Monthly Archives: September 2015

Minnesota Festival of Champions Day at Canterbury Park

(Photo courtesy of Heather Frisbee)

Sunday, September 6 is a day to celebrate Minnesota bred horses. A full card of 11 races including 8 stakes races for both quarter horses and thoroughbreds.

Let’s begin with the quarter horses.

Race 1: $40,000 Minnesota Quarter Horse Futurity – 350 yards

Streak N Diamonds is the favorite in this race and should be. A true quarter horse that needs the distance to get rolling. Leading quarter horse rider Jorge Torres keeps the mount. Streak N Diamonds had a tough race last out losing by a head to No Regrets Here.

V Os Filo is another horse that had a battle at this distance in his last race, but prevailed. This Ed Ross Hardy trainee is 3 times in the money on 4 starts in 2015 and Nik Goodwin stays aboard.

Dashing Good Reason comes out of the same last race as Streak N Diamonds finishing just behind him. He gave up in the duel for second place and let Streak N Diamonds go on. For that reason, I’ll put him in third. Ry Eikelberry returns from a stint on the West Coast to get aboard.

Picks: 5, 7, 3

Race 2: $40,000 Minnesota Quarter Horse Derby – 400 yards

A field of 10, yes 10, quarter horses head to the gate for the Derby. A little bumping is expected in the quarters but with 10 coming out of the gate it may look more like billiards. I’m hoping the one that stays straight and true is the outside runner the 10, Cokato Cartel. Cokato Cartel is coming off a good second place finish is his last race at 440, so the cutback should help him. Ry Eikelberry gets aboard this one too.

The inside runner is Tyt from Mr Pye who exits the same race at Cokato Cartel but was not a factor. I think he prefers a shorter distance. He is one of the few horses in the race with stakes experience but hasn’t had a profitable 2015.

Morning line favorite Fishing in the Brook had trouble in his last three races at 350 yards, so not sure if he will enjoy 400.

Long shot Crashed on Corona is my first long shot play of the day. He unfortunately has the 6 spot in this large field but he gets bumped out of the gate often and still consistently finishes second. His last out he won at 350 and finished strong. Unlike Fishing in the Brook, Crashed on Corona will love the extra 50 yards.

Love My P A is another horse that put in a good meet at Canterbury, but he’s coming out of the 5 spot in this race and Crashed on Corona has more grit for this large field.

Picks: 10, 6, 1

Now on to the thoroughbreds.

Race 3: $32,500 MSW — 5 ½ furlongs

First detail to notice is that leading jockey Leandro Goncalves jumped off Star Spangled and onto a first-timer for Mike Biehler, the 7 horse Bar Fight. Obviously, Star Spangled at 5-1 is not the better of the two. Duly noted.

Richard Thomas is the 5 horse in the race, and was bred by the late Minnesota breeding ambassador Camela Casby. Ironically, Richard Thomas finished ahead of a horse called The Great Casby in his last race. I like this horse at 5-2, but in his last race he didn’t really seem all that interested in finishing strong. I think jockey Denny Velazquez can help urge him on.

Dakota Native is the 3-1 favorite in the race, and I’m not sure why. He doesn’t seem all that interested in winning either. He got into a head-to-head his last time out and appeared exhausted at the 5 ½ furlongs only 3 weeks ago and now comes back with lackluster works.

The 11, Rumorhe’s Theone with the Dean Butler/Francisco Bravo combo, was in the same race and watched the two upfront duel it out and came in third. He’s had better works than Dakota Native too, and these winning connections at 12-1, take it for at least some trifecta money.

Picks: 7, 5, 11

Race 4: $60,000 Glitter Star Distaff Classic Championship – 1 1/16 furlongs

Blue’s Edge is a 5-2 favorite and draws the rail with Dean Butler in the saddle. This is the first beatable favorite of the day. She’s coming off two races at 7 ½ furlongs and she didn’t even hit the board in either. She also didn’t hit the board in the Princess Elaine Stakes which was at this distance. There are better horses in this race.

Dear Fay and Sioux Appeal are the two Mac Robertson runners that can beat a favorite. Sioux Appeal can win at 1 mile 70 and at 6 furlongs and is the Minnesota Oaks winner at 1 mile 70 in her last race. She retains the guidance of leading jockey Leandro Goncalves and at 6-1 is the best bet of the day.

Dear Fay has been a little inconsistent with her 2015 campaign but gets the help of Alex Canchari. Canchari is Mac’s go-to rider at Canterbury and for good reason: he wins a lot of stakes races. Dear Fay may have an issue with the distance at 1 1/16 and I think she does better in sprints.

Jockey Denny Velazquez has emerged as a skilled rider this summer. He had his choice in this one between Silver Magna, a horse he’s piloted all year and won 2 out of the last 3, and Talkin Bout. In the last race, at at 1 mile 70, Silver Magna finished just behind Sioux Appeal. Velazquez goes with the 6 horse Talkin Bout and hands the reigns to Giovanni Franco.

Talkin Bout is a sentimental favorite, but unfortunately you can’t bet on sentiment in horse racing. She is 8-5 morning line, and Velazquez will take her around. Unfortunately, she hasn’t had the best year since winning the Distaff last year.

Picks: 3, 6, 4

Race 5: $60,000 Bella Notte Distaff Sprint Championship – 6 furlongs

Velazquez gets another sentimental favorite in Polar Plunge. This is a gutsy horse and she races to win. Polar Plunge finished second in the Hoist Her Flag and won the Lady Slipper stakes. Six furlongs is her preferred distance and Velazquez knows how to ride her perfectly.

Last year’s little darling Sky and Sea is the 7-2 defending champ in this race. She’s only hit the tote board once this year, so not exactly sure why she’s so low on the morning line. She can’t get passed Polar Plunge, Gypsy Melody or Somerset Swinger and they’re all in this race. Lucky for Sky and Sea, Dean Butler tends to shine on this day.

The Robertson runner, Gypsy Melody, had a little trouble the last time out and didn’t like the 1 1/16 before that, but putting Canchari in the saddle should make a difference in how this horse takes to the track.

Picks: 5, 7, 2

Race 6: $80,000 Northern Lights Debutante – 6 furlongs

This could be the most exciting race of the day. Six of the 10 entries are coming off wins. The 2 horse, Pecos, is the class of the bunch. She is undefeated in her young career and is coming back to Canterbury after two stakes wins in Canada.

The Sampsons enter Ellie Mae Win and she’s had a very good start to her racing career as well. She had no trouble with the 5 furlongs last out, but the switch from Hugo Sanchez to Dean Butler is curious. Sanchez has been the Rengstorf barn’s go-to jock all year.

Sanchez, however, finds himself on another Sampson horse, a playable long shot in the 5, La Petite Cheri. This little filly broke her maiden first time out and has been resting for two months. Fresh legs may benefit Sanchez.

The rail horse, Honey’s Sox Appeal, also broke her maiden on her first try at 5 ½ furlongs. Goncalves gets the call from the Robertson barn.

Butler goes with the Sampson horse rather than the Francisco Bravo connection, Stella’s Princess. She won her last race breaking her maiden at 5 furlongs, but she has tougher competition today.

Picks: 2, 10, 1 but will play both Stella’s Princess and La Petite Cheri in my Pick 4.

Race 7: $80,000 Northern Lights Futurity – 6 furlongs

Trainer Francisco Bravo could sweep the Northern Lights Futurity with Pensador, Cupid’s Delight and Smooth Chiraz. Unfortunately from a betting standpoint, they are the top 3 favorites. Smooth Chiraz can beat Pensador at this distance, and Cupid’s Delight had no problem breaking his maiden first time out, in fact it was too easy and will face tougher in this stakes race.

My next best long shot play of the day comes in this race. The 1 horse, The Great Casby at 10-1, with the aforementioned multiple stakes winning jock Alex Canchari. In his last race at 5 ½ this horse was closing fast. An extra furlong and he might have beat Cupid’s Delight. The Great Casby is going to get that extra ground here.

Picks: 9, 5, 6 and 1 in the Pick 4

Race 8: $60,000 Crockrock Sprint Championship – 6 furlongs

Bourbon County is the favorite in this race at even odds, 1-1 morning line. Yes, he wins at 6 furlongs. He tried the 1 1/16 and put in an impressive effort to finish second. Then went back to 7 ½ and didn’t hit the tote board. He hasn’t raced since July 18 and is coming back to his favorite distance after a brief lay off. As much as I dislike even money favorites, you have to put Bourbon County on the ticket.

If there’s an upset to happen, it will come for the 4 horse, Evert, with Canchari in the saddle for Gary Scherer. Evert is coming off a win at 6 ½ furlongs, and Canchari may get the upset of the day here.

Let Da Cowboy Rock finished second behind Evert two races back and even though the jockey lost the whip, the horse continued on with little urging. The owners show confidence by sticking with the same jock, Ron Richard.

Picks: 1, 4, 5

Race 9: $60,000 Wally’s Choice Classic Championship – 1 1/16 furlongs

Jockey Dean Butler will most likely pick up a double in Race 8 and 9. Bourbon County in the 8th and what will be Minnesota’s Horse of the Year, Hold for More, in this one. Hold For More has won 6 of his last 7 starts, and four of those wins were stakes races. Dean Butler has been the pilot throughout. Hold For More is sired by Hold Me Back out of Giant’s Causeway.

A P Is Loose doesn’t really mind the change in distance and likes to lay back and come into the scene late. Canchari knows this and will bring him up for minor awards.

Vanderbilt Beach has won at this distance and will be chasing Hold For More, whom he finished behind at 6 furlongs back in June.

To note, A P Is Loose won the Blair’s Gove at this distance, Ragged Edge (if he stays in this race) and Vanderbilt Beach have also won at this distance and are at a good price here.

Picks: 1, 6, 8

Race 10: $38,500 Allowance — 1 mile 70

Captain’s Glory is on the rail for the Liftin barn with Scott Stevens in the irons. This horse is a sprinter and her last time out at 1 mile 70, she finished third behind Sioux Appeal and Silver Magna. Not bad, but she prefers a shorter distance. She’s 12-1.

P J’s Angel was in that same race and didn’t hit the board, but did win against softer company the first time out at this distance. She’s also 12-1.

Fiona Cat was taken up at 1 1/16 two races back on July 3 and then came back at 7 ½ and didn’t hit the board. Somehow, she warrants 4-1.

Even more curious is Thunder and Honey at 3-1. Thunder and Honey would be making a huge stretch from 5 ½ to the 1 mile 70 and has only raced on turf once. A head scratcher for sure.

Unbridled’s Celtic is the horse I like in this race. She’s actually won and finished second at this distance in her last 3 races with Giovanni Franco in the irons. Last out they took her to 7 ½ and she didn’t seem all that engaged. This race, she gets back to her preferred distance and her preferred jockey Franco.

Picks: 9, 3, 1 and 8 in the Pick 4

Race 11: $38,500 Allowance — 1 mile 70 on turf

I don’t know what is happening to the odds maker this week? You Be Gator Bait is 2-1. I can’t tell why. He won his last time out at 1 1/16, and that’s about it.

Steviefromstanley is comfortable at this distance and has finished in the money his last four starts.

Dean Butler gets on Street Fighting who is at 9-5 and can hit the board no matter what distance he’s running. He’s also a turf horse. He’s been running very well in the last half of the meet.

The last of my long shot plays of the day is Demi Blue. He draws the post position with Hugo Sanchez, who is one of the best young turf riders we’ve seen this summer. This is the only distance Demi Blue has raced this year. Sanchez put him in third behind Steviefromstanley and Street Fighting three races back. Butler took over and beat both of them the next time out. Demi Blue had a poor effort in his most-recent start, but has been on a month’s layoff. I’m hoping for Sanchez to get back aboard and get this horse up for some good Pick 4, supers and trifecta payouts.

Picks: 6, 3, 1

Long Shot Plays of the Day:

Race 2: 6, Crashed on Corona

Race 7: 1, The Great Casby

Race 11: 1, Demi Blue

Best play of the day:

Race 4: 3, Sioux Appeal

Best Betting Race: Race 10