Tabby Lane is set to take on six rivals at Canterbury Park on Sunday afternoon in a $16,000 Optional Claiming race going a mile and a sixteenth scheduled for the turf. I say scheduled for the turf because the weather has been less than cooperative in keeping races on the turf so far this season and the early forecast called for rain on Saturday and scattered thunderstorms on Sunday. I’ll proceed through the lineup as if we’ll be on the turf knowing that it’s all subject to change, though less likely with the latest forecast. As an FYI, Tabby broke her maiden on a sloppy main track at the Meadowlands once upon a time.
Sasha’s Fierce (Scherer/Dugas) – Talented MN bred decimated a field at this level last out with a minimum of effort. Only turf effort was a clunker, but that was taking on higher level claimers in Chicago. Should be near the front early.
Sharik (Rengstorf/Eikleberry) – Closed nicely last out against a group of these going a mile. The extra 1/16 could be very helpful. Nose hasn’t hit the wire first in a few years but Beyers are remarkably steady and belongs in here.
Monslewn (L. Arteburn/B. Arteburn) – Monster in the field that hasn’t hit the top of her talent. Handridden to a win in a straight allowance last out while closing through the stretch, the extra 16th will help. She’ll want to sit just off the pace and there is probably some in here to settle behind.
TABBY LANE (RHONE/BUTLER)
Minnetonka Melody (Van Winkle/Keith) – Has tried this level twice already with less than stellar results. She’ll get her third rider in as many starts in her third back from the layoff. If she’s going to fire, it should be here but she’s got her work cut out for her.
Jody’s Included (Van Winkle/Rivera) – Minnetonka Melody’s stablemate first start back after the layoff ended nearly 10 lengths back but prior to the layoff she was competitive at this level and above both here and in Chicago. If she’s rounding back into form she’ll be tough and most likely will vie for the early lead.
Avenue Sister (Robertson/Bell) – Off since October, this filly is two for two on the Canterbury turf and in the exacta 6 of 9 times in 2010. If she’s ready fresh off the bench she’s going to be very tough to beat. Another who is going to want to be close to the front.
This was an interesting race to put Tabby in. Immediately after her last win I was already pointing toward this race as her next stop but in the intervening weeks after talking with some of the partners I was talked off it. We were going to point to another $10,000 claiming race going about a mile over the holiday weekend to make sure that she really was improving and didn’t just throw in a fluke effort. The state of Minnesota intervened, however, and put us in an interesting spot. Those of you that visit here with any regularity know that the current budget impasse is threatening to grind racing to a halt. You can read about that in previous posts (here and here) so I won’t recount it, but should we shut down over the holiday weekend, who knows when the race would be written back or if we would even remain open here. Sure there are contingency plans to run elsewhere, but when would we get in? Could she acclimate? She’s rolling right now how much do we dare upset her routine? So this is the spot we’re in and we hope she’ll make the most of it.
For a seven horse field there is a little bit of everything in here: speed, trackers, closers. On paper it looks to be a fair race. I truly don’t know how much better Tabby has become over the past three months. Whatever the reason, everything is clicking with her right now. This may be over her head or just another stepping stone. She beat a group of $16,000 claimers first off the claim last year in Tampa – but that was last year and a lot has happened in between.