Shakopee, MN – With less than a week to go before the gates open on the 2017 Canterbury Park season, the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association held their annual awards banquet Saturday night to honor the divisional champions of 2016.
Handicapping pioneer Steve Davidowitz was the guest speaker and took the group through the early years of Minnesota racing when he was the first staff handicapper for the Minnesota Star Tribune. Davidowitz inspired and taught the first generation of Minnesota handicappers both through his columns and his seminal work, Betting Thoroughbreds.
The awards kicked off with the 2-year old champions, Fireman Oscar (colt/gelding), owned and bred by Pete Mattson, and Shipmate (filly), owned and bred by Cheryl Sprick and Rick Bremer. Shipmate, who overcame colic surgery to win three races, two stakes and over $100,000 as a 2-year old, has suffered two additional bouts of colic over the winter and has recently been cleared to train again for her 3-year old season.
“We found something she’s even better at than winning races,” said owner/breeder Cheryl Sprick, “staying alive. Her surgeon said that her will to live defies medical science.”
The season’s top 3-year old honors went to Pensador (male) and Honey’s Sox Appeal (female). Honey’s Sox Appeal’s dam, A.J.’s Honey was also selected the Broodmare of the year. Pensador, the Minnesota Derby winner, was bred by trainer Francisco Bravo and Dale Schenian and is owned by Schenian. Honey’s Sox Appeal and A.J.’s Honey are owned by Bob Lindgren and he co-bred Honey’s Sox Appeal with Paul Knapper.
The older male and female categories were both won by defending champions. Older male, A.P. is Loose, owned and bred by Joel Zamzow took top honors with a pair of wins in six starts including the Blair’s Cove Stakes while older female, Rockin the Bleus (owner/breeders Jeff & Deb Hilger) was multiple stakes placed in 2016. Rockin the Bleus has already kicked off her 2017 season with a win in the Miranda Diane Stakes at Will Rogers Downs.
The top Minnesota owned horse of the year was 2-year old Line Judge, winner of the Careless Navigator Stakes at Canterbury and the Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs. The colt amassed $177,180 and will be back racing later in 2017. Line Judge is owned by Barry and Joni Butzow.
Minnesota stallion of the year was Lisa Duoos’ Matt’s Broken Vow off the strength of son Matchlock’s three win season including the $100,000 Gov Terry Brandstad Stakes at Prairie Meadows.
Trainer Tony Rengstorf was the Minnesota trainer of the year with 17 Minnesota bred wins in 2016.
The Thoroughbred Charities of America Award of Merit went to Dr. Richard Bowman, DVM, whose foundation, Bowman Second Chance Thoroughbred Adoption has helped hundreds of off-track thoroughbreds find homes. His farm in North Dakota currently houses 80 ex-racers looking for a home.
Winners of both the TOBA and Charles Bellingham breeder awards were Cheryl Sprick and Rick Bremer. Both awards were pewter mint julep cups which prompted Sprick to quip, “I call this the ‘Trudge Back and Forth to the Barn Award. We all know that there are better ways to get a set of mint julep glasses.”
The final award of the evening was the MTA Member of the Year award, presented to current board member and former board president Jay Dailey.
Daily led the MTA through a surge of membership, record breaking sales as well as advocated and innovated new races and bonus awards to help promote breeding and racing in Minnesota.
“You have to try things,” Dailey said after the banquet. “Everything might not stick, but you have to try new things and try and evolve.”
Minnesota horsemen start the pursuit of the 2017 divisional championships at Canterbury Park on Friday evening with a post time at 4 PM.