Canterbury Jockey: Andrew Ramgeet

Andrew Ramgeet is a journeyman jockey whose career began in his homeland of Jamaica. Learn more about him here:

TITLES ON THE LINE AS 17 RACING DAYS REMAIN

Amy’s Challenge with Jareth Loveberry aboard

BY JIM WELLS

Update: Only 17 racing days left on the 2017 calendar. A mere two weeks of race days and change. Plenty of time for trainers to begin cleaning out their barns, sending out the horses that need a paycheck to cover their travel costs.

Still time for others to achieve some unreached goals, trainers, owners and riders alike.

The race for leading thoroughbred rider might come down to the final day, so too the quarter horse riding title.

The only certain matter at this point is the thoroughbred conditioners title. Mac Robertson has that award locked down tighter than the treasury vault. The bottom would have to fall out of the earth we stand on for anyone to catch him.

Robertson is 18 wins in front of the second place trainer, Bernell Rhone, and in typical robust fashion responded to a comment thrown his way in the paddock on Saturday.

“Hey, Mac, you’ve taken all the fun of the race this year, all but wrapping it up so early.’’

“Hey,’’ he responded, “I heard nothing but good things when Diodoro was 30 in front (in previous years),’’ he said.

He  was referring to the 2014 and 2015 seasons when Robertino Diodoro ended a nine year string of titles won by Robertson.

“Well, that took the fun out of it, too,’’ he was told.

“Story after story about Diodoro when he was in front.  I have the best time by a two-year-old filly in the country last Sunday and not a word locally but the New York Times calls me.’’

Robertson’s diatribe, of course, was based on fake news, his method of letting off steam, of making a point, of sticking the needle in.

Mac Robertson

The two-year-old filly of note is Amy’s Challenge, by Artie Schiller from Jump Up. She is owned by Novogratz Racing Stables. All sorts of rumors swirled in shed row after she broke her maiden in grand fashion, finishing many lengths in front of seven rivals last Sunday.

“Best horse I’ve had,’’ said Robertson.

Indeed, the stable area was abuzz with rumors about a filly with one race under her belt, offers approaching or exceeding the million dollar range.

There is additional drama surrounding this two-year-old. Jareth Loveberry, who closed to within two wins of Orlando Mojica in the thoroughbred riders race on Saturday, had planned to leave Canterbury a few days early for other racing obligations. Not if he gets another call aboard this filly, however.

“I couldn’t leave a filly like her,’’ he said.

Loveberry is riding for the first time at Canterbury this meet, and has exceeded his expectations upon arriving in Shakopee.

“It’s unreal,’’ he said. “I thought I could come here and win some races. I never expected to be where I am.’’

For his part, Mojica says he is not thinking about a title. “I don’t worry about it,’’ he said. “I don’t want to put pressure on myself. If I win it, I win it. I’m still making money.’’

Orlando Mojica

The quarter horse riders’ race might have already been decided. Oscar Delgado has a five-win lead over Brayan Velazquez.  And Jason Olmstead, in pursuit of a third-straight training title, is eight in front of Hall of Fame trainer Ed Ross Hardy.

Thomas Scheckel and Dean Frey are tied for the quarter horse owners’ lead with seven wins apiece, two more than Corey Wilmes.

And the always interesting chase for leading thoroughbred owner?

The Curtis Sampson stable is three wins in front of the Lothenbach and Novogratz stables.

It all resumes anew Sunday with a card that features the $50,000 Hoist Her Flag Stakes.

FOR NOLAN, THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Nolan and Track President Randy Sampson

BY JIM WELLS

There is indeed substance to the notion that you can’t go home again, back to the place you left at one time and the way it was, with all of the same elements in place, supported now by only memory. But sometimes just getting to that physical place you left behind seems equally impossible.

No one is any better equipped to expound on that idea than Paul Nolan, a prominent figure in Canterbury Park history who fully intended to rejoin the jockey colony this spring until fate stepped in and changed those plans for the worse.

Paralyzed in a riding accident in April at Will Rogers Downs, Nolan was first cared for in a local hospital before he was transferred to the Craig Institute in suburban Denver and underwent extensive therapy for his injuries.

Then, on Tuesday, he traveled back to the Twin Cities where he and his wife, Sherry, have owned a home for years. He needs to undergo additional rehabilitation before he can again live at his Bloomington home and was brought to the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley.

He was not there 24 hours when he underwent a drop in heart rate, later attributed to the stress of travel and healing factors, and was transferred to Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. He expects to return to the Courage Center on Monday.

So, after all of these weeks and months, Nolan’s return home didn’t even include a permanent hospital. As he discussed his return to Minnesota on Friday, he quickly assessed the idea that he was finally home. “It’s close,’’ he said. “It’s been a weird ride.’’

For anyone unfamiliar with the popular rider, Nolan is originally from England and emigrated to the United States in the late 1980s to pursue his trade as a race rider. After moving his tack to Canterbury Park he established a lasting mark as a rider who excelled on the grass, picking up the nickname “The Sod Surgeon, ” a rider who could perform wonders on the grass with surgical precision. He often brought in grass runners with long odds on them, mostly notably K Z Bay, who returned $67.80 in the 1997 Lady Canterbury.

For all of the difficulties he is undergoing, Nolan has not lost his sense of humor, a gift of his Irish heritage no doubt that he displays in unexpected flashes at unexpected times.

He acquired a large stuffed Barbie-like doll during his stay at the Craig Institute, a doll he took with him on a boating excursion on one occasion, astonishing nearly everyone around him.

“I call her midnight,’’ he later told a Craig aide. “Why that name,’’ he was asked. “Because,’’ Nolan said, “she comes alive at midnight and we have fun together.’’

The aide was flabbergasted and later asked a colleague if Nolan indeed had all of his marbles. “Why would you ask something like that,’’ he was asked. “Because,’’ the fellow said, “he thinks that doll he has comes alive at midnight.’’

“He’s messing’ with you,’’ the fellow said. “He’s pulling your chain.’’

Nolan has a reputation for his humor, an aspect of his personality that has served him well during his ongoing rehabilitation. He is still without a prognosis for the future, although there remains a basis for hope.

Nolan and former Minnesota Viking Cedric James

Nolan was injured when the horse he was riding fell while galloping out, throwing him forward and then rolling over the top of him. The horse was fine but Nolan immediately knew something was wrong as an inexplicable force surged through his body and left him helpless, his head in the dirt.

“I couldn’t get my breath,’’ he said. “I knew something was terribly wrong.’’ He recalls those terrifying moments and those that followed in the back of the emergency vehicle. As it happened, the ambulance driver was in the stands somewhere getting a hamburger when the incident took place, delaying the entire procedure.

Then, on the way to the hospital, the EMT aides kept “asking me questions,’’ he said. “I couldn’t breathe and they wanted answers to questions.’’

The good news in this tragic episode is that although Nolan’s spinal cord was severely swollen, nothing was broken. Nothing in his spinal column was severed. Nonetheless, he is still unable to move his arms or legs to any great extent and is restricted to a wheelchair for mobility.

His current chair doesn’t offer the same flexibility he enjoyed at the Craig Center. His wheelchair there had a straw-like apparatus that allowed him to move forward or backward, right or left, simply by applying less or more force when blowing into it.

“I crashed into more things with that chair than I ever did on a horse,’’ Nolan said.

Nolan appeared adjusted to his new surroundings on Friday, injecting his conversations with doctors and nurses with his incurable sense of humor, taking in all they conveyed at the same time.

He received a call from his mother, Ann, in England. Later, Sherry arrived.

The most unpleasant moment of the morning, it seemed, was that his hospital coffee was coming up short, not at all comparable with his favorite brand. As it happens, there is a Caribou outlet in Abbott-Northwestern so on this morning, at least, his wishes were satisfied. Although he has to drink his coffee through a straw, Nolan appreciated the taste of his favorite brand.

After all, Caribou is a Minnesota brand and on this particular day it brought the Sod Surgeon one step closer to home.

 

Jockey David Delgado

Jockey David Delgado, who began riding in his homeland of Spain, tells CanterburyLive about his career:

The Grass Is Greener

By Noah Joseph

The month of August is an exciting month for Canterbury. One reason is the Mystic Lake Derby, the featured and richest race of the season. The race is for three year olds going one mile on the turf. Turf racing has been a part of Minnesota racing for several years, so it seemed about time to take a look at the history of turf racing in Minnesota

Turf racing began in Minnesota in 1986; however, the idea of turf racing was already planned when Canterbury opened the previous year. However, there wasn’t enough time to get a turf course ready, so it was introduced a year later.

May 25, 1986 – dedication of the Eilken Turf Course

The first race ever run on the turf was the Lady Canterbury, won by Sauna. Another turf attraction, while only run once, was the Canterbury Turf Classic Handicap, won by Treizieme. Over the years, races on the Canterbury lawn were won by top horses such as John Bullit, Princess Elaine, Balbonella, Tappiano, Capades, and many more.

Capades

When Canterbury reopened in 1995, turf racing was just as exciting and competitive as it was before. The return of turf racing in Minnesota saw horses like Honor the Hero and Go Go Jack crush their completion. Jest for a Trucker was named 1996 Canterbury Horse of the Year after several turf victories. 1997 saw K Z Bay upset the Lady Canterbury field on the lawn en route to one the most classic Canterbury moments. Recently, races on the Canterbury turf have been won by top horses such as Hay Dakota, Majestic Pride, One Mean Man, Nun the Less, Long On Value, Tubby Time, Teddy Time, A P Is Loose, and Dear Fay.

Turf racing has been a major force at Canterbury, and it will be for many years to come, proving that sometimes, the grass is greener on the other side.

Duel At The Downs

Apprentice Jockey Katlin Bedford Takes It All In Stride

Bedford Wins July 27 aboard Caballo River

Katlin Bedford is an apprentice jockey currently riding at Canterbury Park. She has talent, a great attitude, and an interesting background. Learn more about this young rider in this video:

 

Video by Michelle Blasko

July 14 News and Notes

Mr. Jagermeister

Alex Canchari was very efficient on Thursday while riding just three of the eight thoroughbred races and winning with all three mounts. Canchari took advantage of the break that followed the long July 4 race week and traveled to Los Angeles for some R and R.  The broken right hand appears to have healed quickly and quite well, putting the Shakopee Kid right back in the thick of things. He has two mounts tonight.

Two-year-old Minnesota-bred thoroughbred colt Mr. Jagermeister won very impressively in his debut July 4 for trainer Valorie Lund.  The son of former Lund trainee Atta Boy Roy broke a step slow but quickly took control of the race and drew off to win by 11 1/2 lengths under no pressure. The final time of 58.05 seconds is one of the fastest recorded by a maiden breaking 2-year-old in Canterbury history. The state-bred looks like the real deal and has attracted purchase offers of six figures from near and far. Lund would entertain the right number but has not heard it yet. She plans to run Mr. Jagermeister in the $65,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows and then on Minnesota Festival of Champions Day, Aug. 20, in the $85,000 Northern Lights Futurity.  The colt is owned by Lund, Kristin Boice, and Leslie Cummings.

A few monthly awards will be handed out during the Saturday race card. The Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association trainer and jockey of the month, presented by Ruby Tuesday in Shakopee, will be honored. Ed Ross Hardy is the MQHRA trainer of the month and his go-to rider Oscar Delgado will receive the jockey award.

The Minnesota Thoroughbred Association will also honor its trainer of the month, Mac Robertson. Mac has taken command of the trainer standings, which comes as no surprise considering the size of his stable, which includes many state breds, and the regularity with which his horses run and win.

Extreme Memories

By Noah Joseph

Saturday is Extreme Race Day, a highlight of the year at Canterbury Park, now in its 11th edition. It’s a wild and wacky day for all featuring camel, ostrich, and zebra races. The first Extreme Race Day was held in 2007, and I was there at age nine. So this is a recollection of memories from that day.

It was a cloudy yet pleasant Sunday afternoon as my family and I entered the track. After a couple of “normal” thoroughbred races got the day started, things got wild with thoroughbreds running the unique and rare distance of 4 ½ furlongs and quarter horses running 100 yards, the shortest distance run at the track. Golden Zoomer won that race and set a track record that still stands.

After the shortest race came the longest race, a virtual marathon of 2 miles and a 16th on the dirt, which was won by Agent Dansuer.

We had camel and ostrich races, but then came the most captivating race of all with horses racing on the dirt and turf at the same time! That and the quarter horse dash are still run every Extreme Day.

 

Other fun races included a two year old maiden battle of the sexes sprint that took place on the turf and a 770 yard race between the thoroughbreds and quarter horses, with the thoroughbreds winning. The last extreme race of the day, a turf race, was the Dirty Dozen for horses who had never won on the turf. A couple of quarter horse trials then closed out the card.

The inaugural Extreme Race Day was a huge success. It caught on so quickly that other tracks started doing extreme races as well, but Canterbury will always be the first to have done it. And I can guarantee that this year’s Extreme Race Day will be just as fun and exciting as it was in 2007.

Noah Joseph is a longtime Canterbury Park and horse racing fan. He’s been attending races at Canterbury since 2000 when he was 3 years old and has enjoyed every minute of it. Noah provides a weekly piece on CanterburyLive.com.

Corey Wilmes – Racehorse Owner and Breeder

By Katie Merritt

For racehorse owner Corey Wilmes, horse racing has been a big part of his life since he was a young teenager. Wilmes grew up on a farm in Le Sueur, Minnesota, just south of Shakopee, and when Canterbury Downs first opened in the mid-80’s he was quick to secure a hotwalking job on the backside.

“I started out as a hotwalker for Vic Padilla,” he explained, “After that, I was grooming horses for Doug Oliver through my junior year of high school.” When he graduated, Wilmes’ involvement in the industry took a temporary backseat to college and pursuing a career, but he always loved the Sport of Kings.

Wilmes started his own company in 2002, and when that became successful, he found himself in a position to get involved in the racing industry once more. The rest of his family had a bit of a head start; his parents already owned some racehorses and his sister, Kari, married one of Canterbury’s all-time winningest Quarter Horse trainers, Ed Hardy. Wilmes decided that owning, and more specifically breeding, was the direction that he wanted to go.

“When Mystic Lake did the purse enhancement fund, I decided I needed to get some broodmares,” said Wilmes. “I had the property to do it on, so I got the barn set up and I bought a mare in foal in the January sale down at Heritage Place [in Oklahoma], then brought her up here, and foaled her as a Minnesota-bred.”

The resulting foal was Moon Me Chick, a Quarter Horse who won two races at Canterbury Park last summer.

“Moon Me Chick has probably been my favorite,” Wilmes said with a smile, adding, “I fall for all of them, but he was the first one I raised, and he gave it everything he had when he ran.”

The second addition to Wilmes’ small band of broodmares was the one to inspire the name of his Equine business, EOS Equine. “That’s not Elite Oilfield Services,” he laughed, “It stands for Eye Opening Special.”

Eye Opening Special was a stakes-winning filly that was trained by Ed and Kari Hardy, and owned by Corey’s parents before they eventually sold her. “When I told Kari I wanted to get into this and get some broodmares, she was down at the Heritage Place sale and she told me she found one for me. And then she told me what page to look at and I looked to see what horse it was and I couldn’t believe it!” Wilmes recalled. Of course, Eye Opening Special returned to the Wilmes family, and all of her babies have been runners. Corey even puts an EOS at the beginning of almost all of his horses’ names. “It’s a family deal.” Wilmes grinned. Though he didn’t start out with a lot of knowledge about breeding, his plan of learning as he goes seems to be working. “I absolutely knew nothing about this,” Wilmes said, “I’m learning by doing, reading and watching, and I absolutely love it!”

On his farm, Corey foals out his own mares with the help of his son and raises the foals for the first year of their lives. “The trick is to work with them,” he explained. “A lot of people don’t handle them until they’re pushing a yearling and then you’ve got your hands full. So with my son’s help, we try to handle them as much as possible at home.” Once they are yearlings, the young horses are sent down to Ed and Kari’s ranch in Oklahoma to officially begin their training. Wilmes likes to send his horses to the Hardy’s early so that he can have a better idea of what kind of horse he may have, and which ones should be nominated for the big races. “Kari and Ed, they know what they’re doing,” Wilmes said assuredly. “They’re hands on trainers, they’re in there with every horse. And numbers don’t lie. Look at the win percentages,” he added. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that the trainer is a part of the family. “We do talk strictly horses, sometimes!” laughed Wilmes, “We probably talk four times a week about how the horses are doing, what’s going on.”

Fortunately for the whole family, Wilmes says that he’s been pretty lucky as far as owning horses go. In 2017 alone, he’s had 14 runners, 4 winners, 3 seconds and a third. “It’s not all about winning,” explained Wilmes, “It’s about seeing the whole progression, it’s working with the babies from start to finish, it’s about having fun. But winning is fun!” As luck would have it, there doesn’t seem to be much of a shortage of winning OR fun for Wilmes and family.

Quincy Hamilton Makes The Most Of His Return To Canterbury

Hamilton aboard Teddy Time, winner of Blair’s Cove Stakes

Jockey Quincy Hamilton shares his story in this new video. Last week he rode Teddy Time to victory in the $50,000 Blair’s Cove Stakes for trainer Mac Robertson.