05/17/2012 11:02AM

Canterbury Park: Bizet looks to end losing streak in 10,000 Lakes Stakes


SHAKOPEE, Minn. – Opening weekend at Canterbury Park will feature the first stakes of the season Saturday as Minnesota-breds head postward in the 10,000 Lakes Stakes for colts and geldings and the Lady Slipper for fillies and mares. Both races carry a purse of $35,000 and will be run at six furlongs over the main track.

Bizet, the 3-1 morning-line favorite, heads the field in the 10,000 Lakes. Bizet has been remarkably consistent, hitting the board in every race over the strip last season – including three stakes races – but he has not visited the winner’s circle since July 2010.

Victory Sled, last year’s 3-year-old Minnesota-bred champion male, will be making his seasonal debut in the race and has been training well for trainer Bruce Riecken, posting a bullet four-furlong work last Saturday.

Defending 10,000 Lakes champion Freedom First comes into the race off a sharp winning effort at Prairie Meadows. Previous Canterbury stakes winners Samendra and Bet Your Boots also prepped well at Prairie Meadows, posting a second and third, respectively, in a $35,000 optional claiming race April 29.

Our Family Affair, First Captain, Coconino Slim, and Rustic Road round out the field of nine.

The Lady Slipper features the return to the track of last year’s 3-year-old sensation Polar Plunge. Polar Plunge reeled off three straight wins to start her career, only to miss remaining undefeated by a head after a brutal trip in the Minnesota Oaks. She’s proven to be excellent off the bench as she looks to make it three seasonal debuts in a row Saturday.

Defending Lady Slipper champion Hidden Gold returns to defend her title off of a fourth-place finish in the Wilma Mankiller Memorial at Will Rogers Downs. Hidden Gold’s last victory was in the 2011 edition of the Lady Slipper.

Sheso Dazzling, last year’s Minnesota-bred champion older female, had a stellar 2011 Canterbury season, winning 3 of 5 races including the Princess Elaine Stakes. Sheso Dazzling is 4 for 7 over the oval for seven-time defending leading trainer Mac Robertson.

The beneficiary of Polar Plunge’s troubled Oaks, Bert’slittlesister, the 3-year-old Minnesota-bred female champion, will need to step up after a rough seasonal bow at Prairie Meadows in a $35,000 optional claimer.

Stakes-placed Nokomis and Francisco Bravo’s Priceless Pearl complete the six-horse field.