Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Gung Ho is the 5-2 morning line favorite for the inaugural running of the $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby July 28 at Canterbury Park.
A field of eight 3-year-olds, including four shippers and four local hopefuls, was entered for the one-mile turf event that will be contested over Canterbury's seven-furlong grass course. Worth $162,000 if all eight start, it will be the richest race since Canterbury Park re-opened under new management in 1995. It is also the largest purse in Minnesota since the 1991 Minnesota Derby (previously named the St. Paul Derby) was contested for $250,000.
The Mystic Lake Derby is the first significant co-promotional event since the historic $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 will contribute $100,000 to the purse of the race.
“The Mystic Lake Derby is an excellent example of what this cooperative agreement will do for racing,” Canterbury Park President Randy Sampson said. “This is the most significant race in Minnesota in over two decades and we anticipate it will become the most important race in the state’s history. We look forward to bringing this kind of high quality horse racing to our world class facility.”
Purses at Canterbury this season have increased by 35% since the agreement was approved by the Minnesota Racing Commission and will more than double when the purse enhancements are fully implemented over the next decade.
The race is set for a 4:30 p.m. CDT post as race 7 on the card.
Gung Ho ran third at odds of 31-1 in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on the Polytrack at Keeneland in April. He has not been out since disappointing as the mild favorite in the American Turf Stakes (gr. IIT) May 4 with a seventh-place showing at Churchill Downs.
Mike Maker trains the son Kitten's Joy who has been prepared at the Churchill Downs training center. The bay colt breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 July 21. A two-time winner in seven starts with earnings of $209,996, Gung Ho will carry 118 pounds and break from post 4 with Malcolm Franklin aboard.
Hammers Terror, fresh from a fourth-place finish in the Toronto Cup at Woodbine July 14, is second choice on the morning line at 3-1. Trained by Michael Stidham for owner Terry Hamilton, the Artie Schiller colt is based at Arlington Park but has been at Woodbine for his past two starts, including a 3 3/4-length tally in the Charlie Barley Stakes prior to the Toronto Cup. Locally-based Lori Keith is aboard the 122-pound top weight.
Also in from Woodbine is Gary Barber's Delegation, unbeaten in two tries (once on Polytrack and once on turf) and making his stakes debut for trainer Mark Casse. Delegation, who defeated first-level allowance rivals by two lengths July 5, is pegged at 5-1. Jermaine Bridgmohan takes the call on the son of Speightstown .
Also likely to get plenty of attention at the windows is North of Never, invading from Arlington for trainer Anthony Granitz. North of Never, fourth in the Arlingotn Classic in May, comes into the race off a 3 1/4-length allowance score at Churchill Downs June 24. He is 7-2 on the early line and is to be piloted by Willie Martinez.
Tequila Factor leads the local contingent for trainer C. L. Wilson coming off a fourth-place finish in the Brooks Fields Stakes and a third in an open allowance. Leading rider Tanner Riggs has the call.
Take Heart, with Derek Bell aboard, will bring a two-race winning streak into the race for Canterbury’s seven-time defending champion trainer Mac Robertson. Corporate Chapel, for trainer Stanley Mankin, and Why Frank, for Canterbury Hall of Fame trainer Doug Oliver complete the field.
$150,000 Mystic Lake Derby (Race 7, 4:30 p.m.), 3YOs, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Why Frank (KY), D P Butler, 116, D Oliver
2. Hammers Terror (KY), L Keith, 122, M Stidham
3. Delegation (KY), J V Bridgmohan, 116, M E Casse
4. Gung Ho (PA), M Franklin, 118, M J Maker
5. Tequila Factor (KY), T Riggs, 118, C L Wilson
6. Corporate Chapel (KY), S A Stevens, 116, S C Mankin
7. North of Never (KY), W Martinez, 120, A J Granitz
8. Take Heart (KY), D C Bell, 116, M Robertson