Shakopee, MN – Defending 10,000 Lakes Stakes champion Bourbon County left no doubt who was still king of the hill in strongly handling a quality field in the opening day stakes at Canterbury Park last night.
A crowd of 7,439 – an increase of over 20% from 2015 – came out on a beautiful Friday night to see if defending Horse of the Meet, 4-year old Hold for More, could topple Bourbon County but the 6-year old gelding owned and bred by Rake Farms showed that he still has plenty of game.
“We were a little disappointed that we couldn’t find a race for him at Tampa,” said owner Scott Rake. “But we knew that Bernell had him ready and that he would run well today.”
Prior to the start of the race there were some tense moments for trainer Bernell Rhone and Team BC when jockey Alex Canchari was unsaddled and appeared to be shaken up during loading, but Canchari walked it off and was able to rejoin his mount in the gate.
A three headed pace battle ensued when the two main rivals and stakes winner A P is Loose all broke alertly. Bourbon County on the rail, Hold for More between horses and A P is Loose on the outside. Historically better in routes than when sprinting, A P is Loose was unable to stand the early pace in the $60,000 six furlong dash for Minnesota breds and faded, leaving Hold for More the only rival to take on Bourbon County as they led the field down the lane.
Canchari just flashed his whip at Bourbon County and the gelding found another gear extending his lead throughout the stretch to win by a length and 3/4, though from the top of the lane home there was little doubt of the winner. Bourbon County ($5.00) covered the distance in 1:10.32 with Canchari saying the old man could have gone in 1:09 if he was asked at all. Hold for More and jockey Dean Butler, who had three wins on the eight-race card, finished second, two lengths in front of third-place finisher Evert and rider Geovanni Franco.
“This is a great night for Minnesota racing and a great group of Minnesota-breds,” Rake said. “Congratulations to all the owners and trainers. The real winners are the bettors with this low takeout. They’re leaving with more money in their pockets.”
Bourbon County’s next stop could be on the turf in the Blair’s Cove Stakes Independence Day weekend.
Rake will try and make it an opening weekend stakes double when his home bred mare, Sky and Sea, takes on five rivals in the $60,000 Lady Slipper Stakes on Saturday.