Spot Plays for Northern Stars Turf Festival at Canterbury June 22

June 20th, 2022

The biggest day on the 2022 racing calendar at Canterbury Park is Wednesday, when five grass stakes carrying a minimum purse of $100,000 are scheduled. Kentucky Derby (G1)-winning jockeys Javier Castellano and Florent Geroux are among the riding talent named on mounts throughout the card, which begins at 6:10 p.m. ET.

Provided the rain stays away, which looks likely, and the fields hold, which is often a different matter entirely, here are several horses of interest among the turf features.

Race 3: Curtis Sampson Oaks (7:10 p.m. ET)

She drew a tough post and hasn't been out since making a winning debut at Saratoga last Aug. 1, but #13 Blissful (10-1) is an unexposed type that might make an impact in a race that basically serves as a first-level allowance for her.

Blissful overcame a modest pace to win at first asking by a neck at the Spa, and while she hasn't been out since, she's been showing plenty of speed in her morning trials at Keeneland for Cherie DeVaux, whose record with layoff types is strong.

Blissful is a full sister to Grade 3 turf winner Keri Belle and was produced by the Grade 3-winning Belleski, thus she has the pedigree power to improve.

Race 6: Lady Canterbury S. (8:43 p.m. ET)

#8 Saranya (7-2) won the Curtis Sampson Oaks last summer over this course and might make it 2-for-2 locally in this one-mile test.

The Brad Cox trainee raced twice more last season after winning the Oaks, rallying for fourth in a shorter stakes at Kentucky Downs after a slow start, and then finishing five lengths eighth in the Valley View (G3) over yielding ground she might not have handled.

Her comeback effort at Keeneland, in a third-level allowance on April 23, was solid. Racing closer to the pace than normal, she missed by only a half-length in an exciting finish. Runner-up Gam's Mission came back to win the Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs.

Race 7: Mystic Lake Mile (9:14 p.m. ET)

#9 Drama Chorus (12-1) has thrived over this course in the past (7-4-2-0) and appears capable of winning on or slightly off the pace, a positive considering the presence of other speed elements in the field.

Although second best in the off-the-turf local prep last month, he's best judged off his form over the Tampa Bay Downs turf in March. Although the latter was a Florida-bred stakes, which he won by a neck going nine furlongs, the more impressive run was the March 9 optional claimer which he lost by a neck to Chez Pierre. That rival is a fascinating French import who went on to score handsomely in the Henry S. Clark S. at Laurel.

There are good horses here, too, but that bit of form with Chez Pierre might be worth respecting at a potentially nice price.