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Big Purses on the Prairie


May 2, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

Dean Kutz Memorial, North Dakota-bred Stakes highlight 2006 Horse Park Meet

For the first time in its four-year history, the North Dakota Horse Park will conduct live racing in the month of July. An extra weekend of races has been added to the summer calendar that will run from July 28-September 10th.

Opening night, July 28, will feature stakes for Quarter Horses as well as Thoroughbreds. The $6,000 Open Quarter Horse Inaugural and $6,000 Open Thoroughbred Inaugural will kickoff the first of seven weekends of live action. On Sunday, July 30, the popular North Dakota Bred Futurity promises to be the centerpiece of opening weekend. Last year, Scott Horst's J Dam Strike won the Futurity and went on to score in the ND Futurity in Winnipeg, thus cementing year-end honors bestowed by the Thoroughbred Association.

Saturday, August 26 will be a special day at the Horse Park. The former E.K. Rolfson Handicap for older Thoroughbreds will be run this year as the Dean Kutz Memorial. Kutz, a native North Dakotan, was a successful jockey in the midwest during the 80s and early 90s.

Kutz earned multiple honors during his career, including induction into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame and Canterbury Park Hall of Fame. Kutz returned to his native roots to saddle and ride his own horse, Dakota Winter Air, in the inaugural season here at the Horse Park.

Sadly, Kutz lost a battle with cancer in September 2004 and talk began in earnest to hold a stakes in his memory. Many of Kutz's awards and memorablia will be on display August 26. The festive weekend continues on August 27 as North Dakota-bred Quarter Horse stars will run in the rich $22,000 Certified Bred Derby.

Labor Day weekend will once again be a showdown weekend at the Horse Park. Race fans know the Kentucky Derby is run on the first Saturday in May. So it's fitting the North Dakota Bred Derby will be run on the first Saturday in September. Usually held on a Sunday, "Derby Day" has been moved to a Saturday, September 2. The cream of the Flickertail crop will converge on Fargo and race for $24,000 after racing all summer in Winnipeg, Shakopee, and points beyond. Horseman Bill Maulding has won the Derby two years in a row and this year he'll be gunning for a third.

Labor Day itself will feature the $24,000+ North Dakota-bred Quarter Horse Futurity. The richest race of the meet always produces a great story and thrilling finish. Last summer was no exception as Melissa Peach's Major Splash Bac Jet rocketed to victory before a large holiday crowd.

Harness Racing will once again close out the meet with three days of racing September 8, 9, and 10. Friday nights will once again feature the popular "dollar beer/dollar hot dog" promotion. The weekends will be filled with special events and increased "how to" handicapping seminars.

The entire Stakes Calendar can be accessed online at www.northdakotahorsepark.org.