Friday, August 28, 2009

Minnesota Festival of Champions - Turf and Sprints

Each year, as happens in most states, Canterbury Park sets aside a day to celebrate their own. In scope and size it's not CalCup Day or the Maryland Millions but it is a chance for Minnesota Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses and their connections to try and take down $400,000 in purses and stake their claim as champion of their division.

Over the next three days leading up to Festival Day I will be previewing the various races and then on Sunday I will be blogging live from Canterbury in much the same way as Claiming Crown Day, though I hope with a few more pictures and color. As you all know, I know next to nothing about Quarter Horse racing - except they are obscenely fast - so I won't be covering them in these previews.

The preview schedule is as follows:

TODAY: Minnesota Turf Championship; Minnesota Sprint Championship; Minnesota Distaff Sprint Championship

TOMORROW: Northern Lights Futurity; Northern Lights Debutante

SUNDAY: Minnesota Distaff Classic Championship; Minnesota Classic Championship

Distance: One Mile
Surface: Turf
Purse: $35,000

Seasahm (Eikleberry) - Been improving with every race. Could be peaking at the right time.

Jagan (Stevens) - Best efforts have been on the dirt recently.

Chaska (Rivera) - Abbreviated 2009 campaign has been less than impressive thus far.

Joni's Justice (Butler) - The Blair's Cove winner will no doubt try to wire this field. Could very well be loose on the lead.

Wally's Choice (Nolan) - Old warrior didn't fire in the Blair's Cove, but if someone can hook Joni, his style could fit nicely.

Sarahs Son (Bell) - Has been steady and solid this season in open and state-bred allowance company. Bell can rate him and should be in a nice position in the lane.

Sahm Valentine (Morales) - Drilled by over 20 lengths in last in state-bred allowance company, though that was on the dirt. Turf efforts have been better, but probably a cut below.


1. Joni's Justice
2. Sarahs Son
3. Seasahm

Distance: 6 furlongs
Surface: Dirt
Purse: $50,000

Silver Senorita (Nolan) - Only win this season has been over low level claimers.

Shot of Silver (Rivera) - Has made a habit of being close but only getting their occasionally in mid-level open claiming events.

Lady of Mischief (Eikleberry) - Been beaten by others in here often this year.

Bella Notte (Bell) - Speedy mare won the Lady Slipper earlier this season and simply romped in last. The one to catch in here.

Wasson Island (Ferrer) - Has had her issues when stepping up in class.

Holly in Summer (Stevens) - Low level claimer in over her head.

Thanks for the Tip (Butler) - Defending champ has not done much in 2009, but did finish second to the favorite in the Lady Slipper. May save her best for the biggies.

Dixie Princess (Jimenez) - Only second start of her maiden win and 4th lifetime. Will be tough if the track comes up messy.


1. Bella Notte
2. Shot of Silver
3. Thanks for the Tip

Distance: 6 furlongs
Surface: Dirt
Purse: $50,000

Wild Shifter (Nolan) - Should be on the engine early but has only been able to hold his speed against low level claimers.

Nomorewineforeddie (Eikleberry) - Wheeling back two weeks after win in the Schoepf. Similar effort here cold be a winner.

First Captain (Von Rosen) - Interesting gelding was sharp early in the meet but has struggled of late. Will need to return to form if he's going to be a threat.

Ice Rocket (Morales) - Last year's Futurity winner has only managed a low level claiming win this season. Best may be behind him.

Sir Tricky (Ferrer) - Classy, craft veteran has hit the board in three of four attempts this season. Will need his best to win here.

L'Etoile du Nord (Goodwin) - Speedy gelding will need to step it up a bit against these in stakes company.

A Steel Trap (Butler) - Picks up Butler and will be in the mix throughout.

Bizet (Bell) - Bounced back from Derby with a thrashing of allowance field in prep for here. Shorter distance should help.


1. Bizet
2. Nomorewineforeddie
3. A Steel Trap

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