Race of the Week: Canterbury Park’s Lady Canterbury Stakes | Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Lead:

One of the premier race cards of the 2024 Canterbury Park season is featured on Saturday, with five of the eight races carrying black type status, including the third on the program, the Lady Canterbury over a mile grass for fillies and mares. The Minnesota Horse of the Year in 2022 and multiple regional champion MIDNIGHT CURRENT has been favored in 10 of her last 12 starts and will be so again despite being a bit rusty when second at odds-on three weeks ago in an allowance race in her first outing since September.

Field Depth:

Since the summer of 2022, MIDNIGHT CURRENT has pretty much owned her chief rival SCENT OF SUCCESS, who had finished behind her six consecutive times until she managed to turn the tables earlier this month by more than four lengths with a career top figure. However, there’re a seven pound weight shift that factors in, so a repeat upset doesn’t appear likely. GYPSY REWARD also enters the race following sharp local win, doing so stylishly but against lesser foes.


THUNDERS ROCKWELL, exiting a series of sprints, is a committed front runner and very likely the controlling speed if allowed to use her best weapon. And if not policed, she can take this group to at least the quarter pole, but after that, she’s on her own. MIDNIGHT CURRENT and SCENT OF SUCCESS have effective stalking styles and will be ready to pounce when given their cue.

Our Eyes:

Here are my horse-by-horse notes.

#1-VIRTUALLY: She won six of 10 last year while competing at racing’s equivalent of Single A ball. She split a maiden field sprinting at Colonial Downs in her only prior turf race. Is there any hope? Not much.

#2-BIG BAD DIVA: Claimed for $15,000 three runs back at Oaklawn Park, she was a ground-saving, non-threatening, distant third in the prep for this race June 1. She’s winless in six career starts on grass but has hit the board four times and earned a career top Beyer fig (75) last time out.

#3-GYPSY REWARD: She lacks tactical speed but has never been worse than second (with two wins) over the local lawn and earned a career top Beyer number (80) in a smart overnight score 12 days ago. If the short rest and class hike isn’t too much for her to deal with, she has a chance to be a major player.

#4-MIDNIGHT CURRENT: Purchased for $210,00 out of her previous owner’s complete dispersal at the Fasig-Tipton Digital Sale in April, she never really threatened at 50 cents on the dollar when second in her first race in nine months. She was the runner-up in the 2023 Lady Canterbury but just prior to that she also finished second off a long layoff with a Beyer fig (87) that was seven points better than her comeback fig, and a similar amount of improvement today should be sufficient to get her the money.

#5-SCENT OF SUCCESS: She was 19-1 when she earned a career top number (85) in her victory over MIDNIGHT CURRENT, so the upset win can’t be labeled a fluke. The problem is that in today’s race she must overcome a seven pound shift in weight. All five of her career victories have been earned over this grass course.

#6-GOLDEN GOPHER: Fourth at 27-1 without mishap in the common race that four of today’s seven entrants exit June 1, she certainly qualifies for “horse for course” status (seven wins from 16), but at age seven her best days appear to be behind her, and she sank to the $5,000 level (and was claimed) last November at Remington Park.

#7-THUNDERS ROCKWELL: She employed her usually pace setting/pressing tactics when winning the state-bred Lady Slipper Stakes sprinting on dirt here two weeks ago, but the number came up light. She’s a nice filly with wins in five of 15 starts and earnings in excess of 200K, but her only chance is to get loose early and lull the others to sleep.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:

MIDNIGHT CURRENT has finished in the money in 17 of 19 starts.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender:

BIG BAD DIVA would benefit from stronger-than-par early fractions. She’ll need a pace meltdown to win but at 8-1 on the morning line she’s definitely worth consideration underneath.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):