A majority of the 12,226 in attendance Saturday at Canterbury Park came to watch a simulcast of the Belmont Stakes and American Pharoah become the 12th thoroughbred in history to win the Triple Crown, but the 10-race undercard of live racing provided its share of, if not history, thrills and generous pari-mutuel payouts.
The only betting favorite to win was Az Ridge in the $75,000 Brooks Fields Stakes. Jockey Geovanni Franco sent the 6-year-old to the lead going into the first turn and repelled all challengers, winning the one-mile turf race by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:35.91. Az Ridge, who has now won four consecutive starts, is owned by Sawyer Cattle Company and is trained by Dan McFarlane. He paid $4.60 to win. El Seventyseven was second and Honor the Kitten finished third.
“Like wine, he gets better with age,” McFarlane said of the winner. “He used to be a nervous horse but he has mellowed.”
The co-featured $75,000 Minnesota HBPA Distaff Stakes, also at one-mile on the turf, was won with a deep-stretch charge by Stoupinator and jockey Dean Butler. The 5-year-old mare, owned by Joseph Novogratz of Excelsior, Minn. and trained by Mac Robertson, returned $9.60 to win. Finishing second by 3/4 lengths was Notte d’Oro and third was Awesome Flower. Final time over the firm course was 1:35.96.