WET OR DRY, MYSTIC LAKE DERBY ON TAP

 

Hot Shot Kid and Alex Canchari

By JIM WELLS

Hammers Terror and then Dorsett, with Lori Keith aboard both, claimed the first two races, followed by Long On Value, Nun the Less and last year One Mean Man with Orlando Mojica in the irons.

The sixth winner of Saturday’s $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby will come from a field of eleven (depending on the weather, of course) that will chase the richest purse of the meet.

There are sentimental favorites, of course, locally owned or Minnesota-bred horses that might be hard pressed to stay abreast or, quite the opposite, could be legitimate factors once the race unfolds.

The reigning question, of course, is the forecast of heavy rain and what impact that will have. Will the race stay on the grass or will it be moved to the dirt? Will that reduce the field and, if so, how many horses will defect?

Trainers seldom tip their hands regarding such proclamations until a decision has been made before a race. Owners often leave the decision entirely to the trainer without objection.

Foremost among those sentimental horses in this race is a three-year-old leading the way for Horse of the Year at Canterbury Park, a Minnesota-bred owned by an Iowa man with a rider from Shakopee. The horse is Hot Shot Kid, winner of five straight races and five of eight overall. The rider is Alex Canchari. The owner is Warren Bush, of Wall Lake, Iowa.

Bush is unable to attend because of a long-planned vacation trip to the East Coast, where on Friday afternoon he was dining on Maine lobster while seated at a picnic table in an outdoor venue that only enhanced an already exquisite lunch.

“When I look at the race on paper, he’s right there,’’ said Bush, whose son, Chad, will attend in his stead. “I think he has a pretty good shot. We can’t let a speed horse go to the front, can’t let one get away.’’

Siem Riep, trained by Ben Colebrook, likes the lead, where he has won his last two starts, as does Mongolian Greywolf, who broke his maiden on the lead two weeks ago at Arlington Park.

Turf or dirt does not create a question for Bush.

“We’re a go. No matter what.’’

The morning line favorite (7/2) is Giant Payday, a son of Giant’s Causeway owned by Bob Lothenbach of Wayzata and trained by Ian Wilkes, followed by Siem Riep at 4-1.

“Does that make us a winner,’’ cracked Wilkes upon the news his horse was the favorite.

Wilkes, too, is reserving judgment if the race is taken off the turf. “I’ll talk to Bob and we’ll make a decision,’’ he said. “But this horse has run on both surfaces. He’s adaptable to both.’’

Wilkes will not attend the race Saturday night, either. He trains a horse named McCraken, an entry in the Travers Stakes.

There are other locally owned horses in the lineup as well: Carolyn Friedberg and Jeff Larson’s Red Corvette and Barry and Joni Butzow’s Line Judge.

INDIAN RELAY RACES

The Tissidimit team, representing the Sho-Ban tribes from Fort Hall, Idaho, won its second heat of the three-day competition, setting itself up for a run at the title in Saturday’s championship heat.

Rider Jared Sarino is familiar with being in this position at Canterbury. He won this event three years ago.

Heat two on Friday went to the Abrahamson Relay of the Colville reservation, with rider Dani Buffalo Jr. They are in a line for a $10,000 bonus as winner’s of the competition at Emerald Downs should they claim the title in Saturday’s championship.

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