SHAKOPEE, MN – Minnesota racing was in stiff trouble in 2011. There was uncertainty about the future of racing in the Gopher State. Purses were wallowing and breeding was in a downward spiral. It made no sense to breed a horse in the state because if the trend continued, there would not be anywhere to race.
Fast forward four years and the purse account is flush thanks to the $75 million, 10-year joint marketing agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. As a result the racing competition is getting stiffer, nationally known outfits are shipping in for stakes races, the track can make a play for a Triple Crown and number of Minnesota bred foals are now into the hundreds each year.
2011 was a different world and marks the nadir of breeding in Minnesota and that shows at the starting gate. Only five 3-year old males and six 3-year old females were entered in the Vic Myers and Frances Genter Stakes, respectively. With a scratch in each race, two very small fields with overwhelming favorites went postward on Independence Day in the traditional preps for the Minnesota Derby and Minnesota Oaks.
Dale Schenian, Vice Chairman of Canterbury Park celebrates his birthday on July 4 and the only things that could make it better would be if his 1/5 shot, Hold for More, could run to his odds and take the six furlong, $60,000 Vic Myers.
Hold for More took back early and let Chris Mars and Prayintheprarie battle it out up front and the pair opened up a seven length lead. There was no panic, though, as Dean Butler patiently made up ground and then drew off to win by 7 1/2 lengths. She stopped the timer at 1:11.79 and returned $2.60 for the win.
Despite the overwhelming favoritism of his filly, Schenian was taking nothing for granted heading into the race.
“I didn’t sleep good last night, because you never sleep good [before a race],” said the gentleman affectionately known as “Mr. Dale” around the track. “I told myself ‘Self, it’s a race and anything can happen’ and that kept me up a little longer. The when I finally got to sleep my dog, Nora, woke me up to go out at 4:30.”
“In the horse racing business, I don’t care if you have the best horse, things happen,” Schenian continued. “The trainer did his job getting the horse ready for the race; the pilot has to ride a good race; things have to happen. In this business you take the good with the bad – and sometimes it’s ugly. This time? It’s good.”
In the $60,000 Frances Genter, the undefeated Shaboom was also 1/5 and had over $80,000 in bridge jumping money in the show pool.
She went to the lead right out of the gate but was tracked a length or two back by Al & Bill Ulwelling’s first homebred, Silver Magna. When they turned for home, Denny Velazquez went to work on Silver Magna and she pulled alongside and the right on past the heavy favorite to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Shaboom was clear in second and Sioux Appeal was third.
“I saw him break well,” said winning rider Valazquez describing heavily favored Shaboom. “I decided the best place to be was on the outside of him, away from the inside where it’s been a bit heavy. Then I waited to push the button and when I pressed it, he went.”
VIC MYERS STAKES (no show wagering)
Hold for More 2.60 2.10
Keith’s Legacy 2.60
FRANCES GENTER STAKES
Silver Magna 15.20 4.60 2.80
Shaboom 2.10 2.10
Sioux Appeal 2.10