SHAKOPEE, MN – Stormy Smith had, in his words, “a really good day” Sunday at Canterbury Park. Smith rode both AJs High, winner of the Bank of America Canterbury Challenge Stakes and Bye Bye Birdy, winner of the Merial Distaff Challenge Stakes.
Multiple graded stakes winner AJs High ($2.60) was the heavy favorite going into the $66,690 Bank of America but had to fight every step to edge out There Goes My Wallet ($2.40) in the 440 yard stake.
“He’s a pretty steady horse,” said Smith. ” He runs wells most of the time and it’s a real pleasure to ride a horse like that.”
He may be steady, but AJs High, owned and bred by Michael Teel, can be a handful as well. Saddled on the walk in the paddock outside of the saddling enclosures and acting up a bit in the gate, the 4-year old sorrel gelding was a handful.
“He can be a challenge,” said trainer Charlton Hunt, “but the way he wins, he’s worth it.”
AJs High covered the distance in 21.91. Famous Bank ($2.10) was third.
Hopping off Bye Bye Birdy ($10.20) to weigh in after the photo for the $39.150 Merial Distaff Challege. Smith quipped, “I’d rather be lucky than good any day.”
He didn’t need much luck as the pair were very good.
“We broke really well,” said Smith, “and the outside horse gave her something to run at and she went after it.”
“This is great,” said trainer Casey Black. “I didn’t have to tell him much, Stormy knew what to do.”
Owned by Barbara Barley and bred by Barley and harp Farms, Bye Bye Birdy prevailed by 1/2 length over Political Nonsense ($14.20) with My Girls Toasted ($3.20) and Fortune in a Wagon ($2.20) in a dead heat for third.