Cecily Evans – A Fresh Face In The Jockey Colony

Cecily Evans is riding at Canterbury Park for the first time.  The young jockey has traveled from coast to coast, winning 798 races in her career.

Learn more here:



video by Michelle Blasko from Canterbury’s Digital Media Department.



In the latest Preakness Stakes poll conducted by Canterbury Park/CNN/Fox News/ABC/MSNBC  Always Dreaming has a slight edge over Classic Empire and is the projected winner of  Saturday’s race.

There is a margin of error in this poll that will not be announced until shortly before post time, so as not to alter the usual course of wagering by people without a clue and those who think they have several.

The poll includes a sampling of both conservative and liberal bettors in equal numbers.

Fifty-one percent of those polled said that the Todd Pletcher entry in this race is a dream horse. It is considered merely coincidental that the horse’s name is Always Dreaming. The same fifty-one percent said that they picked this horse for no other reason than he won the Kentucky Derby and looked “just fine and dandy” during the past week training

Forty-nine percent of those polled say they will bet on Classic Empire to win but want Always Dreaming to win because it’s good for the sport. In contrast, the Fifty-one percent who are betting on Always Dreaming to win say they want Always Dreaming to win.

Thirty percent of those polled said that Always Dreaming has not let his sudden fame affect the way he has worked for the second leg of the Triple Crown. Asked if he might be looking past this race to the Belmont Stakes and a possible sweep of these races, Always Dreaming responded, “What’s a Triple Crown?  I just run my races one at a time.’’

Trainer Todd Pletcher was unavailable for comment. Something about his mouth being full of crab cake.

Many people think this race is wide open, not much different than the Derby, that several entries in the 10-horse field have a shot.

For those putting their money on Juvenile champion Classic  Empire, there are several issues to consider.  Is it possible that as a two-year-old champion he was simply too young, too immature to handle all that success. Were his injuries and reduced training this spring simply used as an excuse? Did success go to his head?

“I’ve always been a team player,’’ he responded. “What I do is for the barn, not myself. Everything I do is for the team.’’  Trainer Mark Caase said “we’ll see, we’ll see.’’

For an inside clue, a handicapping tip the rest of America is without, consider this behind-the scenes connection from Canterbury pressbox assistant Katie Merrit. Although she, like so many others in the business, thinks that an Always Dreaming win is good for the sport, consider this:

Katie once galloped for the Carl Nafzger barn. Nafzger is an Eclipse-Award winning, Kentucky Derby winning former trainer. He is also a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame and the former trainer of Frances Genter’s Unbridled, the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders  Cup Classic winner.

And guess what.

Unbridled is the grandsire of Empire Maker.

Then again, and this is what muddies the waters a bit, Unbridled also sired Unbridled Ridge, the mother of Gunnevera. There is Unbridled blood as well in Always Dreaming and a gene or two in Cloud Computing.

“He’s all over this race,’’ said pedigree specialist and Canterbury chart man Dave Miller.

Sort of like having a boxing gym full of sons, grandsons and great grandsons of, say, Muhammad Ali.

Miller, by the way, agrees with those who say that you won’t make more than a dime on Always Dreaming today, and the best way to attack this race is to back up a bob or two on the favorite with a nice trifecta on the side.

Polling on this race also depends on a person’s politics. Take Canterbury Park track announcer Paul Allen for instance. Allen was once quoted as saying that he never bets. Then there was a pressbox leak that contradicted that statement.  But we can find any number of, let’s say, politicians who say they never bet and put fifty through the window on the no. 2 horse while making the statement. Saying one thing and doing another is part of politics and horse racing.

The Big O is the righthand man in the Shawn Coady photography studio at Canterbury and had this to say about today’s Classic race:

“It’s hard to go against the (Derby) winner. I think he’ll win this one and lose the Belmont. That last one is just too far,’’ he said.

Pressbox custodian Jeff Maday has several thoughts on the race.  His company loyalty wish, like Allen’s, is for the Derby winner to win this race, too. That way the Belmont Stakes three weeks hence becomes a really big deal, in New York and in Shakopee, instead of a race marginal fans couldn’t give a hoot about.

So, there you have it. All of the inside dope available for the second leg of the Triple Crown.

And for the political elite who think that politics should never be compared to something as lowly as running animals on a race track, let’s consider this:

Before the year is out, a politician somewhere will say that this election or that is really going to be a horse race.

And you can bet on that, too.

All-Time Top Earners Compete in 10,000 Lakes Stakes

Bernell Rhone entering this racing weekend on a hot streak – 5 wins from 5 starters. After scratches he has two runners on Friday, so he has the opportunity to increase that streak.  In race 5 he has Not Justa Somerset with Orlando Mojica aboard at 10/1 and in race 6, Sabotage under Jareth Loveberry at 12/1. It will be exciting to see how far he can extend his consecutive win streak, as he is only two behind David Van Winkle’s record of seven consecutive winners.

With the completion of the Will Rogers Downs live race meet in Oklahoma, multiple stakes winning jockey Lori Keith has rejoined the Canterbury Park riding colony for another summer. So far in 2017, Keith has an impressive seven wins, two seconds and three thirds from just 20 starters.

The six furlong, $50,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes for Minnesota-bred three and up will be run as the third race of the nine-race card on Saturday. It is highlighted by a Minnesota favorite, Hold for More, who will be ridden by Orlando Mojica. He is currently third in line for the title of leading money earner in Canterbury Park history with earnings of $293,200. The 5-year-old, Bravo-trained gelding, however, is not the favorite in the race, after a 6th place finish in the Paul Bunyan Stakes at Canterbury Park on opening weekend. Hold for More is the 3-1 second choice behind Mac Robertson’s Bourbon County, to be ridden by Alex Canchari, who is 9/5.  Seven-year-old Bourbon County has won the last two editions of the 10,000 Lakes Stakes, but has not run since late last August. Third choice morning-line at 7/2 is another Bravo trainee, Smooth Chiraz, to be ridden by Dean Butler. The 4-year-old gelding is a multiple stakes winner who already won an allowance optional claimer at Canterbury on opening weekend.

Interestingly, Hold for More is not the only one vying for the leading money earner title at Canterbury Park. Three of the horses running in the 10,000 Lakes are on the top ten list of purses earned at the track. AP Is Loose is 6th on the list with $283,553 and Bourbon County is 7th with $280,617. Depending on the results of the 10,000 Lakes, Any one of those three horses could move up into second place behind current leader Crocrock.

The six furlong, $50,000 Lady Slipper Stakes for Minnesota-bred fillies and mares three and up will be the 4th race on Saturday. The 6/5 morning line favorite in the race is Biehler-trained Rockin the Bleu’s, who will be piloted by Orlando Mojica. The 6-year-old mare has run at Canterbury 16 times, and has only finished off the board in five of those starts. In her only race to date in 2017, Rockin’ the Bleu’s was victorious in a $51,000 stakes race at Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma in April. A close second choice at 9/5 in the morning line is Honey’s Sox Appeal, who is trained by Mac Robertson and will be ridden by Alex Canchari. The four-year-old stakes winning filly has run at Canterbury eight times, with a record of four wins, three seconds and one third.

Chad Lindsay looks for Success at Canterbury Park

By Katie Merritt

Chad Lindsay, a new addition to the Canterbury Park riding colony, is a 24-year-old native of Fort Worth, Texas. He began his riding career at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida before riding the prestigious southern California circuit for the last year.

Lindsay stumbled on to horse racing, almost by accident, when he saw a random horse race on television. “I was riding bulls, then. You gotta have a certain body build and a certain leg length to wrap around those bulls and I just wasn’t made for it,” Lindsay said. “But I saw horse racing on TV and I was like, ‘Hey! That looks easy! They’re making a lot of money! I’m the perfect size!’ and I liked horses. So I moved to Kentucky when I was 19.”

When Lindsay got to Kentucky, he quickly discovered that riding racehorses, something he had never done before in his life, was not quite as easy as it looked. “I fell off a lot! But I learned. And I loved it!” Lindsay said with a smile. He eventually landed a job galloping for Ian Wilkes, who gave him a great deal of support and helped him get started as a jockey.

“Ian put a lot of time into me and helped me a lot,” said Lindsay. “He taught me to have a good clock in my head, and he taught me that you have to play your hand when the gates open. You can have a plan before the race, but once those gates open it’s a whole different story, you have to read the race as it unfolds.”

The horses, of course, have also taught Lindsay a lot. “They’ve taught me to be humble. Very much so. That’s the greatest lesson they probably teach you.”

Chad has enjoyed success everywhere he has ridden, and hopes to continue that success at Canterbury Park this summer.

L S H Stable — Keeping it in the Neighborhood

By Katie Merritt

L S H Stable is a racing partnership that was formed by several neighbors in 2005. “The group was formed at a birthday party in the neighborhood for one of the neighbors and we came up with the concept that night. L S H stands for the name of our neighborhood, Lake Susan Hills. Almost all the members of the partnership live there,” explained Lance Huwald.

“It was a good idea,” added Wayne Minske, another partner. “Most of the time good ideas never get followed up on, but Lance followed up on this one.”

L S H generally has one or two horses in training and each member owns 5 percent. “[The partnership] allowed us to have ownership with very little equity and have the same amount of fun as if you owned a horse 100 percent,” said Huwald.

“But Canterbury treats you like a full owner anyway, they’re great,” Minske added with a smile.

The first horse L S H owned in 2005 ran second in his first start for them, and was claimed. They later went on to claim a horse named Stormy Babe who won several races for them over a span of a couple years. “We thought it was easy!” they said laughing.

While they know it’s not always easy, the members of L S H can agree on one thing – it’s always fun! “There is nothing more exciting than seeing your horse coming down the track. And as they close in on the finish line, if they have a chance of winning, it’s just really exciting,” said a third member, Pat Fischer.

“That, and getting your picture taken!” said Minske. “I’ve got a wall for that!”

Dean Butler – Defending the Riding Title at Canterbury Park

Dean Butler with track announcer Paul Allen in 2016

Jockey Dean Butler has won the Canterbury riding title five times, including last season. He is second in all-time earnings at Canterbury Park and/or Downs. His mounts have earned more than $12.1 million in purses. Butler is third in all-time wins with 723 and he continues to win at at rate in excess of 20 percent.

Butler is off to another good start through the first four days of racing and is currently tied for the lead with Alex Canchari. Each have six wins.

Dean talks about his winter at Tampa Bay Downs and goals for this season.



News and Notes after Four Race Days

by Katie Merritt

Perfection is a term rarely used in this sport. But for the moment, it fits Hall of Fame trainer Bernell Rhone who has saddled five horses thus far and each has visited the winner’s circle. Drop the Gloves won opening night. Maddymax won this past Friday and then Drive Sandy Drive, Justeveryday, and Smoltz kept the streak alive Saturday.  As would be expected, go-to jockey Dean Butler rode four of the winners and Martin Escobar, whose association with Rhone began two decades ago, was on Justeveryday.

Rhone spends the winter training at Tampa Bay Downs.

Is there a Tampa edge?   “I like coming out of Tampa,” Rhone said. “Horses from there go everywhere and run well.”

Rhone remembers winning six races on one card in 2003 and then saddling two more the next day. “I had multiple horses in a couple of those races.”  He has an opportunity to continue this current run of perfection Friday with Lucky Leroy Brown in race 2.

In June of 1995, the year Canterbury re-opened, David Van Winkle saddled seven consecutive winners over a period of several days. Van Winkle went on to be leading trainer that summer.

The battle for leading rider at Canterbury Park has already begun at the 2017 live racing meet. As expected, Alex Canchari and Dean Butler are vying for that lead, and are tied with 6 wins apiece and a 27 percent win percentage. The only thing that currently sets them apart is Canchari’s seven second-place finishes to Butler’s two, and Canchari’s earnings of $144,710 to Butler’s $88,798. Dean Butler is 3 for 3 on favorites, while Canchari is 4 for 6. With a lot of races left to run this summer, the title of leading rider will surely spend a lot of time flip-flopping between these two, as well as others. Orlando Mojica is only 2 wins behind them, with $98,007 in purses, so he is also in contention to make a bid at leading rider.

The Jockey Colony Continues To Grow

Jockey Cecily Evans, a newcomer to Canterbury Park, arrived in Shakopee this week after the completion of the Turf Paradise meet. Evans rode races primarily on the east coast before her venture to Turf Paradise last winter.

“It was my first meet at Turf Paradise and I really didn’t know that many people, so it took a little bit to get everything going. But the last couple of months, business really started picking up and I was winning races,” Evans said. “A lot of the trainers that I rode for told me that they were going to Canterbury Park for the summer, and that I should go, so here I am! I’m excited!”

She will be represented by agent Brandon O’Brien, who also has Chad Lindsay’s book.

Jockey Nik Goodwin is one win closer to 1,000 after a win on Fort Lewis Rivers on Friday night for trainer Joel Berndt. He is now only four wins away.

Stakes Races Saturday

The Lady Slipper Stakes and the 10,000 Lakes Stakes will be run Saturday. Both offer $50,000 purses and are conducted at a distance of six furlongs. Both stakes are restricted to Minnesota breds.

Bourbon County, winner of the past two 10,000 Lakes renditions, is on the nomination list. He began training this spring at Oaklawn and has continued to work forwardly at Canterbury Park. Finding his name on the entries after the draw Wednesday would be no surprise. Hold for More has also been nominated. He sprinted in the Paul Bunyan Stakes opening weekend but was never involved, finishing last in a field of six. Should trainer Francisco Bravo enter this former horse of the meet, he would be well supported by the betting public.

The Lady Slipper attracted 15 nominations including Rockin the Bleu’s who was a winner facing open company in April at Will Rogers Downs in a $50,000 sprint stakes. Last season this mare came off a layoff to finish second in the Lady Slipper. She has a pair of recorded workouts since arriving in Shakopee this spring.

Racing begins on Saturday with a later than normal post time of 1:45 p.m. to accommodate the running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Friday racing begins at 6:30 p.m.

Rolling $1 doubles have been added to the wagering menu and will begin Friday.

Advance wagering on Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan

Available Thursday, 5/18/17:
– Advance wagers for Friday’s Pimlico card (Black Eyed Susan is race 11)
– Advance wagers for Saturday’s Pimlico card (Preakness is race 13)
– Black Eyed Susan/Preakness Double Wager (race 11 on Friday and race 13 on Saturday)

Available Friday, 5/19/17:
– Advance wagers for Saturday’s Pimlico card (Preakness is race 13)
– Friday’s Pimlico card (Black Eyed Susan is race 11)
– Black Eyed Susan/Preakness Double Wager (race 11 on Friday and race 13 on Saturday)



Wanted: A three- or four- bedroom, two-, possibly three-bath home in Prior Lake or Lakeville with easy access to Shakopee, specifically Canterbury Park, close to good schools, big enough to accommodate tall young men, projected tall enough to play a forward or certainly a guard position on the prep basketball team, although the youngest seems more interested right now in soccer.

And, no more than, say, a half acre that requires care, specifically regular mowing, and yet the space necessary to accommodate two dogs and three cats.

Contact Leslie Mawing, jockeys’ lounge at Canterbury with specifics.  The Mawings have already sold the 10-acre homestead in Idaho and are ready to relocate at earliest notice “I had a very nice John Deere riding lawnmower but I sold it,’’ Mawing said. “No more acreage.’’

Mawing, his wife, Caty, and three children are ready to plant new roots. There is, of course, employment for dad at Canterbury, riding horses for whatever barns are willing to give him work. There are trainers here who undoubtedly recall him from the past. He spent the 2001, 2002 and 2003 meets in Shakopee, and has returned now to a state he and his wife value for its education system.

“That’s the reason we want to move here,’’ Mawing said. “It’s a good place for kids. They’ll get a good education here.’’

More immediate, however, is a paycheck. “I’m still trying to re-establish relationships with trainers who know me,’’ he said. “Some of them have regular riders so it will take some time, but I like it here. It’s a good place to raise a family.’’

A native of South Africa, Mawing, lost his parents as a youngster, his mother when he was nine, his father at 16.  Race-riding was in the family. He has a cousin prominent among South African jockeys and his father had always been fond of racing.  As he gravitated toward the sport his inclinations also included the United States and he landed here at age 19.  The change of venue includes some adjustments as well. “We race in South Africa in the other directions and primarily on turf,’’ he explained, “although that is changing now somewhat.’’

As are the Mawing’s life plans.

Mawing’s career has been centered largely in California and Washington, although he has ridden in the East as well and in the Southwest, at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.  “I’ve ridden in up-state New York, in Philly, too,’’ he said.

Now 43 years of age, Mawing knows that his health is paramount to uninterrupted employment, and he does his best to say fit, running 5 to 10k six times a week with trips to the health club as well, swimming and engaging in other fitness routines.

“You a jockey?” a regular at the club asked him recently. “Yeah, I have three mounts on today’s card,’’ Mawing responded. “What are you, in your twenties?’’ the fellow continued. “No, I’m 43,’’ he said. “Boy, you jockeys age well,’’ the fellow added.

Mawing chuckled while relating the comment. But his attention to health is sincere.  His biggest concern right now is his family. He has to stay healthy to ride, to make money and support them. Ten-year-old Dominic is trying out for the Minnesota Youth Soccer league. There is also 13-year-old Aidan and seven-year-old Jade, who was considerably upset when the family had to part with their horses to relocate in Minnesota.

According to their father, the boys are projected to produce frames of six-feet-four and six-feet-two, so it goes without saying that they inherited certain genetics from their mother, who is 5-foot-10, and not dad at five-five. In addition, they might have inherited a writing ability of some kind. Caty publishes horse-racing fiction she writes on the internet.

Mawing will have to consider a new winter-time site at which to race, one that aligns with summers at Canterbury, something such as Turf Paradise where he is already familiar. “I could still fly up and spend time with the family,’’ he said, “and not worry about taking care of acreage while I’m here. The main reason we’re here is the education system.’’

The Mawings have their priorities outlined and they include a permanent home in Minnesota. There is the school system here, although Caty also has relatives in Red Wing and a close friend in Rosemount.

And a husband who was displaying a sense of humor at Canterbury on Saturday.  After losing the second race on Back Alley Warrior, by perhaps the width of a nostril to Justcallme Charlie and rider Jareth Loveberry,  Mawing walked into the Coady Photo Studio near the jockeys lounge at Canterbury. “Hey, let me see that photo,’’ he said.

The photo revealed just how close the race had been. To the naked eye it might have gone either way.

“C’mon you guys,’’ give a brother a break,’’ he said. “I got three kids to feed. The other guy doesn’t have any.’’

Johnny Love – Star Tribune Handicapper

Johnny Love spent opening weekend at Canterbury Park.  Never short of opinions, he is the Star Tribune public handicapper after all, Johnny shares his thought about the  Canterbury meet……

Find Johnny’s selections each race day at www.startribune.com .

Opening Weekend Highlights; More to Come Friday

Aces High and Alex Canchari win the Canterbury Park 2017 opening race

The first race of the Canterbury 2017 live race meet, an allowance optional claimer, was won by Aces High. The 6-year-old chestnut gelding is owned by Pocket Aces Racing, LLC, trained by Eric Heitzmann, and ridden by Alex Canchari. “I’m leading trainer!” joked Heitzmann in the winners’ circle after the race. “It feels great to be back in Minnesota and that’s a good way to start off the meet. We love coming to Canterbury, the track, the atmosphere, the people! I’m a Louisiana boy, but if I had to pick up my roots and be somewhere else it would be here!”

Alex Canchari, last years’ second leading rider, went on to win two more races on opening night, giving him a riding triple. He won the third race on the only first time starter in the field, a 4-year-old gelding named Saganaga, trained by Gary Scherer. Saganaga actually has a bit of family history here at Canterbury Park – his dam, Pretty As A Smile, won the Minnesota Distaff Classic Championship Stakes in 2008. Later in the card, Canchari won the sixth race aboard Justfortherunofit, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Sandra Sweere.

Denny Velazquez also had a riding double, winning the second race on Trappingsofsilver and the seventh race on Fridaynitestar. Both are trained by Joel Berndt.

Chad Lindsay, a newcomer from the southern California circuit, was excited to win his first race at Canterbury Park for trainer Robertino Diodoro.  While the first three races were all decided in photo finishes, the fourth race was won in convincing fashion by Sidearm, Lindsay’s mount. “It feels good to win a race here on opening day,” said Lindsay, walking back to the jock’s room after the race. “I came here to win races, so it’s great to get off on the right foot.”

Alex Canchari continued his winning ways on Saturday, taking the L’Etoile Du Nord Stakes, the first stake of the Canterbury meet.  He was all smiles coming into the winners’ circle. “I was feeling really confident at the quarter-pole,” he beamed after the race.  Thoughtless, his mount, was the only entrant for trainer Mac Robertson on opening weekend, making every start a winning one for last year’s leading trainer.

Nik Goodwin made his first win of the meet aboard Shrewd Move look easy as he slipped through along the inside rail at the top of the stretch to take the Paul Bunyan Stakes. “I was tracking the horses in front of me, and when they came off the turn they were making their move and the rail opened up, and I had a lot of horse to take me through and he just kept running,” said Goodwin after the race. Shrewd Move was the longest shot in the field and paid a whopping $34.40 to win.

Speaking of big pay-outs, Jareth Loveberry won his first race of the meet Saturday on the aptly named Lookin Ata Runaway. The longshot paid $112.20 to win in the fifth race.  Lookin Ata Runaway was the second of three wins for trainer Tony Rengstorf.  He won the third race with Lasoeurcadetecheri and  the last race with My Apparition. Orlando Mojica was aboard that one who also paid a handsome price of 17.00 for the win. The three wins allowed Rengstorf to exit the weekend as the leading trainer. Scherer, Diodoro and Berndt each had two victories.

The 20,258 in attendance Saturday for live racing and Minnesota’s Biggest Kentucky Derby Party was the fourth largest crowd in Canterbury Park history.

Racing continues Friday and Saturday.

First post on Friday is 6:30 p.m. The fourth race, restricted to 3-year-old fillies, includes a trainer familiar to Canterbury horseplayers in Tammy Domenosky. She was a top conditioner herein the late 2000s, finishing in the top five in ’08 and ’09. Domenosky primarily trains in Chicago but raced a bit at Oaklawn over the winter. She has entered Lookforasmile who won her first start in a maiden claimer in February in Hot Springs. Leslie Mawing will ride the ship-in.

Saturday’s card will begin at 12:45.


Notes compiled by Katie Merritt.

Video by Michelle Blasko.

Katie Merritt is a senior at the University of Kentucky and currently an intern in the Canterbury Park Press Box. Before returning to school she galloped at several tracks around the country, but spent the majority of her time working for Carl Nafzger and Ian Wilkes.