One Famous Minnesota Mother


Mother’s Day is a very important one to me.  Miss H. is my best friend, confidant and biggest fan.  I’m sure many of you feel the same way about your matriarch, and today is their day.  I’d personally like to thank mine for loving me despite the years of hell that I put her through….but all of the mothers out there deserve more credit than they’ll ever receive for the intricate role they play in our lives.  In the equine spectrum, so much attention gets paid to stud deals, stallion rankings, etc. that sometimes the other half of the equation gets lost in the shuffle.  Technically, this is also Dam’s day isn’t it?

Not that I’d know personally, but the Derby winner is a perfect example of the amplified pride and joy that comes with not only owning a winning horse but breeding them.  California Chrome is a pretty extreme example, but the pride of arranging the genetics of a winner isn’t limited to Kentucky Derby champions.  The cool thing about Minnesota racing is that many of the names that appear under the “Dam” column are mares that we’ve had the privilege of seeing at Canterbury in decades past.  The homebred more common here than it is in a lot of other establishments, and it makes it easy to root for a young horse if his/her mother was one of your favorites.  On this very special Sunday, I’m celebrating with my own but also taking a moment to recognize one of the most popular Mothers in Minnesota – Plana Dance.

The story, fittingly, starts with her mother Planajinsky.  She raced one season at Canterbury, breaking her maiden in 1990.  She too was bred by the Colvins and retired after not finishing her final start of 1990. She only produced one foal after being bred twice, but as luck would have it that’s all she needed to forever make her mark on Minnesota racing.  After not taking when bred to Big Pistol, Northern Flagship had a date with the daughter of Encino.  The result was the subject of this blog, and Plana Dance came into the world on March 28th, 1993. 

I’m sure that many of you reading this have your own memory of Plana Dance, and I know that I only got to see the latter part of her career simply due to age – But man, she was fun to watch.  Her rivalry with Courtly Kathy over the years made for suspense and action regardless of field size or purse….and those two mares wanted nothing more than to win.  She didn’t miss the board as a two year old but started out for a $20,000 tag – the last time she was ever risked in such a condition.  Plana Dance didn’t break well but still made quick work of a full field to win by three and hint at the talent that would spill out over the next few years.  She could run on turf, she could run on dirt, she could go short, she could go long – A true racehorse.  I was just getting into the sport as she was approaching her exit, but picture it: Twelve year old yells at four horse race on TV at 10:00 am.  Huh?  I was watching the 1998 Minnesota Distaff Classic Championship the next morning, as I could only manage to record the replay show.  Still, Courtly Kathy and Plana Dance settled into their own match race practically out of the gate and didn’t disappoint in what would be the final chapter in their rivalry.  Yes, they met each other in the 1999 Princess Elaine but Courtly Kathy hardly put up a fight; PD finished second that day and never saw another starting gate. It seems fitting that she won all 11 of her races for her Minnesotan fans to see, though she could hold her own if she ventured elsewhere like Hoosier Park or Arlington.   Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

The breeding shed sort of went the way of Plana Dance’s racing career – Of course there was potential, but it took a while to come through.  Sahm Sweetheart was a nice filly, and certainly the better of the first few of Plana Dance’s foals.  She produced six foals (a seventh died) from 2001-2008 and none won a stake or even came close except for the aforementioned filly.   Obviously, she was saving her best for the next.  Her 2009 foal immediately makes you think of her when you see him (he’s not petite) and the ability is definitely in the genes.  We once again get the privilege of seeing her best foal on Opening Night this Friday, and his name is Heliskier.  For that treat we all owe his human “Mother” Marlene Colvin a big thank you.  Without the horsemanship and passion of the Colvins, none of this would be possible.

And of course, Happy Mothers’ Day Plana Dance.


Angela Hermann


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