by JIM WELLS
Before the start of business on Wednesday, the appointment book at the new George Bango Memorial Dental Clinic on the backside already showed some bustling activity since opening on June 5.
The volunteer dentists who founded the program had serviced 86 patients, administered 60 cleanings, done 23 fillings, 17 extractions, 10 crowns and five dentures. They also examined seven broken teeth, three abscesses and repaired a sinus perforation.
In one case, a horse threw its head knocking out a front tooth and pushing a second backward in an exercise rider’s mouth. In addition to dental work, she required stitches in one of her lips.
Patients are required to pay a $20 payment per visit and a portion of any lab work required.
The clinic, named in honor of deceased Canterbury trainer George Bango, has been hopping, offering services to backside employees in need of all sorts of dental attention.
Dana Isaacson, a dentist with Point Family Dentistry in Bloomington, was the driving force behind the clinic and having it named for the man who trained his Claiming Crown winner, Superman Can.
Isaacson began putting the plan together after being approached by HBPA president Tom Metzen. “Tom came to me last year about this time,’ Isaacson said. “He said that there used to be one chair by the first aid office on the frontside and asked if we could put something together back here.”
Isaacson, Metzen and Bango had hunted together in the past, taking trips to South Dakota for pheasant and to Arizona for quail.
Isaacson began talking to people in the dental community, including other dentists. Viola! The three dentists who donate their services to the backside _ Isaacson, Gene Kelley and Scott Rake are all horse owners who compete at Canterbury Park.
Kelley teaches at the University of Minnesota and also practices in North St. Paul, and Rake is an oral surgeon from Lakeville.
“It’s just amazing how much those three guys have done in terms of time and money to start a great new program,” said trainer Bernell Rhone. “A lot of the people who have had work done wouldn’t have done it because of cost or not knowing where to go. Or they would have had to drive into Burnsville or someplace else.”
The dental community donated much of the equipment needed for the clinic, which occupies the former chaplain’s quarters in the racing office. Isaacson’s two assistants, Kelsy Rikkola and Angela Folen, are with him on Fridays at Canterbury. Argosy also sends out some of its students studying to be hygienists.
“I have to applaud these guys,” Rhone said. “They’ve gone above and beyond what most owners do to help out.”
Rhone and Rake were applauding a horse named Man of Men, on Thursday after he won the sixth race.
Rhone trains for Rake, whose Risdon ran second in the third race on Friday. Rake has four horse in training and as many babies on his farm in Elko, including a Cactus Ridge and a Lawyer Ron.
“He’s fairly new to the game, the last four or five years, but he’s gung ho,” said Rhone. “He goes to new owner seminars and the sales in Kentucky. I’ll mention a horse to him and he’ll call up its PPs on his phone just like that.”
Isaacson and Kelley have been around since the early Canterbury Downs days, although Isaacson had a long hiatus at one point, re-entering the game after getting into an argument with Bango in the Canterbury card room the first year it opened.
Kelley and his wife, Barb, bought 40 acres in Grant Township years ago with the idea of giving their sons a place to grow up around horses. They still have 30 acres and have four horses in training this year. Blue Gene Song, a maiden, was second in the third race on Thursday’s card.
“Barb and I grew up near Mankato and she had an uncle who raced harness horses,” Kelley said. “We used to go to the country fairs and Cannon Falls and St. Peter for the races back then.”
The Kelleys also ended up with a standardbred as their first race horse, but made the switch to thoroughbreds after Canterbury Downs opened, entering a partnership with neighbors Roy Holsten and Dr. Vic Myers.
Their first thoroughbred was Auntie’s Money by Money Changer, a stallion owned by former Milwaukee Braves slugger Joe Adcock.
“That horse had a real different personality,” said Kelley. ” He’d bite people and kick the grooms. He’d kick dirt up at the viewing stand. He’d come to the gate and spin four times, kicking dirt all around. He’d walk through a barn and kick the groom’s boxes without breaking stride.”
Auntie’s Money took advantage of a sloppy track on one occasion and beat a Canterbury legend. “We beat Timeless Prince,” said Kelley. “We caught him on a muddy day.”
Kelley said that Auntie’s Money made about $100,000, “but he cost us about $126,000 before he was done.”
Isaacson started the season with three horses and lost one at the claiming box.
He got involved in racing with a partnership. “It was the second year (1986) after the track opened,” Isaacson said. “It was just a bunch of friends, but we didn’t have a good horse and the partnership fell apart.
Isaacson dropped out of racing then until one eventful night in the Canterbury card club the year it opened when he got into an argument with trainer George Bango at a table. The two agreed to have a drink and settle their differences, a relationship developed and Isaacson was back in the horse business.
Canterbury’s dentists have been around long enough now to know that racing has things in common with the profession they practice.
Sometimes it’s very much like pulling teeth.