Minnesota Festival of Champions Day | Midwest Paddock Report
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Minnesota Festival of Champions Day

Minnesota Festival of Champions Day

SHAKOPEE, MN – On a gorgeous Minnesota summer day, Canterbury Park crowned state bred Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred champions in some of the best racing of the season on Sunday in front of 7,622 fans.

Vodka at Moonlight

Vodka at Moonlight

$49,300 Minnesota Quarter Horse Futurity

The betting for the $45,000 Minnesota Quarter Horse Futurity was squarely behind Pyc Bite Mydust but when he broke to the outside, he lost just enough ground for the clean breaking Vodka at Moonlight to hold on at the wire by a nose.

Vodka at Moonlight ($8.00) covered the 350 yards in 18 seconds flat. Pyc Jess Bite Mydust ($2.20) was second and Jess a Chance ($4.80) was third.

Owner Paul Ludeman was thrilled with the win with their homebred.

“It’s really exciting,” he said.  “He’s the first foal from the mare we have.”

Eyra Hayes (center)

Eyra Hayes (center)

$50,300 Minnesota Quarter Horse Derby

While Vodka at Moonlight was a mild upset, the Derby presented a major one.

Heavily favored VOs Filo was pinched at the start and was never a factor in the race which opened the door for Eyra Hayes ($60.40), 29-1, to race off with a neck victory over 17-1 Sr Ur Fired ($14.40) and 22-1 Gramma Ella ($15.80).  The prices across the board were excellent as well with $5002 of the $8494 in the show pool was bet on the favorite.

The $1 exacta paid $707.60 while the $1 trifecta returned $16,584.50.

When asked about the extraordinary odd on his horse, trainer Jerry Livingston joked, “Nobody trusts me anymore, they won’t bet on my horses.”

“This horse really breaks well,” continued Livingston on a more serious note. “He always gets out of the gate really well.”

Owner/breeder Terry Reed thanked Livingston and his team for all their work getting the horse ready as well as jockey Chase Clark.

Hold for More splits horses to take the Sprint

Hold for More splits horses to take the Sprint

$65,000 Crockrock Minnesota Sprint

The smallest field of the day was expected to produce the race of the day and the field did not disappoint.

Fan favorite Heliskier was returning to the race track after a 2-year absence, Bourbon County was looking to become the first three time winner since Nomorewineforeddie and 3-year old Smooth Chiraz was looking to bounce back from his gate scratch in the Minnesota Derby.

However it was 2015 Canterbury Horse of the Year Hold for More ($7.40), winner of six in a row as a 3-year old but winless thus far at four, who prevailed in a three way drive for the finish in between Bourbon County ($3.00) and Smooth Chiraz ($2.10) to win by a neck covering the six furlongs in 1:10.20.

“We wanted to take it one step at a time,” said winning trainer Fransisco Bravo. “I knew we could be close and I can’t said enough about the ride we got from Dean Butler.  It was just perfect.”

“That was one helluva race,” said owner Dale Schenian. “That one will go down as one of the greatest races in Canterbury history.”

Honey's Sox Appeal

Honey’s Sox Appeal

$60,000 Bella Notte Distaff Sprint

Owner Bob Lindgren’s Honey Sox Appeal ($5.40) was three of six heading into the Distaff Sprint, never worse than second, but in each of the three stakes she entered was a bridesmaid.  She was looking to breakthrough on the biggest stage of the season and she left little doubt, taking command of the race after four furlongs and drawing off to win by 2 1/4 lengths under Geovanni Franco.

“She’s a great horse,” said Lindgren.  “Of all the horses I have ever had, she’s the best I’ve ever have.  This is fun.”

Defending champion Rockin the Bleu’s ($7.00) was second and Shaboom ($3.00) was third.  Honey Sox Appeal stopped the clocks a bit quicker than her male counterpart in 1:10.13.



$85,000 Northern Lights Debutante

Rick Bremer and Cheryl Sprick’s Shipmate ($14) wired the field in the Deb over Pinup Girl ($8.40) and Line of Grace ($3.80).  Shipmates story and more on the Debutante here.

Fireman Oscar

Fireman Oscar

$85,000 Northern Lights Futurity

Longtime owner/breeder Pete Mattson has won a lot of races in his 20+ years of racing, but he never won a stakes race.  Until Sunday.

Mattson’s Fireman Oscar ($12.20) broke alertly under Larren Delorme and never looked back, lengthening his lead at every call and getting Mattson his first stakes win, taking the $85,000 Futurity in 1:10.95 by 6 3/4 lengths over Devil’s Teeth ($3.00) and Fridaynitestar ($3.40).

“This has been a long haul,” said Mattson. “I’ve never won a trophy before so this is pretty special.  I’ve always wanted to win a race like this with one of my own.

“This one is for Cam Casby,” Mattson continued.  “We bred to her stallion, Law Enforcement, and we miss he every day.  I’m sure she was watching this one.”

Sioux Appeal

Sioux Appeal

$60,000 Glitter Star Distaff Classic

Dean Butler booted home a pair of winners on Festival Day with a pair of different, though equally impressive rides.  On Hold For More he came from just of the pace to prevail in a 3-way battle in the stretch and on Sioux Appeal ($7.20) in the Distaff he rocked the field to sleep to prevail by 2 1/2 lengths.

After a first quarter in :24.76 and a half in :49.26, Butler had plenty left in her tank to repel the challenge from Blues Edge ($6.80).  Thunder and Honey was third ($3.60).  Sioux Appeal stopped the clock in 1:45.20 for the mile and a sixteenth.

“Dean really did a terrific job,” said owner/breeder Jeff Larson “and Mac had him so well prepared.”

“They just left me alone up front,” remarked Butler.  “We kind of had it our own way.”

Speed is Life

Speed is Life

$60,000 Wally’s Choice Classic

Speed Is Life ($8.00) has spent a great deal of his career on the turf course.  He closed out 2015 with a mile and 70 yard win over the turf in a $25,000 optional claiming race at Canterbury while three of his five starts this season were over the turf as well, though he had been unable to reach the winners’ circle this season.

“I told Mr. Oliver” said Andrew Ramgeet, “Just keep me on this horse.  I can win with him.”

And win he did, taking on defending champion and heavy favorite A P is Loose ($2.40) badgering him early and then having the ability to come back on him late to prevail by a neck.

“The key to this horse to get him to relax,” said Ramgeet.  “We went the half mile in :48 and I knew he could kick on from that.”

Adjustments were made throughout the season and it all came together in the Classic.

“Andrew would come back and say ‘he needs this’ or ‘he needs that,'” said trainer Doug Oliver.  “We took the blinkers off, we took the shadow roll off.”

Vanderbilt Beach was third ($2.40).

Speed is Life covered the mile and a sixteenth in 1:43.18.



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