Hammers Terror and Lori Keith take the Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park.

Hammers Terror and Lori Keith take the Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park.

Coady Photography

Hammers Terror Nails First Mystic Lake Derby

Turf race supported by nearby tribal casino, declared official after steward inquiry.

Hammers Terror won the inaugural running of the $161,250 Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park July 28 in front-running fashion, surviving a lengthy inquiry into the final stages of the one-mile turf event (VIDEO).

With local rider Lori Keith aboard, 7-2 shot Hammers Terror veered out sharply under left-handed urging, causing Delegation to throw his head and break stride within 20 yards of the wire. Stewards reviewed the finish and determined the interference did not alter the race's outcome.

Competing against six other 3-year-olds, Hammers Terror won by one length while completing the distance in 1:37.18 over firm going.

"I'm not sure what he reacted to at the wire. I knew that they were going to take a long look at it due to how dramatic it appeared. He's a great horse, easy to ride, and once I knew they were going to keep my number up, I was thrilled." Keith said.

Keith is third in the Canterbury Park riding standings with 25 wins.

Based with trainer Michael Stidham in Chicago, Hammers Terror races for owner Terry Hamilton. By Artie Schiller out of the Lord Avie mare Sister Baby, the dark bay or brown colt was bred in Kentucky by Chad Austin Reed.

The Mystic Lake Derby, which carried the largest purse to be offered at Canterbury since 1991, is the first significant co-promotional event since an $83.5 million cooperative marketing and purse enhancement agreement was reached on June 6 between Canterbury Park and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, which owns and operates nearby Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. The purse enhancement fund contributed $100,000 to the purse of the race.

Following the victory, Hamilton was ecstatic.

"The agreement between Mystic Lake and Canterbury Park is great for racing in Minnesota," Hamilton said. "I plan to bring horses back to Minnesota – all different types. This is what it's all about."

Hammers Terror, the 122-pound high weight, took the early lead from Delegation, ridden by Jermaine Bridgmohan, and those two ran one-two all the way around. Over Canterbury's seven-furlong grass course, Hammers Terror carved fractions of :24.32, :49.38, and 1:13.50 while maintaining about a one-length lead over Delegation.

The leaders separated from the rest in the homestretch with Hammers Terror in control by two lengths. Delegation was edging closer in the final furlong, but Hammers Terror got home on top under steady encouragement from Keith.

Delegation, previously unbeaten in two starts for trainer Mark Casse, settled for second in his stakes debut. He finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Canterbury-based Take Heart, ridden by Derek Bell.

Favored Gung Ho (19-10) faded to finish last.

Hammers Terror, now 4-1-2 in 10 lifetime starts, was coming off a fourth-place finish in the nine-furlong Toronto Cup July 14 on the Woodbine lawn, giving way in the stretch after being forwardly placed. In his prior start, the one-mile Charlie Barley at Woodbine, he won by nearly four lengths.

A $40,000 buy at the Keeneland Association September 2010 Yearling Sale, Hammers Terror finished third in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III) on Polytrack in April. He set a track record at Keeneland for about seven furlongs, clocking 1:24.31 while breaking his maiden Oct. 20, 2011.

The winning purse of $96,750 pushes Hammers Terror's career earnings to $261,053. Sent off as the fourth choice, he paid $9, $4.80, and $3.40. Delegation returned $4.60 and $3.80. The exacta was worth $33.20. Take Heart paid $4.60. Tequila Factor finished fourth, followed by Why Frank, North of Never, and Gung Ho. Corporate Chapel scratched.