NOTE: The below was reprinted with permission from the Midwest Paddock Report.
SHAKOPEE, MN – If the performances of Mr. Jägermeister and Firstmate are any indication, the future stars of Minnesota are not only impressive, but have a chance at making an impact on the racing scene at large. Both Northern Lights winners won their races in very different, but equally impressive ways, on a gorgeous summer afternoon in front of 7,306 fans gathered to celebrate the 24th Minnesota Festival of Champions Day.
Northern Lights Debutante
There was a lot of anticipation for the debut of the 2016 Minnesota Thoroughbred Association’s Yearling Sale’s topper, Firstmate, in the $85,000 Debutante. Bred by Rick Bremer and Cheryl Sprick and sold to Barry and Joni Butzow, Firstmate was a rare first time starter sent off as the favorite in a stakes race.
Initially second to last out of the gate and falling 20 lengths behind at the break, rider Quincy Hamilton did not panic but gathered the 2-year old daughter of Midshipman and started to make up ground.
“I had to be patient and not get to excited,” said Hamilton. “She really started going through the turn and I had a lot of confidence in her.”
Not only did she make up all the ground she had lots at the break, but managed leave the field in the dust, drawing off to win by 9 lengths with Hamilton hand riding her through the lane. She covered the 6 furlongs in 1:13.24 and paid $6.20 for the win. Raging Gold Digger ($9.40) was second and Cabloosie Bay ($5.80) was third.
Northern Lights Futurity
Mr. Jägermeister made his debut at Canterbury on the 4th of July and was immediately the buzz of the backside, breaking to the front and never looking back to win by 11 1/4 and earning an 81 Beyer Speed Figure. Heading to Prairie Meadows for the Prairie Gold Stakes, the odds on favorite sped to the lead but, fried by a :44 3/5 half mile, faded late to settle for second, prompting trainer Valorie Lund to take off the blinkers for his start in the Futurity.
“I was unhappy with his pace at Prairie,” said Lund. “I thought that the half mile did him in and I didn’t want him to pressure the pace so hard so we took the blinkers off him.”
Bred by her sister Kristin Boice and owned by Boice, Lund and third sister Leslie Cummings, the son of graded stakes winner Atta Boy Roy broke alertly and settled into a more reasonable pace, hitting the half mile in :46.10 and leading by a length and a half. Jockey Andrew Ramgeet ask the well built colt for his run and he didn’t disappoint, running off and hiding in 1:10.90, the 1/9 shot winning by 15 1/2 lengths in the $85,000 dash.
Lund, known for not pushing young horses, said Mr. Jägermeister wouldn’t let her quit.
“Usually with 2-year olds they let you know when they need time,” she said. “I give it to them, send them out and let them mature. He just never had any issues. He wouldn’t let me stop on him so we kept going.”
Mr. Jägermeister attracted bridge jumpers galore with $85,999 of the $94,949 in the show pool bet on him. He returned $2.10 for the win. Speeding Kid ($4.80) was second and Magic Cowboy ($4.00) third.
Bella Notte Distaff Sprint
In a race historically dominated by trainer Mac Robertson it was no surprise to see him with the odds on favorite to try and win his eighth Distaff Sprint and second in a row with Honey’s Sox Appeal. The ultra consistent, hard trying four year old filly did what she does best: stay close to the early pace and then go on by.
Alex Canchari sat patiently on Honey’s Sox Appeal along the rail. When space opened turning for home, he let her go and she charged to the lead to win by a length and a half, stopping the clock in 1:11.17 and paying $2.60. Rockin the Bleus (2.20) closed strongly to finish 2nd. Shipmate was third. There was no show wagering.
“As a yearling we thought that she might be the best racehorse we ever had,” said co-breeder and owner Bob Lindgren. “She has some good siblings and half siblings so we felt she had the potential to be very good. I’ve gambled a lot with Honey’s Sox Appeal and it has really been great.
Honey’s Sox Appeal ran her record to six wins in thirteen career starts and $228,970 in earnings. She also has hit the board in twelve of those thirteen starts.
Glitter Star Distaff Classic
Trainer Sandra Sweere has been tantalizingly close to stakes success in her four years at Canterbury Park. Last year she finished a hard closing 2nd in the Northern Lights Debutante, a scant 3/4 of a length behind the winner, with her Classic entry, Pinup Girl.
“This has been a long time coming,” beamed Sweere in the winners’ circle after her filly again closed with a rush but this time nailed her quarry at the wire. “Leslie knows her like the back of his hand and he really rode her perfectly.”
Heavily favored Double Bee Sting, under Jared Loveberry, was stalking the early pace set by Sioux Appeal down the back stretch of the mile and sixteenth Distaff when he decided to make his move three wide heading into the far turn. She responded sharply, seizing the lead through the turn and opening up four lengths on the field straightening for home.
Mawing didn’t panic, however.
“I knew I had a lot of horse under me,” he said. “The whole thing was to be patient.”
His patience paid off as Pinup Girl ($21.40) caught Double Bee Sting ($2.10) at the wire to win by a head. Sioux Appeal ($2.60) was third. The time for the race was 1:45.06.
Crocrock Minnesota Sprint
Trainer Francisco Bravo led over the top earning Minnesota bred in Canterbury Park history and odds on favorite Hold for More and left with the Sprint Championship…with Smooth Chiraz.
“This horse is ‘prima donna-ish’,” said Bravo. “He doesn’t like to get dirty, but when he gets the lead, he gets a very big heart.”
Smooth Chiraz, piloted by Jareth Loveberry, broke sharply, went to the lead and never looked back.
“I told him ‘if he breaks well, go with him,'” said Bravo. “He does his best on the lead. He’s very fast and when he fires, he fires big.”
Fridaynitestar ($6.60) was 4 3/4 lengths back in second while Hold for More ($2.10) was third. Smooth Chraz covered the six panels in 1:10.40.
Wally’s Choice Minnesota Classic
Mac Robertson, who kicked off the thoroughbred stakes with favored Honeys Sox Appeal in the Distaff Sprint, closed it out in style in the mile and a sixteenth Classic with True West, triggering the longest price of the day.
Owner John Mentz had just purchase True West and then supplemented him into the Classic.
“The owners were heading back to Nebraska and wanted to sell the horse so we picked him up,” said a smiling Mentz after the race. “He was fit an ready to go and now here we are.”
True West broke well and stalked the early pace before sticking a head in front at the half mile.
“We knew that we wanted to be close to the lead so I was happy where we were,” said Mentz.
Israel Hernandez, aboard True West, worked on him in the lane to keep him ahead of the hard trying, hard closing Vanderbilt Beach. Hernandez and True West prevailed by a length and paid $25.60 for the win. Vanderbilt Beach ($5.20) settled for second while A.P. is Loose ($2.10) was third.