MRC-Hosted Town Hall Meeting April 26

The public is welcome to participate in this conversation with staff from the Minnesota Racing Commission.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Canterbury Park Triple Crown Club

12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Key Topics:

  • Welcoming returning horsemen
  • Introduction of Stewards and other racing officials
  • Update on proposed rule changes
  • Report on Association of Racing Officials Safety and Integrity meeting in Charlestown, S.C.
  • Open Discussion

Hosted by Tom DiPasquale – Executive Director of Minnesota Racing Commission

$25,000 Road to Kentucky Contest continues Saturday

Even though the Kentucky Derby prep races are complete, Canterbury’s Road to Kentucky Contest action continues Saturday, offering weekly cash prizes to the top performers. The contest track will be Keeneland.

Have a look at the previous winners and contest rules here.


Live Racing Returns Friday, May 5

First post on opening day is 4:00 p.m.

Simulcast of the Kentucky Oaks at 4:49 PM followed by more live racing into the evening.

Friday’s during the meet are Minnesota’s Biggest Happy Hour with opening night music provided by Tim Mahoney on the Mystic Lake Music Stage®

Food and Beverage Specials include:

$2: Chili, and Hot Links

$3: Regular Tap Beer Specials and Pizza Slice at Pizza & Pasta

$3.50: Premium Tap Beer Specials

$4: Margaritas Featuring Kimo Sabe Mezcal, Select Craft Bottled Beer, and Chili Cheese Tater Tots

$4.50: House Wine

Stable Area Welcomes Horsemen; Track Opens for Training Thursday

Canterbury Park’s stable area officially opened today.  Horses by the trailer and van load will be arriving over the next several weeks to ready for opening day, Friday, May 5. The main track opens for morning activity Thursday at 6:00 a.m. The training track will open April 25.

Stall superintendent Andrew Vold expects the 33 barns to be at capacity this summer, with several new trainers committing to race in Shakopee.

New track superintendent Ken Brown has been working the main track relentlessly and Sunday’s morning rain has greened up the turf course which should see its first use mid-May.

Minnesota breds prepping elsewhere

Both Hold for More and Pensador, owned by Dale Schenian and trained by Francisco Bravo, are entered in the ninth race Tuesday at Will Rogers Downs in a one mile allowance race. Neither has raced since September at Canterbury.

Pensador was the winner of the Minnesota Derby last season and Hold for More, who is 7 for 14 lifetime, won the Crocrock Minnesota Sprint Championship.

The first Minnesota bred stakes take place Saturday, May 20 with the 10,000 Lakes Stakes for colts and geldings and the Lady Slipper Stakes for fillies and mares. Both are six furlong sprints with $50,000 purses. Hold for More was second in the 2016 rendition of the 10,000 Lakes.

This past Saturday, the final race day of the Oaklawn meet, Minnesota bred colt Hot Shot Kid was victorious in an $80,000 maiden route. Alex Canchari was aboard the 3-year-old who is owned and bred by Warren Bush of Carroll, Iowa. Canterbury Hall of Famer Mac Robertson is the trainer.

Hot Shot Kid wins at Oaklawn with Alex Canchari aboard. Photo : Coady Photography

“Little” Big Thrill Factory Opening at Canterbury Park


Twin Cities-based entertainment venue Big Thrill Factory announced plans today to open “Little” Big Thrill Factory, a smaller-format seasonal flagship venue at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota. The concept is the company’s first pop-in location since opening its doors in 2013. Slated to open Memorial Day weekend May 26, 2017, the new indoor-outdoor space offers an edited assortment of amusements for all ages including arcade games, miniature bowling and a wipeout trampoline designed exclusively for Big Thrill Factory.

“Little Big Thrill Factory is excited to launch at Canterbury Park,” said Darrel Blomberg, Big Thrill Factory General Manager. “This amazing opportunity provides us with a platform to connect directly with customers and introduce our brand in a new and exciting way. We are thrilled to extend Big Thrill Factory’s fun-for-all approach to Shakopee and surrounding communities.”

Randy Sampson, Canterbury Park CEO and President said, “This was an easy decision. Big Thrill Factory is the perfect partner.” Adding, “Canterbury Park has been a popular entertainment destination for over 20 years. The addition of an exceptional brand like Big Thrill Factory further solidifies our goal to create a clean, safe and family-friendly experience for our guests.”

The Canterbury Park venue will be the third Big Thrill Factory location to open in the Twin Cities. With roots in Minnetonka and Oakdale, Big Thrill Factory provides a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience that resonates with all ages.

About Big Thrill Factory
Big Thrill Factory, a locally owned leader in “eatertainment,” provides a distinctive ‘eat, play, celebrate’ experience with a unique variety of indoor and outdoor games and attractions, chef-inspired food and beverage selections and event spaces for groups both large and small. From Go Karts to Laser Tag, a Ropes Course, Miniature Golf, Trampolines, an Escape Room and more, Big Thrill Factory delivers intense fun and thrills for all ages. For more information, visit



Arkansas Derby Saturday

The Oaklawn race meet comes to a close this week as the Hot Springs, Ark. racetrack features the Racing Festival of the South. The Grade I Arkansas Derby, with a $1 million purse, highlights Saturday’s card. The entire Saturday program will be used for the Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest, plus the Lexington Stakes from Keeneland.

Prize money is awarded weekly.

Daniels wins Spring Tune-Up Satellite

Mike Daniels hit the Blue Grass longshot winner Irap to win the April 8 Spring Tune-Up Satellite Contest. He earned an entry to the September Dog Days Tournament plus $1,350 in cash. Steve Laurent was second. He too will play in Dog Days and received $810. Bruce Meyer was third. He wins entry to the Ultimate NHC Qualifier plus $540.

Earn Double MVP Rewards Points on Keeneland wagers

The Cash in on Keeneland promotion continues through the end of the Keeneland meet. Earn double MVP Rewards points on all Keeneland wagers using made using the MVP Rewards card on Thursdays, Friday, and Sundays.

UPI Horse Racing Roundup – April 8


UPI Racing Writer

Irap, Irish War Cry and Gormley stepped to the front of the Kentucky Derby list with victories in weekend races while Winx continued her winning ways in Australia and Hong Kong saluted a couple of budding stars.

The road to the Kentucky Oaks, meanwhile, saw dominating performances by Miss Sky Warrior and Paradise Woods and a big upset by Sailor’s Valentine.

No upset here. We’re right into action:

The Road to the Roses

Irap entered Saturday’s $1 million Grade II Blue Grass at Keeneland still a maiden after seven starts and exited in the mainstream of Kentucky Derby consideration. With Julien Leparoux up, the Tiznow colt raced right behind the early pace, took over on the turn and held on to win by 3/4 length over Practical Joke. McCraken, previously undefeated, ran evenly to finish third as he returned from a minor injury that delayed his schedule. J Boys Echo, Tapwrit, It’s Your Nickel and pacesetter Wild Shot completed the order of finish. Irap, trained by Doug O’Neill for J. Paul Reddam, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.39 with Julien Leparoux in the irons. Irap showed promise as a 2-year-old, finishing second in the Grade I Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity, and again this year, finishing second in the Grade III Robert B. Lewis. But he continued to fall short in two starts in New Mexico in his most recent starts, most recently a disappointing fourth in the Grade III Sunland Derby. “He’s a son of Tiznow, and he has a ton of ability,” O’Neill said. “The fact he was still a maiden was kind of unfortunate, but he’s always been a talented horse. Julien gave him a great ride. Unbelievable.” About the Kentucky Derby, he said, “That’s the plan,” adding he will continue to train Irap at Keeneland. “I really believe horses thrive here at Keeneland.”

Irish War Cry re-emerged as a leading Derby candidate with an impressive, stretch-running win in Saturday’s $1 million Grade II Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. With Rajiv Maragh up, the Curlin colt shadowed pacesetting favorite Battalion Runner, got by that one when asked leaving the stretch turn and kicked away to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Battalion Runner held second, another 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Cloud Computing. Irish War Cry finished the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.91. The colt won his first three starts, including the Grade II Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, but then finished seventh in the Grade II Fountain of Youth and was sidetracked until Saturday’s race. “It’s extremely gratifying to get this horse back on track,” said winning trainer Graham Motion. “That was huge. I don’t remember having a situation like this, when I felt so much was on the line. I think Rajiv must have felt like he had a lot of horse because he moved to the leaders so confidently.”

Gormley won a dramatic, five-horse scramble to the finish in Saturday’ $1 million Grade I Santa Anita Derby, scoring by 1/2 length over front-running Battle of Midway. The next three — Royal Mo, Reach the World and Iliad — all were separated by 1/2 length. Gormley, with Victor Espinoza in the irons, raced in mid-pack, came four-wide into the stretch and only made the lead in deep stretch. Reach the World made up significant ground in the stretch after lagging well back through the early furlongs. Gormley, a Malibu Moon colt, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.16. He scored his fourth win while bouncing back from a fourth-place finish in the Grade II San Felipe in his last outing. “Today the big difference is that he was ready,” Espinoza said. “Something went wrong last time, he was good but not quite where I wanted. I was a little bit disappointed but it seems like today he was on his toes, on his game, and I was really ready for it.” John Shirreffs, who trains both Gormley and Royal Mo for Jerry and Ann Moss, said Gormley “is an evolving horse. He’s very precocious and very excitable. I just need to turn that energy of his into positive use. It’s a lot of growing pains with a talented horse …. We’ll see how he comes out of this race in the morning and if all is well, we’ll point to the Kentucky Derby.”

Kentucky Oaks preps

Nobody could miss Miss Sky Warrior at the end of Saturday’s $300,000 Grade II Gazelle at Aqueduct. She was the one out there in front — by 13 lengths. With Paco Lopez up, the First Samurai filly led all the way in the Gazelle, shook off some persistent pressure after 6 furlongs and quickly put the issue to rest. Lockdown and Full House completed the trifecta. Miss Sky Warrior ran 9 furlongs in 1:51.71, well in hand. She now has won five straight races and promises to make the Kentucky Oaks a competitive affair. “I didn’t want to make the lead but the filly pulled me and I let her go — perfect trip,” Lopez said. “She’s a very nice filly. It’s up to the owner and the trainer. I hope we can go to the Kentucky Oaks.” About that prospect, trainer Kelly Breen said, “That’s what it looks like.”

Sailor’s Valentine chased pacesetting Someday Soon through the early furlongs of Saturday’s $500,000 Grade I Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, got by that one in the stretch and outfinished Daddys Lil Darling, winning by 1/2 length at odds of 22-1. Someday Soon held third and the favorite, Elate, was eased in the stretch and vanned off. Sailor’s Valentine, a Mizzen Mast filly trained by Eddie Kenneally, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.45 with Corey Lanerie in the irons. She won at first asking at Keeneland last fall but had not had her picture taken in four intervening starts. “We knew she liked the track,” Kenneally said. “She won here in October very impressively. She came back here in late March and had a really good work over the track. We just decided we’d take a shot in the Ashland, mainly because she loves this track and this is a very, very good track.” Daddys Lil Darling’s trainer, Kenny McPeek, said he also was pleased with his filly’s performance and will head for the Kentucky Oaks.

Paradise Woods, in just her third career start, ran away with Saturday’s $400,000 Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, leading most of the way under Flavien Prat en route to an 11 1/4-lengths victory. The odds-on favorite, Abel Tasman, rallied from the rear to finish second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of It Tiz Well. Paradise Woods, a Union Rags filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.53. She finished second in her career bow, then dominated a 5 1/2-furlongs maiden event last month. “I have always been high on her,” said winning trainer Richard Mandella. “I wasn’t that confident, but I fully expected her to run well. I didn’t think she would do this … She is a young filly.  She has only had three starts, so we’ll see about the Kentucky Oaks and how things develop.  She was really nasty to saddle today, but she ran great.”


Green Gratto scored the weekend’s biggest upset with a 54-1 victory in Saturday’s $400,000 Grade I Carter Handicap at Aqueduct. The 7-year-old son of Here’s Zealous broke sharply from the inside gate and was not challenged until the favorite, Unified, came with his run in deep stretch, only to fall a neck short. Tommy Macho was third. Green Gratto, with Chris DeCarlo in the irons, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.25. The New Jersey-bred was second in the 2015 Carter but eighth last year. He did, however, win the Grade III Toboggon Stakes over the same track two starts back in January.

Awesome Slew outfinished the favorite, A.P. Indian, for a 1 1/2-lengths victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Grade III Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland. Awesome Slew, a 4-year-old colt by Awesome Again, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in a quick 1:22.31 despite brushing the gate at the start and getting away last of nine. Joel Rosario had the mount for trainer Mark Casse. It was his first win since the Grade III Smarty Jones at Parx Racing last September.

Long Haul Bay, making just his second start for trainer Chad Brown, overhauled pacesetting long shot Even Thunder without much effort a furlong from home in Saturday’s $250,000 Grade III Bay Shore Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct and drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Even Thunder held second by a neck over You’re To Blame. The favorite, Theory, mounted a brief stretch run but faded to finish fourth. Long Haul Bay, a Quality Road colt, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.15 with Manny Franco up. He won at first asking over the same track in February.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Paulassilverlining, making her first start of the year, was along in the final sixteenth to take Saturday’s $300,000 Grade I Madison Stakes for fillies and mares at Keeneland by a neck over Constellation. Paid Up Subscriber was another 2 1/2 lengths back in third. Paulassilverlining, a 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.68 with Jose Ortiz up. Chad Brown trains for Juddmonte Farms. She finished third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and earned her first Grade I win in her first start at the Lexington oval.

Highway Star outfinished Indulgent in Sunday’s $150,000, Grade III Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct, winning by 1/2 length. Clipthecouponannie was third. Highway Star, a 4-year-old Girolamo filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.25 with Angel Arroyo up. It was her first race since Jan. 17. “We know her ability and took her time to bring her back and you see the result,” said winning trainer Rodrigo Ubillo.

Illusion Artist rallied along the rail in the stretch run to win Saturday’s $150,000 Carousel Handicap at Oaklawn Park by 1 1/2 lengths over pacesetting Chanteline. The favorite, Athena, was third with a late bid. Illusion Artist, a 4-year-old Drosselmeyer filly, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.41 with Richard Eramia up.


Big Score split rivals in deep stretch in Friday’s $150,000 Grade III Transylvania Stakes for 3-year-olds and went on to defeat pacesetting Holiday Stone by 1/2 length. Makarios was third and the favorite, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Oscar Performance, tired to finish fifth in his first start of the year. Big Score, who was fifth in the Breeders’ Cup, also made his 3-year-old debut, finishing 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.23 with Javier Castellano aboard. “I had a wonderful trip, Castellano said. “I really like the way he did it today — very relaxed, very comfortable, good rhythm all the way through the race. I kept track of the pace. The way he did it was phenomenal.”

Turf Sprint

Holding Gold survived a long stretch battle to post an 18-1 upset win in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade II Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland. Green Mask missed by a neck and Hogy was third, another 1 1/2 lengths back. Holding Gold, a 4-year-old colt by Lonhro, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:02.29 under Joel Rosario. Mark Casse trains the colt.

Filly & Mare Turf

Hillhouse High waited behind a breakaway leader in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade II Royal Heroine Stakes for fillies and mares at Santa Anita, took over turning for home and edged away late to win by 1/2 length over a late-running Mokat. Juno was third and the favorite, Harmonize got home fourth. Hillhouse High, a 6-year-old Exchange Rate Mare, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.61 for jockey Corey Nakatani.

Sircat Sally led from the first jumps in Saturday’s $150,000 Grade III Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita and carried on, winning by 2 1/4 lengths, ridden out by Mike Smith. You Missed it was second — for the fifth time in six starts — and Emphatically was third. Sircat Sally, a Surf Cat filly, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.77. She is undefeated in five starts while moving quickly up the class ladder from state-bred competition.


Send It In tracked pacesetting Tu Brutus through most of Saturday’s $250,000 Grade III Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct, then got by that one in the final 70 yards to win by 1/2 lengths. It was another 14 lengths back to Doyouknowsomething in third. Send It In, a 5-year-old Big Brown gelding, ran 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:02.07 with John Velazquez in the irons. It was his third win from his last four starts.


Winx just keeps on rolling along. The 5-year-old Street Cry mare won her 17th straight race on Saturday at Royal Randwick, romping home 5 1/4 lengths to the good of old foe Hartnell in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Sense of Occasion was third. Damien Oliver, who finished fourth on The United States, claimed foul against Hartnell but the stewards nixed the claim. Winx, with Hugh Bowman along for the usual stroll through the park, toured 2,000 meters of soft turf in 2:07.22. The race wrapped up Winx’s Australian season and the big question now is when the rest of the world might get to see the super mare.

Also on Saturday’s card at Randwick:

New Zealand Oaks winner Bonneval franked the quality of that race, scampering to a 4 1/2-lengths victory in the Group 1 James Boag’s Premium Australian Oaks. The New Zealand-bred Makfi filly scored her fourth straight win. Perfect Rhyme and Lasqueti Spirit were close together in second and third. The co-favorite with Bonneval, Nurse Kitchen, settled for fourth. Bonneval, with Bowman doing the honors, ran 2,400 meters on soft turf in 2:36.37.

Foxplay not only won the Group 1 Coolmore Legacy Stakes by 1/2 length over Zanbagh but also, by virtue of the victory, earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf through that group’s international Challenge Series. Foxplay, with Kerrin McEvoy up for trainer Chris Waller, got 1,600 meters — about 1 mile — on soft turf in 1:39.65. The 3-year-old Foxwedge filly has been well in the mix in most of her races but broke through at the highest level for the first time.

The 3,200-meters Schweppes Sydney Cup was abandoned.

Hong Kong

Rapper Dragon emerged to the lead 300 meters from home in Sunday’s Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy at Sha Tin and went on to win by 1/2 length over Beauty Only. The victory set up the Street Boss gelding, already the first to sweep Hong Kong’s Four-Year-Old Classic series, for a shot at Group 1 glory in the Champions Mile a month down the road. “Now I’m convinced that he’s the best horse in town,” said winning jockey Joao Moreira. “Obviously, that No. 1 spot was open and there to be taken, and he looked like he was going to be the one.” Winning trainer John Moore, who saddled Able Friend to victory in the 2015 Chairman’s Trophy and Champion’s Mile, agreed Rapper Dragon could be a worthy successor. “If he wins the Champions Mile, there’d be no doubt at all,” Moore said. He added the Champions Mile might be the final race of the season for his new 4-year-old star.

In the day’s co-feature, the Group 2 Sprint Cup at 1,200 meters, Mr Stunning came from near the back of the field to catch Peniaphobia and win by 1/2 length, establishing himself as a contender for next month’s Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize. The 4-year-old scored his seventh win from 10 Hong Kong starts, also with the benefit of a Moreira ride. “There was always a natural query about whether he could compete with the top horses,” winning trainer John Size said. “That’s the case for any horse stepping out in that class for the first time. But he couldn’t have done any better there.”

In other racing action:

Santa Anita

S Y Sky, making her first start, stalked the pace in Saturday’s $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies, assumed the lead in the lane and drew off to win by 5 1/2 lengths over Radish. The odds-on favorite, Miss Sunset, settled for show money. S Y Sky, a Grazen filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.52 with Joe Talamo up.

Mr. Hinx battled head-to-head with B Squared throughout Saturday’s $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes for 3-year-olds, finally putting a nose in front of that rival at the right moment. Tribal Storm rallied from last to get show money. Mr. Hinx, a Ministers Wild Cat gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.09 with Tyler Baze riding.

Oaklawn Park

Racer took back early in Saturday’s $100,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes for state-breds, surged to a big lead in the stretch and coasted home first by 1 1/2 lengths over Mallard’s Bro. Chantmeupbaby was another nose back in third. Racer, a 4-year-old Jonesboro gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.37 with Jon Court riding.

Kentucky Derby: Full Court Press

J Boys Echo gallops Wednesday at Churchill Downs under Tammy Fox. Photo by Coady Photography

Romans, Loutsch unfazed by downgraded status as J Boys Echo getting final prep in G2 Blue Grass

by Jennie Rees

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Trainer Dale Romans and owner Albaugh Family Stable would rather that Saturday’s $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes was designated a Grade 1 race rather than Grade 2, a demotion handed down by the American Graded Stakes Committee in early December.

But that distinction wasn’t going to change their plans for J Boys Echo, who in his last start won New York’s Gotham Stakes and was among seven 3-year-olds entered Wednesday for the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass. Romans is a life-long Louisvillian who ranks second all-time in victories at Churchill Downs. Keeneland is sacred to him as well, the highlight being winning the Blue Grass twice, including last year with Albaugh’s Brody’s Cause.

“You’re talking horse country of the world, and the biggest (pre-Derby) race for 3-year-olds in Kentucky and you’re downgrading it as a Derby prep?” said Jason Loutsch, co-owner and manager for father-in-law Dennis Albaugh’s racing and breeding operation. “I just don’t get it. It was frustrating. I disagree. The Wood Memorial (in New York Saturday, now also a Grade 2) is the same thing. They’re both great races. Everyone has looked at those races for a long time as big prep races for the Kentucky Derby. To me, it doesn’t matter particularly if it’s Grade 1 or 2. It’s still one of the most coveted races for me every year.”

Romans said the Grade 2 label “doesn’t diminish the race in my mind at all.”

“The Blue Grass has been good to me,” he said. “We’ve won it two of the last four years. One ran third back in the Derby. A horse that ran second in the Blue Grass was third in the Derby. Brody ran all right in the Derby (seventh). So it works for me. In its own right, the Blue Grass means a lot to me.”

The Blue Grass and the Florida Derby, which last year produced Kentucky Derby-winner Nyquist, are tied for the 3-year-old prep producing the most winners at 23 apiece, according to Churchill Downs’ online media guide. The Wood is next at 20.

The stripping of Grade 1 status did not seem to deter horsemen. While only seven horses were entered, the reason might be that the Blue Grass is shaping up as perhaps the strongest prep race of the year, including unbeaten Kentucky Derby favorite McCraken. Five of the seven entrants are stakes-winners; four are graded-stakes winners, including Tampa Bay Derby winner Tapwrit and two-time Grade 1 winner Practical Joke. The two that haven’t won stakes have been second or third in multiple graded stakes, including Grade 1 races.

Like J Boys Echo, who is ridden by Robby Albarado, McCraken is trained (Ian Wilkes) and ridden (Brian Hernandez Jr.) by Louisvillians.

“I told Dale, ‘This Blue Grass is turning out to be a little mini Derby. You’ve got four of the top six horses,’” said Loutsch, along with Dennis Albaugh lives near Des Moines, Iowa. “I’m like ‘Holy Cow! We don’t have to win this race. If we do, great. If we don’t, I just want to move forward and show that we belong in this group.’ Dale goes, ‘Don’t worry about that. I’ll handle that.’ He sees him train every day, and he’s very confident in the horse. It’s going to be a tough race. Hopefully we’ll have some racing luck again. We don’t have to win it, but I want to have some confidence going forward.”

Romans says the Blue Grass and the Wood should have had perpetual Grade 1 status grandfathered in.

“It doesn’t diminish the race at all,” Romans said of the grading. “I don’t care if it was five years of being weak. For 100 years it’s been strong.”

Here’s a factoid that Romans and Loutsch were glad to hear: The last time the Blue Grass was downgraded from a Grade 1 to 2 — in 1990, the first year that the race was moved from nine days before the Derby to three weeks, since moved to four — it produced Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Unbridled and Preakness winner Summer Squall.

“I didn’t know that, but that’s pretty good,” Romans said. “Even if they look at a five-year period (in determining grading), they should take out Keeneland’s five years of being on Polytrack. Even then, you had nice (grass) horses in the race. It’s ridiculous.”

J Boys Echo drew post 3, just outside of McCraken. Said Romans: “Post position can’t be an excuse. The 3 is about as good as you can get in a seven-horse field.”

McCraken is the 7-5 favorite, with Tapwrit 5-2, Practical Joke 7-2 and J Boys Echo 4-1.

“It’s an even group of horses,” Romans said. “I don’t know if we’re fourth-best. It seems like a little high to me, but it doesn’t really matter. We’ll all find out Saturday afternoon.”

J Boys Echo had his final serious training move this past Saturday at Gulfstream Park, working five-eighths of a mile in company in 1:00 3/5. He flew to Louisville from South Florida on Sunday, and trained at Churchill Downs Tuesday for the first time since leaving late last fall. With all the Blue Grass horses required to be at Keeneland by noon Thursday, J Boy will van over the 75 miles to Lexington after training that day.

The Blue Grass is race 10 with a 5:17 p.m. central post.

This is the second installment of “Kentucky Derby: Full Court Press,” which centers on Albaugh Family Stable’s 3-year-old colt J Boys Echo and his team. The series is written by veteran turf journalist Jennie Rees and provided free to media, websites and social media outlets courtesy of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association.

Canterbury Park’s Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest on Saturday will feature the entire Keeneland card plus the Santa Anita Derby.

Also earn double MVP Rewards points each Thursday, Friday, and Sunday of the meet. Cash in on Keeneland.

Keeneland opens Friday; Major Derby Preps this Weekend

The 2017 Spring Meet at Keeneland begins Friday, April 7 and runs 15 days through April 28. MVP Rewards members will earn double MVP points on all tracked Keeneland wagers each Thursday, Friday, and Sunday of the meet on all races and all wagers.

Opening day features the G3 Transylvania Stakes.

On Saturday the Lexington, KY track will run the $1m Blue Grass Stakes, a major stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby.

Road to Kentucky Contest

The entire Saturday card from Keeneland will be used for the weekly, free-to-enter, Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest. The Blue Grass is a double-point race as are two additional bonus races: Santa Anita Derby from Santa Anita and The Wood Memorial from Aqueduct.

This past Saturday, Fair Grounds and Gulfstream held their final preps for the Derby, the Louisiana Derby and the Florida Derby.  Girvin was favored at Fair Grounds and prevailed while at Gulfstream Gunnevera was sent to post at 6 to 5 and ran a non-threatening third. Second choice Always Dreaming gave trainer Todd Pletcher another Derby runner by drawing away to win the $1m prep by five lengths.

Gulfstream’s 14-race card was a mix of favorites and some prices. Total available points for the contest were just over 4,000, so the projected winning total for the week is 2,200 to 2,400, yet another big week for contest players hoping to move up in the standings.

Spring Tune-Up Satellite

Contest players have an opportunity to win an entry to Canterbury’s National Horseplayers Championship qualifiers by winning this Saturday’s Spring Tune-Up Satellite. Entry fee to the contest is $100. Players begin the contest with a $400 mythical bankroll and may wager all day until 5:30 making mythical bets using a tournament account card.  The three players with the largest bankrolls win. First place is a $700 Dog Days of Summer entry plus half the prize pool which will exceed $1,000. Second is a Dog Days entry plus 30 percent of the prize pool, and third wins a $550 Ultimate NHC Qualifier entry and 20 percent of the prize pool.

The 21st annual Dog Days Tournament will be held Sept. 9-10 and will award two entries to the February 2018 NHC. The Dog Days winner also receives a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry. The Ultimate NHC Qualifier will be Friday, Sept. 8.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager this Weekend

24 Wagering Interests Include Six Newcomers In March 31-April 2 Derby Futures Pool

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Two veterans of this year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby – Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC’s unbeaten McCraken (#15, 6-1) and Peacock Racing Stables LLC’s Gunnevera (#10, 6-1) – are the morning line co-favorites for the fourth and final pool of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s 2017 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”), which launches its three-day run on Friday, March 31.

The Ian Wilkes-trained Sam F. Davis (GIII) winner McCraken and Fountain of Youth (GII) winner Gunnevera, trained by Antonio Sano, are listed at odds of 6-1 in Churchill Downs’ handicapper Mike Battaglia’s morning line for Pool 4. There’s a fourway tie for third choice at 10-1 between KDFW newcomer J Boys Echo (#13), unbeaten Southwest (GIII) winner One Liner (#17), Tampa Bay Derby (GII) winner Tapwrit (#21) and the always-popular Mutuel Field (#24). The latter includes all 3-year-old Thoroughbreds other than the 23 individual horses listed on the Pool 4 betting roster, including notable horses such as American Anthem, Blueridge Traveler, Fast and Accurate, Hence, Local Hero, Lookin At Lee, Patch, Petrov, Silver Dust, Sonneteer and Wild Shot to name a few.

The co-favorites have been wagering interests in each of three previous KDFW pools. McCraken’s closing odds in the previous pools were 12-1 (P1), 9-1 (P2) and 6-1 (P3), while Gunnevera’s final odds were 22-1 (P1), 24-1 (P2) and 22-1 (P3). The “All Others” interest closed as the favorite in each of the previous 2017 pools.

Betting in the final KDFW pool of 2017 is set to open at 11 am central on Friday and continue through Sunday, April 2 at 5 p.m. The wager, which has been offered annually to Kentucky Derby fans since 1999, will be available at Canterbury Park.

The KDFW provides racing fans with the opportunity to wager on contenders for the Kentucky Derby at odds that could be more attractive than those available on the day of America’s greatest race. Payouts in the win and exacta wagering in Pool 4 will be determined by the odds in place at Sunday’s conclusion of wagering.

The KDFW offers $2 minimum win wagering on 24 betting interests that include 23 individual horses and the Mutuel Field, which includes all 3-year-old Thoroughbreds other than the individual wagering interests in a respective pool. Each pool also offers $2 exacta wagering on the 24 wagering interests, with the latter also available in $1 minimum increments in boxes and other multiple number configurations. Total betting in the three 2017 KDFW pools – including both win and exacta pools – stands at $925,197.

The 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), America’s oldest continuously-held sports event, is set for Saturday, May 6 at Churchill Downs and will be simulcast at Canterbury Park. Live racing begins at Canterbury on May 5.

Find live odds at 

Here are the betting interests and morning lines for Pool 4. 

Road to Kentucky Contest continues Saturday

Canterbury’s free-to-enter handicapping contest continues Saturday with the races from Gulfstream Park plus the Fair Ground Derby prep, the Louisiana Derby.

Congrats to last week’s winners:

David Johnson 2,852 points
Bruce Meyer 2,812
Heather Andreason 2,610
April Pfeiffer 2,531
Tony Spano 2,405

Horse Player World Series this week

Four Canterbury Park horse players won their way to The Orleans Casino Hotel in Las Vegas to compete in the annual Horse Player World Series held this weekend. Best of luck to those four, who were victorious in qualifying contests held at Canterbury in 2016:  Bob Moore, Steve Laurent, Kelly Frost, and Mike Ferrozzo, who last week had a big score in a contest held at Hawthorne Race Course. Ferrozzo turned his $400 live bankroll into $40,000 by hitting the Rainbow at Gulfstream, earning himself the $40k plus entries to the 2018 NHC and 2017 BCBC. See those results here.

Road to Kentucky Derby Gets Serious

The Road to the Kentucky Derby prep schedule gets serious now as contenders tune-up for May 6, beginning this Saturday, April 1 with both the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, a Grade 1 with a $1m purse, and the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds, a Grade 2 that also offers $1m in purse money. Both races will be run at 1 1/8 miles.

Canterbury’s Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest will feature the entire Gulfstream card plus the Louisiana Derby.

The stakes-laden Gulfstream program also includes the following races:

·         Appleton S (gr. III), $200,000g, 4&up, 8f.

·         Cutler Bay S, $100,000g, 3yo, 8f.

·         Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II), $250,000g, 3yo f, 8.5f.

·         Honey Fox S (gr. II), $300,000g, 4&up f/m, 8f.

·         Orchid S (gr. III), $200,000g, 4&up f/m, 11f.

·         Pan American S (gr. II), $200,000g, 4&up, 12f.

·         Sanibel Island S, $100,000g, 3yo f, 8f.

·         Sir Shackleton S, $100,000g, 4&up, 7f.


This past Saturday the R2K contest used Turfway Park’s Spiral Stakes card and prices were not strangers. Total available points in the free-to-enter contest were 5,100, the highest yet this contest season.

The projected wining total is 3,060. Scores will be posted HERE later this week.

Four-time Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year Bruce Meyer put up a big number but may have needed more to cash in the top five spots.

“It was a stabbers’ paradise,” he said of the 12-race Turfway card.  Meyer, who ended the day with 2,812 points, had the Spiral winner Fast and Accurate, who paid $51 to win.  Points for that race were doubled and amounted to 1,720.

“I had 67 percent of the points after the Spiral,” Meyer said. “Then it went pear shaped.”

Cash In On Keeneland

Racing at Keeneland begins Friday, April 7 and runs through Friday, April 28. Canterbury Park will be offering double MVP Rewards  points on all wagers made (using MVP card) on Keeneland races each Thursday, Friday and Sunday of the Spring meet. More info here.