RACE OF YEAR BRINGS DOWN CURTAIN

 

Amy’s Challenge

BY JIM WELLS

You can put a stamp on it. Mail it home. The verdict is in. The hype was real. Canterbury Park saved the best for last.

The race of the year was just that.

As anticipated when the race was written, the best horses showed up. The lineup was one for 2017 and for time to come.

The best babies stabled here in track annals, one of them a Minnesota-bred, went head-to-head and gate to wire in a show of talent and maturity beyond their ages on the final day of racing.

The season ended with a couple notable changes. Paddock analyst Brian Arrigoni filled in for track announcer Paul Allen, on assignment as the Minnesota Vikings radio voice. Arrigoni filled in admirably, calling the races with the voice and insight of a seasoned pro. His spot was taken over by former paddock analyst Angela Hermann, who brushed off the cobwebs and was in typical fine form.

The race of the year featured speed and then some, with three two-year-olds that had dominated their previous opposition with lopsided wins lining up in an eight-horse field to face one another a first time.

Would they continue the shows they had previous staged _  winning by 16 ½, 15 ½ and 13 lengths _  when facing one another, the filly Amy’s Challenge against two standout colts, Mr. Jagermeister and Soul of Discretion.

Yes, they did. In the case of Amy’s Challenge and Mr. Jagermeister, gate to wire.

Although the skies were overcast and the air a bit autumnal _ chilly by some standards _ the feature races, the $50,000 Tom Metzen HBPA Sprint and the $75,000 Shakopee Juvenile, offered something considerably more appealing.

Sir Navigator brushed off a challenge from Smooth Chiraz to win the Sprint, and then Amy’s Challenge, whose 91 Beyer speed figure is tops among the nation’s two-year-olds, fought off a game, hard challenge from Mr. Jagermeister.

Soul of Discretion was left well back, in fourth, along with the rest of the lineup, struggling in the wake of the two leaders.

Amy’s Challenge, the 4/5 favorite, broke first and maintained her lead to the top of the stretch where Mr. Jagermeister, at 6/5,  got his head in front and appeared primed to take over in what quickly became a two-horse race in the stretch.

Amy’s Challenge fought back and had ¾ length on him at the wire, with the next closest another 18 lengths back.

“I heard the other horse coming and he got a head on us,’’ said winning rider Jareth Loveberry, the champion rider of the meet. “Then she dug in and kept digging and digging.’’

The winning time and the fractions for the race were better than even older males who ran on Saturday’s season-ending card: 21.95, 44.48, 56.67 and 1:09.58.

Valorie Lund, the trainer of Mr. Jagermeister, was hopeful that what she had just read on her smart phone might portend good luck for her horse, who had lost only once. The winner of that race had just won at Churchill Downs. “The colt that beat us just won the Grade III Iroquois,’’ she said hopefully.

Afterward she approached Mac Robertson, Amy’s trainer, and gave him a hug, relieved that the race was over and that regardless of the outcome the colt she owns with two of her sisters is still maturing and is a speed demon.

Amy’s Challenge, on the other hand, is owned by Joe Novogratz of Chanhassen and has attracted offers of $1 million or more.

Robertson also saddled the winner of the other stake on the closing day card, the Tom Metzen Sprint.

Sir Navigator, ridden by Israel Hernandez took an inside route to the winner’s circle, finishing 1 ½ lengths in front of Smooth Chiraz and Loveberry and another ½ length ahead of Adens Dream

Owned by Jerry and Marlene Myers, Sir Navigator won for the fourth time in 2017, exceeding $120,00 career earnings with Saturday’s win.

Then, at 6:55 p.m. Betyar crossed the finish line _ leading rider Jareth Loveberry in the irons, leading trainer Mac Robertson collecting one more win and Joe Novogratz, in the final race of the meet, winning the title as leading owner for 2017.

With that the season came to a close.

Jareth Loveberry

WIENER DOG RACES

The smart money was on a little gal called Mustang Sally in the 2017 wiener dog championship, and she backed up her backers in grand fashion, putting on a late rush to hit the finish line a clear winner.

Then again, Sally is not a stranger to these things. She recently won a mixed dog race at Remington Park

That’s right, Oklahoma City. Sally, her owner Pamela Coffey, friend and starter Luann Annerud and Texas friend Carmen Villalobos made the 10 hour drive from Nola, Oklahoma for the second time this summer and came away with the gold.

They were prepared and so was Sally, who trained regularly at the Harmony Training Center for horses, running up and down shed row in addition to longer jaunts on the track.

Her owner also had Sally run alongside the rail next to the track while her friends, several grooms and trainers, hooted and hollered to prepare Sally for noise she would experience during the Canterbury championship run.

 

CLOSING NOTES:

The fears that accompanied Irma for some Canterbury riders and personnel as she bore down on Florida recently were replaced by relief and gratitude in the days that followed the hurricane’s landfall.

Rider Nik Goodwin, for one, had concerns about the family home in Ocala, and was relieved afterward upon finding that it was spared by the killer storm. “Everything is fine,’’ he said.

Jockey lounge custodian and clerk of scales Mark Anderson and his wife had lesser concerns. They were planning a trip to Nassau for the second year and wondered if that trip, too, would not take place.

A year earlier their planned Caribbean jaunt was cancelled when employees at the resort went on strike.

    CANTERBURY’S 2017 CHAMPIONS

Horse of the year: Amy’s Challenge

Quarter horse of the year: The Fiscal Cliff

3-year-old colt/gelding: Hot Shot Kid

3-year-old filly: Double Bee Sting

2-year-old: Amy’s Challenge

Older horse: Hay Dakota

Older filly/mare: Honey’s Sox Appeal

Sprinter: Honey’s Sox Appeal

Grass horse: Some Say So

Claimer: Monday Confession

Thoroughbred trainer: Mac Robertson

Thoroughbred jockey: Jareth Loveberry

Thoroughbred owner: Novogratz Racing Stables

Quarter horse trainer: Jason Olmstead

Quarter horse jockey: Oscar Delgado

Quarter horse owner: Thomas Scheckel and Dean Frey (tie)

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2017: A Look Back

By Noah Joseph

Well, it’s that time of the year. Closing weekend is upon us. The 2017 season is almost in the rear-view mirror, and it was a wonderful season. Here’s a look at some of the great moments.

For the fans, there was much to see, and parts of the summer had gone to the dogs. Literally, thousands of fans showed up to watch dogs race, whether it was wiener dogs, bulldogs, or corgis. Extreme Day was an extreme success with camel, ostrich, and zebra races. Also, the Indian Horse Relays were a success in their own right.

This year brought some records along with it, too. Jockey Nik Goodwin got his 1,000th career win. Canterbury Hall of Fame trainer David Van Winkle also got his 1,000th win, and Hold for More became the richest horse in Canterbury Park or Downs history.

There were several new names to make their presence felt in the Canterbury jockey colony. Jareth Loveberry was one of them. In just his first season at Canterbury, Jareth has won 69 races, including one week where he had 13 victories. He is named to ride in 25 of the 26 remaining races. Another jockey, Chad Lindsey, also in his first season at Canterbury, won more than 20 races. The familiar names like Alex Canchari, Dean Butler, and others had successful seasons as well. Leslie Mawing, who rode at Canterbury at the beginning of the century, returned to Shakopee and won more than 40 races.

The racing was top notch as always, especially in stakes competition. Hotshot Kid took his connections on a wild ride, winning the Vic Meyers and Minnesota Derby; Sweet Tapper used her late closing kick to run down Insta Erma in the Lady Canterbury, Puntsville had a dominating score in the Hoist Her Flag running the fastest six furlong time of the meet. The Fiscal Cliff dominated his foes in multiple stakes en route to being one of the best quarter horses to run at Canterbury. Hay Dakota, a Grade 3 winner and local horse just holding on in the Mystic Lake Mile; and Giant Payday’s flying finish in the Mystic Lake Derby.

2017 was a great season for Canterbury fans and horsemen alike. Here’s to 2018 being just the same. To all the Canterbury employees, horsemen, and fans, thank you!

Odds and Ends With Four Days To Go

Entries close Friday for the final three stakes of the 67-day meet that ends Sept. 16.  The $50,000 John Bullit will be run Sept. 15 while the $50,000 Tom Metzen HBPA Sprint and the $75,000 Shakopee Juvenile Stakes will be held on closing day.

The purse of the six-furlong Shakopee Stakes, restricted to 2-year-olds, was boosted by $25,000 last week. Racing officials also added an additional $25,000 for Minnesota breds making it worth $100,000 for those foaled in state.  The hope is to attract all of the fast juveniles that are stabled at Canterbury this summer. Amy’s Challenge earned the largest Beyer Speed Figure, 91, of 2-year-olds to have raced in North America when she cruised to a 16 1/2 length victory here Aug. 6. Robertson has indicated the fill would run in the Shakopee. Soul of Discretion was another powerful maiden winner that earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure when he won by many in his debut. He however is entered on Saturday in the $75,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity where he has been made the morning line favorite.  The certainty that he races in Chicago however is low.

The Shakopee would be a logical spot for Mr. Jagermeister to land. The Minnesota bred is unbeaten in two starts at Canterbury and finished second when shipped to Prairie Meadows for a stake race. His 81 Beyer Speed Figure from the maiden win and effortless gallop in the Northern Lights Futurity make him a legitimate contender. Entries for the final two days of the meet will be taken this Sunday.

Handicapping Contests this Weekend

The Dog Days of Summer Handicapping Tournament, now in its 21st year making it America’s longest-running and first live-bankroll contest, takes place this Saturday and Sunday. The winner receives a $10,000 entry to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and a National Horseplayer Championship entry plus cash. Second place is an NHC entry and cash.  Complete rules can be found HERE.

On Friday night is the Ultimate NHC Qualifier, another live-bankroll event, that calls for players to wager half of their existing bankroll on each of six Canterbury races. The two players with the largest bankrolls at contest end receive NHC seats.  Rules and information can be found online.

Meet Stats With Four Days To Go

Racing resumes Friday at 6:30pm. Jockey Jareth Loveberry went on a win-binge last week scoring 13 victories and distancing himself by eight wins from Orlando Mojica in the standings. Loveberry actually had 14 wins but was disqualified from one last Friday when his mount Why Frank crossed over and dropped rider Katlin Bedford.  Loveberry received a seven-day suspension that begins Sept. 8. Bedford suffered a broken ankle that will require surgery. She is returning to Oklahoma for the procedure and will recuperate there.  Mac Robertson has 61 wins this meet and has been in control since June. He will win his 11th training title at Canterbury. The thoroughbred owner leaderboard is currently headed by Curtis Sampson who has a two win lead over Joe Novogratz. Sampson has four more wins than Lothenbach Stables who leads in what may be the most important category, purse money earned. From 50 starts, Lothenbach runners have earned $379,670.

A MEMORABLE WEEKEND FOR LOVEBERRY

Fireman Oscar

BY JIM WELLS

No matter how long you’ve been at an endeavor, there is always a first time for something, for just about everybody.

Take Hall of Fame trainer Dave Van Winkle, who’s left his mark just about any place his horses have left tracks in Shakopee over the past three decades. His entry in the $60,000 MTA Stallion Auction Stakes was Fireman Oscar, a three-year-old son of Law Enforcement from Brandy Bai, sent off the 3/5 favorite on Monday.

Several trainers with horses in the race had won it in the past, two or three times in certain cases, four in another. This was a 6 ½ furlong affair that Van Winkle did not have in his scrapbook, however.

Nonetheless, Fireman Oscar, owned by Pete Mattson of Prior Lake, seemed an appropriate moniker in the paddock moments before the race as the skies darkened, the winds whipped up from out of nowhere, the rain began to drill down at an angle and flashes of lightning appeared in the offing.

Who better to have your faith in under such an exhibit of nature, and the consequences sometimes produced during such times, than a horse with the first name Fireman.  A turnout of 16,172 was on hand for the Labor Day festivities that included the Wiener Dog Races but half or more of them had scurried out the exits when the skies blackened.

Now add to the weather a rider hotter than the atmospheric electricity,  Jareth Loveberry, and you have the makings of  a 3/5 favorite.  But there was additional drama. Loveberry is sitting on a suspension that all but appeared to have knocked him out of the race for leading jockey this meet when he was cited for a riding infraction last Friday. He was trailing Orlando Mojica in the standings by three wins at the time.

Popular opinion at that time, with Mojica in the lead, was that Loveberry could just about forget a riding title if he was going to be given days. But just like that, he went on a tear like he has never experienced before. “Unbelievable,’’ he said after winning Monday’s stakes race. “Just incredible.’’

Yes, 13 wins in that short span is a bit incredible. He left the grounds Monday night, leading Mojica 69-61 in the standings.

The MTA stakes was thought to be a two-horse affair, between the unbeaten filly Ta Kela Warning, 3 for 3, and Oscar, who hit the board in six consecutive starts.

Loveberry rode the perfect race and wrapped up his week with a clear win, 3 ½ lengths in front of Sooner Heat and another head in front of Formidable Force.

“I just let him settle,’’ said Loveberry, “and then he dragged me to the lead. This whole week has been simply unbelievable.’’

Pete Mattson and Jareth Loveberry

He capped it off in perfect style, a win in a $60,000 stakes.

The race has been run every year since 1987 with two exceptions, in 1993 and 2001, and was limited to two-year-olds from 1987 through 2000.

The winner of the first running was a baby named Flux Capacitor, trained by Clint Goodrich and ridden by Jon Oldham. The owner was Phil Marudas, a long-time early handicapper for the St. Paul Pioneer Press who out-picked all Twin Cities competitors in several consecutive years.

Among the trainers who won this race more than once is Hall of Fame conditioner Doug Oliver, who saddled Prince of Drummers for Allan Burdick in 1991 and Bleu Victoriate for Jeff Hilger in 1998. Oliver is calling it quits in Shakopee after a career in which he saddled horses in every meet since racing arrived in 1985.

The king of the trainers in this particular race, however, is Hall of Fame conditioner Bernell Rhone, who saddled four winners. “I never would have guessed it,’’ he said.

Remember Mr. Gangster (1992)? he was asked. “Yup,’’ he said. How about Hardy Har (1996)?

“Yup.’’  And Rustic Road (2010). “Yup.’’

“Samendra (2011)? “Oh, yes.’’

Next best is Francisco Bravo. His first winner was Crocrock (1999), Frosty Prince ( 2002) and Hold for More (2015). All three horses were owned by Dale Schenian, Canterbury’s vice chairman.

Pete Mattson was Monday’s winning owner, and he has a nice story to accompany his special win, Jareth Loveberry’s special if not historic weekend.

CANTERBURY CHOICE TIDBITS

The Labor Day weekend crowds kept Alexis Pearson busy selling tip sheets from her stand steps inside the main entrance.

On Monday, she sold 122 sheets with picks made by former paddock handicapper Kevin Gorg. On Sunday, she sold 102. “Anytime we break 100 it’s a great day,’’ she said. “We had two great days.’’

On an average day, she said, “we’ll sell 45 to 60. Weather and the activities going on (such as the wiener dog races Monday and Pepsi Family Day Sunday) really help.’’

 BATTING .1000 IN THE BARNS

Former rider Sir Mark Irving, a native of Great Britain, gives tours of the stable area, introducing folks to the life of a trainer, what the duties are and what it takes to be successful. He will contact trainers beforehand for permission to give them a visit.

He will then pick out a horse entered to run and introduce his visitors to the horse as his pick in whatever race it will run. “Who knows he said, some of them might become an owner at some point.’’

By the way, he’s doing right well with the horses he’s chosen. He is seven for seven. All of the visits have been followed by wins.

WIENER DOG RACES

The heats in the annual wiener dog race were run on Monday, but the championship was moved to closing day, September 16, when stormy weather arrived as they were about to be run. Instead, Canterbury chose to run the final thoroughbred race on the card and postpone the title chase for the dogs.

Jareth Loveberry Winning Races at Canterbury Park

Jockey Jareth Loveberry joined the Canterbury jockey colony for the first time this season and has made an impact. Learn more about him in this video:

 

video by Michelle Blasko

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.

The ROI All-Stars

By The Oracle

We are nearing the halfway point of the 2017 Canterbury Park live racing season.  Here is a look inside-the-numbers at what has transpired on the race track so far..  The following statistics are for thoroughbred races only.

The Odds: 

Favorites are winning 35% of the thoroughbred races at Canterbury Park.  This is two percentage points below the national average for this year, and four percentage points below the 2016 Canterbury meet.  A smaller percentage of winning favorites can lead to larger payoffs!  The maiden special weight category has been the most formful so far, yielding 16 winning favorites from 36 races (44%).  However, this category also unleashed a 55-1 longshot winner on May 6, a horse named Lookin Ata Runaway.  This filly was making her first start as a 3-year-old, was trained by Tony Rengstorf and ridden by Jareth Loveberry.  Congratulations to those connections!

Historically, turf racing at Canterbury Park has yielded a lower percentage of winning favorites than races on the main track.  This is holding true this year, as favorites on the turf are winning at a 30% rate compared to 36% winning favorites on the dirt.

Regarding extreme longshots, there have been nine 20-1 and up winners this year.  Of those nine, four were in turf races and five were on the main track.  This is significant as there are many fewer turf races run than dirt races.  Look for longshots on the Canterbury turf course!

The Jockeys:

Looking at the top ten jockeys in the standings so far, the All-Star performer for best return-on-investment (ROI) was Jareth Loveberry.  Jareth is currently tied for the lead in the standings with Orlando Mojica with 31 wins, and he is returning an impressive $1.23 for every dollar wagered on his mounts.  Loveberry is a new rider to Canterbury Park this year, and the fans may have been focusing more on the established local names like Dean Butler and Alex Canchari.  Loveberry has done his best work on the main track this year, winning 26 of his 31 races on that surface, including that 55-1 longshot discussed above.  Horses like that definitely help the ROI!

Orlando Mojica is also having an excellent meet.  Mojica did very well last year in his first season at Canterbury Park, and he has continued to excel this year.  He is winning at a 22% rate over the turf course (11/50) and is showing a flat bet profit on that surface of 31%.

Alex Canchari deserves a mention as his 21% win percentage is best among the top ten riders.  Due to injury, Alex has had fewer mounts than the jockeys atop the standings, but he could be poised for a strong second half of the meet.  Alex was especially reliable with favorites in the first half, winning at a 44% rate (12/27), and he is quite capable of going on a tear and getting in contention for leading rider.

The Trainers:

The top ten trainer list had three trainers achieving a positive ROI at the midway mark.  Tony Rengstorf got the All-Star award with 12 wins from 67 starts, achieving an ROI of $1.80 for every dollar wagered.  This was due mainly to the 55-1 winner on May 6 described above.  He has excelled in dirt sprints (10/39, ROI = $2.87) and maiden races (5/18, ROI = $4.73), but is currently 0/12 on the turf.  Seven of those turf runners did finish in the top 3, however.

Francisco Bravo has also had a very good first half, winning 16 races with an ROI of $1.23.  His best category was claiming races, winning with 5 of 20 runners (ROI = $2.29) including a 20-1 winner named Awesome Emmit on June 30 in a claiming race that was moved from the turf to the main track.  Jockey Quincy Hamilton was aboard that one.  Bravo has also done extremely well in maiden claiming races, winning with 5 of 9 runners (56%) for an ROI of $2.12.

McLean Robertson has been the dominant trainer this year at Canterbury Park, as his 29 wins from 114 starters nearly doubles the win total of the second-place trainer in the standings.  Not only is Robertson leading in terms of win percentage (25%), he is also showing an ROI of $1.10 for every dollar wagered on each of his starters.  That’s a rare achievement for a trainer who is so well known by the local bettors.  Robertson is winning the big money races too, as 22 of his 29 wins have come in Allowance or Stakes races.  He even slipped a 23-1 shot past the crowd on July 3, when Teddy Time ran down A.P is Loose to win the Blair’s Cove Stakes on the turf with Quincy Hamilton aboard.  That was an easy name play exacta box for Vikings fans!

Summary:

That’s a brief look at how the favorites fared and who the top jockeys and trainers were over the first half of the Canterbury Park live meet from an ROI perspective.  Good luck in the second half of the meet!

 

Photo provided by Coady Photography

ON A WARM DAY MOJICA GETS HOT

Wings Locked Up wins Dark Star Cup

By JIM WELLS

There was a heat advisory on Saturday as the area got a taste of what typically doesn’t occur until the depths of summer in the Twin Cities, yet even what Minnesotans refer to as oven-like was mitigated significantly by a stiff breeze.

It was warm, 95 degrees at 3 p.m. with a southwest wind of 20 mph and relative humidity in the comfort zone, 36 percent. But it’s all relative, isn’t it!

“I haven’t even broken a sweat,’’ said trainer Gary Scherer, whose weather at home in Louisiana is not only warmer but considerably more sultry.

“It’s a hot one, eh mate! Absolutely stifling,’’ said former jockey Mark Irving, a native of England.

Actually, not a bad day at all, especially for trainers, riders and anyone else from southern or southwestern parts of the country. “This is nice,’’ said Star-Tribune handicapper Johnny Love, who recently moved to Arizona.

It was under those conditions, with temps in the mid 90s and what was called by the chart crew at Canterbury Park a 40 MPH headwind that Stormy Smith kicked off Belmont Stakes day by riding the winner in the first of four stakes races on the card.

Orlando Mojica caught on quickly, grasping early that a rider had to save enough horse for battling that headwind in the stretch, a realization that helped him win two $50,000 stakes and finish second in a third. On this particular day, it was not only weather one could describe as hot.

$32,750 GOPHER STATE DERBY

The winning rider of the first race on the card had the eponymous first name for the day, Stormy.  An exaggeration to be sure, but fitting somehow nonetheless.

Stormy Smith is from Purcell, Oklahoma, where big winds (we call them tornadoes) are quite common, so he had no trouble whatsoever dealing with the big headwind in this quarter horse 400 yard dash.

He was on La Mos Pyc for trainer Lori Harris and owner Thomas Scheckel and hit the wire a head in front of Lil Baby Eagle, who had a neck on Corona Springs, another Scheckel owned horse.

“She left (the gate) good, raced her butt off and ran a good race,’’ said Smith, who will stay another day in the Twin Cities. He has mounts in five of the Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity quarter horse trials on Sunday.

For the record, Smith’s account of the weather on Saturday was favorable. “I’d rather it hot than cold,’’ he said. “I’ve turned into a bit of wimp. Got too many (surgical) screws in me.’’

     

$50,000 MINNESOTA TURF DISTAFF

The winning horse in this race has been knocking at the door, to paraphrase one of her owners, Tim Rosin. Saturday, the door opened.

With Mojica playing his cards expertly, he kept Some Say So (4-1) at the front of the race, monitoring his fuel reserves expertly, and created a leisurely pace that left plenty in reserve for a winning stretch run, finishing 1 ¾ lengths in front of First Hunter and 2 ¼ ahead of Honey’s Sox Appeal, the even money favorite.

The winning time was 1:29.85 after a half mile in :48.67.

The winner is owned by Wisconsinites Tim Rosin, Patti Miller and Mark Kane, who arrived in Shakopee full of confidence.

“We knew we had a live horse,’’ said Rosin. “We’ve been very close several times. Two weeks ago we lost (by a head) for $18,000.’’

Some Say So made up for that on Saturday, collecting $30,000 as the winning share.

$50,000 DARK STAR CUP

Mojica had the winning strategy in the Turf Distaff, so why not try it again. He put Wings Locked Up at the front of a seven-horse field and kept the five-year-old gelding right there, took charge in the upper stretch and finished ½ length in front of Saturdaynitelites and 1 ½ ahead of Wabel, a ship in from Churchill Downs.

“If you have the lead in this headwind it helps, doesn’t it,’’ someone said to Mojica. “Yeah, but you have to have the horse,’’ he said.  For the second straight time, Mojica had just that, finishing in 1:15.72

The win was stiff throughout the afternoon, and readily apparent to horse and rider as they turned into the stretch. “Oh, you could really feel it,’’ said Mojica. “You had to have a lot of horse.’’

The winning trophy was presented in this instance by former Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly, who was a personal friend of Dark Star, the radio personality for whom the race is named.

Tom Kelly with Brian Arrigoni

$50,000 MINNESOTA TURF

For a couple of deep breaths, Jenna Joubert and Pennant Fever appeared headed for the winner’s circle at 34-1, a major upset in the making.

An instant later, A P Is Loose does what he generally does under such circumstances. He fired inside the 1/16th pole and finished a neck in front of surging Plenty of Sun who had the same margin on Pennant Fever at the wire.

“Oh, that was close,’’ said winning owner Joel Zamzow. “A great race.’’

Butler, the winning rider, had this to say about A P is Loose. “He knows where the wire is. He’s done that every time I’ve ridden him.’’

A P is Loose went off the 3/5 favorite and settled outside in the second flight, tracking pace-setting Pennant Fever, who gave up and then regained the lead.

But A P was running his typical race, picking off one horse when he came to him and then the next, finishing in 1:30.54.

LOVEBERRY DINES IN WHITE HOUSE

Jareth Loveberry started the day as the leading rider at Canterbury with 15 wins, two more than Orlando Mojica and defending champion Dean Butler.

Earlier in the week, you might recall, Loveberry and members of his family had dinner at the White House for a reception honoring Gold Star families, those who’ve lost someone in the military service.

Jareth’s brother, Justin, was killed in Iraq in 2004 returning from a mission. Alerted to a possible explosive, Justin exposed himself to the    IED, saving some of his comrades in the process.

Monday, Jareth, his mother, stepfather, and three brothers were greeted by the President who thanked them and other families in attendance for their sacrifice and enjoyed a stand-up dinner that consisted of multiple entrees. “There was a lot of food, an awful lot of food,’’ Loveberry reported.

Among the items he recalled were watermelon salad, crab cakes, top sirloin, London broil, lamb chops.

“Oh, yeah, and desserts, too,’’ he added.

He didn’t gain an ounce. “They were tiny servings,’’ he explained.

 

CANTERBURY RIDER INVITED TO DINNER AT THE WHITE HOUSE

BY JIM WELLS

Jareth Loveberry knew he was good for only a few words. To make himself heard, he knelt in front of Stan Kowalski, a 91-year-old  World War II veteran, during the Memorial Day ceremony last Monday in the winner’s circle.

Loveberry thanked Kowalski for the speech he has just given and then his words ran out.

“I choked up. I only got out ‘my brother,’ ” Loveberry said. Kowalski seemed to understand and nodded an acknowledgement only those who have undergone similar experiences can provide.

While Kowalski paid tribute to all the men and women who’ve lost their lives in the service of the United States, Loveberry was thinking of his brother, Justin, three years his elder.

The conversation shifted. “What horse are you on in the next race?’’ Kowalski asked. “The four horse,’’ Loveberry said. “I’ll be rooting for you,’’ Kowalski said.

In those brief moments, the past became the present.

“ It was November 13, 2004,’’ Loveberry said, the date branded in his memory.

Jareth, then 17,  was across the street from the family home on the edge of Mount Pleasant, Michigan that day, mucking stalls with a younger brother at the farm where he had worked since he was a  youngster. “Our boss told us we should go home early that day,’’ he said.

Jareth’s father gathered the family in the living room.  Justin, 20 years old, had been killed earlier that day in Iraq.  He had put himself in front of an IED, losing his life and sparing those of his comrades. “They were returning from a mission,’’ Jareth recalled.

Justin Ellsworth   Fallujah, Iraq. November 13, 2004. “We had different fathers, but we grew up together,’’ Jareth said, explaining the difference in their last names.

Jareth and other members of his family are invited to a dinner at the White House on Monday as part of a Gold Star Family acknowledgement. He’s not certain what to expect. “I’ve never been to D.C.,’’ he said.

Will the President be there? “I don’t know. They haven’t told us much,’’ Loveberry said.

Loveberry will fly to Washington, D.C., on Sunday and return Tuesday to Minnesota, where he is riding at Canterbury Park for the first time.

Loveberry will turn 30 in August and originally saw himself as an architect. He began school at a career college in Michigan before relenting and returning to what already had a hold of him _ horses. He had been breaking babies since he was 13 years old, and rode his first race at Great Lakes Downs on what would have been Justin’s 21st birthday in 2005.

He has ridden in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arkansas. “I knew some Oklahoma people who liked coming up here,’’ he explained. “And while I was at Remington, Mac Robertson suggested that I come up here, too.’’

He is off to a good start, recording his ninth win of the meet on Friday’s card.

“I like it here,’’ Loveberry said, “everything about it…the weather, the community, the racing, the public. It’s kind of like Oaklawn (Park). People come out for the racing. That’s really neat.’’

Loveberry arrived without an agent but quickly found one in Richard Grunder. They had never met but Grunder had seen him ride on racing simulcasts. “I talked to people I trust who know him,’’ Grunder said. “He’s a good rider. I’m blessed to have him.’’

“This is a good place to be,’’ Loveberry added. “A good location.’’

Loveberry’s family _ his wife, Stacie and two children _ are living in Texas but are looking for a house in Oklahoma, something between, say, Remington Park and Oaklawn, where they can set down roots around Jareth’s career that takes him from place to place throughout the year.

Originally, his wife was to accompany him to the Gold Star dinner, and although she will accompany him to Washington, D.C., only immediate family members will attend the dinner after officials changed original plans.

The Loveberrys have two children, five-year-old Kennedy and seven-month old Colton, whose middle name is Justin.

That’s an additional tribute to Jareth’s brother, as was that win aboard the four horse on Memorial Day, with Kowalski rooting him on.

“It’s become my favorite day to win a race,’’ he said.

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.