UPI Horse Racing Weekend Preview / MRC Commissioners Appointed

UPI Racing Writer

Shaman Ghost and Mind Your Biscuits return to action in a hot weekend of Thoroughbred racing that also includes internationally flavored turf events in New York, Delaware and Chicago and a Breeders’ Cup Sprint qualifier.

This also is the biggest weekend of the year in Iowa racing, with a full slate of stakes topped by the Iowa Derby and Oaks and the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker.

On the international front, some of Europe’s top 3-year-olds get a test against their elders in England and the enigmatic Thunder Snow returns to action in France.

We get the action going with:


NYRA put up $1.2 million for Saturday’s Group 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and was rewarded with a field that pits some really good Europeans against some really good American turf runners. Oscar Performance, off a front-running victory in the Pennine Ridge over the same course, fronts the locals as the 3-1 morning-line favorite. Homesman, Called To The Bar and Whitecliffsofdover represent Ireland, France and England with distinction. Yoshida, Japanese-bred and American-trained, also has a big chance in this 1 1/4 miles over the inner turf course.

Kasaqui is fresh off a win in the Grade II Wise Dan at Churchill Downs and that’s enough to make him the favorite for Saturday’s $100,000 Grade III Arlington Handicap. Tagleeb faded badly trying 2 miles at Belmont a month ago but might enjoy this 1 3/16 miles which could point to the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 12.

The favorites for Saturday’s $100,000 Grade III American Derby at Arlington Park, Sonic Boom and Gorgeous Kitten, drew the inside post positions in a good field of seven. The race is a preview of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Million Day.

The Pizza Man is the featured attraction in Saturday’s $100,000 Grade III Stars and Stripes at Arlington Park even though the 8-year-old English Channel gelding hasn’t won since he took the Grade I Patison Canadian International last fall at Woodbine. The Stars and Stripes can be a stepping stone to the Arlington Million or to the Grade III American St. Leger that same day.

Filly & Mare Turf

The $1 million purse for Saturday’s Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational attracted some promising international 3-year-old fillies. Sistercharlie comes from France after finishing second in the prestigious Group 1 Prix de Diane Longines. Chad Brown takes the training honors and the Myboycharlie filly is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Other contenders come from Ireland, Canada and California. Daddys Lil Darling, second in the Kentucky Oaks, is 10-1 on the morning line in this tough field.

Zipessa and Paige are the morning-line picks in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park, an 11-furong affair on the lawn. Zipessa, a good fifth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, comes off a third-place finish in the Grade III Eatontown at Monmouth Park. Paige has had a break since finishing third in the Grade III The Very One at Gulfstream Park four months ago.

Time and Motion travels from New York to play the favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 Grade III Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park, the local stepping stone to the Grade I Beverly D. on Million day. Last year, the Tapit filly was second to Catch a Glimpse in the Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational. Dona Bruja, an Argentine-bred is 1-for-1 in the United States and invades from Kentucky. Eight are set for this one.

Turf Sprint

Pure Sensation and Richard’s Boy caught the oddsmaker’s eye in a 12-horse field set for Saturday $200,000 Grade III Parx Dash. Pure Sensation, fourth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, exits a fourth-place showing in the Grade III Jaipur at Belmont Park. He won last year’s Parx Dash. Richard’s Boy comes off victories in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint and the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup in his last two outings.


Shaman Ghost, arguably the top older American horse who is not Arrogate, is the obvious pick in a field of six for Saturday’s $750,000 Grade II Suburban at Belmont Park. Since finishing second to Arrogate in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup in January, the 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper has won the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap and the Grade III Pimlico Special. Notable among Saturday’s rivals are Matt King Coal and Keen Ice, the latter making his first start since finishing seventh in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup — won by Arrogate.

Saturday’s $400,000 Grade III Dwyer for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park is the 100th running of the event. The 1-mile Dwyer drew only five, headed by Battalion Runner, idle since second to Irish War Cry in the Grade II Wood Memorial in April. Practical Joke resurfaces for the first time since finishing fifth in the Kentucky Derby.

Nine signed on for Saturday’s $300,000 Grade III Prairie Meadows Cornhusker. Dolphus is the morning-line favorite in a well-matched field of nine. That could go in just about any direction. Texas Chrome, Iron Fist, Conquest Windycity, Hawaakom and Shotgun Kowboy are all in the mix.

Petrov, Hence and Impressive Edge are among the likely ones in Friday evening’s $250,000 Grade III Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows. The former has but a single win, albeit against some top company. Mike Smith visits to ride Hence, 11th in the Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Preakness. Impressive Edge most recently was third in the Grade III Peter Pan in New York.


Saturday’s $350,000 Grade II Belmont Sprint is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup sprint, now just four months down the road. The big favorite here is Mind Your Biscuits, making his first start since winning the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night at Meydan. Stallwalkin Dude and Unified look to be the cream of the opposition.

Union Jackson drew the outside gate in a six-horse field for Saturday’s $100,000 Iowa Sprint at Prairie Meadows and was installed as the 9-5 morning-line pick. The lightly raced Curlin 5-year-old won the Sam Houston Sprint Cup earlier this season.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Saturday’s $200,000 Grade II Great Lady M. at Los Alamitos promises to be a cracker with Finest City, Pretty N Cool, Constellation and Sky Diamonds all well in the mix.

Vertical Oak, winner of the Grade III Miss Preakness, returns in a short field for Sunday’s $150,000 Grade III Victory Ride for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park. She most recently was declared a non-starter after hitting the gate at the start of the Jersey Girl at Belmont Park.


It Tiz Well is a narrow morning-line favorite in a competitive field of six for Saturday’s $300,000 Grade III Delaware Oaks. The Arch filly won the Grade III Honeybee at Oaklawn in the springtime and most recently was a fading fifth, placed fourth, in the Grade II Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita. This field also has the winner of the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan, Actress. You Know Too, a Colonel John filly, is one to watch on the stretchout from sprinting in her second start as a 3-year-old.

Ontario-bred Brooklynsway is the 5-2 morning line selection among eight set for Friday night’s $100,000 Iowa Distaff. The Giant Gizmo mare makes her first start as a 5-year-old after winding up her 4-year-old season with a win at Indiana Grand.

Shane’s Girlfriend got going at the right time in Thursday evening’s $200,000 Grade III Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows, drawing off in the lane to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Babybluesbdancing rallied for second at odds of 50-1 and Jordan’s Henny was a late-running third. Shane’s Girlfriend, a daughter of Adios Charlie, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.94 with Kyle Frey aboard. She won both her starts as a 2-year-old, including the Grade III Delta Downs Princess but was third in the Grade II Santa Ynez at Santa Anita and fifth in the Grade II Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds in her two previous starts this season.


Governor Dayton Appoints Erhart, McArdle and Johnson

MRC Press Release

The Minnesota Racing Commission is pleased to announce Commissioners Dan Erhart and Dr. Camille McArdle have been reappointed, and Roy Johnson has been appointed, to the Commission for six year terms beginning July 1, 2017. Governor Dayton announced the appointments on June 27, 2017.

Dan Erhart was first elected as commissioner in 2012. Erhart volunteers his time generously, whether advocating on MRC’s behalf at the legislature or attending industry events. He is also a small business owner who brings expertise in finance and governmental relations.

Dr. Camille McArdle holds a unique place in the history of Minnesota racing. She served as the Minnesota Racing Commission’s first Chief Veterinarian from 1985 to 1993. She was appointed to the commission in 1993 and has served in a variety of roles, including rules development, selection of racing officials and evaluation of equine research grant applications. Dr. McArdle is currently practicing as a shelter veterinarian.

Roy Johnson has been appointed as the new commissioner for the Minnesota Racing Commission. Roy has worked for Cargill Animal Nutrition since 1993. He is responsible for the development of horse feeds and farm products for Cargill Feed and Nutrition for North America. In that capacity, he helps create the education, management and support materials that are used by equine consultants across the world.
Prior to joining Cargill, Roy was an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota-Waseca for 17 years where he taught equine management, training and nutrition. He has been a licensed show horse judge for 39 years. Roy received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Minnesota.

Ralph Strangis, MRC Chair, stated “I am pleased about the reappointment of Commissioners Erhart and McArdle and look forward to the contributions that Roy Johnson will bring to the Minnesota Racing Commission. He has a long-standing involvement in the equine industry with established relationships in both the business and academic communities. His presence will be an asset for both the Commission and the horse racing industry.”

The Minnesota Racing Commission was established to regulate horse racing and card playing in Minnesota; to ensure that it is conducted in the public interest, and to take all necessary steps in ensuring the integrity of racing and card playing in Minnesota thus promoting the breeding of race horses in order to stimulate agriculture and rural agribusiness. More information can be found at www.mrc.state.mn.us


McCraken Wins Sam F. Davis but R2K Points Were Found Elsewhere

McCraken remained undefeated by winning Saturday’s Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. The favorite’s impressive run from off the pace to win going away at 3 to 2 odds attracted betting in the Wynn Las Vegas Kentucky Derby futures where the son of Ghostzapper is now the 6 to 1 favorite.

The 12-race Tampa card was featured in Canterbury’s Road to Kentucky Contest. Total available contest points surpassed 2,500. McCraken, in the double point Derby prep, was worth 228 points with high points in that race coming from second-place finisher Tapwrit at 9 to 1 for 268 points.

The top R2K score was earned by Dick Hall who amassed a total of 1,700, more than 60 percent of the total available.  Hall had the winner in the opener for 208, hit Pazzaluna in race 5 for 582, and had Tapa Tapa Tapa in race 8 for another 292. Hall also had Tapwrit and scored points in nine of the 12 eligible races.

This Saturday the Road passes through Golden Gate Fields with the double-point Derby prep race the El Camino Real.  Entry to R2K is always free. Entry deadline is first post at Golden Gate.

Final Week for HPWS Super Satellites

The Thursday through Saturday (Feb. 16-18) Horse Player World Series Super Satellite contest will be the final chance to win a $100 entry to the Feb. 25 HPWS Satellite. Players can buy into that satellite for $100 but can also win an entry through the super satellites for just $10. The Feb. 25 contest will send top players to The Orleans Casino for the annual Horse Player World Series at the end of March. The HPWS is expected to offer more than $800,000 in prize money.  There is a history of Minnesotans performing well in the HPWS. Bart Solomon, now a Vegas resident, won the 2011 HPWS and nearly $300,000.

Interested in receiving Updates from the Minnesota Racing Commission?

You can receive email notification of commission meeting agendas, rule making meetings, and horse racing discussion group sessions by registering at  https://www.mrc.state.mn.us/contact/  .

It’s Official: 2017 Live Racing Returns Friday, May 5

Canterbury Park

Canterbury Park Receives MRC Approval For 2017 Racing Dates.

67-day meet runs May 5 through Sept. 16.

Canterbury Park’s 2017 live racing season will begin Friday, May 5 and run through Sept. 16. The Minnesota Racing Commission approved the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack’s request for a 67-day thoroughbred and quarter horse meet on Thursday evening.

Racing on Thursdays and Fridays in 2017 will begin at 6:30 p.m. and weekend and holiday racing at 12:45 p.m. On May 5 and July 3, racing will begin at 4:00 p.m.

“We are very pleased with the 2017 racing schedule,” Canterbury Park President Randy Sampson said. “We will begin racing earlier than we have for the past eight years, with opening weekend coinciding with the Kentucky Derby. This allows additional opportunities for owners to run their horses and also better accommodates trainers coming from race meets that end earlier in the spring.”

From 2005 to 2008 the Canterbury Park meet also opened on Kentucky Derby weekend and produced some of the largest crowds in track history including 18,230 on 2008 Kentucky Derby day and 17,111 in 2006. The Kentucky Derby will be run May 6, 2017.

With July 4 falling on a Tuesday, Canterbury Park will conduct six consecutive days of racing, June 29 through Independence Day, followed by an eight-day break with racing resuming on July 13. The down time will be used for track and turf maintenance.

“A week-long break in the schedule is unprecedented at Canterbury but it serves the horse population very well and allows our track crew to make sure the racing surfaces remain in top shape for the second half of the meet,” Sampson said.

Canterbury Park racing officials will announce the 2017 stakes schedule and purse structure in January.

Video: The Veterinarians

BowmanVeterinarians employed by the Minnesota Racing Commission serve extremely important roles at the racetrack. Dr. Richard Bowman explains what he and his colleagues do on a regular basis to ensure the safety of all equine and human athletes participating in races at Canterbury Park. Learn more about pre-race exams, the vet’s list, equine drug testing and much more in the latest episode of Canterbury Spotlight:

Video: Michelle Benson

Video: The Stewards

DavidHooper01 (2)In horse racing, the stewards serve as the officials, the referees and/or the umpires. Appointed by the Minnesota Racing Commission, they are the individuals behind all inquiries and objections that could alter the official order of finish in any given race should it be determined that a foul occurred. Additionally, the stewards are responsible for enforcing a wide variety of rules on the grounds of the racetrack and during the running of the race. Learn more about the stewards from David Hooper, current Canterbury Park Steward, in the latest installment of Canterbury Spotlight:

Video: Michelle Benson

Racing Free Visits Canterbury

RacingFreeThere was a visit to the racing office to start things off and then a trip to the Minnesota Racing Commission and after that a visit with horsemen throughout the grandstand and beyond.

Danielle Bryan, director of marketing for Racing Free, was pitching the benefits of her program to anyone who would lend an ear on Thursday, selling an additional incentive program for drug free racing to horsemen competing at Canterbury Park.

Generally, the program has made inroads with the quarter horse industry and is expanding into the thoroughbred ranks too.

Bryan,24, is an animal science major from Purdue University and Indiana native with a longstanding love of horses. With three years of work at the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie, Okla., Bryan had a background that Micah McKinney and Leslie McKinney, founders of Racing Free, found appealing. The opportunity to work was clearly too good to pass up from Bryan’s viewpoint and she joined Racing Free during its inaugural season in 2012.

The program works on incentives to help promote clean racing and additional safeguards for horses.

Bryan has visited most of the major quarter horse tracks and is now focusing on visiting thoroughbred tracks. She was clearly pleased with the reception she got from Minnesota horsemen and Canterbury Park.

“This is a wonderful racing program here,” she said while winding up her visit to Minnesota Thursday night.

Bryan said she got a cordial reception from most horsemen she spoke with as well as racing office officials and the racing commission.

Basically, her program works like this: owners register their horses with the organization for a $300 fee per horse. At the conclusion of a meet, registered horses are rewarded $1,500 per win if the horse has a clear drug test in each race. A single violation will eliminate the horse from the program for a year.

The program includes a breeder incentive program which allows a breeder “to purchase a voucher membership into the Racing Free Incentive Program. For $300, a breeder may purchase and publicize the voucher for his or her racehorse to be a member at any one participating track in the program.” If the horse is sold, the new owner is allowed to enter the horse into the program at any one participating track. A drug free win is worth $750 to the new owner and the same amount to the breeder.

Trainers, owners and jockeys with the most racing free horse wins are awarded bonuses at the end of the meet as well.

Bryan encourages anyone interested in the program to visit the organization’s website at www.racingfree.com.

The organization states its program is “designed to reward industry participants that stand against performance-enhancing drugs and desire a level playing field in racing. As the program expands, the Racing Free team will be working with tracks to determine how to improve testing methods.”


Gedda Quinonez was at Canterbury Park for the races Thursday night, enjoying a trip home for a wedding this weekend.

She is the wife of Luis Quinonez, a Canterbury Hall of Fame rider who won five consecutive titles in Shakopee.

Quinonez is recuperating from broken vertebrae in his neck, the result of a morning accident at Churchill Downs the week before the Kentucky Derby. It was to have been Quinonez’ first meet in Louisville.

Instead, he is recuperating at home in Jones, Okla. “He would have loved to have been here,” Gedda said.

Doctors told him he would need three months to heal but he was “pretty much healed in six weeks,” Gedda said. “He just had a good meet at Oaklawn and was really looking forward to riding in Kentucky.”

Quinonez had surgery to repair an injured knee during his rehab. He and Gedda have four children: Nate, 27; Lexie, 18; Ryan, 16 and Alayna, 14.

Lexie will be a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. She intends to study biochemistry.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Minnesota Racing on the Rise

2012 MTA Yearling SaleIn a sign of the rapidly improving health of the Minnesota breeding and racing industry, the MTA announced this past week that the number of registered broodmares jumped 77% from 2012 to 2013 according to numbers compiled by the Minnesota Racing Commission. All broodmares that will be foaling in Minnesota are required to be registered by March 15 of the year they will foal.

“These numbers are tremendous,” said MTA President Jay Dailey. “The cooperative marketing agreement between the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Canterbury Park is really paying dividends throughout the Thoroughbred industry in Minnesota. This increase is a direct result of breeders recognizing that there is money to be made here. I know our membership has been very active in purchasing in-foal broodmares as well as broodmare prospects in anticipation of the excellent purses for future foals to be running for at Canterbury Park. I anticipate these numbers will continue to rise over the next few years as well.”

“The effect that the agreement between the SMSC and the racetrack can simply not be overstated,” Dailey said. “With trainers and owners clamoring for the available space, several six figure stakes and the foal crops on the rise, Minnesota is moving to become a significant player in the racing industry once again.”

Live Racing Stall Applications Set Record

The deadline for stall applications for Canterbury Park’s 2013 live racing season came and went this past Monday and more than 2,400 horses have applied for approximately 1,500 stalls. Management also announced this past week that Canterbury’s backside will open on April 15, a week earlier than originally planned, due to the increase in demand for stalls.

Road to Kentucky Heads to Turfway Park

Canterbury’s free-to-enter $30,000 Road to Kentucky handicapping contest continues Saturday at Turfway Park with the Spiral Stakes serving as the bonus race. First post is 12:10 p.m.

Last week, Ron White took down the top prize – the second time he has won a week this spring following a victory on the very first week of the 2013 Road to Kentucky. He currently stands in third place overall behind Jessica Rau and Ray Hassan.

Here’s a quick look at the Spiral Stakes:

Uncaptured is the slight 3-1 morning line favorite having notched six victories from seven starts including four on Woodbine’s synthetic surface – similar to the surface he’ll face on Saturday. He has two graded stakes victories and, if he makes a predictable jump forward in his 3-year-old bow, should be in the mix. Balance the Books is a stone cold closer often coming from the back of the pack. He may be up against it as there doesn’t appear to be a gluttony of speed signed on for this one. That lack of pace could make Mac the Man – a perfect 3 for 3 over the Turfway Surface – a threat on the front end. Maker, Mott, Lukas and Pletcher will also be represented when a full field of 12 heads to the gate. The prediction here is for some large exotic payoffs as this race is wide open.