BY JIM WELLS
Neither rain, nor slough, nor gloom of encroaching night could stay Canterbury’s steeds from swift completion of their appointed rounds on Friday night.
Although the nine-race card on this particularly damp Minnesota May evening did include more scratches than a new car in a briar patch
The track was listed as sloppy through much of the card, and the winner of the first race, Panther Prize Me, beneath Justin Shepherd, dug deep to hold off a late surge from Smarties, who drifted slightly out of the gate or might have overtaken the leader.
“They were getting’ hold of it OK,’’ said Marcus Swiontek, who was third aboard Kool Dreamin Destiny.
“As long as we don’t get any more rain, we’ll be all right,’’ said Shepherd.
Shortly before the jockeys departed their lounge for the paddock before race two, it was suggested that perhaps umbrellas wouldn’t be out of order on such a night.
“Not very aerodynamic, though,’’ said jockey Lori Keith. “And we’d look a bit like Mary Poppins.’’
Then the temperature seemed to drop like a mallet.
“It feels like March,’’ said paddock analyst Angela Hermann.
Jorge Carreno, who spent the winter in the Valley of the Sun, competing at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, had provided a bit of understatement moments earlier after winning the fifth race aboard a Francisco Bravo-trainee named Skiing On Butter, who might have thought at various points in the race that he was doing just that.
“Yeah, it’s kinda chilly. A little bit,’’ Carreno said afterward.
The sixth race produced the true irony of the evening, sending a couple of Phoenicians once more to the winner’s circle. Geovanni Franco rode a second-time starter _ get ready for this _ named Plenty of Sun for Turf Paradise trainer Valorie Lund.
Although the temperature at 9 p.m. was 54 degrees, there was a stiff breeze blowing across the infield that kept the flags fluttering ambitiously and created a wind chill factor that set the clock back, oh, at least seven or eight weeks.
Perhaps the highlight of the card was race seven in which George Ray and Five Seasons dueled from midstretch to the wire, with George Ray and Hugo Sanchez drawing off in the final jumps.
Pressbox impresario Jeff Maday handicapped the eighth race outloud, repeating several times that a horse name Oriental Secret, a 2-1 morning line selection, was, in his calculations, “bad goods.’’
He had it half right. Oriental Secret, the horse that was bad goods, delivered the goods – under Israel Hernandez.
And, to top off a chilly, wet evening, what could have been better than having a horse named Macho Storm win the nightcap. Except he didn’t. That distinction went to Steviefromstanley, giving Eddie Martin his first win of the meet.