Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rhone Sweeps Father's Day Stakes at Canterbury

Just a few months after becoming a grandfather for the second time, Bernell Rhone celebrated Father’s Day by sweeping the holiday stakes races at Canterbury Park.

The hottest combo on the grounds, trainer Rhone and jockey Dean Butler, continued their winning ways in the Northbound Pride Oaks with the the filly Tourmaline .  The race was run at a mile but was taken off the turf.  Away at even money, Butler kept Tourmaline off a relatively quick pace set by Cherokee Queen and Paris by Night and timed the pace well.  He made her move on the far turn and she just let loose and swept around the field to take the lead.  As they straightened for home she was up by a length and just kept going to ultimately prevail by nearly four lengths. 
Tourmaline returned $4.00, $2.80 and $2.40, completing the mile in 1:38 1/5 ahead of Paris by Night and Artemus Kitten.

In the one mile Brooks Fields, Rhone sent Heza Wild Guy to the post as the 2-1 favorite and the 10-year old gelding did not disappoint.  He seized the lead at the half mile and never looked back.  The close, Que Paso tried to come at him in the stretch, but Heza Wild Guy just kept on going and increasing his lead through the line to draw off by about five.

Rhone said that the plan wasn’t necessarily go to the front but “with the scratches and the way the race shaped up, we just went with it.”  Piloted by Martin Escobar, Heza Wild Guy completed the off the turf mile in 1:37 4/5 and returned $6.00, $3.80 and $3.20.

Father’s Day at Canterbury

It turned into a lovely, though warm, afternoon at Canterbury Park.  Attendance was nearly as glorious as the day at 15,002.  The apron was full and the crowd was loud and active.  The atmosphere was electric.  There are few venues – if any – the size of Canterbury that draws as many fans and certainly none as enthusiastic.  So many trainers I speak with enjoy the atmosphere so much that they keep coming back year after year.  

One trainer told me, “I race at Remington for more money, but if it wasn’t for the owners and trainers there would be no one watching the races.  Here the crowd is screaming down the stretch and really makes it a fun place to race.”  Minnesota can’t keep taking that for granted as expenses continue to increase and purses stay in decline.  Additionally, a shutdown would castrate any momentum the track personnel have made in luring new trainers here.

Hopefully some of the elected representatives of the 15,000+ fans here today are paying attention.

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