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Dean Kutz 2014
News - Misc
Monday, July 28, 2014

Return from ‘Hell

Tuffernhell shows he still has something left with an upset win in the Dean Kutz

Ryan Roshau, NDHP Media Relations

It was hard for those 1,800 in attendance not to get swept up in the hype that was focused on Alexassilvercharm. 

The six year-old gray mare owned by Curt Rohweder’s successful stable was the 2-5 favorite to capture the $8,400 Dean Kutz Memorial with panache.  Even the blanket of pink-hued prairie roses seemed destined to fit over the withers of the leading lady. Even Leon Glasser, from the family that owned second choice Tuffernhell came to terms with the reality of the situation. ”Our horse was not really in shape and we actually thought Alexassilvercharm would win it.”

But as one veteran owner in the stand stated simply and accurately in the race’s aftermath, “that’s why they call it horse racing.”

Horse Park fans were witnessed to that truth on Sunday afternoon as Tuffernhell, dismissed at odds of 9-2 made the most of every situation given to him and romped home by nearly 7 lengths.  The aforementioned favorite did not break well and despite making steady progress throughout the race, could not overcome the leader and finished second.

“On the last curve that’s when I saw he wasn’t tiring so then I figured this cool day helped us out,” Glasser said after the race. “A lot of things have to go right, and coming around the last turn is where I thought he had it.”

Kutz 2 3Jockey Shaun Herman sure had the race in his hands as he guided the five year-old son of Category Five home in a time of 1:42.40.  The chestnut gelding was an unimpressive fifth in a $2,100 Claiming race against open company a week ago but his owner Karen Glasser never lost faith in his chances.

“I had a good feeling today about him and yet you’re nervous about it and you’re thinking oh God, just win and when you do win it’s so exciting,” Karen Glasser said.  “I can’t tell you how exciting it is.”

And the Glasser’s have felt that excitement in Fargo four times over.  Tuffernhell won both the NDTOBA Derby and North Dakota Derby in 2012 and last summer he captured a $3,000 Claiming race on the meet’s final day.  Four of his seven career wins have come over the Fargo track his earnings now exceed $21,000 for his career.  

Since his first start back in June or 2011 his trainer has been the colorful Jim Fleming.  He like the Glassers are more known for their prowess with quarter horses but success is success and a horseman is a horseman.

“One thing I’ll say about Jim is training in this part of the country is tough on these trainers.  He works hard, takes care of the horses well,” Leon Glasser said.

And if anyone has witnessed a winner’s circle circus after a Fleming horse crosses the line first you know the passion runs deep.  It’s a passion that the Glassers felt should come rewarded. “After next weekend, Jim’s done such a good job, he’s the official owner we are giving him to him,” Leon Glasser said. “I think he’s going to retire him and you’ll probably see him here as a pony horse.”

A three-time stakes winner in Fargo living the good life parading future stars to the post?  That’s a scenario that will be tougher than hell to beat.




Proctor then Gamble
News - Misc
Friday, July 25, 2014

For Horse Park fans, this year’s handicapping has come down to two easy steps...

 Proctor then Gamble

By Ryan Roshau, HRND Media Relations Director

A year ago the only dangerous lifestyle Don Proctor knew was working as a heavy equipment operator on the oil fields in Western North Dakota.  The risk of climbing on the back of  half ton animal was a distant memory following a spill at Canberbury Park in 2010 that broke his back and damaged his shoulders.  Racing seemed to be in the rear-view mirror for a man in his mid-40’s but in the midst of a North Dakota winter, where racing could not be further from the mind, Proctor started his long road back to the track and racing in the Dakotas hasn’t been the same since.

For years Proctor has had a close relationship with trainer Bob Johnson who has his horses at the home place in Lemmon, SD during the winter and that happens to be only 90 minutes from the jockey’s weekday home in Dickinson. “I called him up this year and said if he needed my help to come out and break those babies on a nice day he should let me know,” Proctor said.  “We’ve needed each other for 20 years and sure enough, he called and needed the help and here we are.”

What started on those rural prairie pastures near the North and South Dakota border soon turned into winning trips around the track at Fort Pierre, South Dakota as Proctor won 11 races over a three weekend period in late April.  Johnson and Proctor moved on to Aberdeen in May and the result was staggering.  Proctor won six races on the card on May 11th, a personal record he had not topped in a quarter century of racing.  The following Saturday he won five more races.  When the dust settled on Memorial Day, Proctor had won 22 races at Brown County in three weekends for a total of 33 victories in the Jackrabbit State in one season. “No, no, never in my dreams did I see it going like that,” Proctor reflected. “It all just came back to me and it really is the livestock. About anyone can get them there and I was the one who was getting them there.” 

A horrific spill at Canterbury Park in 2010 snapped his back and tore up his shoulders.  He spent four years on the mend and didn’t know what was next.  “I’ve been in a few wrecks but that was the one that hurt bad.”

For a jockey who got his start in his home state of Wyoming, injuries had been a part of a career that started in the early 1990’s.  “I was hurt bad in Nevada in 1991 and kept going and then went up to Washington and hurt it all over again destroying my legs from the knees down.”  After that he gave up the sport and started a family.   But soon there was a call to the track from, as Proctor says, “some trainer, someplace” and he was pulling up his jockey boots again.

Such is the game for a journeyman jockey who has raced horses from Australia to Idaho, to Canada and more.  Eventually he landed at a place called home in Streeter, ND where stays on Friday nights during racing season as his regular job calls him to the oil fields 300 miles away.  “My wife and kids come to all my races though, she never misses a one,” Proctor said.  Well, there was one race on one particular day where wasn’t in the stands.  “That was the day of that spill at Canterbury four years ago,” Proctor reflects, “Can you believe that?”

And can you believe that in all the years of riding, Proctor doesn’t have a horse he considered “the one” until this year?  “Through those years I only had about two horses that won Futurities.” Proctor said.  “When I won that South Dakota bred Futurity this May with BHR Guys Flash Me that was just something how that horse won so easily.”  The gray filly is currently in Johnson’s barn at Canterbury Park and has not only won a stake in Minnesota but she just qualified for the $20,000 NCQHRA Futurity on August 3rd.  “That horse,” Proctor says, “Is bad bad fast.  She is a great tribute to the type of program that Bob runs.”

And the wins are also a tribute to a pretty good jockey who has continued his beat in Fargo.  Last weekend, Proctor won six races, including three stakes victories.  Bubby Haar serves as Proctor’s jockey agent, securing rides for the veteran while he is away working during the week.  Proctor is one of three jockeys Haar holds the book for with Rusty Shaw and Zack Ziegler being the others. “He’s well experienced and respected by the horsemen and not just for his riding abilities but for how he’s known off the track.”  Haar also points out another key that lifts the Proctor factor above others. “On these smaller tracks, in my opinion, the rider is more important to the outcome of the race than they are at the bigger tracks across the country.”

And those smaller tracks can still have a degree of danger as Proctor knows all too well and found out first hand last Saturday when he was banged around in the gate in a race that was declared no contest because of a wild melee. “I had two black eyes and I ripped the skin off of my hand.  I am still putting parts and pieces back together.”  But despite the tough going, Proctor still prefers one breed if he had a reluctant say. “My heart is with the Quarter Horses and that’s what they label me as, the Quarter Horse jockey.” Proctor admitted. “But I like to ride any horse with a good honest shot to win.  Honestly, I was the leading mule rider in Montana one year so if it has hair on it, I’ll ride it!”

And what does Proctor consider the key to his success no matter what he is riding? “I ride one race at a time and I do it for fun and I do it to take care of my friends like Bob,” Proctor said. “I have a job so this is fun.  I do it because I love it.”



Barn Notes
News - Misc
Thursday, July 24, 2014

Barn Notes

*Horsemen and avid racing fans were buzzing on Sunday afternoon following the impressive performance by The Flying Whizzer who blazed through 5 ½ furlongs in a time of 1:05.40, setting a new track record in the process.  The Florida-bred gelding owned and trained by Rodger Botosh had previously raced at Canterbury Park and Oaklawn Park earlier in 2014.   Even more impressive is the fact that he set the record breaking from the far outside post.  The previous 5 ½ furlong mark was set by the North Dakota-bred Rapid Jack who held it with a time of 1:06.10.

*Don Proctor leads the jockey standings with five winners on the weekend, including a pair of stakes on Saturday.  Rusty Shaw rode three winners on Sunday and Clyde Smith, injured in the first race on Saturday, came back to boot home a pair of winners on Sunday.

*It’s long been rumored that post position #10 (rarely used at the Horse Park as a full field is needed in a race for it to go to the post) is a highly unsuccessful one at the track due to its outside proximity.  On Sunday, however, that was clearly not the case as #10 was the winner of three consecutive races – a Horse Park first for the purple silks in its history.  It may have been a fitting coincidence to note that the Rein in Cancer event sponsor for the violet threads over the weekend was Midwest Sports Tours, a company owned by HRND General Manager Mike Schmitz.

*A field of eight has been nominated to next weekend’s Dean Kutz Memorial, a one mile test for older North Dakota-bred thoroughbreds.  Alexassilvercharm, a campaigner from Assiniboia Downs leads the pack along with two-time Horse Park Derby winner Tuffernhell.  Other nominees include starters from the past weekend; Dakota Girl, runner-up in last’ year’s Derby, Royal Nick, who won Sunday’s finale, and Buckorama, who scored at the track last July.  Unite Tonite, Nurse Jackie, and Corneto round out the octet.

Northern Plains Derby 2014
News - Misc
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

House of Cards

Its a Royal Flush the latest example of the Bob Johnson influence on the Northern Plains Derby

By Ryan Roshau, HRND Media Relations

The record book will show that Kenny Olson trained the winner of Sunday’s $5,000 Northern Plains Derby and with all due respect to that veteran horseman, those in the know will long consider this race another example of conditioner Bob Johnson’s stronghold on racing in Fargo.  For the fifth time in six runnings at the Fargo track, a Johnson trainee won the Derby.  This time it was with a chestnut gelding who, like Johnson himself, came with South Dakota roots.

HouseofCardsThat gelding, a battle-tested son of Its a Royal Time had won $12,647 in his career based exclusively in South Dakota and Minnesota.  It was a career that started early in the barn of Johnson who had him since he was a long yearling.  He was always highly thought of by the Lemmon, SD native who saw him finished second in the SD-Bred QH Futurity in May of 2013.   He was fourth in the $20,000 Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ Futurity last summer and Johnson believed in him enough to give him a shot in the lucrative NCQHRA Futurity at Canterbury in August, a race valued at $45,000 that saw him finish sixth.  “He’s always been real sound,” Johnson said. “He’s been a good horse from the get-go.  He’s just a hard trying, good horse.”

But after back to back runner-up efforts as the heavy favorite at Fort Pierre this spring there was a thought that he was getting passed over by some of the deeper horses in the Johnson barn.  One of which was Hasta Be Brief who won the SD-Bred Derby at Brown County Fair this year besting Sammi Santana, the winner of the Northern Plains Futurity at Canterbury last summer.

With the stir fry of results, the Northern Plains Derby in Fargo turned out to be a collection of talented horses with countless potential outcomes to one of the most anticipated races of the meet.

Perhaps it was the deep resume of It’s a Royal Flush or Johnson’s reputation for winners, or maybe it was the hot start that jockey Don Proctor was off to at the Horse Park meet, but all those factors conspired to make the chestnut a 9-5 favorite at post time.   The eight horse field was closely bunched on the odds board as 15-1 were the highest odds of the longest shot, a horse named Jumpn Mermaid who was a consistent                                                                                    second in three of her last four starts.

Breaking from the five hole, ‘Royal Flush was tested all the way and Proctor knew they were in for a horse race, “I got challenged the whole way and I wasn’t sure as it was nip and tuck but we had just enough at the end.”

Just enough indeed, withholding a furious charge by Sammi Santana, the 5-2 second choice, to win by a neck.  Third choice Hasta Be Brief, another Johnson graduate was 2 ¼ lengths in front of North Dakota-bred Dontthrotlemystyle, who was subsequently disqualified to fifth, replaced by Blurred Cash.

Back at Canterbury after his BHR Guys Flash Me qualified for the Finals for the August 3rd NCQHRA Futurity, Johnson took time to reflect on adding more hardware to his Fargo mantle. “I don’t know about that,” he laughed, “good horses usually do it.”

But Proctor, a long-time associate of Johnson’s, gives a great deal of credit to the moustache man. “He gets the right inventory of horses and puts them where they belong,” Proctor said. “You enter them where they belong you’ll be ok.”

And with the Northern Plains Futurity in a couple of weeks there could be a pair of “ok” juveniles lining up for Johnson as it is safe to say he has designs on that race as well.



La Jolla Makes 'Em Hollar
News - Misc
Monday, July 21, 2014


La Jolla Makes ‘Em Hollar

By: Ryan Roshau 

Ruby La Jolla, the 8-5 favorite streaked past them all to take the $4,800 Running Colors Maturity on Opening Day of 2014 Horse Park season.

The Sorrel Mare by Dashing La Jolla did not get off to the best of starts under jockey Zack Ziegler but she rallied in mid-stretch of the 350 yard dash to score a ¾ length victory over Chippewa Downs-veteran Ja Gols Fancy Man and a horse coming off of a two-year hiatus Ima Dashin Stoli.

Peach Racing Stable’s charge stopped the clock in 19.330 and paid $5.20 for the victory.  Brian Slater was the winning trainer.

Ruby La Jolla tipped off her potential by winning her last two races at Turf Paradise in Arizona this past winter, posting eye-popping speed figures for those efforts.  Her last win, in a $6,000 Quarter Horse Final on April 14th hung up a 97 Speed Index rating.  When she breezed 220yards at Chippewa Downs late last month, it proved to be a bullet work as she stopped the clock in 13.08.

The Maturity was the five year-old mare’s third consecutive win and her fifth triumph in 14 career starts.  She has now banked over $20,000 in her career.

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