By Katie Merritt
Owner Anthony Didier, a Nebraska native, has been a fan of horse racing his whole life. He grew up in Davidson, Nebraska, about 30 miles from Columbus and 70 miles from Omaha, so he frequented the racetracks there as often as he could. He saved up money for years, and in 1989, he decided he wanted to use that money to buy a racehorse.
Didier approached trainer Herb Riecken at Ak-Sar-Ben Racecourse to find out how to get involved. “I went to him for advice to get started in racing and he said, ‘Well I have a horse for you that I’ll sell you that will be a good start for you,'” Didier explained. “I said will ‘you train him’ and he said ‘No, but I have a nephew that’s just starting and he’s going to be really good.'” The horse’s name was Dr. Ralph, the nephews name was Bruce Riecken. Didier bought the horse, put him in Bruce’s shedrow, and Dr. Ralph won his first two starts for him. “I was hooked!” Didier laughed.
Almost thirty years later, Didier still sends all of his horses to Bruce Riecken to train and the pair have had quite a bit of success together. Coming here for the last 20 years, since Ak-Sar-Ben closed, they have racked up several stakes victories. Didier’s homebred, Rock ‘N Fire, won the Minnesota Classic Championship Stakes and the Victor S. Myers Jr. Stakes in 2006, and Cubfanbudman won the Minnesota Derby in 2008. The best horse Didier has had thus far is the sprinting superstar Nomorewineforeddie. ‘Eddie’ won five stakes here at Canterbury Park, including wins in the Minnesota Sprint Championship for three consecutive years.
Didier loves the thrill that being an owner and watching his horses run gives him, and he’s been fortunate to have some horses that have provided many exciting moments over the years. “When you win, there’s not another feeling like that,” he said. After the Canterbury meet, his horses go to Churchill, then Keeneland, before they spend the winter at Oaklawn. Though he still lives in Nebraska, Didier comes to Shakopee every couple weeks to watch his horses race and hopefully get a picture taken in the winner’s circle. “Canterbury is like my second summer home,” he beamed, “I love it here, it’s a great place!”