La Petite Cheri, 2015 Northern Lights Debutante champion, remained undefeated in three starts by winning the second race last Friday. The 3-year-old filly was facing older Minnesota-breds in a dirt sprint in her seasonal debut.
“We don’t like to run 3-year-olds against older,” Canterbury Chairman of the Board and La Petite Cheri’s owner Curtis Sampson said as he entered the walking ring prior to the race. “We didn’t really have a choice. She’ll probably run fourth.”
The patriarch of the Sampson empire had to be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
La Petite Cheri, a filly that won last year by sitting well off the pace and closing, showed a different style this time. Jockey Hugo Sanchez had her right near the pace.
Russ Sampson, Curt’s son, takes credit for the ride. “I told Hugo, you go and claim the rail, then give her a breather.”
Hugo did just that and then, at the top of the stretch, La Petite Cheri swung into position behind the lone speed, Shaboom and Dean Butler, and out finished her elder to win by a half-length.
“Hugo said he could have won by more,” Russ said.
The betting public got it right, as late money poured in on La Petite Cheri, making her the favorite at 1.90 to 1 odds.
“We could have run her in the 3-year-old stake,” Russ said, referring to the open-company L’Etoile du Nord on May 22. “We decided to stay with Minnesota-breds.”
A Minnesota-bred did run in the L’Etoile du Nord however and finished second. That was Jeana Baby, a filly bred by the Bleu Valley Farm and the late Cam Casby. She sold for $100,000 at auction and ran four times in California. She was claimed for $50,000 from her maiden breaking win in that fourth start.
“That filly may be the one to win it all,” Russ said. ‘All’ would be the Frances Genter Stakes on July 4 and the $85,000 Minnesota Oaks on July 30. Both races are restricted to 3-year-old Minnesota-bred fillies.