Minnesota Festival of Champions Day is Sunday and there are some pretty compelling races and story lines to follow heading into Minnesota bred’s championship of racing.
Quarter Horse Finale: The QH season wraps up at Canterbury with the Minnesota Futurity and the Derby, capping a very successful year for the sprinters.
Return of Heliskier: Over a year in the making, the fan favorite has been working steadily in the Robertson barn culminating in a five furlong bullet work on August 17. Does the 7-year old gelding have one more in him?
Smooth Chiraz: The 3-year old phenom was odds on to win the Minnesota Derby when a gate mishap made him a gate scratch. In with older for the first time in the Sprint, the Francisco Bravo trainee will look to get back on track against a small, but tough field. Which leads us to…
The Minnesota Sprint: Heliskier is part of this very small field but it contains several current and former champions. In addition to Marlene Colvin’s gelding, Rake Farms’ Bourbon County, Dale Schenian’s Hold for More and Smooth Chiraz are all former champions with Darkhorse Ty rounding out the field.
Sky and Sea: Since taking the Lady Slipper, Sky and Sea has thrown in a pair of uninspiring and uncharacteristic efforts. Can she get back on track?
A P is Loose: Can the champion go back to back in the Classic on a day featuring a Paul Allen bobblehead yelling “AP is Looooose”?
Mac Robertson: Festival Day’s leading trainer says he’s not as deep this year as in Festival’s past but he does have several that are most definitely contenders and, if racing luck finds him, it could be a big day in the Robertson barn.
Dear Fay: The 7-year old race mare has been tremendous here at Canterbury but the Distaff over the dirt has proven to be elusive. Could this be her year?
The “Honeys”: Bob Lindgren’s Thunder and Honey in the Distaff and Honey’s Sox Appeal in the Distaff Sprint have played the role of bridesmaids often. Is this the year that a “Honey” walks down the aisle herself?
Northern Lights: Who will be the filly and colt/gelding that we all stamp as the favorites for the Oaks and Derby next year? We’ll know after the Futurity and Debutante. Important subtext: both fields are bursting, illustrating the bump in breeding after the agreement with the SMSC was signed.
We’ll start previewing Festival Day tomorrow and each day leading up to the big day on Sunday with a post time of 12:45 PM.