06/19/2009 12:00AM

Lovango in sweet spot


SHAKOPEE, Minn. Seven runners were entered for the $35,000 Shot of Gold Stakes at Canterbury Park, a six-furlong event for older horses that features a homecoming of sorts for Lovango.

Lovango, a 5-year old son of Capote owned by Barry and Joni Butzow, won his maiden race in his career debut at Canterbury Park in 2006 in a style that marked him a horse to follow. It took another season for the large, long-striding colt to find his best form, but Lovango delivered on his early promise with an impressive win in the Forward Pass Stakes at Arlington to conclude his 3-year-old campaign.

Tough trips seemed to follow Lovango in the races that ensued the following year. Lovango s effort in the 2008 running of the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn was perhaps his most memorable performance, where he finished third while being steadied in traffic the length of the stretch.

A nonthreatening effort in this year s Count Fleet was followed by an improved performance in the Timeless Native Stakes at Arlington, where he finished third. Following a local prep on the Canterbury turf course, Lovango finds a spot that appears to fit him well. Derek Bell has the call on Lovango for trainer Mac Robertson.

Of the favorite s six capable rivals, the improving Forest Echoes and the accomplished Distinguish loom as the most likely upsetters. Forest Echoes, who sold for $900,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sales Co. s March sale in 2007, was claimed at the Turf Paradise meeting by trainer David Van Winkle, and has since had two front-running victories against allowance company.

Distinguish has won 12 of 32 career starts, including victories in the Total Rewards Breeders Cup Handicap and Brother Brown Stakes, to amass more than $300,000 in career earnings. An 8-year-old bred by Arthur B. Hancock III, Distinguish maintained his good form this season with 2 wins from 3 starts at Will Rogers Downs. Alex Jimenez rides Distinguish for trainer Martin Lozano.