A crafty ride by a veteran jockey led to victory for Santo Gato in the $35,000 Honor the Hero Express on Monday at Canterbury Park.
Bobby Walker Jr., the 51-year-old winner of more than 2,900 races, waited patiently for front-runner No Peace At All to tire before asking Santo Gato for run in the stretch. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred owned by Merrill Scherer, Dan Lynch and Ken Sentel and trained by Gary Scherer responded, going on to win by one and one-quarter lengths, covering five furlongs on the fast main track in 57 and 1/5 seconds.
“I knew he would break hard but didn’t need the front,” Walker said. “I just took back and figured the speed would come back to me.”
Santo Gato was in control in mid-stretch, holding off Richmond and defending Honor the Hero champion Humble Smarty.
“It was pretty much over at the eighth pole,” Walker said.
The Honor the Hero Express was originally scheduled to be run on the turf but heavy rains in the Shakopee area caused racing officials to transfer the race to the main track.
Santo Gato returned $11.80. Hollywood Trickster won the $18,950. Skip Zimmerman Stakes for trainer Ed Ross Hardy and owner Christine Hovey. Derek Bell rode the winner who paid $13.60. Final time for the 350 yards was 17.903 seconds.
While the $35,000 purse was large for Canterbury, it's not that big nationally, an official told Patch. Stakes races across the country can range from $35,000 - $1 million. The top purse in North America sits at $5 million (Breeders' Cup Classic) and the top purse in the world sits at $10 million (Dubai World Cup).