Locally bred horse wins first time out at Canterbury

Two-year-old filly Brooke Academy starts very first race at 17-1

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

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Photo by Coady Photography
Fred Pelzer’s Brooke Academy is shown during her Aug. 9 winning race at Canterbury Park. It was her first time out. When the race started, the odds of her winning were 17-1, but she placed first with a purse of $25,600.

Despite being the youngest horse in a field of nine, and having never run a race before, two-year-old Brooke Academy raced to the finish in first place Aug. 9, at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.

“Her effort was amazing,” said owner Fred Pelzer of rural Royalton. “Neither her trainer nor I thought she had a chance this time out, but she ran so professionally.”

Brooke Academy was pitted against eight other horses who had raced previously but never won. Her jockey, Marcus Swiontek, is an apprentice.

As she cleared the field, Brooke Academy ran with one ear forward and one ear back. “She really didn’t know what she was doing; she is just a baby. She was wondering why the other horses were not up with her,” Pelzer said.

The $25,600 purse for the race was not something Pelzer expected. “There are no ‘gimmes’ in this business; it’s very competitive,” he said. “It was unbelievable to see her win.”

Pelzer, who was Morrison County Sheriff from 1970 to 1978, has been around horses all his life. He bought his first race horse, Garters ‘n’ Guns, in 2004.

“I’ve always loved horses,” he said. “I just found this gorgeous horse and tried to get my buddy to buy her. But I bought her and had her bred and brought her home to Minnesota.”

“I told him he was crazy,” said Pelzer’s wife, Esther.

“It’s a wonderful experience to see these horses come down the track in a competitive race. It’s an exhilarating feeling,” he said.

Garters ‘n’ Guns, a quarter horse from Texas, produced Foolish Guns, who was a good runner with a lot of speed. Pelzer had the opportunity to sell her to a trainer for breeding, and she now lives in Oklahoma.

Also out of Garters ‘n’ Guns is Dangerous Guns. “My son-in-law looked at him and said that he looked very dangerous and the name stuck,” Pelzer said.

Dangerous Guns won his second time out, and continues to win at Canterbury Park and Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. As a six-year-old, he now runs over 50 percent of the time in the money with nine wins, 10 second places and three third places.

He won on Pelzer’s birthday in late July at Canterbury. “No one else at Canterbury will run against him this year,” Pelzer said. “Dangerous Guns went to Prairie Meadows in Iowa to find competition.”

Dangerous Guns has been the state of Minnesota’s distance horse of the year and champion horse of the year in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Another of Garters ‘n’ Guns’ offspring, Explosive Guns, is an up-and-coming three-year-old. He is scheduled for a September 2 stakes race at Canterbury Park.

“The key to horse racing is to have very good mothers,” Pelzer said. “Top quality mamas produce good stock.”

Chile Win, a thoroughbred born at Pelzer’s farm out of Seattle Wine, has a bloodline that includes Secretariat and Seattle Slew. She won a six-furlong race at Canterbury Park July 21 by eight-and-a-half lengths.

“She drew the outside — she seems to like that,” Pelzer said.

In three starts this year, Chile Win has had one each of first, second and third place finishes.

Out for the summer after a slight leg injury, Classic Charm, with owner Fred Pelzer, will race again next year.

Charming Avenue, an older thoroughbred mare from California which Pelzer had for a time, produced Classic Charm. She is a two-year-old granddaughter of Avenue of Flags (a son of Seattle Slew), who produced over $14 million in runners.

“She’s laid off for the summer after a slight leg injury, but she’ll race again next year,” said Pelzer.

Pelzer’s trainers, Shane Miller and Mallory Peterson, have their training stable in Oklahoma.

“Shane was born in a stable,” Pelzer said. “He is a very thorough, hands-on trainer.”

“I’ve run Dangerous Guns the last three years,” Miller said. “He’s a hard-working horse who gives everything he has every time out. He is probably my favorite horse in the barn.”

Dangerous Guns has made about $93,000 at this point in his racing career. “For a Minnesota-bred horse to make that amount of money is pretty remarkable,” said Miller.

Pelzer’s granddaughter, Tessa Pelzer, has gone to several races at Canterbury Park.  “We got to go in the winner’s circle with Dangerous Guns,” she said. “I was so proud.”

The Pelzers have five children and 13 grandchildren.

“It isn’t always about winning,” Pelzer said. “It’s about the beauty of these animals. They are very intelligent.”