In an alternate universe, one yet beyond the probing telescopes of NASA, there is a wiener dog track at which thoroughbred races are sometimes featured.
Fans turn out in droves to watch their favorite ponies on these novelty afternoons.
Fantasy? First hear this:
Canterbury’s player development director Clair Kratochvil was asked Monday by a fan in the upstairs area of the grandstand: “Are there horses racing today, too?”
Or as Canterbury Park CEO/president Randy Sampson put it: “We do manage to squeeze in a few horse races too on wiener dog days.’’
Sometimes fans of the sport of kings are so trapped in our particular bubbles that greater realities and truths elude us.
But, yes, Virginia, there really is a thing called horse racing. It’s just hard to fathom with all those cute little puppies running their hearts out.
Under sunny skies and a refreshing breeze, it was once again wiener dog day at Canterbury Park on Monday with qualifiers competing for the grand prize _ wiener dog of the year, an honor that includes $100 in lottery scratch-off tickets. It is a highly coveted prize, something on the order of, oh, winning a stake race on Festival of Champions day, which coincidentally took place on Sunday in case you missed it. It is held annually at Canterbury, in between wiener dog days.
There were six wiener dog heats on Monday that determined 12 finalists for the championship race.
And the winner was?
First time runner Esker, four, a very shy animal around strangers, not so shy when it comes to outrunning his competitors. “It’s nervous anxiety,’’ said his owner, Joy Loughry of St. Paul. “He’s fast and he wants his mama.’’
Louie was second. Owned by Dan and Mary Krosschell, Louie was a new competitor, too, but the third place dog was not. That would be Duke, the 2013 champion who finished third for his owner, Mike Wrona.
There was news other than the short dogs with long bodies and ears on Labor Day.
Jockey Patrick Canchari was back, having missed Sunday’s card because of a morning accident. He was bearing the wounds when he returned on Monday, a broken nose and black eye, the result of making contact with his face to a horse’s head.
There was also interesting movement in the race for leading jockey. Dean Butler won three races on the Festival of Champions card to take the lead from the absent Ry Eikleberry, who was riding Sunday in New Mexico. It so happened that Alex Canchari returned from a riding suspension on Sunday, too, to resume his bid in the race.
“I thought I had three who could win (on Sunday),’’ said Butler. “And they all showed up.’’
Thus, the defending riding champ and four-time winner of the title took a one-win lead over Eikleberry that was shortlived on Monday after Canchari brought in Lady Angel in the third race to tie Butler. Both have 56 wins.
As a prelude to what’s yet to come perhaps, with six racing days left, Butler reclaimed the lead with a winning ride aboard A Fitzing Reward in the final card on the card.
Meanwhile, just when perennial training champ Mac Robertson appeared to be drawing off after extending his lead to five in that race, Robertino Diodoro won three races on Monday to cut Robertson’s lead to two.
By the way, there was a mild objection from the owner of one wiener dog contestant who didn’t like the presence of a fellow named Ace, who came in at 41 pounds and appeared a great deal more bulldog than dachshund.
“The only wiener dog in that fellow is probably in his stomach,’’ someone remarked.
And so it went on Wiener Dog Day 2014.
BY JIM WELLS