Updated on 09/15/2011 12:52PM

Speed dominates Festival of Champions


SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Canterbury Park featured six Thoroughbred races as part of the Minnesota Festival of Champions program on Saturday, and front-running form dominated all but one event.

Over a track labeled sloppy, Blitz Joi ($10.80), owned Valene farms, began the proceedings with a 3 1/4-length victory in the $43,800 Minnesota Distaff Classic. Shesa Shesa edged her uncoupled entrymate, Playful Edition, for second by a nose in the 1 1/16-mile contest. Bobby Walker rode the winner for trainer Richie Scherer.

Under leading rider Derek Bell, favored Susie Blues ($4) cruised to an 8 1/2-length victory in the $56,115 Northern Lights Debutante. American Profit was clearly second-best in the six-furlong dash, two lengths clear of Ashley's Affair. This was the second straight victory in the Debutante for owner-breeder Barbara Kelley and trainer Vic Hanson.

Bell came right back in the $55,998 Northern Lights Futurity to pilot J. P. Jet ($6.80) to a five-length victory over One Trick Ata Time, who in turn just held Speedy Exit safe for second. David Van Winkle trains the winner for owner Jim Peltier.

Not So Fast Brutus was favored in the $38,950 Minnesota Sprint but was edged by Crocrock ($5.40) under masterful handling from rider Luis Quinonez. Tushar finished another three lengths behind the top pair in the six-furlong contest. Dale Schenian owns Crocrock, who captured this event last year. The winner is trained by Francisco Bravo.

Former Minnesota Derby winner Nix of Time ($18.60) displayed a return to his old form when he held off off Bleu Victoriate by 1 1/2 lengths in the $44,750 Minnesota Classic Championship. Bucnasty finished another seven lengths behind in third.

Chuck Costanzo rode the winner for owner-trainer Gerald Smalley, who campaigns Nix of Time in partnership with Alice Theisen.

Nidari ($5.20), owned by Kissoon Thoroughbred Partners, overcame the speedy going with an eye-catching rally in the $38,550 Minnesota Distaff Sprint to prevail by three-quarters of a length over front-running Muir Eirann.

Favored Blumin Bauble finished well despite a troubled trip to miss second by just a nose. Bell rode the winner for trainer Ted Latour.