08/11/2011 1:20PM

Canterbury Park: Derby wide-open, Oaks has heavy favorite


SHAKOPEE, Minn. – Canterbury Park has carded a pair of Minnesota-bred stakes on Saturday, the $60,000 Minnesota Derby and $60,000 Minnesota Oaks. Both will be run at a mile and 70 yards over the main track.

The Derby has no clear cut favorite. In the six-furlong Victor S. Meyers Stakes, Victory Sled sat off the pace and was able to outfinish favored Samendra by a length and a quarter. A Victory Gallop gelding, Victory Sled should take to the added distance of the Derby. He will be seeking his third straight win.

Samendra will be looking to turn the tables Saturday. While the Derby will be his first attempt at a route, he did close nicely in the Meyers while being carried wide through the turn.

Dancingwithbigron has hit the board in all four of his starts this meet while racing against older horses. He’ll be trying two turns for the first time while moving back in with his own age group.

Half-brothers Mondovi and Nice to Meet Me hooked up in a stretch duel two starts and dead-heated in a statebred allowance. Both were beaten in their next starts with Mondovi bobbling at the start of the Meyers and finishing fourth and Nice to Meet Me showing little over turf in the Blair’s Cove.

Two-year-old Minnesota-bred champion Black Tie Benny, speedsters Desert Alley and Distinctive Saint, and maiden Limo round out the field.

In the Oaks, nine fillies will be gunning for 7-5 morning-line favorite Polar Plunge. A Camelia Casby homebred, Polar Plunge is undefeated in three career starts. She has yet to be challenged and in her last start won the six-furlong Frances Genter Stakes by six lengths. A Successful Appeal filly trained by Gary Scherer, Polar Plunge is bred to handle the added distance and will be the one to catch.

Trainer Mac Robertson will send out Grace of Greatness, who beat older, open-company rivals last time out while trying both two turns and the grass.

Bert’slittlesister, who finished 6  1/4 lengths behind Polar Plunge in the Genter, picks up the services of leading rider Dean Butler.

Trainer Bernell Rhone sends out Sajani and Sam’s Grindstone, while Pleasant Life, Smarty Prance, Martha’s Yankee, Academy’s Win, and the maiden Bailout Bailey fill out the Oaks field.