Canterbury Park Hall of Fame to Add Four Members

Longtime Quarter Horse breeders Rodney and Sylvia Von Ohlen will among those honored on September 1.

Edited press release

Longtime Quarter Horse breeders Rodney and Sylvia Von Ohlen will be inducted into the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame on Saturday. PHOTO: Canterbury Park

The Canterbury Park Hall of Fame Committee on Monday announced the Class of 2018 inductees.

The four newest members, who will be honored in a September 1 ceremony, are jockey Dean Butler, Minnesota HBPA president and racehorse owner and breeder Jack Walsh, Quarter Horse breeders Rodney and Sylvia Von Ohlen, and retired Minnesota-bred racehorse Heliskier. These inductees join a group of more than 40 individuals and horses that comprise the best of Minnesota racing.

Butler is a five-time champion jockey at Canterbury Park and is the track's third winningest jockey. Growing up just two miles from Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York, Butler got his start in the industry attending races with his father.

After high school, Butler went to work for Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg.  As he learned, he received advice from other trainers and riders like Mike Smith and Richard Migliore. Butler began riding at Canterbury Park in 2007.  He has ridden for numerous trainers over the years, accumulating 790 wins and earning purses in excess of $13.8 million for his connections at Canterbury.

“A lot of people have helped me,’’ Butler said. “I’ve ridden for good trainers and been very fortunate to have done as well as I have.”

Walsh has been associated with Minnesota racing for decades as both an owner and breeder. He was breeding Quarter Horses in the '70s and '80s but switched to Thoroughbreds when Canterbury opened in 1985.

An attorney, Walsh taught Equine Law for years. He has been a Minnesota Thoroughbred Association board member, Minnesota Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association vice president, and is now HBPA president. Walsh has tried cases before the American Quarter Horse Racing Association in Amarillo, Texas, and represented more than 100 horsemen before the Minnesota Racing Commission.

The Von Ohlens are accomplished Quarter Horse owners and breeders. Rodney and his wife Sylvia, who passed away last May, built a successful breeding operation in Alpha, Minnesota, before Canterbury opened. The Von Ohlens are the second-leading Quarter Horse owners in Minnesota Festival of Champions history with six winners.  They started the season as second-leading owners in earnings and third in career winners at Canterbury.

Heliskier is a retired Thoroughbred that earned many accolades during his racing career including champion two-year-old in 2011, two-time champion sprinter, champion three-year-old colt, and champion older horse. Heliskier is one of only two horses to be named Horse of the Year twice at Canterbury Park, earning that title in 2012 and again in 2013.

The Canterbury Park Hall of Fame was founded in 1995 to recognize people and horses who have made important and lasting contributions to Minnesota's racing industry. The selection committee consists of representatives of local horsemen organizations, local media, and Canterbury Park.

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