By Noah Joseph
When a horse wins a stakes race, it has to be considered a thrill. To win the same stakes race twice, it’s considered an accomplishment. But to win the same race three times in a row, one has to consider greatness. Very few horses in racing overall achieve such a lofty feat, but when they do succeed, people don’t forget it. One such horse who achieved that glory was Coconino Slim.
Coconino Slim was bred in Minnesota by Catherine DeCourcy, who also owned him during his racing career. He was sired by Slew City Slew, a multiple Grade 1 stakes winner who even competed at Canterbury and won the Canterbury Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap in 1988. Coconino Slim’s dam was Wonder Luck, who ran at Canterbury in the early 1990s and was stakes placed. With that kind of pedigree, Coconino Slim was meant to be a good horse. Coconino Slim didn’t make his debut until midway through his three-year-old season in 2010. He finished 2nd in his first career start then followed that up with a maiden breaking score on August 19th. Coconino Slim was then entered in the Minnesota Sprint Championship on Festival of Champions Day, his first start in stakes company. It didn’t go well as he was fractious at the gate and finished last while making no impact in the race. But during his four-year-old campaign, a change was made. Coconino Slim was moved from the barn of trainer Bryan Porter to Mac Robertson, the most successful trainer in the history of racing in Minnesota. In that time, it was discovered that Coconino Slim was a better horse going a route distance of two turns than a sprinter around one turn. He won two consecutive starts going around two turns on both dirt and turf. These two changes altered the career trajectory of Coconino Slim and would soon lead to greater success.
In 2012, despite three consecutive runner-up finishes, Coconino Slim was entered in the
Minnesota Classic Championship Stakes and was made the favorite in the one mile dirt contest. He won the race going wire to wire by just over two lengths under Tanner Riggs. The next season would follow a similar path, as Coconino Slim was would come up close in many races, but just couldn’t quite get the win. But in the Minnesota Classic Championship Stakes, he was once again made the favorite and once again he came out on top, this time by five lengths under Alex Canchari. In 2014, Coconino Slim attempted to make history as the first horse to win the Minnesota Classic Championship (now called the Wally’s Choice Minnesota Classic Championship) three consecutive years. The fans were confident in his chances, and they once again made him the favorite to achieve his three-peat. Coconino Slim was tested in the race for the first time by the stubborn longshot Affirmed Cure, who looked to spoil his bid for glory, but Coconino Slim dug in like the champion he was and held on to win by a head under Seth Martinez. Coconino Slim had made history, and he did it in style. That victory would be the last start for Coconino Slim in a career that saw him win eight times, finish in the top 3 fifteen times, and earn over $235,000. Coconino Slim was, and still is, a Canterbury Classic.