by JIM WELLS
Saturday’s sudden warmth reminded several riders at Canterbury Park of home, most of them from Phoenix.
Ry Eikleberry won the riding title at Turf Paradise, and felt right at home.
“It’s hot,” he said, then revealing that he had cut the bottoms off the thick socks he wears beneath his riding boots and replaced them with…
“I just put on regular socks,” he said. “Oh, yeah. It helps a lot.”
Scott Sevens walked out of the jockeys’ room for the fifth race, his first on the card, and shook his head. “Oh, yeah, it’s hot,” he said. “The jockeys’ room is cold, too cold. I had to wear a sweatshirt in there. I need to get into the sun just to warm up.”
Just like Phoenix?
“Yeah, pretty close,” said trainer Dave Van Winkle.
At 3 p.m. the temperature was 87 degrees and the humidity was 53 percent.
Phoenx? Or maybe something approaching New Orleans.
“You got that right,” said Cajun rider Eddie Martin. Jr., who rode two more winners on the card.
Martin’s agent, Chuck Costanzo had a response to his hot rider.
“He’d be the leading rider right now if he had a decent agent,” Costanzo remarked. “I took him off a couple of sure winners.”
“Too bad the kid can’t ride,” came a response from the overheated peanut gallery.
Derek Bell had a two-word response to the heat. “It sucks,” he said.
Jockey agent Richard Grunder took another viewpoint. “We need something to gripe about,” he said.
So, that’s the way the afternoon progressed for the riders, from the deep freeze of the jockeys’ room to the heat of the walking ring.
Media assistant Brittany Chaffee had a simple solution for their woes.
“They need to eat a sandwich,” she said.
SITTING AROUND THE HOT STOVE
Horsemen gather around the television sets on the first level of the grandstand the same way the farmers once did the hot stove at the corner country store, exchanging gossip, rumors and opinion dressed up as fact.
As the crowd began to grow on the first level of the grandstand around 3 p.m., one horseman remarked, “It’s starting to fill up now. It’s a nice turnout.”
From that declaration the subject took a sudden leap to a completely different premise.
“The answer, of course, is Racino,” the fellow said. “It’s hard to compete with tracks that have the slots. Canterbury depends on the wagering dollar.”
The point, of course, was that the customers kept filing in, but the horses haven’t followed suit on the backside, resulting in too many four and five-horse fields; that, in turns, makes for fewer wagering interests and fewer dollars wagered.
Another horseman said the entire subject overheats his brain. “I get very angry,” he said. “I write my legislator all the time, but it doesn’t seem to do any good. They all just ignore the fact that 80 percent of Minnesotans are in favor of a racino.
There’s a simple explanation for that phenomenon one observer offered.
“It’s no different here than in Washington,” he said. “The folks who do the voting are no longer represented. The lobbyists here get what they want, just as they do in Washington.”