All summer long, Valorie Lund yearned for a chance to race Mr. Jagermeister at Canterbury Park. But when her star sprinter bruised a foot and then gashed a hind leg, all she could do was wait.
“It just took time [to heal],’’ the trainer said. “It was disappointing, because I wanted to run him here a few times. But he had his one race here, and he didn’t disappoint us.’’
That race finally came Sunday, at Canterbury’s annual Minnesota Festival of Champions for state-bred horses. Mr. Jagermeister ran away with the $100,000 Minnesota Sprint Championship, winning for the seventh time in nine races at Canterbury to collect another trophy — and another $60,000 — at his home track.
The 2018 Canterbury horse of the year wasn’t the only one to continue a dominant run at the Shakopee track on Festival day. Hot Shot Kid won the $100,000 Minnesota Classic Championship by four lengths, his fourth Canterbury stakes victory of the season. Trainer Mac Robertson won five of the 12 races on the card, including the Classic and two other stakes.
No one got a bigger ovation from a crowd announced at 9,335 than Mr. Jagermeister, who again demonstrated he is one of the fastest sprinters in Canterbury Park history. The 4-year-old colt completed the 6-furlong race in 1 minute, 9.87 seconds with no late urging from jockey Leandro Goncalves.
“I wanted all spring long to bring him out, because this is where his real, true fans are,’’ said Lund, whose horse increased his Canterbury earnings to $317,200, fifth-most in track history. “To see Minnesotans come out to cheer on their own horse, it’s just an amazing feeling.’’
Mr. Jagermeister’s minor injuries prevented him from racing for nearly four months. Once he got healthy, Lund searched far and wide to find a suitable race for his return.
She drove him to Colonial Downs in Virginia — a 26-hour trip — two weeks ago for the $100,000 Chesapeake Stakes, which Mr. Jagermeister won in gate-to-wire fashion. Sunday, he started a step slow but recovered quickly to engage Mister Banjoman. The two set very speedy fractions as they pulled eight lengths clear of the rest of the field.
After putting away Mister Banjoman, Mr. Jagermeister stretched his lead and won by 5¼ lengths over the late-running Drop of Golden Sun. Mister Banjoman was compromised when his reins broke during the race and finished fifth.
With Canterbury’s season ending in two weeks, Mr. Jagermeister won’t run again this year in Shakopee. Lund has big plans for his next start: the Grade 3, $150,000 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs, a 1-mile race on Sept. 28 where he could face Omaha Beach, the early Kentucky Derby favorite before a breathing problem kept him out of the race.
Sunday’s card attracted total wagering of $1,051,513, a Festival record. Only one horse was a heavier favorite than Mr. Jagermeister: Hot Shot Kid, who easily bested a Classic field reduced to four horses. The first horse bred in Minnesota by Warren Bush of Wall Lake, Iowa, the 5-year-old gelding now has 11 victories in 17 Canterbury starts.
“Mac has done such a good job of spacing those races out and keeping him sound,’’ Bush said. “Our whole family loves [the horse].’’
Trainer Jason Olmstead and jockey Berkley Packer swept the Minnesota Quarter Horse Futurity and Quarter Horse Derby with a pair of favored fillies. Beep Beep Zoom Zoom won the $63,100 Futurity, and Jess Doin Time won the $59,900 Derby to give Olmstead his third consecutive victory in the race.
The quarter-horse season ended Sunday with Olmstead winning the training title for the fifth year in a row. He posted 23 victories, while Jorge Torres (16 victories) was Canterbury’s leading quarter-horse jockey for the third time in his career.