SHAKOPEE, MN – On Sunday Canterbury Park ran the richest line up of Quarter Horse races in its history, anchored by the $165,600 Mystic Lake Northwoods Futurity. The Mystic Lake Northwoods is the richest Quarter Horse race in Minnesota history.
“We’re very excited to have the biggest Quarter Horse Day in Canterbury history today,” said Rosemary Higgins, President of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association.
There was a large gathering early in the day before racing with MQHRA hosting an event attended by owners, trainers, MQHRA members as well as their thoroughbred counterparts, track management and even pleasure Quarter Horse owners.
“This was our day to celebrate Quarter Horses in Minnesota and it has been wonderful,” said Higgins. “And to have a Minnesota bred horse win the richest Quarter Horse race run here…it’s amazing.”
That Minnesota bred, Pyc Jess Bite Mydust ($4.40), broke outward from the gate but jockey Bryan Velazquez was able to correct course and prevailed by a head over stablemate Cr Game Changer ($8.80). Aregal Rainbow ($4.60) was third. The 2-year old covered the 350 yards in 17.79.
“I was a bit nervous after the break,” admitted Velazquez, “but I knew he’d get up there.”
“Luckily we were able to do the same thing we did last year,” said winning trainer Jason Olmstead, who won this race last year with Eagles Span. “However the way the day started, I was a little worried.”
The winner was owned and bred by Lunderborg LLC.
Olmstead was shut out of the $68,250 Canterbury Quarter Horse Derby in the race prior and his favored Vodka at Midnight was upset as the favorite in the Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ Futurity.
The Quarter Horse Derby, won by second choice Justified ($8.40), also featured a dead heat for second between Okeyfreight ($3.80; $5.40) and Dianas Tres Seis ($5.60; $6.80) and was a very emotional win for trainer Tim Holdaway (who also is part owner) and his wife Beverly.
“We’ve been doing this for forty years and we’ve never had one this good,” said Beverly Holdaway with tears of joy streaming down her face. “It just feels so great.”
“It takes a lot to get them here,” added husband Tim. “That includes a lot of luck and hard work from a great team.”
It also takes a very game horse.
“I heard them coming,” said jockey Chase Clark. “This horse hears them coming and he just digs in and wants to go harder.”
Justified covered the 400 yards in 19.85.
In the $20,000 Breeders’ Futurity, Vodka at Midnight broke alertly but was tracked down and passed late by trainer Bob Johnson’s Faster than Hasta ($9.40).
Johnson trains Faster Than Hasta for his father, John, who also owns the sire, Hasta Be Fast while Bob campaigned the broodmare, Leadmetoyourladder. The 2-year old covered the 350 yards in a stakes record 17.75.