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The Great Rains of 2007

By Noah Joseph

This weekend at Canterbury is a special one. This weekend is when we hold the annual Indian Horse Relay races. In addition to this exciting and brave display of horsemanship, Canterbury will hold three stakes races: the $50,000 Minnesota H.B.P.A Distaff; the $50,000 Brooks Fields Stakes; and the $50,000 Mystic Lake Turf Sprint. These stakes races are on the grass and will hopefully not have to be moved to the main track due to weather. But in 2007, the weekend was one of two that year which felt the pain of the rain.

While the week between August 19th and 24th 12 years ago may stand out, to start this story, we have to travel back to the opening day of the season. That was May 5th, 2007, Kentucky Derby day. A crowd of more than 16,000 fans came to Canterbury to celebrate a new year of racing in Minnesota and the run for the roses at Churchill Downs. And while the sun may have been shining bright on my old Kentucky home, the sun had performed a vanishing act in Shakopee. Dark clouds loomed above as the heavens opened and a storm hit the track. A massive downpour combined with occasional lightning and thunder sent fans scurrying for cover as the horses made their way to the track for the first race of the season. The race was won in the rain and on a sloppy track by the British bred Chasm. The rain did stop eventually and the sun did come out in time for the Kentucky Derby, yet fans who were at Canterbury on that first Saturday in May will not forget it.

Canterbury would once again have to deal with another washout that year, this time on Festival of Champions day. One of the crowning jewels of the season was held on August 19th. While it may have been summer, the weather was more spring-like. A cool 59 degree Sunday afternoon was accompanied by over an inch and a half of rain that fell throughout the card, turning the track into a miniature lake. The turf races were taken off and moved to a main track that had the look of wet cement.

Despite this unkindly act by act by Mother Nature, there were some moments that brightened up that gray day, such as dominating performances from the ladies like Glitter Star and Sentimental Charm and easy victories from the boys like Careless Navigator and Smithtown Bay. This day proved that while nature is powerful, the racehorse, and its ability to thrive in it, is also a force to be reckoned with.

This weekend’s card looks promising weather-wise. It looks to be dry with lots of sunshine Thursday and Friday. Saturday also looks dry for the stakes. Sunday could be wet as there is rain predicted, but no one truly knows yet and meteorologists are as accurate as public handicappers!  Regardless, we can all remember the great rains of 2007.