BY JIM WELLS
The Ulwellings set two goals for themselves approaching the 2010 racing season in Shakopee:
1. They wanted to run a horse in a Claiming Crown race.
2. They wanted to finish the year as the leading owners at Canterbury Park.
Scratch No. 1. That didn’t happen. Bill and Al had 10 nominees to the annual extravaganza for claimers. For a variety of reasons, none of them made it. Some of those nominees were claimed, and Richland Creek, who was right on track, developed an abscess on a foot. “Our first goal wasn’t realized,” Bill said.
The second goal is still on track.
Heading into Sunday’s card, the first day of the last month of racing in Shakopee, the Ulwellings had a solid lead in wins among Canterbury owners.
With 17 wins, they had 10 more than Miguel Silva. Their overall numbers are quite impressive as well. Their win percentage was 40 percent; their in-the-money figure was 72 percent, with total earnings of $169,260.
They had hoped to pick up another win in Sunday’s third race from Highflyertotheline, but the two-year-old chestnut colt _ picked by nearly every handicapper alive to smoke the field, including Bill himself _ didn’t even place.
On the contrary, it was the Mac Robertson-trained Picko’s Pride, owned by Joni and Barry Butzow, who had the distinction of laying waste to six rivals.
Bill Ulwelling has been a fan of horse racing since its inception in Shakopee, but an owner only the last six years. He and his son, Al, own a crane company based in Elk River that has grown steadily the last 15 years.
So, too, has their stable.
The Ulwellings own and lease a number of cranes in addition to building power plants and garbage burners.
Their stable consists at the moment of 24 horses in training and two broodmares. Mike Biehler has 10 Ulwelling-owned horses in his barn, but the total number was due to grow as early as the next couple of days.
Al is at Sartoga, planning to claim as many as five horses while watching the stable’s Backtrack run in the $150,000 Grade II Amsterdam on Monday. Backtrack is trained by Merrill Scherer and will be ridden on Monday by Julien Leparoux.
“He’s in tough. We know that,” Bill said.
Backtrack is 20-1 in the morning line. The favorite, at 8-5, is Discreetly Mine.
Meanwhile, Bill Ulwelling and Biehler are at Assiniboia Downs where Stachys will run as the 3-1 morning line second choice in today’s $75,000 Manitoba Derby. Also running in that race is 15-1 Mankato Strike, trained by Charlie Smith.
Some of the Ulwellings’ horses are at Presque Isle Downs, others are with Scherer in New York.
Once the meet in Shakopee ends, the Ulwellings will round out the year at Hawthorne, Remington Park and the Fair Grounds.
PROCTOR BACK IN SADDLE, WINNER’S CIRCLE.
Don Proctor, of the three riders injured in the spill at Canterbury Park on July 2, has been back in the saddle since last Tuesday, when he rode one race at Prairie Meadows.
He has been at Canterbury all weekend, and Sunday afternoon brought in a three-year-old filly named Gents Suprem Lady for owners Dennis Strohkirch and Tom Hauge.
The owners had wondered if Proctor was truly ready, but trainer Troy Bethke had no doubts.
Proctor proved him right, riding the filly to a maiden-breaking effort in race seven for $10,000 maiden claimers.
The win was Proctor’s first since returning to the saddle.
“I’m okay if I keep moving and riding,” Proctor said. “I gallop in the morning. But once I stop, everything starts to stiffen up.”
Proctor hurt his back in the spill, injuring a vertebra.
He, like Scott Stevens and Paul Nolan, also injured in the spill, is overwhelmed by the response from fans, agents and other riders to their situation.