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.

Diamonds Are an Owner’s Best Friend

Mister Marti Gras

By Noah Joseph

One of the most recognizable silks at Canterbury Park in recent times has been blue silks with a red diamond cluster and red diamonds on the sleeves. Those are the silks of Bob Lothenbach, who races under Lothenbach Stables. Lothenbach Stables is a top owner of horses throughout the Midwest and parts of the East Coast. Lothenbach has owned and raced some top quality horses over the years at Canterbury. The two that come to mind only raced in Minnesota a couple of times, but both have made their mark in Minnesota racing history. They are Mister Marti Gras and Nun the Less.

If you were to look up the word consistent, you’d probably find a picture of Mister Marti Gras. The son of Belong to Me raced 58 times, winning 11 and finishing in the top three 32 times, and earning over $1 million in a career that spanned from 2009 to 2016. A four-time stakes winner, Canterbury fans will remember him as the winner of the inaugural Mystic Lake Mile in 2013. Mister Marti Gras took the one mile off the turf contest in 1:38 for Lothenbach, trainer Chris Block, and jockey Francisco Torres.

Nun the Less, at the time he came to Canterbury, was a horse that could perform well but just couldn’t do it when it counted. He won at the maiden and allowance levels as a two-year-old and allowance level as a three-year-old, but couldn’t win a stakes race no matter how hard he tried. He placed in many stakes, including graded stakes against the best grass three-year-olds of 2015, but he needed to find a race he could win. That race was the 2015 Mystic Lake Derby. Trainer Chris Block shipped the son of Candy Ride to Canterbury after a 3rd place finish in Chicago. Nun the Less, sent off as the 4-1 third choice, came from last to first with a burst of energy combined with a well-timed ride by Florent Geroux to take the richest race of the meeting. Nun The Less raced at Canterbury two more times last year, both in stakes, and finished 3rd both times. Nun the Less is still racing today, recently finishing 3rd at Arlington Park. Hopefully he will come back to Canterbury again.

This year at Canterbury, Lothenbach has five winners from nineteen starts, putting him 4th on the list of leading owners. He currently has the impressive maiden winner Diamondize; the Minnesota bred Mines Made Up, and last Friday, he won with Look Out Baby.

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.