For hockey players, the offseason is a time to heal, work out and prepare for the upcoming 82-game grind. Of course, there’s also need for rest and relaxation.
Alex Stalock, a goalie for the Wild, is using part of his offseason to scratch a different competitive itch. He and good friend Paul Allen, the track announcer at Canterbury Park, are part-owners of a quarter horse that’s had some success at the Shakopee track.
On May 25, One Famous Ocean, of which Stalock and Allen combine to own 25%, won its trials race for the $57,000 Gopher State Derby. On Saturday, the 3-year-old filly went off as the 8-5 favorite for the Derby before finishing fourth in the 400-yard race. Still, Stalock embraced the experience.
“Having a piece of a horse, my buddies get a kick out of it and my family enjoys it,” said Stalock, whose group of 20-some friends and family in attendance Saturday included Wild teammates Nick Seeler and Kyle Rau.
Added Allen, “She didn’t win today, but she’s paying her way and making money. It’s a lot of fun.”
Seeking the winner’s circle
Stalock, a standout at South St. Paul High School and Minnesota Duluth, and Allen have partnered on portions a handful of horses for about five years. Their first horse was claimed after its first race. Their next horse, Tiger D, never made it to Canterbury’s winner’s circle.
“Couldn’t quite seal the deal, always ran good trips. Tiger D took a lot of heat for how it would finish,” said Stalock, part of the Tiger D ownership group that included a trio of former Vikings — offensive coordinator Norv Turner, assistant coach Scott Turner and offensive lineman Brandon Fusco.
Continuing the Vikings theme, the next horse that Stalock and Allen, who also works as Vikings radio play-by-play announcer, invested in was Skol Sister. “She had some really good talent, good bloodlines, but she hurt her foot,” Stalock said. “We tried and tried and tried to get her back, but it never worked. She never raced.”
“That’s what leads to our stable name, ‘The L Team’,” Allen said, “because we’d take L’s, as in losses.”
One Famous Ocean was purchased for $36,000, with 50% by brothers Tom and Bill Maher of South Dakota, 25% by Paul Luedemann of Buffalo, Minn., and the final $9,000 split between Stalock and Allen.
“I don’t want to say he reluctantly got it, but I had to get him over the hump on it,” Allen said of Stalock. “Now, she’s won twice.”
Along with One Famous Ocean’s trials win at Canterbury — Stalock was out of town on Memorial Day, so he missed that triumph — the filly won at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, in October. Her next race is to be determined.
“I really wanted to win that stakes race today, mostly for him,” Allen said of Stalock. “I wanted everybody who was here to celebrate a win, but I wanted Alex to experience what it feels like to be in the winner’s circle at Canterbury Park, because he never has.”
Building his enthusiasm
Stalock and Allen became friends through Stalock’s love of the Vikings and his listening of Allen’s sports talk show on KFAN Radio.
“He’d come out to the State Fair to see my radio show,” Allen said. “We stayed in touch when he was with the [San Jose] Sharks.”
“We’re wired the same way, I guess,” said Stalock, who signed with the Wild in 2016 after seven years in the Sharks’ organization.
Stalock’s interest in horse racing began in high school, when he and friends would make the trek to Canterbury. “We didn’t have any idea what we were doing,” he said. “We’d look at a color and say, ‘Well, let’s go with this horse’ and bet $2 on it to win or whatever.’ It’s come a long way.”
Stalock shares his horse racing enthusiasm with his wife, Felicia, and their two young children. At least once, Allen broke the news on his radio show that Stalock was a new part-owner of a racehorse.
“My wife would say, ‘Well, I heard we got a new horse, huh?’ “ Stalock said. “I guess I forgot to tell her we’re going to buy a horse.”
But they’re enjoying the thrills of horse racing and their days at Canterbury.
“I know she really likes this,” Stalock said. “She was more nervous before the race than I was. Before the race, she was like, ‘C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!’ And that’s to just get out of the gate.’’