Ajs High Headlines Bank of America Canterbury Park Championship Challenge
Grade 1 Bank of America Challenge Championship winner Ajs High will will head a full field in the 2018 running of the Bank of America Canterbury Park regional Championship on July 4.

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Ajs High Headlines Bank of America Canterbury Park Championship Challenge

SHAKOPEE, MN—JULY 1, 2018—The 2016 winner of both the Bank of America Canterbury Park Championship Challenge and the $330,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1), Ajs High, will return to race at Canterbury Park in the 2018 running of the regional Championship qualifier on July 4.

The Independence Day card in Shakopee kicks off with the Canterbury Park Distaff Challenge, followed by the Championship Challenge and several Thoroughbred stakes.

Ajs High is trained by Charles Hunt and will be ridden on Wednesday by Stormy Smith, who rode Ajs High in his previous Canterbury start.

The son of Apollitical Jess is winless in 2018 but has hit the board twice in three starts, most recently finishing third in the Grade 1 Sooner State Stakes at Remington Park. He excels at the 440-yard distance of the Championship Challenge, with four wins in eight starts and has only finished out of the money once.

The Canterbury Park Championship Challenge has sent the winner of the Grade 1 Bank of America Challenge Championship in each of the last two years: Ajs High in 2016 and The Fiscal Cliff in 2017. Ajs High qualified to the final and finished third in 2017 after winning the regional qualifier at Prairie Meadows.

Ajs High could make his fifth straight appearance to the Challenge Championships this year; he won the Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) in 2014 and competed in the Derby Challenge Championship in 2015 (G3).

With only five regional qualifiers available to horses seeking a Championship berth, the race drew a full field of 11 horses. The 2017 leading Challenge Program trainer, Bob Johnson, brings four entries, including the horses that ran second and third behind The Fiscal Cliff in last year’s running of this race, Okeyfreight and Fowl Play. Both horses also competed in the Grade 1 Challenge Championship last fall at Prairie Meadows.

However, it will be worth watching Johnson’s entry, Faster Than Hasta, who has drawn next to Ajs High. Faster Than Hasta was second in last year’s Derby Challenge Championship and is a full brother to Hastabealeader, the multiple stakes winner whose career spanned five years and frequently participated in Challenge races. Hastabealeader specialized in longer races, especially at 870 yards; brother Faster Than Hasta will be attempting 440 yards for the first time in his career.

The $49,410 Bank of America Canterbury Park Championship Challenge is Race 2 on Wednesday, July 4. Estimated post time is 1:16 pm CT.

The field, by post position, with trainer, jockey and morning-line odds:

  1. Damn Strait: Stacy Charette-Hill, Jorge Torres, 6-1
  2. Fowl Play: Bob Johnson, Julian Serrano, 10-1
  3. Pure Favorite: Jason Olmstead, Cristian Esqueda,20-1
  4. Nsm Skydancer: Charles Hunt, Berkley Packer, 6-1
  5. Ajs High: Charles Hunt, Stormy Smith, 7-5
  6. Faster Than Hasta: Bob Johnson, Chase Clark, 8-1
  7. Bout Tree Fiddy: Patrick Swan, Brayan Velazquez, 12-1
  8. Kowboy Jim: Dean Frey, Nakia Ramirez, 10-1
  9. Your Just Jesse: Bob Johnson, Jake Samuels, 20-1
  10. Fast N Famous Jeans: Manuel Campos, Ismael Suarez Ricardo, 20-1
  11. Okeyfreight: Bob Johnson, Denny Velazquez, 20-1

The 2018 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse stakes schedule includes 16 stakes races worth over $660,000. The 70-day race meet offers racing on Thursday and Friday evenings at 6:30 pm CT and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 12:45 pm CT. in June and July. Quarter horse racing is held at the beginning of each race card.