Entries were taken today for opening night Friday, an eight-race program beginning at 6:30 p.m. A total of 63 horses were entered overall including seven in the $60,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes for MN bred boys.
Defending champ Speakfromyourheart, whose lone win of 2014 came in this race, returns for trainer Vic Hanson with Jenna Joubert getting the mount. The morning line favorite is Bourbon County, winner of the Crocrock Minnesota Sprint Championship on MN Festival Day 2014, with Dean Butler riding for Bernell Rhone. Bourbon County lost last year’s edition of this race by a nostril after setting the pace. Speed Is Life, winner of the 2014 Victor Myers Stakes and the Minnesota Derby, makes his first start of the year with Ry Eikleberry back in the saddle for trainer Doug Oliver. The 10,000 Lakes will be run as race seven.
Jockey Leandro Goncalves is new to Canterbury this season and was attracted to Shakopee when top Midwest trainer Tom Amoss decided to send a string. Goncalves , a multiple graded stakes winning pilot, was ranked 78th in North American by earnings last year with more than $3.2 million in purses. He has a career total of 1,527 wins in a decade of race riding. Goncalves has two mounts Friday but expect to see him riding more than that once everyone catches on.
Tom Amoss is a well-known commodity. Last year he was the ninth leading trainer in North American racing by wins and the 15th by earnings. That makes two Top 10 nationally-acclaimed trainers in the mix at Canterbury. Robertino Diodoro, Canterbury’s leading trainer in 2014, finished last year with the fifth most wins. The Amoss stable is expected to arrive, ready to run, on Wednesday.
Angela Hermann will be writing program comments and paddock commentary again this season. Her selections can be found in advance at http://www.canterburypark.com/LiveRacing/RaceAnalysis/tabid/239/Default.aspx .
Jockey Justin Shepherd is approaching a career milestone of 1,000 wins. With 998 already in the books and two mounts Friday there is a chance for a winners’ circle celebration very soon. Richard Grunder is handling business for Justin as well as newcomer Hugo Sanchez.
A Canterbury Classic, the 9-year-old Bizet, returns to Canterbury in Friday’s second race. Bizet is 20th on the list of all-time Canterbury money earners with $202,186. He has also earned another $50,000 racing in other states. The only other horse in the top 20 currently in training is Polar Plunge who is expected to run Saturday in the Lady Slipper Stakes. They are both chasing Crocrock whose career ended with Shakopee earnings of $340,452.
From Minnesota Racing Commission press release:
Three veteran ROAP-accredited senior racing officials, David Hooper, James Lages and David Smith, have been approved by the Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC) to serve as State Stewards for the 2015 Canterbury Park racing season running 70 days from Friday, May 15 through September 12.The three newly appointed officials bring a broad cross-section of cumulative racing industry experience totaling 140 years.
“These three highly experienced racing professionals are dedicated to fulfilling the MRC’s regulatory mandate to protect the integrity of horse racing in Minnesota,” states Tom DiPasquale, Executive Director of the MRC. “The MRC is also taking additional steps for improving transparency and understanding of Steward decisions by launching the “Stewards’ Watch’”.
The Stewards’ Watch will be presented on the Canterbury Live Blog (www.canterburylive.com ) and in the daily official programs. Also, the Stewards will respond to questions from fans through the blog.
Hooper will be returning to Canterbury’s steward stand for his third year, and this year will serve as Chief Steward. He is in his 55th year of service to the racing industry, 23 of those in a regulatory capacity. The New Jersey native has served as a Steward in eight states beginning in 1976 with the Kentucky Racing Commission where his mentor was Keene Daingerfield, recognized at that time as the dean of American racing officials.
Hooper has supervised the Stewards and harness racing Judges for four years while Executive Secretary of the Illinois Racing Board. He has also been a faculty member of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, teaching courses on all aspects of racing regulation. He has worked as a track announcer, hosted feature race of the day broadcasts from several tracks including Keeneland and Monmouth Park, and was the race analyst on ESPN’s coverage of the 1986 International Festival of Racing and WHAS telecasts of Derby Week and Saturday stakes at Churchill Downs for 16 years.
Lages has been involved in horse racing for 40 years, including a 10-year career as a jockey riding mostly on the East Coast and at major tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Virginia-born Lages has logged 23 years as a racing official as either placing and patrol judge, paddock judge, claims clerk and/or clerk of scales at Keeneland, Gulfstream Park, Hialeah, Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. He was appointed as State Steward in 2012 and has worked in that capacity in Florida at Gulfstream Park, Calder and Tampa Bay Downs and in Illinois at Fairmount Park before his Canterbury Park appointment.
Smith brings both trainer and longtime racing official experience to the 2015 Canterbury Board of Stewards. The Florida native, a graduate of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, worked under the tutelage of several highly successful conditioners, and became one of the youngest trainers in North America at 21. With 44 years of racing industry experience, Smith has served the past 28 years as a Steward in Illinois, Pennsylvania and most recently in Arizona.
-Notes compiled by press box staff