SHAKOPEE, MN – The Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association kicked off it’s big weekend in style Saturday night, gathering in the Triple Crown Room at Canterbury Park to celebrate the 2016 champions and previewing the big holiday weekend of racing. While the Merial and Bank of America Challenge series will have their qualifying races at Canterbury on the 4th of July, the richest race in Canterbury Quarter Horse racing history, the $167,600 Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity was run on Sunday as well as a pair of other stakes.
Association president Bob Peterson launched the proceedings Saturday night with an overview of the organization’s efforts this past season, hosting the 17th annual Youth Day on the backside for kids to be exposed to the care and training of Quarter Horses, participation in the Leg Up Fund Day and prepping for the big Backside Barbeque on July 23rd.
Vice President Ralph Haglund was up next detailing the success of the stallion auction and highlighting the Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ Futurity then Andrew Offerman, Canterbury’s Director of Racing Operations, gave a closer look at the weekend’s stakes races prior to handing out the awards.
Topping the owner’s standings in 2016 was Summer Run Inc. with over $102,000 in purse earnings. Maren Luedemann, in accepting the award, thanked their trainers and jockeys and said with a smile, “We’ve been at this a long time and we’re grateful, but the greatest part has been my husband getting that [leading owner] parking space.”
Trainer of the year was Jason Olmstead. Olmstead had 23 winners in 126 starts and earning of over $430,000. Lunderborg LLC took home hardware for homebred PYC Jess Bite Mydust, winner of the 2016 edition of the Minnesota Futurity.
Nik Goodwin, with 19 wins and over $225,000 in mount earnings was named top Quarter Horse jockey for the third time. Goodwin is currently tied with Ry Eikleberry for the most Quarter Horse riding wins in the history of Canterbury Park.
Sunday brought with it the biggest racing day of the year for Quarter Horses and the day started with trials for the $81, 125 Canterbury Park Derby to be run on July 16 (qualifiers here) and then a trio of stakes.
First up was the inaugural running of the $18,000 Mystic Lake Northlands Juvenile, won by Tom and Bill Maher and Movin On’s Eagle Deluxe ($&.80) who covered the 350 yards in 18.05 under Bryan Velazquez for trainer Jason Olmstead. The race had been contested in the past as an allowance race for the top non-qualifiers of the Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity but was granted stakes status this year. Bobby Elvis ($5.60) was second and CK Annalea ($3.40) was third.
In the $45,765 Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ Futurity, top qualifier BS Special ($3.80) broke sharply and David Pinon guided him to victory over Triple Vodka Feature ($6.20) and Itinkican Itinkican ($2.60). BS Special stopped the clock in 17.90 seconds for the 350 yards for owner Duane Murphy.
Winning trainer Casey Black was naturally pleased with the performance but was feeling some pressure heading into the race as top qualifier.
“You really can only go down from there,” he laughed. Unless, of course, you win.
The thirtieth running of the Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity was not only the richest edition of the race but also carries with it the title of the richest quarter horse race in the history of Canterbury Park with a 2017 purse of $167,600. Of the previous 29 runnings, Canterbury Hall of Fame trainer Ed Ross Hardy has won six of them. Kendrix Brothers homebred A Jordan Reed ($12.20) made it seven.
“We started several horses this year and we thought that maybe we had some exceptional ones,” said Don Kendrix. “Ed has just done an exceptional job with him.”
Though the rail was been a bit suspect at Canterbury for the trials, the track maintenance team did an exceptional job working diligently to make sure that the track was even and fair.
“I didn’t really like it,” said Hardy about drawing into the one spot for the final. “But there was really nothin I could do about it.”
Jockey Oscar Delgado stayed focused on the start and managed to get out of the gate quickly as top qualifier Olivias Jett languished in the gate.
“I didn’t see what happened there,” said Delgado, “but I just focused forward and we went from there.”
A Jordan Reed covered the 350 yards in 17.84 seconds, beating long shot Agent Carter ($28.60) by a neck. Miss Jess Carter ($8.40) was third.
July 4th will feature the $33,750 Merial Canterbury Park Distaff challenge featuring a pair of graded stakes placed mares Bye Bye Birdy and Honeymoon Candy as well as the $60,840 Bank of America Canterbury Park Championship Challenge Stakes. The Bank of America features the blisteringly fast The Fiscal Cliff. The Fiscal Cliff has been pegged as the 1/2 morning line favorite and started the season winning two of three including the Skip Zimmerman last out at Canterbury and a Graded stakes victory in the Grade 2 Bob Moore at Remington Park in April.
July 4 racing will start with these two stakes with a first post of 12:55 PM.