BY JIM WELLS
You can hear it in the line at your local Cub Foods, the queue at the ATM machine and especially in the racing offices at Canterbury Park.
Where did the summer go?
It’s an annual mystery for all of humankind, but nowhere do the days evaporate as quickly as those spent at the racetrack, where the constant grind of this particular sport can make the hours, days and weeks whirl past a person as if he hasn’t moved a muscle.
Whiff, poof, whisss….
Just like that there are a mere 16 days remaining in the live racing season. Here and gone, the turning of another calendar page. but much is still not over. There are unresolved questions yet to be settled.
As often is the case, the race for leading rider has taken a new, dramatic twist as the days wind down.
Dean Butler, a four-time leading rider in Shakopee, had 10-12 win lead and more midway through the 70-day meet. Leandro Goncalves, who joined the colony in Shakopee for the first time this summer has slowly, steadily and now with a sudden surge moved into the lead.
The Brazilian rider was asked Sunday if he keeps track of such things as jockey standings. A grin spread across his face.
“Well,’’ he said. “I’ve been chasing and chasing all summer and now I’m in the lead. But you can’t think about such things. You just go out and ride each time and do the job.’’
Goncalves wound up in Shakopee this summer largely through the influence of Tom Amoss, and riding for that barn has been a significant factor in his success this summer.
Goncalves finished off a solid week with two wins on Sunday’s card to finish with six. “Yes, it’s been a good week,’’ he said. “Quite good.’’
He had a win on the Thursday and Friday cards and two on Saturday to take a two-win lead over Butler, and both riders had two wins on Sunday. The second of Butler’s two wins came in the seventh race with a perfectly timed moved aboard Counterfactual to catch Circus Girl at the wire. The irony of that Butler victory was that it came aboard an Amoss-trained horse. Goncalves was fourth aboard the Dallas Keen trained Melody Linn. Butler, meanwhile, continues to assault the yearly jockey earnings record he set last year each time he picks up a check.
Goncalves has enjoyed this first time experience in Shakopee and said he is committed to riding here again if everything works out. “I really like it here,’’ he said. “So did my son. He texted me to make sure I could back here. I would really like that. It all depends on business, of course.’’
Goncalves rode previously at Churchill Downs and Kenneland Race Course, Indiana Downs and at Gulfstream Park in Flordia, which he calls home. His son Guylherme, 13, lives in Brazil, and has pestered his father for another visit to Minnesota after his stay here this summer. “We both like it,” Leandro said.
Goncalves has won seven riding titles during his career at various tracks.. Might this be the meet in which he makes it eight?
“We will see,’’ he said. “I sure hope so.’’