Track officials call Wednesday’s six-stakes card at Canterbury Park the Northern Stars Racing Festival. It’s a rather apt name, given the stars coming out to the suburban Minneapolis track.

Northern Stars Racing Festival
Minnesota’s Canterbury Park takes center stage Wednesday with its Northern Stars Racing Festival. Training stars such as Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox and jockeys  Florent Geroux and Ricardo Santana Jr. will be at Canterbury. (Image: Canterbury Park)

There’s Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox. Enough said there. There are also his fellow trainers, Mike Maker, who is currently sixth in the nation in purses with $5.9 million, and Robertino Diodoro, who is fifth in the nation in total wins with 116.

Want star jockeys? How about Florent Geroux, he of the $8.7 million in 2021 earnings. That’s fifth among North American riders. Or Ricardo Santana Jr., who’s currently seventh in purse earnings among jockeys with $8.64 million.

The Northern Stars Racing Festival offers $610,000 in purses spread across those six stakes. It doubles as the richest day in Minnesota horse racing and offers the chance to see some of the sport’s riding and training stars outside of the major tracks.

The flagship stakes race on the 10-race card is the $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby. Cox has T D Dance as the 5/2 morning-line favorite in the one-mile turf test. His go-to rider, Geroux, gets the reins for that race, and for two other Cox entries on the card.

Cox dances with Mystic Lake Derby favorite

T D Dance is 2-for-3 this year and 3-for-5 in his career. He won the Listed James Murphy Stakes at Pimlico on the Preakness Stakes undercard last month.

Maker counters with Grade 3 winner Chess’s Dream (4/1) and Shady McGee (12/1) in a race he won in 2018 and 2019. And it’s not like Maker is a stranger to Canterbury. He’s 16-for-50 lifetime there (32%), with $1.08 million in career Canterbury earnings.

Expect Santana to add to that total. He’s riding four Maker horses on Wednesday, including Chess’s Dream, who won the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January. The 3-year-old has that win and three thirds in five 2021 starts this season.

Canterbury locals include Breeders’ Cup alum

Ian Wilkes, who trained 2017 Mystic Lake Derby winner Giant Payday, returns with 5/1 Modern Science. Chris Landeros, who rode Giant Payday to that victory, gets the call again on a colt who’s never missed the board (1-2-1) in four career starts.

The other local entrant of note is 8/1 Bodenheimer, who owns a Canterbury victory, along with an eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. He’s 3-for-8 in his career.

Diodoro detours from duties with Ohio Derby contender Keepmeinmind to saddle horses in the five-furlong $100,000 Dark Star Turf Sprint and the $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile. A three-time Canterbury training champion, Diodoro currently leads the meet with 14 winners in 40 starts – a gaudy 35% win rate.

Maker, Cox field the Mile favorites

Last year’s Mystic Lake Derby winner, Summer Assault, takes on Giant Payday in that $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile. Joel Berndt now conditions Giant Payday. Defending champion Tut’s Revenge also returns. All three stare up at the Maker-trained 5/2 favorite Parlor. Cox sends out 4/1 second-favorite Hieronymus, who has four wins in eight career races.

Canterbury became one of the go-to tracks for ADW bettors due to its industry-low 10% takeout on its $1 Pick Six and 50 cent Pick Five.