SHAKOPEE, MN – Minnesota breds will step to the forefront today at Canterbury Park as they battle for state bred division titles in the 24th Minnesota Festival of Champions. A pair of quarter horse stakes will be worth $45,000 each while the thoroughbred stakes are valued at $60,000 with the exception of the Northern LIghts Debutant and Futurity which carry a purse of $85,000.
The 11 race card featuring purses of $585,800 in purse money kicks off at 12:45 with the a pair of Quarter Horse stakes. The 400 yard Minnesota QH Derby where 2016 Festival Day Futurity champion Vodka at Moonlight will look to add the Derby to his resume after a win earlier this season in the Bob Morehouse stakes. However Givinalittleeffort bested Vodka at Moonlight last out, finishing 2nd in the Cash Caravan well ahead of the Futurity winner.
The 350 yard QH Futurity will be up next where 2-1 Dickey Bob looks to be a formidable contender taking an open allowance earlier this season and finishing well in the North Central QH Racing Association Futurity last out. Back among state breds, the field will have its work cut out of it.
The thoroughbred stakes kick off in race four in a small but contentious six furlong Distaff Sprint. Honey Sox Appeal and Rockin the Bleu’s finished one-two in the Lady Slipper earlier this season and also in the Sprint last year with Honey Sox Appeal besting her rival. Shipmate, the brilliant two-year old who has battled illness throughout her career, got a late start in 2017 and only made her debut in Minnesota Oaks where she flashed speed but faded late. She cuts back to six furlongs and has the race and a work under belt and could be formidable if ready.
The Distaff Classic will feature Some Say So, a multiple stakes winner on the turf this season at Canterbury and Double Bee Sting, champion of the Minnesota Oaks last out. Some Say So has won over the dirt before but has logged only 3 of her 14 lifetime starts over a fast dirt surface. Double Bee Sting has been very consistent this season and but will also be taking on older rivals for the first time. Both should handle the mile and sixteenth distance.
The Northern Lights Debutante may be the most wide open of the Festival Day races. Several first timers are making their debut here including Firstmate, a $50,000 yearling purchase by Barry and Joni Butzow, who has been working well under the tutelage of Joe Sharp. Cheerz to Claire was a sharp second out winner last race logging the field’s best Beyer while Blackberry Brandi acquitted herself well in a foray against open stakes company in the MTA Sales Graduate Futurity after breaking her maiden. Cabloosie Bay had a strong debut at 4 1/2 furlongs, steadily closing but falling short to Papa’s Isla Doll, who drew the rail here, and should appreciate the added furlong and a half.
The Northern Lights Futurity features the brilliant Mr. Jägermeister whose debut win was nearly on par with the impressive win by Ami’s Challenge a few weeks ago. He came back to run second in the $65,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows after sprinting to the lead and trainer Valerie Lund takes the blinkers off her charge the six furlong festival day dash.
In the six furlong Minnesota Sprint Championship, Hold For More, the horse who has amassed more earnings at Canterbury than any horse in history, will be taking on familiar foes Bourbon County and Smooth Chiraz. Three year old Fridaynitestar steps up against older for the first time having only missed being a double stakes winner because of the presence of the stellar Hot Shot Kid. If Hot Shot Kid stays in the race, he should be formidable but he worked five furlongs on the turf yesterday fueling speculation that he could go in the Mystic Lake Derby next weekend instead.
The Mile and a sixteenth Minnesota Classic will close the stakes action. Defending champion Speed is Life will take on 2015 champion A.P. is Loose, the surging Teddy Time, supplemented Mac Robertson claim True West and the ultra consistent Vanderbilt Beach
Festival of Champions Day kicks off at 12:45 PM.