Shakopee, MN – Canterbury Park kicked off its season with a pair of $60,000, six furlong stakes: the 10,000 Lakes on Friday night for state bred colts and geldings and the Lady Slipper Stakes on Saturday afternoon
Bourbon County opened the wagering on the 10,000 Lakes Stakes at Canterbury Park at 1/5 and finally settled at 3/5 when the gates sprung open and even those short odds turned out to be long indeed.
Jockey Dean Butler, already with four winners on the card at this point, had Bourbon County out alertly from the outside. There was some pressure from 2013 Minnesota Derby winner L’il Apollo but when they turned into the lane, there was no doubt who was in charge.
“Bourbon County, he’s push button,” said Butler. “He got a good race into him at Tampa this year. Last year we didn’t have that race and he was short. He wasn’t short today.”
Bourbon County wasn’t short at all, drawing off to win by 7 1/2 devastating lengths in 1:11.13. L’ll Apollo, tired from his effort, faded to third, edged by 2014 Minnesota Derby winner Speed is Life at the wire.
For owners and trainers looking to avoid Bourbon County the rest of the meet, don’t be so sure that he’s just going to be a sprinting this year.
“I’d like to try stretching him out a little, but we’ll see,” said trainer Bernell Rhone. “He’s a real good sprinter, so we’ll have to wait and see what options we have.”
The other stake of the weekend, the Lady Slipper Stakes, featured several fillies and mares that promise to be going at it all summer long. Polar Plunge, bred by the late Canterbury Park Hall of Famer Cam Casby, had to survive an inquiry into the running of the race to post the victory.
Sky and Sea and She Can Ski cut the fractions on the front end going through a quick first quarter in :22.39 but slowing things down a bit through the first half in :46.74.
Turning for home Sky and Sea had shook loose from her rival but was clearly weary from the effort. Polar Plunge caught her in the last 100 yards and was also nipped by the hard closing Somerset Swinger.
“She broke sharp and I tried to keep an eye on Sky and Sea,” said winning jockey Denny Velazquez. “I don’t know what happened through the turn but I know that Justin got the worst of it. I got her to relax and she gave me everything she had.”
After a long inquiry into the race, it was determined by the stewards that Stellabrini had started a chain reaction through the far turn which resulted in the sharp takeback of Gypsy Melody, ridden by Justin Shepherd. Stellabrini was disqualified after a lengthy inquiry.
Trainer Gary Scherer said that he was given the heads up early on in this mare’s career.
“When this baby was born they told me that she was a champion. I’ve had her for seven years. What can I say, H.O.F.,” Scherer said, holding up the trophy and pointing to the sky. “She got across the finish line…that was Cam!”
Polar Plunge, now owned by Al & Bill Ulwelling, stopped the clock at 1:12.39.
10,000 Lakes Stakes
Bourbon County 3.00 2.10 2.10
Speed is Life 3.00 2.20
Li’l Apollo 3.80
Lady Slipper Stakes
Polar Plunge 4.80 2.80 2.10
Somerset Swinger 6.40 3.20
Sky and Sea 2.10