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Trials for the History-Rich Northlands Futurity Tuesday

Tuesday continues the long history of the Northlands Futurity with the running of three trial races to determine 10 qualifiers for the Aug. 11 final with an $86,900 purse.  Now in its 33rd rendition, the Northlands Futurity was first conducted in 1986 when this racetrack, in its second year, was called Canterbury Downs.  The purse for the inaugural was $60,554 and the race was won by Ms Gold Bug for trainer Kevin Bickerstaff with jockey John Peterson aboard. Ms Gold Bug had won three times at La Mesa Park, high in the mountains of Raton, New Mexico, before coming to Shakopee. Following the Northlands she won a trial at Val Verde Downs, a non-pari-mutuel  track in Texas.

Capones Vault won the Northlands Futurity, then a Grade 3 race, in 2002 for trainer Ed Ross Hardy and jockey Tad Leggett. It would be the first of seven Northlands wins for the Canterbury Hall of Fame trainer. Later that fall, Capones Vault, again with Leggett up, won the first-ever million dollar race in Texas by capturing the Texas Classic Futurity at Lone Star Park.

The high-water mark for the purse in the race now known as the Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity, was in 2017 with $167,600. The winner was A Jordan Reed for Hardy, who has but one entered in this year’s trials.

Trainer Jason Olmstead has prepped the winner in four of the last five years and has 12 of the 24 entries in the three trials. Protocols implemented to combat the COVID-19 pandemic severely limit travel by jockeys from track to track. For example, many of the Q riders are at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa and should they ride here, would not be allowed to return. That has caused a jockey crunch. Nik Goodwin, Canterbury’s all-time leader in Q wins and earnings, is back in Shakopee now and will ride the entire Tuesday card. Kelsi Harr, who has never ridden in a quarter horse race, has eight mounts. “I’m pretty excited about it,” Harr said. “I had a couple of trainers ask if I would ride. There’s no time like the present.”

Harr will ride three for Olmstead who in addition to the 12 in the futurity trials saddles another 11 runners. “We have 23 head. We’ll make the best of it and see what happens,” Olmstead said.

Also on the 12-race Tuesday program are two trials for the $48,775 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby which will also be run for the 33rd time on Aug. 11.