BLAZING ANGEL, PENSADOR WIN OAKS, DERBY

PENSADOR - Minnesota Derby - 07-30-16 - R08 - CBY - Finish

BY JIM WELLS

Follow the thread of time connected to Saturday’s stake races at Canterbury Park and it will lead slowly back to those early days of racing.

The Minnesota Derby and the Minnesota Oaks were won for the first time in Shakopee by Blair’s Cove and Princess Elaine, later lionized for their victories in those 1988 appearances and for their numerous accomplishments thereafter. There were races named in their honor, trophies inscribed with their names and fond memories exchanged before and after the memorial races each year.

There were countless others of note in the years that followed: Timeless Prince, Silver Me Timbers, Wally’s Choice, Northbound Pride, Argenti….

Numerous winners of the two races have gone on to stellar careers, and perhaps the same can be said someday about Blazing Angel and Pensador, the Oaks and Derby winners (both races were worth $85,000) on Saturday, although there are footnotes to these races. And in the $40,000 MTA Sales Graduate Futurity, a horse named Fridaynightstar was a Saturday afternoon winner.

  MINNESOTA OAKS

Nobody in this race wanted the lead, the entire field deferring politely like dinner guests turning down the last piece of pizza, until Blazing Angel, under Geovanni Franco, said  “I’ll take it.’’

“It was the strangest thing,’’ said one fan after another. “Everybody held back, waiting for someone to make a move.’’

Blazing Angel, at 26-1, began moving on the turn, put her head in front at the head of the lane and beat Honey’s Sox Appeal to the wire by 2 ½ lengths. It was 3 ¼ additional lengths to Unbridled Mayhem, in a winning time of 1:43.25.

Owned by Astar Lindquist Stable, the winner picked up a check for $51,000.

 

BLAZING ANGEL - Minnesota Oaks - 07-30-16 - R07 - CBY - Finish

 

Dazzlingsweetheart, the even-money favorite, ran off the pace and was never truly in contention, fading as she hit the top of the lane, and finished well back.

The winner’s only win in 10 previous starts was at 7 ½ furlongs over the same track in mid June. Nonetheless, trainer Gary Scherer was convinced that stretching her out would make the distance. He had run her at a mile and 1/16 previously at Keeneland and said he liked what he saw.

Saturday’s crowd clearly saw something different and turned her into a $55.80 winner.

 

MINNESOTA DERBY

 

Call it a sign from above, a stroke of luck, a windfall or any other designation of blind luck.

Winning owner Dale Schenian called it a miracle.

Dale Schenian

Dale Schenian

Somebody or something intervened sight unseen, like a whisp of wind and changed the entire texture of the derby.

The odds-on favorite for the race, Smooth Chiraz, described by trainer Francisco Bravo as a competitive but easy-going, mellow fellow, broke open the gate, ran off and was subsequently scratched by the track veterinarian.

Bravo had second horse in the race, Pensador, who took advantage of his stablemate’s absence and ran just back of the leaders before making his bid on the turn and finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of Smooth Stroke and another 5 ¾ in front of Reigning Warrior.

The win was the third for Schenian and Bravo.  Hold for More, Horse of the Year in 2015, won last year and Crocrock won in 2000.

Bravo said afterward that he wanted to run Smooth Chiraz but was overruled on the matter by the track veterinarian. “I’m very careful with my horses and I thought he was OK,’’ Bravo said.

Nonetheless, Smooth Chiraz had already run at least a quarter of a mile after breaking through the gate.

And Schenian, the vice chairman of Canterbury’s board of directors, had his third Derby win.

“What a gift that was,’’ he said. “God bless America.’’

 

     MTA SALES GRADUATE FUTURITY

How’s this for a return on investment.

Trainer Joel Berndt picked out a yearling at the MTA sale last year, Fridaynitestar, for $4,100 and Saturday afternoon in the horse’s first start picked up a check for $24,000

“I liked how he looked physically and I liked the stud (Five Star Day),’’ said Berndt about the purchase.

He liked how he looked even better on Saturday.

Under Denny Velazquez, Fridaynitestar took charge at the top of the stretch and finished 2 ¾ lengths in front of Got Even Smarter and another length in front of Nite Goggles.

If Berndt was pleased with the horse, his owners were delirious. Kevin Lay, Paul Meshke and Charlene Gabler celebrated enthusiastically as they awaited the winner’s return from the track.

 

FRIDAYNITESTAR - MTA Sales Graduate Futurity - 07-30-16 - R06 - CBY - Presentation

 

Corgi Dog Races

A four-year-old named Pendleton emerged the winner of the first annual Corgi races in Shakopee. Pendleton is described by his owners,  Alicia and Jake Ellwein of Oak Grove, as “a sophisticated Corgi who will bow to any lady when asked.” He also trained for his first races on a diet of lamb and rice.

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