt. They broke from different gates, of course, simultaneously.

To make up differences inherent in the two surfaces and the horses racing, the turf runners raced a mile and 90 yards as opposed to a flat mile for the dirt runners.

The winner was Joshua’s Journey, ridden by Alex Canchari on the dirt, trained by Valorie Lund. The first four finishers, in fact, all started on the dirt. Thus further adjustment will be made for future races. Seventy yards difference between horses on the two surfaces would have hit the nail on the head this time and produced a stampede of horses hitting the finish lines within flashes of one another, truly a spectacular sight.

Lund said she was simply looking for a mile race on the dirt for her horse when she entered Joshua’s journey. “He really seems to like this distance,” she said. He surely did on Saturday.

For anyone keeping track, the first finisher on the turf was the Bernell Rhone-trained Saturday in May with Dean Butler up.

The race required two gates, two running surfaces and two race callers. Paul Allen kept track of the turf race. Angela Herman called the dirt runners. Allen took over the entire affair in the stretch run.


An 11-horse field lined up for this one matching trainers seeking their first win of the meet, and that distinction went to Michael Bolinger, whose Don’t Claim Me, under Jake Olesiak, was an easier winner….by several lengths.


So, you show up for your nine-to-five job and the boss says you can leave two hours into the shift.  Or the barn boss says you only have to clean three of the 10 stalls, or mom says you can go straight to the dessert and skip the vegetables.

Looking for some sort of parallel?

How about Saturday’s $15,000-added Dash in a Flash Stakes _ a race conducted at 110 yards for quarter horses three and older.

At 110 yards they don’t have to take more than one or two deep breaths en route to the finish line, and Kool Wagon didn’t take even that under Jorge Torres for the Stacy Charette-Hill stable.

His third straight win gave Kool Wagon the winner’s share of the stakes pot. With a time of 7.115, he finished a head in front of Sooner Country Babe and Stormy Smith with Lika Nightmare third.

Battle of the Surfaces_Finish 2_07-19-14