Prior to today's featured race (well, maybe to just our happy crew) the Princess Elaine and Shot of Gold Stakes will be contested at Canterbury Park. The Princess Elaine is mile and a sixteenth contest over the turf for Minnesota bred fillies and mares while the Shot of Gold is an open stake for 3-year olds and upward going six furlongs over the main track. Both carry purses of $35,000.
This race provides the continuation of one of the summers more compelling story lines: the battle between Chick Fight and Bella Notte for supremacy at the top of the older distaff division at Canterbury. Both are Mac Robertson trainees and both will point to the same races all summer long. Their first hookup was in the Lady Slipper earlier this season where they burned each other out on the engine and allowed Special Occasion to sprint away to the victory.
1. Chick Fight (Robertson/Butler) - Both races this season were decided by a nose - one in her favor and one was not. Her win in a $20,000 Optional Claiming race evened the score against Special Occasion. This is her first trip over the turf and she's only been this long once, but that was tearing up the field in last year's Minnesota Distaff Classic.
2. Five Nations (Scherer/Martin) - A nice start to her season with a close second in her debut at Hawthorne and followed that up with a win here at Canterbury while stretching to a mile. Both starts were over the turf and at $25,000 Claiming.
3. Pretty as a Smile (Scherer/Goodwin) - Close up in many but doesn't show a win in her past performances. It will be tough for her to power past the top two in this one.
4. Bella Notte (Robertson/Bell) - She figures to step up after her seasonal debut which was a third in the Laddy Slipper. She has one turf start over this surface which was a third in last year's Princess Elaine. She led that one until the stretch and this may prove to be a bit a long for her.
5. Minnesota Mafia (Scherer/Rivera) - Since beating Bella Notte in last year's Princess Elaine, the defending champion had a second in the Minnesota Distaff Classic before lost her rider at Remington. Since then she's been a non-factor in two races. This is a tough spot for her seasonal debut.
6. Tickleyourfancy (Bravo/Nolan) - This lightly raced three year old may have bitten off more than she can chew in this one. While she's won two of three, she was drilled in the Lady Slipper by almost 16.
The top two choices are clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the field, but they look like they'll be battling up front for the lead and I'm not sure that both - or either - of them can survive it. Third choice, Minnesota Mafia loves the Canterbury turf course and you can be sure that Scherer will have her ready to fire first out. I think she can overcome Bella Notte but I think Chick Fight will be too strong.
1. Chick Fight
2. Minnesota Mafia
3. Bella Notte
Shot of Gold
Minnesota Sprint champion Bizet, winner of this year's 10,000 Lakes will take on six others in the Shot of Gold Stakes.
1. Devil's Game (Keller/Mello) - Prairie Meadows invader is going to have to improve mightily if he wants to take on the tops in here. A nice horse having a nice season, but will need more than has shown.
2. Humble Smartly (Creighton/Birzer) - Another PM horse who has had his way with local competition in Iowa, Arkansas and Oklahoma and came within a head of six wins in a row at these three racetracks with the only loss being in an Arkansas bred Stakes race. SA definite threat in here.
3. Heraldo (CHI) (Wolochuk/Martin) - Second sprinting over the turf for the first time in the Honor the Hero Turf Express here at Canterbury. May be a notch below what it's going to take to win in this one.
4. Trying Brian (Robertson/Butler) -Fourth in the Brooks Fields over a yielding turf course. The last time he raced over the main track was in a seven furlong $50,000 claimer at Churchill.
5. Celluloid Hero (Robertson/Bell) - Sprinting over the main track is his specialty and has lived at higher level claiming races in Chicago and Arkansas.
6. Bizet (Padilla/Eikleberry) - 10,000 Lakes champion came back flat in a $25,000 Optional Claiming race at Prairie Meadows. If he can recapture his last couple of races of 2009, he fits right in here nicely.
7. Miranda Diane (Seaton/Stevens) - Mare has been smoking at Will Rogers reeling off three straight wins including two stakes, albeit all against her own sex. Her Beyers show she belongs, but it's going to be tough getting it done from the outside.
Miranda Diane along with Devil's Game and Humble Smartly should all be wanting the lead early. While the two boys have the inside, the mare faces a tough task coming in from the 7 spot. The race should set up nicely for the Mac Robertson duo if they are classy enough to chase down Humble Smartly. Call this one a hunch bet.
1. Trying Brian
2. Humble Smartly
3. Celluloid Hero