Canterbury Hosts 24th Minnesota Festival of Champions Sunday

The annual Minnesota Festival of Champions, a day restricted to the best racehorses bred in the state, will be held for the 24th time Sunday at Canterbury Park. The first of 11 races is scheduled to begin at 12:45 the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack. A total of 94 horses have been entered to compete for $585,800 in purse money.

“The State Tournament of Horse Racing” was first held in 1992 and was the final day of pari-mutuel horse racing in Minnesota until Randy and Curtis Sampson, along with South St. Paul businessman Dale Schenian, purchased Canterbury in 1994 and revived live racing in 1995. The Festival of Champions has been a centerpiece of the racing season ever since.

The $60,000 Crocrock Minnesota Sprint Championship is a battle of veterans versus a young dynamo.  Hold for More, a 5-year-old owned by Schenian, is the all-time leading money earner in the history of Canterbury Park with $371,250. The 9 to 5 morning line favorite will be ridden by Orlando Mojica and is trained by Francisco Bravo. Last year Hold for More won the Crocrock Sprint, beating Bourbon County, who had won the race in 2014 and 2015, by a neck. The 7-year-old Bourbon County, whose earnings total $294,447, is also entered Sunday. They face three-year-old Hot Shot Kid, undefeated this season at Canterbury with four wins including the Victor S. Myers Stakes and the Minnesota Derby, in the Sprint field of seven. Hot Shot Kid, with a lifetime record of five wins from eight starts, has earned $212,160 in purses; $127,860 of that total was earned at Canterbury. The gelding is owned by Warren Bush of Wall Lake, Iowa and is trained by leading trainer Mac Robertson, who has a record 28 Festival Day victories. Alex Canchari will ride Hot Shot Kid. Robertson also trains Bourbon County. The field is rounded out by stakes winners Smooth Chiraz and Fridaynitestar as well as Johnny the Jet and Best of the Bleu’s.

General admission is $9. Children 17 and younger are admitted free. Parking is free. A Canterbury Park-themed t-shirt will be given to the first 4,000 adults through the admission gates which open at 11:30 a.m. Food Trucks will be featured on the track apron with 16 vendors from around the Twin Cities represented. Free pony rides, a petting zoo, and face painting will also be available from 12:30 to 4 p.m.



Amy’s Challenge with Jareth Loveberry aboard


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.


Hot Shot Kid as a foal


Warren Bush is an attorney in Wall Lake, Iowa, a handy-man lawyer, handling just about anything that comes his way. He is also a part-time magistrate of Sac County. He is a husband, a father and a grandfather.

For a couple of minutes on Saturday, his self-identification will shrink to one thing and one thing only: Horse owner.

Namely, the owner of Hot Shot Kid, a three-year gelding who has all the markings of the next Minnesota-bred luminary, a star in the making, a horse constructed like certain automobiles from the late 1950s and early 1960s_ with push button drive.

Granted, it might be quite too soon to plan a coronation ceremony, but at least for Saturday afternoon, at least preceding the $85,000 Minnesota Derby, Hot Shot Kid is the horse to beat, a decided morning line favorite to win the mile and 70 yard event.

Why such enthusiasm?

Here is probably all you need to know:

Hot Shot Kid has been on the board in eight of his nine career races. He is on a four-race winning streak, and won for fun in his most recent out, on July 4 in the $50,000 Victor S Myers Stakes in Shakopee.

Rider Alex Canchari has been on the Kid for seven of his nine races and all four of his victories. He had this to say after the stakes victory on the Fourth of July:

“He’s the best horse I’ve been on here….ever,’’ Canchari said. “He does it all so easily. A real pro.’’

Bush couldn’t agree more.

“He’s certainly the best one I’ve raised.’’ That includes a horse named Sugar Shock, winner of the Fantasy stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Hot Shot Kid was foaled in Minnesota after Bush made the decision to include the Gopher state in his plans because of the agreement between Canterbury Park and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community at Mystic Lake that enhanced and stabilized purses locally.

“I was either going to foal in Iowa or in Minnesota,’’ Bush said. Once, he found a place to foal his dam, at the Hilgers’ Bleu Valley Farm, the decision was made.

That would be Jeff and Deb Hilger, who previously operated the farm in Grant Township for just such purposes in addition to their own breeding and raising.

Deb Hilger recalled what she thought of Hot Shot Kid in the days after his birth.

“What I remember,’’ she said, “is that it was a very fast but normal delivery. He was very strong and was up standing in a very short time. He was a strong, good looking baby who looked like a champion even then. He was big, smart and created no problems at all. He had the look even back then.’’

Bush needed a trainer as well and was introduced to Mac Robertson through a friend. “When the deal was made with Mystic Lake, we decided that (Minnesota) was a good place to foal some mares,’’ Bush said. “I’d been at this for a while and met Mac through a friend of mine he used to train for.’’

Somewhere along the line, Robertson decided that Canchari was the right rider for the horse based on how “they got along,’’ on how the rider seemed to understand this particular horse.

A son of Majestic Warrior, Hot Shot Kid is from the Officer mare Our Sweet Mary B, named for one of Warren and Linda Bush’s two granddaugthers. Bush says he has found a way to name many of their horses, including broodmares, either after family members or something with which a number of them might identify. He has cousins just across the border in Minnesota, for example, an area in which he spent many of his summers as a youngster and honors them with a horse named Sioux Valley. “I used to spend the summers baling hay there and earning money. I have nothing but fond memories of the place,’’ he said.

And Hot Shot Kid?

As a teenager, Bush worked on a farm in Pennsylvania and one of his relatives was a partner in a horse farm with a show horse named Dinner Bell that competed and typically lost to a horse named Hot Shot Kid.

“It was the best horse around there,’’ he recalled, “and that seemed like a fitting name for this horse.’’

Hot shot Kid will break from the five hole in a seven-horse field that includes Fireman Oscar, trained by Dave Van Winkle and the winner of last year’s Northern Lights Futurity.

Shipmate won the Northern Lights Debutante as a two-year-old and will make her first start of 2017 in Saturday’s $85,000 Minnesota Oaks. She is trained by Karl Broberg and was bred and is owned by Cheryl Sprick and Richard Bremer of Lake City. The field includes the second and third place horses from the 2017 Frances Genter Stakes, Double Bee Sting and Pinup Girl.

The $35,000 Cash Caravan for quarter horses and the $40,000 MTA Sales Graduate Futurity are also part of Saturday’s card.

Meanwhile, the Bush family will be at Canterbury in full force, including their five grandchildren. They have reserved a cabana and will be joined by a number of friends as well.

The Bushs also race at Prairie Meadows outside Des Moines, but have come to regard Canterbury as a home track as well.

All because of a horse named Hot Shot Kid, an odds-on shot to put his name alongside a list of others that have won the Minnesota Derby.


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.

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!


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



We have the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost in the attic, the spirit of Canterbury’s past…and now, as it turned out Monday night, the apparitions of Vikings then and now.

Monday’s race card included two stakes named for horses that left that mark on racing history in Shakopee, the swift filly Princess Elaine and the tough old boy who left an interesting chapter in Canterbury annals, Blair’s Cove.

Let’s focus first on the Blair’s Cove Stakes, a mile and 1/16 event on the turf for which 10 horses lined up, including two horses named for Minnesota Vikings:  AP Is Loose and Teddy Time

For the NFL challenged, the first horse was named for Adrian Peterson, the running back now with New Orleans. Teddy Time was named for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, still recuperating from knee surgery with his future uncertain.

AP Is Loose, owned by Joel Zamzow and trained by Mac Robertson, was sent off the 4/5 favorite. Hold For More, the 2015 Horse of the Year, was second choice at 4-1. Yet it was Teddy Time, at 23-1, that took home the silver in the Blair’s Cove.


Teddy Time

The paddock area for both stakes races was a busy place but before this one it resembled the bargain room on Black Friday at Macy’s.  There, longtime rivals shook hands with one another, wished one another luck and then departed for the grandstand hoping that their luck exceeded that of everyone else’s.

A P Is Loose and Teddy Time are both trained by Mac Robertson. Francisco Bravo saddled Hold for More and Pensador. The conversation centered understandably on Hold for More and A P Is Loose.

Yet it was Teddy Time at 23-1 whose late rush under Quincy Hamilton caught A P (4/5) at the wire with a perfectly timed stretch move. Where’s Jordan at 12-1 was third and Speed Is Life at 8-1 next.

Hamilton was naturally pleased with the win. He couldn’t have written the script for this one any better than it played.

“Turf racing is all about saving ground and making a late run,’’ he said. “I knew I couldn’t circle these horses and hope to win, so I just stayed put and waited for a chance.’’

The chance came during the stretch drive as the horses in front of him fanned out. Hamilton saw the open ground he needed and set his horse down for the drive.

Winning owner Jeff Larson liked what he saw of Hamilton’s ride. “Quincy rode him last time and did a good job,’’ Larson said. “He rode a great race today.’’

Blair’s Cove, Canterbury Downs’ 1988 Horse of the Year, is the leading Minnesota-bred money-earner of all time, winning seven of 14 starts during his grand season in ’88. Trained by Noel Hickey, Blair’s Cove was a favorite in Shakopee, although he raced all over the U.S.  He won a $50,000 Stakes race in his first career start, at Churchill Downs, and collected $533,528 during a racing career in which he was 17-10-4 from 58 starts. A son of Bucksplasher, Blair’s Cove was named after an area in Ireland where the homestead of Hickey’s father once stood. Blair’s Cove made his first career start on June 21, 1987 and ran for the last time September 12, 1992 at Canterbury.


Some Say So

Call him a money rider, a man who gets up for a challenge or any comparable sobriquet but the best description of this high-energy jockey might be Stakes Stealer.

That’s what Orlando Mojica was on Monday, a stakes stealer, a rider who put his horse, Some Say So, on the front end, dared five opponents to come get her and when one did shook her off like a pesky fly to win the 24th running of the $50,000 Princess Elaine Stakes.  And in a stakes record time of 1:41.63.

Some Say So led from start to finish, leading the field to the wire in fractions of 23.87, 48.16, 1:11.38, and 1:35.3, finishing ¾ length in front of Honey’s Sox Appeal, never farther back than third. Her move in the stretch under Quincy Hamilton was repelled with a final thrust from the winner. First Hunter was third, an additional two lengths back.

Mojica is fast becoming the jock to turn to when the stakes are up, the stakes races for certain. He has won five extra-money races at Canterbury this meet, including the Lady Canterbury, and has been second in three others.

“This year has been great to me,’’  he said energetically. “ I’ve been very blessed in 2017.’’

Some Say So set all of the fractions and looked easily a wire to wire winner until Honey’s Sox Appeal made her bid in the stretch run and appeared set to overtake the front-runner.

“I saw her coming on the inside, and I couldn’t get my filly to move back in,’’ said Mojica. “She kept coming out on me, but she never quit.’’ And finished ¾ length the winner.

Mojica was excited and pleased too, not any more so however than Tim Rosin, one of three owners of the winner. “We bred her for these kind of races,’’ he said. “It’s a dream come true.’’

Then, as an afterthought, he added: “We have two or three of her brothers, too.’’

This race is named for Hall of Fame filly Princess Elaine. She won eight of her 15 starts at Canterbury and had her best year locally in 1988, winning four times, three of them, fittingly, in stakes races. She was 9-5-2 in 27 starts and earned $232,240 during a career that started in late October 1987 and ended on Oct 9, 1990.

Canterbury Hall of Fame horse Northbound Pride won the first running of the Princess Elaine in 1992 under Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens in 1992. There was a three-year hiatus while the track was closed until Yet the Best became it’s second winner in 1995.  The winning rider in that race and the next one too was Hall of Fame rider Luis Quinonez. Hall of Fame owner Cam Casby won this race three times with her horses.


Shadow Rock winning Honor the Hero Stakes


While many Minnesotans were gathered around the grill in their backyards, around the cabin at the Lake, or visiting the local American Legion or VFW, patrons at Canterbury Park honored the servicemen and women for whom the day is reserved, while taking in a card that included two stakes races as well as the annual running of the bulldogs.

Memorial Day at the racetrack has come to be mean saluting veterans of the armed services, cheering bulldogs of the Twin Cities and surrounding communities and wagering on stakes races named for Hall of Fame champions’ from Canterbury’s past.

Such was the case on Monday as 12,893 patrons arrived and among their number was an occasional bulldog in tow, here and there one pulling on the bit, so to speak, while slobbering lavishly in anticipation of the awaiting festivities, or perhaps nothing more than a bone or treat.

Imagine for a moment the picture of a bulldog bearing any one of these names: Duke, Lugnut, Angus, Boomer, Pork Chop, Grimace or Meatball. They were all on hand, competing for the fastest bulldog of 2017.

The winner last year was a dog named Winston, one of three with that name, or one less than entered the contest with such an appellation this time. As a matter of fact, dogs named Winston finished first, second and third in 2016 and were ganging up to repeat the effort this time.

Although three of the four Winstons advanced to the final on Monday, the title this time was claimed by a fellow named Frank the Tank, owned by Tricia Olson of Lester Prairie. The cliff notes on Frank the Tank seemed nearly to eliminate him from consideration: “It’s surprising Frank is the ‘The Tank’ considering he never stops running. Add a ball to the equation and you may never get him back.’’

The only thing Frank ran off with on Monday, however, was the 2017 bulldog title.

It was another dog who required the services of an outrider to run him down. Owned by Jenny Price, a 72-pound fellow named Chesty proved difficult to corral after the fourth heat. His bio included this information: “Named after the Marine with the most accolades, Chesty’s goal in life is to become the most decorated bulldog.’’ If not the most decorated, he was certainly the most chased.

The two stakes races on the card honored former champions at Canterbury. Northbound Pride had a rich history in Shakopee, winning 10 times from 21 starts at Canterbury Downs, victories that included the Frances Genter Stakes, the Minnesota Breeders’ Oaks and the Aquatennial Stakes.

Honor the Hero was not only a star at Canterbury but became a world traveler with career earnings approaching $700,000. He competed in the 1994 Breeders ‘ Cup sprint and as well as the Japan Cup the same year. Honor the Hero still holds the Canterbury track record for seven and one-half furlongs on the turf.

The Northbound Pride Oaks was first run in 1985 and was won by a ship-in from California named Savannah Slew, from the Alan Paulson stable. Savannah Slew was trained by Ron McAnally and ridden by one of the sport’s truly legendary jockeys, Bill Shoemaker. The Oaks was twice run as a Grade III race, in 1988 and again the next year.


Eight fillies and mares lined up for this race, run at a mile on the grass, and the post-time favorite proved to be a winner at 8/5 under a solid ride from Alex Canchari, who put his horse, Hotshot Anna,  in position along the rail, just off a front-running trio much of the way before making his bid at the top of the stretch.

The winning move required Canchari to swing his horse out from the rail to overtake the trio in front of him as they came out of the turn.

“I was just hoping he wouldn’t stand up at the three-eighths pole,’’ winning trainer Mac Robertson cracked. “No, it was a good ride. I knew then (at the 3-8ths) that we were good.’’

As Canchari overtook the front-runners, he recorded his horse’s strengths. “She doesn’t have a huge kick,’’ he said, “but she picked it up very nicely.’’

The winning margin was a neck in a time of 1:36.70, with Starr Bear, ridden by Jareth Loveberry, second by three-quarters of a length over Super Marina and Nik Goodwin.

  $50,000 HONOR THE  HERO

Deshawn Parker was headed to a shower after this race when approached by a fellow offering his congratulations and an invitation to a meal later that evening consisting of elk ribs.

Not a bad way to celebrate a stakes victory, if you enjoy elk ribs that is, and Parker was indeed in a celebratory mood. He rode the winner Shadow Rock, a seven-year-old gelded son of Distorted Humor, but had to await the outcome of a claim of foul by Robertino Diodoro, the trainer of Wildfire Kid who finished second by ¾ length.

The first and second-place horses had light contact in the upper stretch but not sufficient enough, the racing stewards ruled, to have altered the outcome.

There was a head’s difference between Wildfire Kid and Shogood at the wire.

The winning horse is trained by Mike Maker, and when Parker was asked how he acquired the mount he laughed and said, “I’ve good a good agent.’’

He rode four horses for Maker at Belterra on Sunday with nothing better than a second place to show for it, so the winning mount Monday, in his mind, “made up’’ for those efforts.




Odds and Ends from the Weekend plus more to come….

Hold for More and jockey Orlando Mojica in 10,000 Lakes post parade.

Hold for More was victorious in this weekend’s running of the $50,000 10,000 Lakes Stake. He rated for the early parts of the race behind the three pacesetters, Cupid’s Delight, Bourbon County and Smooth Chiraz, before swinging four wide at the top of the stretch to overtake them all and win by a convincing 2 ½ lengths under jockey Orlando Mojica. The money earned by Hold for More catapulted him into second position behind reigning leader Crocrock for the title of All-Time Leading Money Earner at Canterbury Park. Hold for More is currently $16,502 behind Crocrock. Though Mojica is currently ranked third in the jockey standings by wins, he is second by money earned with $163,672, behind leading rider Alex Canchari’s $218,965. Hold for More paid $11.80 to win.

The $50,000 Lady Slipper was won by wagering favorite Honey’s Sox Appeal. The 4-year-old filly is trained by Mac Robertson and ridden by leading rider Alex Canchari. Mac Robertson has now won the race four times. Thunder and Honey, the older half-sister to Honey’s Sox Appeal, was third in the Lady Slipper. They are both out of the broodmare A J’s Honey.

There were three impressive Minnesota-bred three-year-old winners over the weekend, and all will likely be pointed toward the Minnesota Derby. Hot Shot Kid, owned by Warren Bush, trained by Mac Robertson and ridden by Alex Canchari, won the second race on Friday night by ¾ of a length as the heavy wagering favorite. This allowance victory comes just after a Maiden Special Weight win at Oaklawn Park. Mines Made Up won the 6th race, a Maiden Special Weight, on Friday night by an easy 6 ½ lengths, much the best in the 10-horse field. The 3-year-old bay gelding is owned by Lothenbach Stable, trained by Joel Berndt and ridden by Denny Velazquez. Grand Marais, also ridden by Denny Velazquez, easily won the last race of the card on Saturday, also a Maiden Special Weight, by a widening 6 ¾ lengths. The 3-year-old chestnut colt is owned and trained by Gary Scherer. The Derby, which will be run on July 29, is already looking like it could shape up to be a very exciting and competitive race.

Jockey Nik Goodwin is another win closer to the 1,000 win milestone, after winning the 5th race on Paschal for trainer Dan McFarlane on Saturday afternoon. He now has 997 wins and rides in the 2nd, 4th and 6th races on this Friday night’s card.

There will be four days of live racing for the first time this meet over Memorial Day Weekend. Post time for the first race on Friday will be 6:30 PM, Saturday at 12:45 PM, Sunday at 12:45 PM and Monday (Memorial Day) at 12:45 PM. Monday will not only feature live horse racing at Canterbury Park, but also the Annual Running of the Bulldogs. There will be 48 bulldogs running in five races that will take place in between the live horse races.

Quarter Horse racing at Canterbury Park begins on Saturday, May 27 with the 400-yard Gopher State Derby Trials for three-year-olds.


by Katie Merritt

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.

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.


Mac Robertson – A Canterbury Park Institution

Track President Randy Sampson with trainer Mac Robertson

By Katie Merritt

Mac Robertson was the leading trainer in 2016, the tenth time that he has won the title at Canterbury Park. He accumulated 71 wins, the fourth most in Canterbury Park and Downs history, and more than $1.5 million in purses. He also trained Majestic Pride to Horse of the Meet honors, the fifth time a Robertson runner has received that accolade.

In his career, Mac’s horses have earned a Canterbury record $12.3 million in purses. He was inducted into the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame in 2011. He also is the leading trainer in Canterbury history in Win Percentage, 27.73%, and In The Money Percentage, 61.79%.  His 28 Minnesota Festival of Champions victories lead all others.

Mac has been involved in the racing industry his entire life. At the age of 12 he began working for his father Hugh as an assistant trainer.  He worked for other trainers for a couple of years until he decided to go on his own. Mac’s first career victory came in his first year of training in 1994 at Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack in Omaha, Nebraska.  He came to Shakopee when the track re-opened in 1995.