By Joe Nevills (Bloodhorse)
Trainer Mike Maker and jockey Tyler Gaffalione teamed up for a pair of stakes victories on Canterbury Park‘s marquee Northern Stars Racing Festival card June 23, highlighted by Sniper Kitten‘s score in the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby.
The Mystic Lake Derby was the centerpiece of a card featuring five stakes races, with the three most lucrative contested at a mile on the turf.
Gaffalione helped Sniper Kitten break alertly from the gate and they settled in the middle of the pack, while Minnesota-bred Mr. Jagermeister ran hard to take and keep the lead, with a first-quarter time of :23.26. Outside horses Primo Touch and Reride applied pressure to the leader into the backstrech, and Primo Touch was particularly harassing as the half-mile went in :46.60.
Mr. Jagermiester fought valiantly into the stretch, but eventually relented, first to immediate rival Reride and later to the outside-rallying 42-1 longshot Nobrag Justfact.
Sniper Kitten raced behind the lead pack, and Gaffalione moved him four wide to run past the leaders near the sixteenth pole. The 3-year-old Kitten’s Joy colt carried on and won by a length over Nobrag Justfact. Captivating Moon closed from wide and far back to finish third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up.
“My horse has shown tactical speed,” Gaffalione said. “He puts himself in a good spot. As long as we got out of the gate, I was pretty confident.”
Sniper Kitten is trained by Maker for owners/breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey. He completed the one-mile turf race in a stakes-record time of 1:34.66 over a firm course.
“Good horses make it look easy, and it was a great ride by Tyler,” Maker said.
The Mystic Lake Derby was Sniper Kitten’s third straight win in four starts, and it was his first try in stakes company. His lifetime earnings increased to $196,550.