SHAKOPEE, MN – Minnesota breds, both thoroughbred and quarter horse, take center stage at Canterbury Park Saturday on Minnesota Festival of Champions Day.
The day will showcase all Minnesota breds in eleven races and features a pair of quarter horse stakes to kick off the day followed by six thoroughbred stakes worth nearly $600,000.
In race order, here’s a look at the eight stakes.
$40,000 MINNESOTA QUARTER HORSE FUTURITY (350 yards)
The two top choices here both break from the outside. Morning line favorite V Os Filo comes in after breaking his maiden on August 20. Two spots inside of him is Streak N Diamonds under hot quarter horse jockey Jorge Torres. Streak N Diamonds defeated the favorite while breaking his maiden two starts back and followed that up with a narrow loss in an open allowance.
$40,000 MINNESOTA QUARTER HORSE DERBY (400 yards)
Cokato Cartel will break from the far outside and draws Canterbury’s winningest quarter horse rider Ry Eikleberry. Cokato Cartel ran a strong second in a stake last time out and looks to be rounding into form at the right time.
$60,000 GLITTER STAR DISTAFF CLASSIC (1 1/16 Miles)
The distaff has only six entries but it proves to be an intriguing field. Four of the six have been doing most of their work over the turf course while the pair of 3-year olds taking on their elders have been very solid over the main track where this is contested. While Sioux Appeal was impressive taking the Minnesota Oaks and Silver Magna the Genter, neither has faced the likes of Talkin Bout who sparkled on the dirt last year in this race. Dear Fay faltered badly in last year’s edition but is she can transfer her turf form to dirt, she is going to be a very tough foe. Another older mare, Blues Edge from the rail, also has done her best work over the dirt and may find herself loose on the lead where she will be tough to catch.
$60,000 BELLA NOTTE DISTAFF SPRINT (Six Furlongs)
Fan favorite Polar Plunge, in what may be the last race of her illustrious career, is the 9/5 favorite in the Distaff Sprint. This year’s Lady Slipper champ is coming in off a strong 2nd place finish in the unrestricted Hoist Her Flag stakes. To prevail she’ll need some speed to run at and she may get it with Starlet Stella and 2014 Horse of the Year Sky and Sea on the inside. She won’t be alone coming late, however, as Gypsy Melody should be closing with Somerset Swinger.
$80,000 NORTHERN LIGHTS DEBUTANTE (Six Furlongs)
This year’s edition of the Northern Lights features the on Minnesota bred 2-year old to win 3 races – the undefeated Pecos. Pecos broke her maiden at Canterbury and then went north of the border to take the Debutante and then beat the boys in the Graduate, both at Assiniboia. While she’s been impressive, she’s not alone as both Stella’s Princess and Moonlight Basin both come in off impressive first out maiden victories.
$80,000 NORTHERN LIGHTS FUTURITY (Six Furlongs)
A field of nine 2-year old boys take to the track to contest the Futurity. There are no two time winners in the field but several with impressive maiden victories including Pensador who rebounded from a rough first out, where he finished 2nd, to score by nine lengths – gate to wire – to break his maiden and posted a 75 Beyer in the process. Cupid’s Delight stalked an early pace in his debut and then drew away to win by six. King George scored at 17-1 in his debut, putting up a 67 Beyer and winning by 2 1/2. Finally, Darkhouse Ty, a 12-1 winner in his debut, gets Lasix added for the Futurity to add an interesting wrinkle.
$60,000 CROCROCK SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP (Six Furlongs)
Bourbon County comes into the race after being laid off since July 18 as the even money favorite. Last year’s champion boasts wins in 10,000 Lakes to kick off the season and a $35,000 optional claiming sprint. His two turf efforts brought him a 2nd in the Blair’s Cove at a mile and 16th and a 7th in an open allowance. Back to sprinting and the dirt, Bourbon County has been training very well up to the race and should be the one to beat. Possible upsetters include Let Da Cowboy Rock and Evert who will be charging late.
$60,000 WALLY’S CHOICE CLASSIC (1 1/16 Miles)
The Classic looks to be the most interesting race on the card with sophomore phenom Hold for More facing elders for the first time and laying his six race winning streak on the line in the process. The accomplished A P is Loose should be on the engine early and it will up to the rest of the field to try and catch him. The solid turf runner is back on the main track where he is only 1 for 6 and could prove vulnerable, though most of the top contenders in the Classic have also had predominantly turf campaigns. Hold for More was impressive on the stretch out for the Minnesota Derby so the distance shouldn’t be an issue but it’s always a challenge for the younger horses to take on their elders. Speed is Life and Vanderbilt Beach also figure to contend.
Minnesota Festival of Champions Day kicks off at 12:52 PM Central Time.