Another racing season comes to a close at Canterbury Park. While there is plenty of joy on Minnesota Festival Day, there is the realization that we need to start another countdown toward opening weekend and that, for the love of peat, winter is right around the corner (about 256 days to Opening Day – in case you were wondering!).
Some random thoughts before the race recaps:
- Mac Robertson wins 4 Festival races which would have put him tops on the all-time Festival list, but Bernell Rhone’s win in the Futurity kept him one up.
- Ry Eikleberry had the gutsiest – and most glorious – performance of the day, riding four winners in the Festival after being nagged up on Thursday in a spill. Rather than calling it a summer, he honored his commitments while obviously sore and had one helluva day.
- Attendance for day was down 10.1% while handle tumbled 10.7% as well from last year. Not altogether surprising, but disappointing nonetheless.
- Canterbury classic and perennial crowd favorite Sir Tricky is retiring at 9-years old, capping a wonderful career with a win in the Turf.
- Wally’s Choice, another classic and crowd pleaser, finished 3rd in the Classic which may end up being his last race, though no announcement on that one.
Quarter Horse Futurity
Pick: Seis It Fast
Winner: Seis It Fast
Seis It Fast wins at 1-9 moments (18.52 for 350 yards) after a $25,000 show bet hit the pool. He rewarded his backers but didn't do it easily winning by only a head and looking like he could have been upset in the late strides before putting the field away. V Os Nicotine and Lien On Me in a very close photo to finish 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Quarter Horse Derby
Pick: Six It Up
Winner: Six It Up
Six It Up dominates the Minnesota QH Derby by just over 2. My $2 Daily Double today pays $2.80!! Take THAT to the bank!! And you're welcome...
Pick: Chick Fight
Winner: Sasha’s Fierce
1-5 favorite Chick Fight was looked in the eye by Sasha's Fierce and Chick was the one that blinked. She couldn't get the distance, Sasha could and she is the 2010 Distaff Champion. Both were well clear of Nokomis who would come hard then hold on for 3rd. A better fit may have been the Distaff Sprint but then she and Bella Notte would have had to battle hard head to head which worked out for neither of them the last time they met up.
Pick: Bella Notte
Winner: Bella Notte
Bella Notte takes control early and let's her rip. She had it in hand the entire way and looked every inch a sprint champion, winning at 2-5. Special Occasion finished second, completing the obvious exacta, with 3-year old Her Sweet Saint picking up the third. It would have interesting to see Chick Fight in here – and I’m sure the connections of Special Occasion were thinking the same thing! Though she had a short season, she was outstanding.
Pick: Sarahs Son (scratch – 2nd Choice: Mack’s Blackhawk)
Winner: Sir Tricky
Sir Tricky, 2008 Sprint Champion, comes back two years later and wins the one mile MN Turf Championship. Mack's Blackhawk did indeed break well and led the field for 3/4 but was worn down in the stretch by Sir Tricky and Beau Named Sue, but was able to fight back and edge Beau for the place. As mentioned, it was announced after the race that Sir Tricky will be retired. A fitting finish to the career of one of the greats. Thanks for a great run, old man. Enjoy the retirement – may it be long and relaxing.
Pick: Sam’s Grindstone
Winner: Esprit de Bleu
Esprit de Bleu turned out to be too good for this group of fillies, including Congrats and Roses. She handled the field throughout and was, as they say, much the best. My thought about going with Sam’s Grindstone was that it would be tough for Esprit de Bleu to get loose on the lead. Wrong. No one really challenged her and when Congrats and Roses tried to make her move, there was simply nothing in the tank and Esprit had plenty left. Let the 2011 Minnesota Oaks hype begin because this is one very talented filly.
Pick: Bet Your Boots
Nomorewineforeddie and defending champion Bizet dueled all the way through the stretch with Nomorewineforeddie prevailing by a head in a fantastic race. Dean Butler rode him hard throughout in a very strong ride. The pair was clear of First Captain with my choice, 3-year old Bet Your Boots not quite good enough to get up and beat his elders – or hit the board.
Winner: Black Tie Benny
Samendra comes up short, losing to the "other" Bernell Rhone horse, maiden Black Tie Benny under David Cardoso. How many times have we seen trainers send out more than one horse with the "other" horse coming up big? Cardoso looked like he felt pretty confident as he made a bold move through the turn and absolutely did not look back, running away from the other 2 year olds after straightening out in the stretch. Samendra held for second with Dancingwithbigron rounding out the top three. A two-year old Rhone exacta must have the barn looking forward to next year already! As an aside, I once again get bit in the ass by commentary - prior to the race on the live blog I commented about running maidens in these races, and not too positively.
Pick: Suddenly Silver
Winner: Suddenly Silver
Suddenly Silver had it his own way in the Classic. By the time he turned for home he had shaken off Tsar Tops Dancer and only had his stablemate, Jack and Max and he had him put away halfway through the lane. Canterbury classic Wally's Choice finishes third in what could be his last race. I would like to hear the announcement that Wally’s Choice will be retired after this season as well. He has really accomplished all that he can in this game and has nothing left to prove. Although he finished third here he never threatened and I’d hate for him to be just some mid-level claimer – though I can’t see his connections ever going that route. It was nice finish to a very storied career where he stands 2nd on the all-time MN-bred money list.
It was certainly a very fun way to end the season. The really only bad part about the day was that it ended the season. See you in the Spring, Canterbury!