Canterbury Park, Shakopee, Minn logo

Thursday’s Turf Stakes Threatened By Possibility of Rain

Mother Nature is unforgiving.  And unpredictable. Thursday’s three $50,000 turf stakes, the Honor the Hero, Minnesota HBPA Distaff and Brooks Fields had originally been scheduled for tonight. The opportunity arose a few weeks ago to be included in an America’s Day at the Races broadcast on FS2 if Canterbury’s stakes were moved to Thursday. It was a marketing opportunity that offered increased exposure for Canterbury Park, and the decision could be and was made with enough advance notice not to impact entries.

Eventually came the seven-day forecast. It looked like a potential for rain and cooler temperatures. As the day approached, pick your meteorologist, Paul Douglas, Wren Clair, Keith Marler, they all forecast rain beginning Thursday morning and continuing throughout the day up until racing begins at 4:45pm.  They can be wrong of course. Weather, like horses, is not easy to predict.

Stall superintendent Andrew Vold reported this morning that the shippers have arrived, except for the Eoin Harty runner Brassy in the Distaff. “Maybe he looked at the forecast and turned back,” Vold joked.  Ring Leader is entered for next week so is almost certain to be scratched from the Distaff by Mac Robertson. Vold also indicated that the Fernando Bahena trained Huey Attack is not coming from Chicago.

Stakes coordinator Amber Carlisle is hopeful the stakes hold together should they come off the turf. But not a drop of rain has fallen yet. “Most of the horses are here,” she said. “Bybee [in the Honor the Hero] will run either way.”

Hope is a common theme. Jockey agent Richard Grunder has spent many a summer in Shakopee. His rider, Alonso Quinonez is mounted on Two Emmys in the Brooks Fields for Mac Robertson and After Red Sun in the Distaff at 5/2 for Clint Stuart. “It’s just a shame,” Grunder said. “I’m holding out hope. Maybe [the storm clouds] split. Alonso has such good mounts with Mac at 9/5 and then Clint Stuart. We’ve seen stranger things,” he said recalling one time when “there was a tornado in Chaska and nothing here.”

The 2020 season was shortened due to COVID-19 and with that came the loss of a few stakes races. The result is that defending champions in the Brooks Fields and the HBPA Distaff have both held their titles for nearly two years and both return to defend, maybe.

Giant Payday won the Brooks Fields in 2019, and that in fact was his last victory. He lost his subsequent start that year and went zero for four in 2020. Thursday, should he run, will be the 7-year-old’s first start since September 2020. “He won’t run if it’s off the turf,” trainer Joel Berndt said. “He is so ready. I mean ready. There are only so many opportunities for him.” If the rain does materialize and force a surface change, Berndt may be forced to wait until June 23 for the Mystic Lake Mile. “Unless we get an allowance race,” he said “That may be the only choice.”

Beach Flower has an extensive Minnesota HBPA Distaff history. She won the stake in 2017 when it was moved from the turf to a main track listed as good. In 2018 she finished second and won again in 2019. Beach Flower, now an 8-year-old, has two off track wins from six attempts. Dean Butler is named to ride as he was two years ago for trainer Mac Robertson.

Post time Thursday is 4:45pm.  Expect early scratches by 10:30am and a decision on the turf course midafternoon.

Wednesday News

Two jockeys were dismounted during the running of the fifth race. Jockey Lori Biehler’s mount Perfect Spring appeared to clip heels in the far turn with Loyal True causing her to fall. Ruben Fuentes mount Metaphar attempted to avoid traffic and Fuentes too fell. He returned to the jockeys’ quarters but took off his remaining mount. Biehler was transported to hospital with possible injuries to a wrist, ribs and ankle.

Star Tribune handicapper Jay Lietzau had six winners on top.

Pick Six carryover into Thursday is $5676.

Wednesday handle was $1,157,886.