Reporting Holly Wagner
SHAKOPEE, Minn. (WCCO) – A fitting tribute was held Saturday for a long-time local sports personality with a passion for horse racing.
Friends and fans remembered the life of Dark Star, a long-time WCCO Radio personality, former host of a TV show called “Canterbury Report”, and a Vietnam War veteran.
His real name was George Chapple. He died last week at the age of 66.
His tribute was at Canterbury Park on one of the biggest days for horse racing of the year, the 144th Belmont Stakes.
Friend and colleague Kevin Gorg noted that since the horse favored to win the Belmont Stakes dropped out, more emphasis will be on Chapple’s legacy.
“I’ll Have Another is gone, this is Dark Star’s day,” said Gorg. “Nobody could catch your imagination like the Dark Man.”
Chapple took the name Dark Star early in his career after the 1953 Kentucky Derby winner.
Michael Pearson was one of many avid listeners who came to pay tribute to him.
“The stuff he would talk about on the fly is why I would listen. He just went with it and people knew him like that, I think that’s what I’ll miss the most,” said Pearson.
Several of Dark Star’s friends shared their memories.
“When I heard he was gone, there’s a great vacuum in my life because there wasn’t anybody who could make me laugh like that,” said a friend named Joe.
A colleague and friend named Sarah, was honored to be referred to as his granddaughter by Dark Star.
“We knew a masterful storyteller, a horse racing handicapper, a lover of baseball. From the day he met you he would give you the shirt off of his back,” she said.
Dark Star spent 25 years on the air on WCCO Radio, and had worked at Canterbury Park for even longer.
His colleagues at Canterbury Park plan to bring back his favorite race next year, the Chaucer Cup, and rename it The Dark Star Cup.
They also plan to name the press room after him, a place where he spent a lot of his time.
Dark Star’s cause of death is still unknown.