Belle Wins!


Brilliant Belle, under Justin Shepherd, seized the lead early and then refused to give it up late, winning for us at an unheard of (for the Racing Club) 13-1.

Our filly was tough and Justin knew exactly what to do with her.  As we mentioned in the preview, there didn’t seem to be a ton of speed in the race but a few that could take the lead if they chose to do so; Justin chose to do so and it worked out perfectly.

She broke well, hustled up, saved ground and was dogged – hard – by the favorite in the lane but she didn’t have any quit in her!

Winners’ Circle photos will be available in the track photographer’s office starting today after noon.  They are $10 each (normally $20-$25 but we get a volume discount as you can imagine!) and you can pay for them when you pick them up.

To get to the track photographer take the stairs next to the nut stand on the grandstand level down to the office level; go through the doors and take a right, another right and then the office is on the right.

Here is the chart of the race:

Belle Chart 5-26-17

Her routine the next few days will be to walk until she’s sufficiently recovered to jog again and by next weekend she’ll be galloping.  In a couple to three weeks we’ll see what her next race may be.  She’s eligible for these starter allowances all summer long, so that’s certainly nice!

The Club picked up $10,200 for the winner’s share of the purse and an additional $500 as part of a starter incentive program for horses that are new to Canterbury.

Once again, congratulations to everyone and much thanks to Nevada and Veronica Litfin, Carly (Belle’s groom), and Justin for pulling off the win.  Great team effort!


Brilliant Belle: Race Preview

Our girl goes postward tonight around 10:05 PM with Justin Shepherd in the saddle.  Remember that the Club has a spot inside at Silks – a couple of tables will be set aside for anyone who wants to use them.  Paddock Group 1 leads us off as well.  I’ll swing by the tables after the 7th and then head over to the Paddock.  If you’re in group 1 you can also meet us over at the Paddock before the race.

This is the space where we take a look at the race and then see if we can dope out a way that we can possibly win.  Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the field (with trainer/jockey in parenthesis).

BRILLIANT BELLE (Litfin/Shepherd)

Miss Ocean Express (Donlin/Delorme) – Filly has nine lifetime wins over several racetracks.  Folks let Fonner fool them last out, letting her got off at over 6-1 where she closed with a rush in an allowance here at Canterbury.  She should stalk but can also seize the lead early if necessary.

My Crazy Dayse (Riecken/Hernandez) – Another that has shown both the ability to close and has early speed.  Figs are not up to the level of the more accomplished miss to her inside but should have a say in the way the race develops.

Aparri (Cornier/Mawing) – Should be prominent early and has won five of her last seven with some of the most solid figs in the field.  We usually don’t see horses here with wins at Emerald Downs and Portland Meadows so it will be interesting to see how she takes to the Canterbury surface.

Wildwood Kantharos (Litfin/Mojica) – Recent claim off a long layoff from the prominent Illinois duo of Stiritz and Becker, the former stakes winner has back class but certainly had a disappointing return to the races while having the best back class of the field. First out for the new connections was certainly an improved effort – dangerous if this improvement continues.

Four Times Lucky (Van Winkle/Loveberry) – Another recent claim that faltered in her next start, albeit a stakes race.  She heads back to a more manageable level.  If her figs and Turf Paradise form holds, she’ll be closing with a rush.

Annoy (Heitzman/Canchari) – Morning line favorite was second best in a first off the claim in a $7500 starter at Churchill.  Should be close to the lead and may seize it if no one else does. Should be tough.

Eva’s Sugarloaf (Cook/Evans) – First off the claim for the new connections.  Has won on the lead in Oklahoma and just off the pace at Fonner.  If figures matter, she may be a cut below those in here.

This spot is no gift.  We do know that first off the claim for us she had a really rough trip over a speed favoring track yet was still able to close from 12 out of it against double her purchase price.

We’ve won sire to wire before – back at Churchill in a $30,000 nw2 claiming race and in a race void of real speed, this might not be a bad strategy.  That said, that race was a very long time ago.  She was a clear second in the race we claimed her in, closing smartly and was clearly second best.

Justin Shepherd should have some options and firing from the inside should hopefully ensure that we’re not too wide during the race.  We know she’s improved since we got her and if she continues that improvement we stand a chance.

Safe travels to all and good luck, team!


A Lot Of Traffic On The Track In The Mornings

If you have watched morning training, it may be confusing and appear chaotic as horses are traveling in both directions on different parts of the track. But it actually operates like a finely tuned machine.  Katie explains the rules of the road in this video.


The track is open for training at consistent times so that trainers can make plans to have riders ready for whatever they need to accomplish each day.
Open at 5:30AM
Break – 7:30AM – 8:00AM
Open 8:00AM – 9:00AM – Starting Gate Up
Break – 9:00AM – 9:30AM
Open 9:30AM – 10:30AM – Starting Gate Up

Currently the main track is open every day for training but beginning June 5 it will be closed Mondays.  The training track however remains open daily .

Paddock Groups & Silks

The Club will have some tables set aside Friday night inside of Silks.  There will be signs on the tables that are ours so please feel free to utilize that space for the evening.  I’ll be by before our race (race 8 – about 10PM) so we can head to the paddock!

And speaking of the paddock.  The paddock groups are set:

Group 1 – Hegseth – Nelson

Group 2 – Nierman – Zessman

Group 3 – Anderson – Heddle

Group 1 will lead us off Friday night.  Here are some paddock thoughts:

The paddock is an exciting place to be before a race but it can also be a very dangerous place. You need to be on the lookout and alert for anything. Some of you may recall a couple of years ago that a horse got loose after dumping his rider and broke through the fencing, only captured several yards into where the crowd would have been moments earlier. Bottom line – be aware and have the ability to get out of the way should something unexpected happen. If you bring your children in, you are responsible for them. They cannot run around or play unattended.

We are the 1, so our spot will be right across from where you enter the paddock near the stairs that go down to the jocks room. With everyone and one guest (you’re on your honor here) we could have up to 80 people in there. We can be from our number backward, please do not spread out toward #2 and crowd the other owners. We are lucky in this race that to our left there are no spots so we can have a little extra room.

At no time should anyone be on the walking ring once the horses come out of their stalls. Please stay on the grass. If you do not make it to the paddock before the horses are on the walking ring, please do not enter.

In the fortunate event that we are able to get to the winners’ circle this summer we would like to keep the winners’ circle photo to Club Members. Now that we are over 150 members it is too crowded and too dangerous to bring guests in and I do not want members who paid their money, like everyone in the Club, to get shut out. It would not be fair.

That said, as Clubbers we want you all in the picture if we get one! It will be imperative to be quick and be friendly.

By quick I mean should the time come and we win, make your way to the winners’ circle as quickly as possible It is important for the horse to wind down, get to the test barn and get back to the barn so we do not want the horse out on the track circling around waiting for us to all get in.

By friendly I mean that if we are all going to get into the picture we are going to have to get very close together on the risers, maybe even turn a bit sideways to get everyone in. Out of necessity there will be some people on the ground area. I will be there, arms spread wide, begging you all to stay to the one side of me. Behind me is where the horse is going so please don’t try and slip by me, gather together, friendly like, on the other side.

After a race the horse is very high strung and excited and can be hard to handle. They can fire off kicks and strikes without warning and we do NOT want anyone getting hurt. Again, stay alert.

Photos again will be $10 and available a few days after the race directly from the photographer’s office downstairs (take the stair down to the basement next to the nut stand, take a right and follow the signs). We will have some printed up but if there is enough demand there may be a wait. Please be patient, they are very busy on race day.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing you all on Friday!

Belle in Friday Night

Brilliant Belle makes her first start in front of the home crowd on Friday night.  We’ll be waiting because the race is carded as the 8th on the evening – an anticipated post time of just after 10PM.

We drew the rail and Justin Shepherd will get the call in the six furlong, $7500 starter allowance over the main track.

As a reminder, a starter allowance is for horses that have run the previous year for a claiming price of “X”, with “X” being the amount shown in the conditions: in this case, $7500.

There are some pretty good ones in this field so a win will be a tall order, but we’re also by no means an also ran in here.  A breakdown of the race will come later in the week.

We’ll be splitting up the group into thirds for rotating paddock access.  These groups will be posted in a day or two.  We split them alphabetically and then assign each group a number then we’ll pull a number out of a hat to see which group leads things off, that way the beginning of the alphabet doesn’t always go first every year.

I will also be posting some paddock etiquette and safety guidelines as well.  The paddock can be a dangerous place and we don’t want there to be any issues.

Lots of information coming this week so keep an eye out.

Good Luck!

MTA Ownership Seminar

From time to time the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association will hold events that are both very interesting and very educational.  This Saturday they are hosting an ownership seminar that you are welcome to attend.  Here are the details from the MTA:

RACEHORSE OWNERSHIP: 101 Saturday, May 20, 2017 – 9:00 a.m. Canterbury Park Grandstand – Mezzanine Level

This initial ownership seminar of the 2017 live race meet at Canterbury Park is certain to hold something for everyone! Whether you have been an owner for years, are just new to the industry or are considering getting involved with a Thoroughbred of your very own, there is always something to learn! Our seminars are all designed to offered plenty of opportunities for you to get answers to your questions.

Join us at 9:00 a.m. for coffee and doughnuts while we enjoy watching the morning training taking place on the track. We’ll have a number of individuals available who will be able to explain what is happening and answer your questions. It’s exciting to be able to see what the horses go through in preparation for the crowds’ racing enjoyment.

We’ve invited several local experts to join us and will be covering nearly every aspect of racehorse ownership. You’ll learn more about the important legal and accounting considerations, licensing requirements to be an owner, ways to acquire a horse, ownership options, selecting a trainer, training and racing, veterinary care, and retirement responsibilities. We will also have a panel of owners available to share their experiences and answer questions.

Immediately following the seminar, you will have the chance to meet with MTA members who have partnership opportunities available. Partnerships can be a great way to get into the game and you’ll find that partnerships can have a wide variety of membership options.

Condition Book and Entering Races

About 80% or so of the races in North America are claiming races: races where the horses are for sale.  We touched on claiming earlier in the season as we were looking for a horse but here I will try and give you the levels of races, in ascending order, and try and explain how races are designed and entered.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments section and we’ll do the best we can to answer them!



Maiden Special Weight: the highest level of all maiden – or horses that have never won a race – races.  These horses are not for sale and appear to have promising futures.

Maiden Claiming – These are maiden races where the horses are for sale.  These are further striated by price to even out the races.  One of the biggest class drops you can find in racing is a horse going from Maiden Special Weigh to maiden claiming.


As mentioned, these make up the bulk of races in the country. They can start as low as $2500 at some tracks and go as high as $100,000 at others.  Within each claiming level the races are further delineated to equal out the competition.  There are races for non-winners of a race other than their maiden, 2 races other than their maiden, 3 and, sometimes, 4 races other than their maiden.  As a horse wins races they move up this ladder or “clear their conditions”.  You can spot these in the past performances by the notation “Clm 16,000nw2”, etc.

Finally they get to the point where there are races that are just a claiming price with no conditions or an “open claiming” race.

Additionally, usually at the bottom of the class ladder, there are races for horses that haven’t won a race or two over a period of time, usually a year. (Clm $5000n1Y etc.)


Allowance races are races where the horses are not for sale, generally run for more money than claimers and are possibly stepping stones to stakes races.  These are also striated similarly to claiming races: non winners of 1 other than maiden, claiming or starter, etc.

A “starter” allowance is an allowance race that is specifically for horses that have run in a particular claiming level.  For example, a $7500 Starter Allowance is for horses that have started for a claiming price of $7500 or less for a period of time (generally a year, but can be more or less).

Allowance/optional claiming races are exactly what they sound like – a hybrid.  The condition could read ‘For horses that have not won two races other than maiden, claiming, starter OR claiming price of $20,000″.  In that race some horses would be for sale for $20K while others, that meet the allowance condition of never having won two races unless they were maiden, claiming or starter allowances, will not be.


These are the highest levels of races usually for the best horses on the grounds – or from around the country.

Stakes races also have their own levels.  Most tracks have their own stakes programs that are open to all types of horses and others for just for horses bred in their state.  Some tracks’ stakes races have become so popular and prestigious that they are “graded” on a scale of 3 to 1 with 1 being the highest.  The Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races are Grade 1 races, as are others, while many prestigious races are Grade 2 or 3s.  These are decided by the American Graded Stakes Committee  of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders’ Association:


Each season a condition book is written for the season. There are several over the course of the season and they generally cover about a month at a time. It lists each racing day and the races planned for each day including a few substitute races. The order of the races on any particular day are NOT necessarily the order of the races for that day. The order is chosen AFTER the races are drawn to create the best wagering menu for that racing day.

You can click on this link to open up Canterbury’s condition book 1:

Each morning trainers enter their horses for racing. They enter via a computer in the racing office that is in a cubicle so no one can see which horse is being entered. There is video board on the wall that tracks the number of entries in each race, NOT the name, just a running count of the number of entries.

Races that are in the published condition book are used first so, in theory, if condition book races all fill, none of the extras are used – not a common occurrence. Generally each race day is comprised of races from the condition book as well as the extras.

Once the races are decided upon, the racing office puts out an “overnights and extras” sheet listing that day’s race card as well as the “extra” races being offered for the next racing day. They are called “extras” because they are extra to the condition book. They may be there by virtue of almost being filled but not quite so maybe a couple of days will draw enough entries, because a trainer requested a specific type of race or the possibility that the complexion of the horses on the backside has changed a bit so different races need to be written.

This link will take you to the latest “overnights and extras”:

Because Brilliant Belle still has one, maybe two, of her claiming conditions left, we’d like to run in a non-winners of 3 at a claiming level above where we bought her at Oaklawn.  So far we haven’t had any luck but she also had her cold that we dealt with so it hasn’t been the end of the world.  Now, though, we are ready to enter and run and we’ll have to find a race.  Here’s hoping one of the extras over Memorial Day weekend will have a race we can run in!

Belle Works An Easy Three

Brilliant Belle went out yesterday morning under jockey Orlando Mojica to work three furlongs.  The objective was to get a feel for where she was at after her recovery from her cold.

She passed with flying colors.

She worked the distance in :38.25 and galloped out well.  Looking in the condition book and the extras, there is not a race that fits her (we are looking for a race with a non-winners of 3 condition) next weekend so we will look for a race Memorial Day Weekend.

This prompts a discussion on the condition book and “extra races” that I will look to post later today or tomorrow that will explore the different levels of races as well as how the condition book works and the addition of “extra” races each day.

Great Morning, Miscellaneous Items


It was a gorgeous morning this morning at the track for those of you that were able to make it out.  A lot of questions and answers – which was terrific.  And you all dusted all but one of the donuts: a testament to both us and the food and beverage folks that hit the number right on the head.

Our girl gave a jog past for those that were able to catch her.  She was only going an easy mile today so if you blinked, you missed her (or were listening to me ramble).  Even Heather missed getting a shot of her!

I did hear from a few of you that you were able to catch her as she went by, so that was good.  We’ll get a better look at her when she’s brought our for us on the backside tours.  It’s important to remember that on the race track it’s all business.  She needs to get her work in the way Nevada wants her to get her work in.  We’re only observing.

Ideally we’ll find her a spot next weekend but we will see things open up Memorial Day weekend with 4 days of racing.

Next Horse

We are still on the lookout.  Looking at the program today there were a couple that were interesting but that also presented with some serious flaws: suspicious class drop, weak back races that may make them look in better form than they are, etc., so we continue to look forward.

Other Groups

Several of you pulled me aside to ask about the Alumni and other groups and what that entails.  If you are interested, please email me separately at and I will get you details.  I don’t like using this space for that but I also can’t keep everyone interested straight in my head so for the only time this season here I will ask that if you’re interested, just let me know via email and I’ll write you all down and keep it separate.