SHAKOPEE, MN – A large crowd of about 15,000 was on had to celebrate Father’s Day at Canterbury Park. The crowd was treated to super heroes, face painting, a free mug and, on the track, a trio of stakes races.
Kicking off the day was the $24,000 Skip Zimmerman Stakes for quarter horses going 350 yards. The heavy favorite was The Fiscal Cliff, in from Oklahoma for owner/breeder Thomas Lepic and trainer Kasey Willis.
“We really love it up here,” said Lepic. “The people are great and the racing comes first.”
The graded stakes winning colt was outbroke by Jr Rock Star and was pinched in the first few strides, but jockey Benito Baca guided him clear and the classy colt caught and passed Jr Rock Star to win in :17.75. He paid $3.80 to win. Streakin Pr made it a Willis exacta and paid $7.20 to place while edging Jr Rock Star ($4.60) late.
“He had a hard time grabbing the track early,” said Lepic after the race, “but once he did he ran well.”
The Fiscal Cliff will stay on Canterbury and point to the $60,000 added Bank of America Canterbury Park Championship Challenge on July 4.
In the $100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes, locally owned Sweet Tapper threaded her way through traffic late under Orlando Mojica to prevail by a neck over favored Insta Erma relegating the latter to yet another battered favorite in one of Canterbury’s most enduring races.
“I had a lot of horse,” said Mojica. “I just had to get some space and let her go.”
For winning owner Lorie Michaels of Wayzata, Minnesota, it was her first stakes win as an owner.
“I am just so very pleased and excited,” said Michaels. “I want to thank Ian [Wilkes, trainer] and Oralndo who always gives my horses a good ride.
“Sweet Tapper ($18.00)was a slow developer and Ian took his time with her and really brought her along great,” Michaels continued. “She likes to come off the pace and she hasn’t been able to get there yet, but she got there today.”
Insta Erma ($3.20) was second and Seeking Treasure ($4.00) was third. Sweet Tapper covered the mile in 1:35.88 over a good turf course.
Sweet Tapper will stay at Canterbury for the summer and is headed to the barn of Tony Rengstorf.
Trainer Joel Berndt saddled Sweet Tapper for Wilkes prior to the Lady Canterbury but had his own trainee to saddle for the Mystic Lake Mile; both horses ended up in the winners’ circle.
Berndt trainee, graded stakes winner Hay Dakota, made a bold sweeping move through the far turn to take the lead and battled through the stretch to outlast Majestic Pride by a head in a stakes record time of 1:35.37.
“I made my move and he was just full of run,” said winning rider Denny Velazquez.
“Last year’s Mystic Lake Derby really stayed with me,” said Berndt. “We came so close and fell short by a neck and it just bugged me. That’s why this one is so rewarding.
“I told Denny to get the jump on the deep closers,” he continued. “So he made his move on the turn and I felt like I rode that horse from the quarter pole home.”
You could have had Hay Dakota for $20,000 when he made his turf debut last April but after stepping up hitting the lawn, Berndt made sure that he didn’t run for a tag again.
“We really liked what we saw in that race,” he said. “so next time out we moved him to a Maiden Special Weight and he really has taken a liking to the surface.”
Hay Dakota paid $15.80 for the win while Majestic Pride ($4.40) was a head behind in second and Way Striking ($4.20) was third.
Bred by Brereton Jones and owned by Alice Mettler, Hay Dakota may only be touching the tip of hi potential.
“Turf runners tend to get better with age,” smiled Berndt, “We have a lot to look forward to.”