05/19/2011 11:12AM

Canterbury: Stakes bring out top statebreds


SHAKOPEE, Minn. – The first Canterbury Park stakes races of the season are on tap Saturday with the $35,000 Lady Slipper Stakes for Minnesota-bred fillies and mares and the $35,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes for Minnesota-bred colts and geldings co-featured on a nine-race card. Both stakes will be run at six furlongs over the main track.

The Lady Slipper has drawn a tough group that includes Minnesota’s 2010 champion mare, Bella Notte, last year’s Lady Slipper winner Special Occasion, 2010 Minnesota Distaff Classic winner Sasha’s Fierce, as well as 2009 champion 3-year-old filly Chick Fight.

Trainer Mac Robertson sends out both Chick Fight and Bella Notte, just as he did in last year’s Lady Slipper. In that race, Chick Fight and Bella Notte hooked up in a speed duel that enabled Special Occasion to close and nip Chick Fight at the wire. Special Occasion prepped for this race in an Oaklawn allowance for trainer Tim Padilla and should stalk the early pace.

Sasha’s Fierce prepped for the Lady Slipper in an allowance at Delta Downs for trainer Gary Scherer. Sasha’s Fierce blossomed when given some extra distance last season and may prefer more real estate than six furlongs.

Rounding out the field are the Francisco Bravo-trained duo of Tickleyourfancy and Hidden Gold, the Bernell Rhone-trained Tez Savitri, and Minnesota Distaff Classic third-place finisher Nokomis.

The 10,000 Lakes is a bit less star-studded but still boasts several divisional champions of seasons past as well as two-time divisional champion Bet Your Boots.

Bet Your Boots, who was moved to Chris Richard’s barn this season, pressed the pace in his 2011 debut in a $75,000 optional claiming race at Oaklawn before fading to fifth. He followed that up with a solid four-furlong work at Prairie Meadows.

Defending 10,000 Lakes winner Bizet also comes into the race after a prep at Oaklawn. Bizet has hit the board in nine of 11 starts at Canterbury and will be looking to stalk the pace behind two fast Mac Robertson trainees, Suddenly Silver and Tubby Time.

Two-time Minnesota Classic winner Suddenly Silver has early speed but has tended to win with a bit more distance while Tubby Time led at every call of every race during his 3 for 3 2010 season.

Minnesota Derby winner Tsar Tops Dancer, MTA Stallion Auction Laddies Stakes winner Rustic Road, Freedom First, and Coconino Slim fill out the eight-horse field.