Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

Heliskier wins for fun and runs for Bun

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 Minnesota-bred.


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.


Heliskier 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 


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Older Comments about Heliskier wins for fun and runs for Bun...

Very impressive in the Minnesota Derby!
I just keep waiting to see what Heliskier will do next
Heliskier has been pretty fun to watch for those of us that call Canterbury Park home. The ease with which he has won his two starts this year makes one wonder how much more there is to offer. Will be fun to follow him.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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