Another Big Week at The Downs


Now that Sky Promise is off to Alberta with his Manitoba Derby winnings and the defending jockey champion Rohan Singh has left Winnipeg for Louisiana Downs, it’s time to count the spoils from the Festival of Racing.

And make no mistake, the entire weekend was sensational but Derby Day itself was better than anyone could have dreamed. Last year, bettors (including those at other racing venues) wagered $73,800 per race on Derby Day. This year, that number flew past $80,000 per race.

In a packed grandstand on a gorgeous sunny afternoon, fans wagered $558,409 on the seven races,” said Downs CEO Darren Dunn.

“A highlight of the day was the $64,000 bet into the pick-4 pool after Saturday’s pick-4 wasn’t won and the money was carried over to Derby Day. A $1 ticket correctly predicting the winning horse in four consecutive races paid $441. The longest shot on the day came in Race 2 when Arcus, a five-year-old gelding who hadn’t raced since last year, surprised players and paid $36.50 for a $2-win wager. It was a great day and a great Festival of Racing weekend.”

Now that the Derby is done, there is still plenty of great racing over the final five weeks of the 50-day meet. This weekend, there is racing on both Friday and Saturday nights with post parade at 7:15. Here are the highlights coming up:

  • Saturday, Aug. 11: Monsoon Rain overnight stakes recognizing a fan favourite from a decade ago
  • Sunday, Aug.12: THE BIG ONE: Manitoba Night Market & Festival. From 3 – 11 p.m. Admission $5. Food trucks, artisans, beer gardens, microbreweries, entertainment, kids’ fun
  • Wednesday, Aug. 15: Live racing 7:15. Electric Fever overnight stakes
  • Friday, Aug. 17: Live racing 7:15. Phil Kives overnight stakes
  • Saturday, Aug. 18: Live racing 7:15. CTHS Sale Stakes, Distaff Stakes. Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine, third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown
  • Sunday, Aug. 19: Annual CTHS yearling sale on the Red River Ex grounds behind the ASD grandstand at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, as we head into the 35th and 36th days of racing in this year’s 50-date meet, Antonio Whitehall still leads the jockey standings. Whitehall is on top with 29 wins, 38 seconds and 27 thirds in 173 starts with an impressive $335,148 in winnings for his owners. Tyrone Nelson is now second with 24 wins, 22 seconds and 21 thirds in 139 mounts and has won $283,891. And we have a two-way tied for third. Prayven Badrie is 23-20-26 with $232,394 in winnings in 145 mounts and Adolfo Morales is 23-15-17 with $266,630 in winnings in 85 starts. Kayla Pizarro is now fourth at 22-13-18 with $193,661 in winnings.

Meanwhile, there will be a new champion this year after defending champion Rohan Singh, who had 16 wins this summer, had his jockey license rescinded this week.

After an investigation by the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission into the very strange Winnipeg Sun Stakes resulted with the Commission deciding to take away Singh’s ASD license. As part of the penalty, Singh must reapply if he wishes to ride at ASD in the future. Singh left ASD before the Derby and is now riding at Louisiana Downs.

On the trainer’s side, Jerry Gourneau still leads comfortably. Gourneau has 28 wins, 30 seconds and 26 third-place finishes in 182 starts, and has amassed $261,426 in earnings. Don Schnell remains second, despite only 61 starts. Schnell has 18 wins, nine seconds and seven thirds and has won $185,631. Defending champion Tom Gardipy Jr. is third with 16 wins and $165,880 in winnings in 165 starts. Steven Gaskin is fourth with 15 wins and $183,851 in earnings in just 82 starts.

Next week, racing returns on Wednesday night (Aug. 15), but in the meantime, don’t forget, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the free VLT tournaments continue, starting at 8 p.m. each night. You can get into the draw for 10 chances to win $20 in free VLT spins. The top winner from each night participates in a month-end finale for more spins and $250 in prize money.

And every Friday and Saturday, the Downs presents $10 buy-in poker. The registration is at 8 p.m. and the game starts at 8:30 p.m.

The next big feature at the Downs is the Manitoba Night Market and Festival from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. next Sunday with food trucks right on the race track, artisans, micro-breweries, entertainment and kids’ fun.

Photo courtesy Assiniboia Downs