BY JIM WELLS
VICTOR S. MYERS STAKES
The joy of winning a race can sometimes be enough including as it does validation of a job well done. The monetary reward that goes with it is additional compensation for the investment of time and money, and sometimes there is even more.
Take the case of Francisco Bravo, the trainer of Smooth Chiraz, Monday’s convincing winner of the $60,000 Victor S. Myers Stakes Monday, named for the late veterinarian who played various roles in the early years of Minnesota racing.
The victory was special to Bravo for additional reasons. While studying at the University of River Falls in the 1970s, Bravo met Myers, who was part of the equine program there. “He became a mentor to me and we became friendly,’’ Bravo recalled. “I learned a lot from the man.’’
Special indeed, how lives sometimes overlap, drift apart and are then reconnected, even in a spiritual way as was the case Monday with Bravo, who saddled his third winner of this race. He saddled last year’s winner, Hold for More, who was selected Horse of the Meet, as well as 2000 winner Crocrock
Smooth Chiraz, winner of the Northern Lights Futurity by a head over Cupid’s Delight last year, expanded that margin to seven lengths Monday over the same stablemate, who finished ¾ length in front of front-running speedster Bar fight.
Smooth Chiraz beat only one of his six rivals out of the gate but was a half length behind Bar Fight at the half-mile marker and, gathering steam, was 2 ½ in front at the top of the lane and steadily increased the lead in the stretch run.
FRANCES GENTER STAKES
Dazzlingsweetheart typically takes charge shortly out of the gate and can then go to the lead and stay there. Imagine what she might do if she learns how to break cleaner and quicker.
Not that she needs to, at least not yet.
After all, she is three-for-three after winning this $60,000 Stakes race in convincing style on Monday.
With Chris Rosier in the irons, Dazzlingsweetheart beat only one other filly out of the gate but was at the head of the seven-horse field quickly and lead thereafter, finishing 3 ¼ lengths in front of Honey’s Sox Appeal and another 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Stella’s Princess.
The winning time was 1:09.95, second fastest in this event that was first run in 1988.
“She got away a little slow from the gate,’’ said Rosier, “but she made up for it quickly.’’
The winner is owned by Barry and Joni Butzow and trained by Joe Sharp. Barry Butzow complimented Rosier’s resilience, his ability to deal with the “ups and downs” of horse racing with composure.’’
WELCOME BACK PAUL NOLAN
Paul Nolan won the riding title at Canterbury Park in 2006 and is frequently cited for his victory in the 1997 Lady Canterbury Stakes aboard 32-1 longshot K Z Bay.
After an absence of several years from Shakopee while riding in other jurisdictions, Nolan planned to ride the entire meet at Canterbury this summer until an accident curtailed that plan.
He was galloping horses for Michael Stidham at the time and while grazing a filly one morning was kicked in the chest, a blow that broke two of his ribs.
On Monday, Nolan returned to the saddle with one mount, a filly named First Hunter trained by the meet’s current leading trainer Mac Robertson and bred and owned by Joel Zamzow of Duluth.
You might recall a filly named Hunter’s Tiger Paw from year’s past, a horse named by Zamzow’s daughter Hunter who was five at the time. That horse is the dam to First Hunter and Hunter the daughter, who’ll shortly turn 15, was on hand in the winner’s circle after the fifth race.
Track announcer Paul Allen made the crowd aware of Nolan’s special connection to Canterbury in the winner’s circle after the race, and the rider, happy but a bit winded, was clearly pleased by the reception.
First Hunter has had trouble switching leads and Mac explained that to Nolan when he worked the horse the other day.
Sure enough, she balked at switching in Monday’s race.
When Nolan gave her a stern request, she at last replied, breaking to the lead and the win. “Without that, she doesn’t win,’’ Nolan said.
The race was for Minnesota-bred maidens at a mile and 70 yards on the turf. Thus, First Hunter collected her first win, Nolan got a reintroduction to Shakopee racing and the Zamzow family returned to Duluth on a happy note.
THE LAST WORD
Owner Jeff Hilger was discussing his horse, Bar Fight, a son of former Horse of the Year Chick Fight, shortly before the Victor S Myers Stakes.
“He has amazing speed. He could beat some quarter horses,’’ Hilger remarked, adding that he was probably best at quarter horse distances, too. “He goes right to the front. Now we have to figure out how to keep him there through the whole race.’’
“He had such a big lead in his last race that nobody could catch him,’’ Hilger said. “But he almost collapsed at the finish line.’’
Bar Fight went straight to the lead on Monday, too, and hung on for show money.