07/26/2012 11:57AM

Canterbury Park: Mystic Lake Derby richest race at track in many years

Michael Burns
Hammers Terror, shown winning the Charlie Barley at Woodbine, is coming back on short rest following his most recent race.

SHAKOPEE, Minn. – Saturday’s inaugural $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby is the first significant co-promotional event between the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Canterbury Park since an $83.5 million cooperative marketing and purse enhancement agreement was reached on June 6.

It is the richest race held at Canterbury since the track reopened under its current management in 1995.

“The Mystic Lake Derby is an example of how the cooperative agreement will enhance racing in Minnesota,” Canterbury Park president Randy Sampson said. “This is the most significant race in Minnesota in two decades.”

The 5-2 morning-line favorite for the one-mile turf contest for 3-year olds is Gung Ho, the third-place finisher in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes. He has been working well for trainer Mike Maker since finishing seventh behind Silver Max in the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day.

“He tips his hand in the morning and his mornings have been good,” Maker said. “We were contacted by the stakes coordinator and this seemed like a good spot to get him started again.”

Malcolm Franklin, who is currently riding at Ellis Park, will be in for the mount.

The other graded-stakes-placed horse in the field, Hammers Terror, will be coming back only two weeks after finishing fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup at Woodbine.

“He came out of that race in good shape,” said trainer Michael Stidham. “He’s doing well and gave us no indication that the race took too much out of him but did confirm that he is distance limited. I usually don’t run a horse back this quickly, but this is a great opportunity to run against straight 3-year-olds with a good purse.”

Hammers Terror finished third in the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland in April. Lorie Keith, third in the Canterbury jockey standings, will ride.

Mark Casse trains Delegation, a contender who will be shipping in from Woodbine. Delegation is 2 for 2 in his career and will be trying stakes company for the first time following an impressive allowance win. Jermaine Bridgmohan will be aboard the son of Speightstown.

North of Never won a first-level allowance at Churchill Downs in his last start. Willie Martinez rides for trainer Anthony Granitz.

Tequila Factor is the leading local horse in the race. Tequila Factor won the Tempe Handicap four starts back at Turf Paradise. He fired a bullet five-furlong work here July 19 for trainer C.L. Wilson. Leading local jockey Tanner Riggs is named.

Mac Robertson trains Take Heart, who is riding a two-race winning streak at Canterbury. He followed up an impressive maiden win with an allowance score.