SHAKOPEE, MN – A pair of $40,000 overnight stakes grace the Canterbury card on Saturday afternoon. The L’Etoile du Nord and the Paul Bunyan are both for 3-year olds and up going six furlongs over the main track.
The L’Etoile du Nord, for fillies, features a tremendously talented and undefeated homebred from Mercedes Stables and trainer Robertino Diodoro, Native American.
Native American is 3 for 3 lifetime, taking the $75,000 Shakopee Juvenile as a 2-year old and debuting this season with an 8-length demolition of a field of $30,000 Optional Claimers in Iowa on May 22. From a handicapping perspective it’s difficult to figure a way that she’ll be beat. She took her Prairie Meadows field wire to wire and, while posting early fractions of :21 4/5 and :44 4/5, manager to lengthen her lead through the stretch and stopped the clock at 1:10 2/5 without breaking a sweat. She posted a career – and file best by far – Beyer Speed Figure of 88 and looks likely to grab an uncontested lead from the rail.
C P Walnut Ridge and stablemate Freaking Amazing have both shown signs of life early but hard to believe that the other Mercedes Stables homebred will seriously challenge her early and C P Walnut Ridge just doesn’t have the speed to keep up.
The Paul Bunyan, for colts and geldings, keys around another Mercedes Stable/Diodoro entry. Subtle Indian was on fire early in his career, opening up 3 for 3 lifetime and never being headed. After taking the Gazebo Stakes at Oaklawn earlier this season, he headed into the Bachelor Stakes on April 10 with high expectations. He battled for the lead early and then the wheels came off the bus, fading through the field to be eased under the wire.
After a month off from training, Diodoro started bringing his charge back with a trio of well spaced works, his last a 1:01 2/5 rated as “handily”. Whether or not Subtle Indian is “back” will determine how this race is run.
He is not, however, the only possible contender in the race. Control Stake is a multiple stakes winner for trainer Tom Amoss. He faltered in his last over the artificial surface at Presque Isle in the $100,000 Tom Ridge Stakes but comes back to the dirt today, a surface where he hasn’t missed the board in seven tries.
Another multiple stakes winner, A M Milky Way, ships up from Prairie Meadows after a flat effort trying to stretch out in the Prairie Mile. He comes back to sprinting in the Bunyan and will look to sit the perfect trip under Hugo Sanchez.
If you’re looking for a closer in the field to try and chase down the speed, Bourbon Cowboy may be your choice. He’s only 2 for 9 lifetime but only 3 of those starts on the dirt and, over the only fast track he’s run over, finished half a length shy of upsetting graded stakes winner Cinco Charlie in the Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fairgrounds.
Finally, the loaded Mercedes/Diodoro team sends out impressive first start maiden winner Space Mine who very professionally dispatched his field on May 17th and jumps right into stakes company. He may have a tall order against these but after that debut it is worth the try.
While the weather calls for overcast skies, there is unlikely to be any rain before racing ends so fast track form should hold.