When 74-year-old owner, breeder and trainer
Robert “Bun” Colvin passed away December 4, 2010 he left behind a longtime
legacy of racing and breeding his horses throughout the Midwest. A major part
of that legacy was the multiple stakes winning mare, Plana Dance. The daughter
of Northern Flagship is a Colvin homebred, won 11 of 26 lifetime races, and was
a multiple stakes winner at Canterbury Park in the late 1990s. A win in the 1996
Canterbury Oaks was a career highlight for the consistent Minnesota-bred mare. At
the time of his death, there was little doubt that Plana Dance was the best
horse that Colvin ever bred and campaigned, at least as far as everyone but Colvin believed. A year and a half later, and that
may no longer be true. A new star has emerged in Minnesota in the form of a
strapping bay three-year-old gelding named Heliskier.
Bred by Colvin, and campaigned by his wife of 56
years, Marlene, Heliskier has done nothing but impress in the first four starts
of his career. A son of the outstanding sprinter, and popular Minnesota sire, Appealing Skier, Heliskier not coincidentally just happens to be out of Plana Dance. Bun
must be smiling from above as his homebred has taken Canterbury Park by storm
like no other horse in recent memory.
Making his career debut on August 13 of last
year, the then juvenile colt was sent off at 7-2 for trainer McLean Robertson in
a maiden special weight field of ten restricted to Minnesota-breds. Stalking
the early pace under rider Derek Bell, Heliskier cruised to the lead and drew
off under limited encouragement to win impressively by 4 ½ lengths.
Since then, Canterbury bettors have had no
problem in identifying Heliskier as a man against boys with his fellow
statebreds. Three weeks later, he was sent off as a heavy favorite in the six
furlong Northern Lights Futurity. He did not disappoint. Taking his regular
stalking early position Heliskier toyed with the seven horse stakes field before
cantering home the easiest kind of winner. The ten length winning margin
underscored what the fans already knew … Heliskier was not your average
Several months off over the winter has not slowed
down Heliskier one bit. Returning on June 10, the big gelding crushed allowance
foes, this time by 10 ½ lengths. Final time for the six panels was a sharp 1:08-4,
prompting the Beyer boys to give Heliskier a 94 speed figure … not something
you see every day in a Minnesota-bred allowance race.
Coming back quickly (13 days) to make the $50,000
Victor S. Meyer Jr. Stakes this past Saturday, Heliskier was pounded by the bettors
and one in particular. One confident punter dropped $150,000 grand to win in
the final click on the tote board, which brought the odds on the undefeated
powerhouse to 1-20 in only his fourth start.
The outcome was never in doubt as the last horse
that Bun ever bred and broke, and contemplated postponing his retirement just
to be around the then yearling, cruised around the track to win by an
effortless four lengths in 1:09-2.
is now 4-for-4 and the folks around Canterbury cannot wait to see what Bun’s
horse will do next.
Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography