Canterbury Park Analysis, Opening Day, 5/18/21 – By Howard Kravets

The start of the racing season at Canterbury Park is upon us! Today’s card has 86 entries in its 9-race program, emblematic of the excellent betting opportunities this meet will provide. Sprinkle in three competitive turf races and the omni-present $1 Pick 6 (Race 4) and 50c Pick 5 (Race 5) with an industry-low 10% takeout, and you’ve got Day 1. Every day, I will provide an ABC grid for the Pick 5 sequence, plus playable “caveman” ticket.

Key: BF = Bad Favorite and LS = Longshot

Race 1:  6-5-2-3  1 Mile dirt OC 12k/N1X   BF: 2   LS: 6

In the 6:10 EST opener, I’ll go with a price shot. #6 Jen Take Charge has been working well for her return, blinks on, and gets a cozy outside post. She faces distance-challenged foes to her inside, and although her best races so far have been on turf, she’s bred for dirt too. I’ll take 10-1 ML all day. Coming in from Arizona, #5 Gemstone Gal should sit a nice stalking trip, while shaky ML favorite #2 Millard’s Comet stretches out for top J/T connections of Canchari/Robertson. Not bred to go 2-turns and with low odds, she’ll have to prove it to me on the win end.

Race 2:  4-1-3-2    6 1/2f dirt OC 20k/N2X

Vikings fan will be cheering for #4 Skol Factor, with top connections, cutting back in distance, blinks off, and big back numbers. Put a line through last, and he’s very competitive here. ML fave and Ark-bred #1 J.E.’s Handmedown comes off short rest, but is consistent and in good form, while #3 Astronaut Oscar is the speed of the speed, but I’m worried about him getting the distance.

Race 3:  10-1-6-9     7 1/2f turf, 16k claimer

#10 Shabam comes back for her first try this year, but that’ll be a constant theme early in this meet, especially with turf runners. 7/9 in the money on turf and has solid numbers. #1 Willing to Burn gets nice cozy inside trip with short run into first turn and jockey Wade should have her up close with a shot in the stretch, while #6 Rental Pool also making her first start of 2021 for top connections, but trainer Robertson only 13/153 (8%) with $0.86 ROI last 5 yrs off of 6-month-plus layoff. Tough race and hard to trust anyone.

Race 4:  5-6-1-4   5 1/2f dirt MN-bred Md Sp Wt    LS: 6

A possible way to start off your Pick 6 bet would be to single #5 Owen’s Pleasure, who towers over the field “dropping” in class from open company at Tampa to MN-breds here. Dominates by figs and just needs any decent trip to win. Don’t sleep on 8-1 ML #6 That’s All Right to upset the big fave, as she has been working up a storm for Lothenbach Stables and trainer Berndt. Was favored in her only 2020 start (although mdn. claimer), well-bred, and expect a major improvement fig-wise. Tote will show if she’s live. 0-9 4yo #1 Flash Flood offers little upside and bad value even if she works out a good trip.

Race 5 begins Pick 5…… ABC Selections:

Race #



2 4,5,11,12









7,8,9 5,10


9 1,12 7,9


Caveman Play: 245 11 12 / 6 / 568 / 789 / 1 12   ($45)


Race 5:  2-5-11-4     1Mile turf 7.5k claimer    LS:  10

#2 It’s a Boy is fastest on figs, gets nice inside trip and speed to run into. Just needs to avoid trouble in this bulky field, never easy. A more tactical choice pace-wise would be #5 Lifeline, who like #2 is coming in from Turf Paradise. Consistent and should be up relatively close, but 3 for 29 on the win end does not exactly exude confidence. #10 Minnesota Lucky needs the lead and is speed of the speed…..but if he gets it, is not impossible here. You’ll know his chances after the first quarter mile. In Pick 5, either single the 2 or big-time spread.

Race 6:  6-4-1-9      5 1/2f dirt MN-bred Md Sp Wt

The most likely winner of the entire card, and single for me in the Pick 5, is #6 Sundance Star. Tons the best on paper after huge effort vs. open company at Tampa, just needs to break. Don’t see much else in here to compete with her. 2-1 ML would be an absolute steal (and pipedream). #4 That Would Be Nice should show good early speed and try to steal it on the front end for apprentice jock in light and trainer Rengstorf. Took money last year, might be much better as a newly-turned 3yo with blinks on. #1 Minnesota Nice was staked last year (although didn’t do much running) and in tough in first start of 2021. Inside post will help her save ground and make one late run.

Race 7:  6-8-5-14     5f turf OC $10k     BF: 5    LS: 6

Full disclosure, turf sprints are very tricky and toughest to handicap for me, but I better get used to them because there’ll be plenty this meet with big fields. #6 Hotfoot back to turf, big back numbers and dangerous for leading jockey contender this meet Ty Kennedy. Just needs the right trip, very plausible at a price. #8 Just Blaze for veteran jock Martin Jr. had last two scratch off the turf. He’s much better on the green and has back numbers and class to show for it. Don’t mind outside posts in turf sprints, less likely to get shuffled back/in trouble, but suspect to getting wide trip. #5 No Parking Here in sharp from from Northern Cal. with early speed, an important aspect of any turf sprinter. But hard to trust with other speed in here.

Race 8:  7-9-8-10    5 1/2f dirt MN-bred Alw N1X     LS: 7

Chompin’ at the bit to get back to state-breds (couldn’t help myself with the name), #7 Thealligatorhunter has been working bullets at Tampa to prepare for this race vs. his own kind. Been facing much tougher (Nova Rags for example) in open company stake races, much better fit here. #9 Westa Waverly also been staked, but vs. MN-breds. Has a race under his belt this year and should improve off that start. #8 Fire Extinguisher is fast, but I’m a bit concerned he’s not as good as last year and there’s other speed in the race. Might have him too low, could win with right trip.

Race 9: 1-12-7-9   1Mile dirt 5K    BF: 9   LS: 1

Nightcap and payoff leg in the Pick 6 and Pick 5 is a toughie. This field is a combined 17 for 258, yikes. Gonna take a stab with #1 Jimmie T, who stretches back, blinks off, and drops in class after facing toughies at Oaklawn. Should save ground and sit a trip. 1 for 24 #12 Tequila Blanco would be my top choice except for the post. Has very solid numbers, but gonna have to get the right trip from out here. #7 Big Falcon Rocket has speed to overcome post and big field w/back numbers too. Trainer’s stats 1st off the layoff gives cause for pause.

Good luck today, hope to find some winners for you this meet!









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