Friday, July 31, 2009

Minnesota Derby and Oaks Previews

On Saturday the two biggest races of the year for Minnesota bred 3 year olds will be run at Canterbury Park: The $60,000 Minnesota Derby and the $60,000 Minnesota Oaks. Both are run over the main track at a mile and 70 yards and both have returning two year old Futurity/Debutante winners coming back to see if they can stake claim to being the state's top three year old in their respective divisions.

Interesting side note before previewing the Minnesota Derby:

In the summer of 2008 a colt was sent up from the Steve Assmussen barn in Texas to the Bernell Rhone barn at Canterbury Park. Bernell was excited to show my wife and me the young colt as we happened to be there visiting Fizzy Pop and Somerset Sam. Not much impresses Bernell, but it was apparent that this colt did. And no wonder! He was a beautiful bay who’s coat shined like dark, polished leather. He had a bit of attitude, which is nice for a race horse, and he was a Minnesota bred.

“He’s gorgeous! Your Minnesota Derby horse?”, I asked.

“I sure hope so,” he responded.

That colt is the morning line favorite today, Perfect Bull (Holy Bull-Perfect Moment-Dazzling Falls).


Purse: $60,000
Distance: 1 mile 70 Yards
Surface: Dirt
Restrictions: Minnesota Bred

As you can tell by the spread in the Morning Line, only Dixie Buck and Ice Rocket don’t figure in here.

Here is a rundown by post position, jockey, morning line.

Wovoka Ghost Dance (Nolan 6-1): Coming off his maiden breaking win in open company, albeit $25,000 claiming, he has show improvement since moving onto the turf. Unfortunately the Derby is run over the main track.

Jack and Max (Stevens 6-1): Last out was a state-bred allowance win at this distance, at this track and on this surface. A nice bump in the Beyer, but well below the best of the main threats.

A Steel Trap (Ferrer 6-1): A six furlong specialist since breaking his maiden in his initial voyage, this gelding has hit the board in each Canterbury start this season. Has been improving and comes off a third in the VS Meyers Stakes where he faltered in the stretch. Not a good sign when he has to stretch out, though Tammy Domenosky is hitting at an 18% clip when stretching out.

First Capitan (Eikelberry 8-1): Finished just behind A Steel Trap in the Meyers, this one has run exclusively in state bred company. Another one stretching out for the first time for a barn that has been doing OK with that this year.

Bizet (Bell 5-1): Hasn’t won since breaking his maiden over the slop at Gulfstream in march. Has started picking up checks since moving into state bred company lately, but still no wins against lesser – though a solid second in the VS Meyers last out. Been closing like he’d appreciate another couple of furlongs.

Dixie Buck (Jiminez 20-1): Has only run at this distance in three career starts. Broke his maiden in a state bred Maiden Claimer ($10,000) and then got drilled by 23 by Jack and Max last out.

Ice Rocket (Morales 20-1): Last year’s Northern Lights Futurity winner has not been able to build off of that form this season. Best effort has landed him in 6th, 9 ½ off of the win in a $25,000 CL nw3.

Perfect Bull (Butler 5-2): The Bull has four wins to his credit, all in open company. In fact, this is the first state bred race of his career. His most recent dirt form has been a win over older horses (including beating Fizzy Pop by 1 ½) in a $25,000 Optional Claiming (obviously fitting the allowance condition) race and a 4th in the Prairie Mile at Prairie Meadows. Duplication of either of those efforts should win this one for him.

Nomorewineforeddie (Williams 9-2): Eddie was the winner of the Meyers last out after three consecutive 2nds in state-bred allowances. Looks to be right on the pace, but stretching out for the first time.

The way I see this race among the contenders is that if Nomorewinforeddie can get the distance he has a solid chance of upsetting the favorite. That said, the pick here has to be Perfect Bull based upon his proven ability to get the distance, beat older horses and hold his own against open company including allowance wins at Tampa Bay, Remington and the above mentioned race here at Canterbury.


1. Perfect Bull
2. Nomorewineforeddie
3. Jack and Max


Purse: $60,000
Distance: 1 mile 70 yards
Surface: Dirt
Restrictions: Minnesota Bred Fillies

Five of the eight starters are back from the France Genter Stakes won easily by Chick Fight wire to wire. Two of the remaining starters are maidens and the last in line, Recording Contract, has had her best effort over the turf.

I suppose I could go on and give you a horse by horse breakdown and try to say something nice about them all, but if Chick Fight can get the distance, she’ll smoke these. She’s run in two Minnesota bred stakes races in her career and won the Genter this year and the Northern Lights Debutante last year by a combined total of 16 ¼ lengths. In fact, no Minn-bred has even headed her in her four state bred starts.


1. Chick Fight
2. Recording Contract
3. All Hallow’s Eve

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