Saturday, May 9, 2009

View From the Backside...Finally!

Finally I'm writing from the track kitchen at Canterbury Park. It's been a long, cold winter and while today isn't much better when compared to regular Spring weather, the backside is open, horses are training and all the familiar sights and sounds are back. Hearing some backside help commenting on getting a bolt with their American chop suey was also mildly entertaining. Especially the part about that not being the best way to get iron in your diet. Thankfully my coffee had no such additive.

It was actually a little late for me to be at the track. Usually I get there by 7:30 the latest and spend time just watching the horses work. Today was license renewal day and the Minnesota Racing Commission office opened at 9 AM, so I slept in (for me) and was out of the house around 9:30.

Given that this was the last Saturday before Opening Day, I anticipated a relatively crowded morning in the MRC office. Happily, that was not the case. There were only a couple of folks ahead of me and the mood around the office was light. In fact, Pam, the MRC clerk that helped me was the epitome of "Minnesota Nice". We had a great conversion over how I was left off the renewal list and not to feel badly as that happened to a lot of people this year. The renewal went smoothly and quickly and I was off for my parking pass and to visit Fizzy.

Fizzy Pop (Slew Gin Fizz - Pop Pop B.B. Gun - Red Ryder) our 5-year old gelding, shipped well and was in the process of eating when I showed up. He had galloped a couple of miles this morning to loosen up and get the feel of the new racetrack. He stuck his head out to say hello and cautiously sniffed my hand. I couldn't tell if he remembered me, but the deal clincher was when I reached in and pulled a peppermint from my pocket. That sealed it - "Dude, whether I remember you or not, I like the mint!"

Bernell Rhone , our trainer, gave me the rundown on his status. He came out of his last race very well and appeared well rested already the next day. As I mentioned, he shipped well and, depending upon his work later this week he may be entered back as quickly as opening weekend. Bernell had been telling me all spring that his attitude seemed different and I could tell that as well. It's hard to explain, but he seemed happier. His eyes seemed to tell the story and they were bright and sparkling. That's not to say that he was miserable last year, but he was, quite simply, different than last year. His entire demeanor said, "I feel fresh and I feel good."

We'll see later in the week if he'll be entered opening weekend or not but, personally, I don't mind waiting if Fiz appears that he needs to wait. He'll let us know when he's ready to go again and if it's not next weekend, it'll be another race later this month. Whenever he starts again, we'll be there rooting him on. And however he finishes...he'll still get his peppermints!

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