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North Dakota Derby 2014
News - Misc
Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Booze Cruise

Boozeinablender emphatically becomes the first filly to win the

North Dakota Derby in Fargo

By Ryan Roshau, NDHP Media Relations

After ten years of running the North Dakota Derby in Fargo it can finally be said that the Lady is a Champ.  The Champ, by what basically amounted to a first round TKO.

Devron Leingang’s chestnut filly, the 3-10 favorite in the $10,000 race, seized the lead early in the race under the careful piloting of the meet’s leading rider Don Proctor.  The filly had shown speed in the past but going to the lead was uncustomary to the form she showed in winning the HRND Derby in Fargo two weeks ago.

“We kind of knew she likes to run away from the gate so we just figured we’d let her do her thing”, Leingang said after the race. “She has good speed galloping, a high cruising speed and if she wants to be on the front, if she wants to be in front, let her do her thing.”

Up the backstretch, the filly started to shake free from the early challenges of 12-1 longshot Classi Coyote and midway down the backstretch, that high cruising speed increased to five lengths while others started to drop back.  It was almost as if the filly was on, well, booze control.

Lexon Backhaus’ King Krews started to advance while B. Aferd and Shin Daddy gave belated runs.  That trio would fill out the superfecta in that respective order. Around the far turn the race became academic as Proctor and Boozeinablender turned the race into an exhibition, widening her lead with every stride before thundering under the wire in front by over 30 lengths.  The marvelous effort was embraced by the crowd who cheered her across the line—as if to say they all knew the reason they stayed there all season.  Leingang, after two runner-up efforts in the Derby over the past decade, had finally seen his charge cross the wire first.

“It’s pretty exciting, we’ve missed out with a couple seconds, some thirds, but yeah it’s nice to get one,” Leingang said with relief in his voice as he walked his filly back to the barn. “It’s a little more nerve wracking when you’ve raised the horse and you’re in your home state.”

Boozeinablender’s victory was historic in two ways.   Aside from becoming the first filly to win the North Dakota Derby at the Horse Park (Academy’s Win was the last to win the Derby but that 2011 race was in Belcourt), she also became only the second horse to win multiple Derbies in Fargo (Tuffernhell accomplished that feat in 2012).

A pair of impressive achievements for a filly that started this meet never having won a race on American soil.  But as the sun sets on the 2014 meet, she had two Fargo wins to her credit by a combined total of over 41 lengths.

Amazingly the 30 ½ length win was not a Derby record at the track as Scott Horst’s Givem Hell Harley won three year-old race  by 34 lengths in 2008.  Aside from the coincidence, there is a personal connection between Leingang and Horst, and the owner has made it a point to share some accolades.

“Scott and I the first time we met was the very first year Fargo was open and we met at the racetrack,” Leingang said. “Like a lot of racetrack people you meet at the track they become family and soon I trained some horses for him and had a lot of success and now that he’s got a stallion we are helping those guys promote their stud and I’m sure glad to do it.” Horst and Kris Moen stand Boozeinablender’s sire Pie’s Prospect in state. “He sired both the (North Dakota) Futurity and now the Derby winner,” Leingang said.

And the young owner and his fiancé Mandi Seim also took a moment to thank the horse, the lean chestnut filly with the cool concoction of a name that made Fargo her personal Margaritaville this past month.  But three straight wins will be enough for the year as her sophomore campaign has ended.  Her rivals will no longer need to search for answers on how to beat her; answers that remain as elusive as that lost shaker of salt.

“She’s served her purpose,” Leingang said. “She’s a non-four now so we’re going to let her grow up and see what she turns out to be when she matures.”

For this meet she turned out to be as good as any horse can be and the many who finished behind the super filly can claim that there’s a woman to blame.




Sunday the 3rd race preview
News - Misc
Sunday, August 03, 2014

In today’s Northern Plains and NDQHRA Futurites, trainer Bob Johnson seeks to build on his...

 Decade of Dominance

By Ryan Roshau, HRND Media Relations

When racing started in Fargo eleven years ago, trainer Bob Johnson was a steady fixture at the track; right up there with the prairie winds, spectacular sunsets, and long betting lines.  Johnson would hold court around the barns in the morning, and then send out spectacular looking stock who would collect a paycheck in his name in the afternoon.  Nowadays, in this telecommute world, Johnson tries to be in two places at once—shuffling responsibilities from his home base at Canterbury Park and the small string he sends to Fargo on the weekends to run (and run well) in the big money races.  “I would like to come up here with a whole bunch of horses but I’m committed to Canterbury,” Johnson said on Friday morning in Fargo while unloading horses for the weekend stakes.  “I’m so committed and I make my plans over a year in advance as to what I’m going to be doing.”

What he’s done at the Horse Park is win races. Big races. Through his partnership with the meet’s leading jockey Don Proctor, they won the Northern Plains Derby with Its a Royal Flush on opening weekend, his fifth win in that race’s history.  He has also won the NDQHRA Derby twice,  the NDQHRA Futurity once, the Dan Diemert once,  and the Northern Plains Futurity four times.   He has a chance to add to that hardware on Sunday with a pair in this year’s $16,000 Northern Plains Futurity; JJ’s Special Sis and Eyes on the Pryze. The former ran a game second behind the star of the Johnson barn Bhr Guys Flash Me in the $20,000 Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ Futurity in late June.  The latter hasn’t raced since late May at Aberdeen when he finished second in the South Dakota QH Futurity.  On that day he nosed out ‘Special Sis for second.  “The one filly (JJ’s Special Sis) ran a really good race last out….they are both quality horses and they should do well,” Johnson says.  JJ’s Special Sis will break from the rail with Proctor up and is listed as the 7-5 favorite while Eyes on the Pryze gets Clyde Smith at 5-1 from post two.

Johnson’s Dakota dance card will be full over the weekend.  In addition to running charges in the North Dakota Futurity and AQHA Bonus Challenge on Saturday, he also bringsOne Kool Toast to the $10,000 NDQHRA Futurity on Sunday.  The daughter of Toast to Dash is still a maiden and finished second in an Open Futurity in early May at Fort Pierre.  She is 6-1 on the morning line but with the Johnson/Proctor combo she figures to be bet down at the windows. “She’s a nice filly,” Johnson said.  “She only ran twice but she’ll do good I think.”  Kenny Olson will saddle Johnson’s charges while he returns back to Canterbury for some big money races over the weekend, including a start in the $40,000 NCQHRA Futurity.  But that won’t stop him from having one eye on Fargo, and an eye on the future.  “I used to really like to run there but now it’s tough, I couldn’t do it,” Johnson said. “I think the planning will get better and it will go on our schedule.”

Booze’s Race to Lose?

Filly appears to be the standout in North Dakota Derby 

By Ryan Roshau, HRND Media Relations

Around the holidays, Fargo has The Blenders, a singing set of favorite sons who return from the road to put on a show. This year at the Horse Park, Fargo has Boozeinablender, an adopted daughter who could steal it. 

Devron Leingang’s lean chestnut filly is the heavy favorite in a field of seven who will go in the $10,000 North Dakota Derby.  Perhaps it is her colorful name, or maybe it’s the emphatic way she disposed of her foes by 11 lengths in the HRND Derby on July 19th, but Boozeinablender has star power heading into the Derby.  If she is to continue her hot streak and captures her third straight win, it will have to come at the expense of history.  Since the Derby has been run in Fargo in 2003, no filly has ever won it—and it is not for a lack of trying.  Favored fillies have been damsels in distress in the past including Strike an Image and Dakota Girl.  Four of the nine Fargo Derbies have produced fillies finishing second, but never a winner.   Is it the unpredictable nature of the one mile distance or is it something more?

“I guess I really didn’t know that,” Owner/Trainer Devron Leingang said when that question came up. “That’s kind of interesting. I don’t think anybody has been tested at a mile, so I don’t think anybody can be really worried about it.  They will all get the mile it’s just who is going to get it the fastest.” On two occasions, Leingang’s charges have been the second fastest on Derby Day.  He was the runner-up in 2005 with Firehawk and again in 2012 with Maintenance Man. “I know we’ve always been right there in the Derby.  The Futurity we’ve always had good luck in but that Derby has always been a little elusive for us,” Leingang said. “Hopefully we can get it this time.”

The time appears right for Leingang’s filly, who was the favorite last summer in the Futurity but lost all chance when a stirrup strap broke.  “It would be gratifying because of the way things went last year.  In the back of your mind you think you are better than the other horses but now it’s a new year, they are three now and only time will tell.”

For Leingang and those in attendance, that time will be approximately 4:00pm on Sunday as The Run for the Prairie Roses goes off as the seventh race on a nine race card.



Saturday the 2nd race preview
News - Misc
Sunday, August 03, 2014

In today’s $15,000 feature race, six try to prove that they are….

Up to the Challenge

By Ryan Roshau, NDHP Media Relations

A few days ago, the best players in Major League Baseball put on a show at nearby Target Field in the Mid-Summer Classic. Today at the North Dakota Horse Park, an all-star lineup of its own has come together for the $15,000 AQHA Bonus Challenge, a race many to consider to be the best display of talent this meet has seen.

Saturday’s ninth race is a battle within a war as two of Canterbury Park’s top quarter horse trainers will go head to head in this classic dash.  Ed Ross Hardy, an 11-time leading trainer at the Shakopee track ships in with a pair of aces.  Last year’s Challenge winner Streakin Zoomer and the impressive Jess a Sign both from the Reliance Ranch ownership group.  ‘ Zoomer has accumulated over $50,000 in his career and is showing that he is in good form with a recent second, preceded by a win at Canterbury.  His travel mate on I-94 is a speedy Oklahoma-bred who carries a career-high 99 Speed Index.  Jess a Sign qualified for the $51,000 Adequan Derby at Will Rogers Downs (a race in which he ran fifth) and was fourth in the Skip Zimmerman at Canterbury Park this summer.  The Reliance Ranch team may be popular with the racing fans as they are the same group who were in attendance last weekend as the founders of the Racing Free initiative.

Bob Johnson counters the two-pronged attack with Hastabealeader with meet-topper Don Proctor aboard. The Wyoming-bred’s resume is topped by a fourth place finish in the $20,000 Great Lakes Stakes at Canterbury but he was beaten a length by Jess a Sign in the Zimmerman. Track a Tac is another invader from the Twin Cities and that charge was fifth in the $20,000 Bob Morehouse, also in Shakopee.  He has campaigned at Hialeah in Florida and Prairie Meadows and will now stamp Fargo on his passport.  Local talents Ja Gols Fancy Man (winner of the Racing Free QH Allowance) and Chicks Skidoo will be out to prove that the home court advantage can prevail.  The 400 yard dash for three year-olds and up is expected to go off at approximately 5:00pm.


Whose Silver Cup will Runneth Over?

The fifty year tradition of the traveling trophy is on the line in the North Dakota Futurity

Not a lot is known about the field and we haven’t seen a lot of evidence when it comes to their ability, but Saturday’s $10,000 North Dakota Futurity could be a “blind date” for all of us.  Come to think of it, it may be the Fargo oval’s version of Speed Dating.

Big Cat’s Echo from the barn of Backhaus & Sons is a known quality in the race.  The dark bay filly scored back to back wins at Chippewa Downs in the NDTOBA Futurity and then a nearly nine-length public workout in a three horse Allowance event late in the meet. While the verdict is known on ’Big Cat’, the jury is still out on Spy Guy, another Backhaus charge who will come into the race.  Hopes are high in the barn that this son of King Cha Cha will prove to be a good one but in his only career start he lost his rider. 

Jesa Plain Jane was second in the South Dakota Bred Futurity at Brown County in late May in her lone career start.  Glen Riggenberg’s filly has been under the watchful eye of Bob Johnson at Canterbury since and posted a promising work two weeks ago in anticipation of this race.  Plain Jane is the daughter of Pie’s Prospect who is proving to be a hot commodity in local racing circles.  Scott Horst, in partnership with Kris Moen stand the stud in state and he is also the sire of Horst’s Futurity contender Pie Eyed Scott .  The chestnut gelding is unraced but did post one of the most impressive workouts here in Fargo last Friday going three panels in :37.31.

Goddess Artemis, beaten soundly by Big Cat’s Echo in her last after previously losing to her by a head breaks from post 2 in the race. Report to Ole and Rockin the Party round out the field of seven juveniles who will run 5 1/2 furlongs. 

The novices are all competing for the traveling Silver Cup trophy, this year commemorating its 50th year of circulation.  The winning owner of Saturday’s sixth race will retain the cup in his or her possession for the next year until the race is run again in 2015.  First won by Splash Landing in 1964, each winner’s name is inscribed for posterity.  Great campaigners from Jim Bean to Hub Cap, to Bold Aferd, and finally to last year’s victory Tuff Grit, have seen their name placed on the traveling trophy. 

Derby & Dan Last year’s NDQHRA Derby winner Eyesa Lajolla eyes a repeat in the $10,000 Dan Diemert Memorial for older horses with NoDak ties. Since claiming the Derby crown last summer in Fargo, ‘Lajolla has been racing in Claiming events at both Canterbury and Remington Park in Oklahoma.  Most recently, the Vic Hanson trainee was 4th in a $9,000 event in Shakopee.  The four year-old will break from the rail with Don Proctor in the irons. Sweet Easy Cash, the local campaigner who has run his last 14 races on North Dakota soil will receive plenty of backing.  Despite two straight fourth-place showings, albeit against open company. Jenna’s Easy Cash outraced Sweet Easy Cash last weekend, a turnaround in their rivalry series.  Could that be a sign of things to come in the Diemert?  The 350 yard race is the seventh on a ten race card.


A sophomore set of seven will go to the gate in the $10,000 NDQHRA Derby, the fourth race on the Saturday slate. Blurred Cash, Major Dasher and Dontthrotlemystyle appear to be the standouts on paper but anything appears possible in this most wide-open of stakes races.  Of the sextet who have raced in the Flickertail State, the majority has finished off the board in recent starts against open company, and often elders.  Today’s race makes for an interesting contradiction as there is a drop in class but a rise in the purse.  The true wildcard could be Perks Prize Wagon who won his first career start last summer in Belcourt and then ventured south to Remington Park where he was ninth in his three year-old debut, a $21,000 Allowance race two months ago. Bred by Pyc Paint Your Wagon, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better pedigree in this year’s Derby.

Barn notes week 3
News - Misc
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Barn Notes

Leaderboard Watching

Jockey Don Proctor cooled off a bit (if two wins over the weekend is cooling off) but still holds on to the lead in the jockey’s standings with eight wins over the first two weekends.   Rusty Shaw and Zack Ziegler have each booted home five winners while Clyde Smith and Damon Leeds are in the hunt with four wins.  In all, 11 different jockeys have made trips to the winners circle over four days of racing.

In the trainer’s race, Lexon BackhausBrian SlaterRandy Bonn and Kenneth Olson all have three winners on the meet heading into the final weekend of racing.  Five additional trainers have two wins so it is safe to say both the quarter horse and thoroughbred training titles will be up for grabs late on Sunday afternoon.

In the owner’s standings, Leigh Backhaus and Peach Racing have three winners each.   Both outfits have horses lined up for multiple races over the weekend, including stakes.

Weekend Stakes Watch

Seven stakes races, divided between Saturday and Sunday, will be contested on the meet’s final weekend.  The draw for Saturday’s races will be held on Wednesday and Sunday’s card will be drawn on Thursday. Here is a snapshot preview of the eligible horses as known by HRND:

August 2nd:

North Dakota Futurity – Big Cats Echo, Brickalicious, Echo Road, Eddie K, Goddess Artemis, Harlow Can Do, Jesa Plain Jane, Pie Eyed Scott, Queen of Aries, Report to Ole, Rockin the Party, Spy Guy

AQHA Bonus Challenge – field known at time of entry

NDQHRA Derby--  Blurred Cash, Coronas Girl, Dontthrotlemystyle, Littlebitofchocolate, Jumpin Mermaid, Major Dasher, Mark Set Go, Perks Prize Wagon

Dan Diemert Memorial – Freedomofexpression, Sweet Easy Cash, Crown Royal Time, Recklessly Knud, Eyesa La Jolla, Jennas Easy Cash

August 3rd:

Northern Plains Futurity – Bye Butch Bye Bob, Dashin Silk Coat, Eyes on the Pryze, JJ’s Special Sis, Luv That Cool Corona, Misty River Dancer, Rockin Jill, Shake Em Jenn, Streak N Special, Take a Rain Check

NDQHRA Futurity--  Jess a Gamble, SS Dynasty, Jazzin Chick, No Such Tellin, One Kool Toast, Jumpn the Moon, Shesa Easy Victory North Dakota Derby – B. Aferd, Boozeinablender, Classi Coyote, King Krews, Miss Sunny Merree, Nicks Executive, Nicks Freaze, Pie’s Golden Girl, Ridin Royal, Shin Daddy, Trevors Gold, Tuff Grit, Two Eyed Kid, Wild Addiction

Racing Free Allowance Races
News - Misc
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Little Track on the Prairie Runs Free

NDHP hosts two successful Racing Free allowance races

By Annise Montplaisir, NDHP Director of Communications

The North Dakota Horse Park made a big splash in the world of horse racing on Sunday, July 27th, becoming the first track in the nation to host not one but two Racing Free exclusive allowance races.  

Racing Free is an incentive program that strives to improve the integrity of horse racing through elimination of performance enhancing drugs. The Racing Free team, comprised of founders Leslie and Micah McKinney and Director of Marketing Danielle Bryan made their Fargo debut on Saturday the 26th. The group spent their two days at the track networking with horsemen and promoting Racing Free among Horse Park fans. Their popularity was evident, as they sold out of merchandise within the first couple hours on Saturday.

Racing Free has been received by Fargo horsemen with eagerness and curiosity. “We’ve gotten some really good feedback,” said Leslie McKinney. “I don’t thinkDoug we’ve heard any negativity about it… I think we’re getting around enough and we’re building a big enough reputation that they see we’re just trying to do what’s best for the industry.”

Although Sunday dawned chilly and windy- far from Saturday’s cheerful sunshine- the anticipation for the Racing Free races was tangible. “We’ve just been thrilled to be here and it’s been a wonderful weekend,” said Danielle Bryan prior to the races. “We can’t wait to see who wins. The horses are all great… so it’s going to be a good race.”

Both Racing Free allowance races- one for Thoroughbreds and the other for Quarter Horses- required the entered horses in each field to be registered in the Racing Free incentive program. The Racing Free Thoroughbred Allowance sponsored by Maberry Equine Insurance was swept up by crowd favorite Doug. Piloted by jockey Zack Ziegler, Doug drew away from the field in the stretch, edging out Wildwood Aragorn by a length and a half.

“A lot of class that horse has,” said Ziegler. “I let him drag me all the way around the turn and I started asking him before the head of the stretch and he gave me some more and just kind of went on with it.”

The six furlong race sported a seven horse field with classy contenders such as Golden Cedar who took first in his last start at Chippewa Downs.

Doug’s solid win in the Thoroughbred race was followed up by Ja Gols Fancy Man tearing up the stretch to take the Andreini & Company Racing Free Quarter Horse Allowance. The 400 yard dash was won with a time of 20.62 seconds.

Owner and trainer Junior Dolphus received handshakes and congrats as he left the winners circle. Beaming from the thrilling win, he expressed his support of Racing Free. “I think we need more people to support it here in North Dakota and make it a bigger race next year.”

“We hope that more tracks take the same races that the North Dakota Horse Park has,” said Leslie McKinney. If we can encourage other tracks to take steps and make changes then we’ve done our job.”

“Ya’ll are doing great things here,” said Danielle Bryan. “We appreciate it.”


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