WINNIPEG - This past Wednesday night at the Downs, it was as if everyone got into the act.
While up-and-coming rider Sheldon Chickeness won twice, five other jockeys won races on the seven-race card while seven different trainers claimed victories.
Chickeness (2), Renaldo Cumberbatch, Tim Moccasin, defending jockey champion Rohan Singh, Antonio Whitehall and Shavon Belle, who won his first race of the year, all won in the irons while Curtis Maxwell, Heather Wallerstedt, Fred Rawson, Eurico Martens, Elton Dickey, Brent Hrymak and Jerry Gourneau conditioned the winners.
This weekend, it’s unlikely we’ll have 13 different winners a night. It’s a huge Stakes weekend and the big guns will be sent to post. It’s also a great night to preview some of the top local horses who will be prepping for the $75,000 Manitoba Derby on Aug. 6.
On Friday night, Race 6 is the $27,500 Chantilly Stakes for three-year-old fillies. The favorite is the Greg Tracy-trained Suzette, a Kentucky-bred ridden by Domingo Chacaltana. Eight fillies will go to post and the track’s top trainers and riders will be involved.
On Saturday night, it’s the $27,500 Golden Boy Stakes for three-year-olds. The pre-race favorite is undefeated Manitoba-bred Why So Blue, ridden by Prayven Badrie and trained by Steven Gaskin. Six horses will go to post and it’s worth watching the second favorite, Arizona-bred Zack Ridge Road, ridden by Stanley Chadee Jr. and trained by Steven Gaskin. That’s right, Gaskin has the top two horses in the race. Trainer Gary Danelson’s Florida-bred Pete Marwick with Chavion Chow in the irons, is 4-1 and should be in the mix.
As we head into Day 17 and 18 of the Downs’ 50-day meet, Antonio Whitehall has widened his lead in the jockey standings. Whitehall has 16 wins, 24 seconds and nine thirds in 77 starts and has won $188,652 for his owners while Adolfo Morales has 13 wins, eight seconds and 12 thirds in 48 mounts and has won $140,301. Tyrone Nelson is third with 11 wins, six seconds and 12 thirds in 59 starts and has won $121,002.
Meanwhile, on the trainers’ side of the ledger, Jerry Gourneau continues to lead with 16 wins and $139,593 in earnings in 93 starts. Defending champion Tom Gardipy Jr., is next with 10 wins and $100,258 in earnings in 86 starts after three wins this past weekend. And Don Schnell is next with 23 starts, nine wins and $88,009 in winnings.
Here are a couple of things to remember as we head into a great weekend of live racing:
While the Red River Exhibition is on, right next door to the Downs, remember to use the Saskatchewan Ave., back entrance to the track. Access Saskatchewan via Cavalier Drive or Buchanan Boulevard off Portage Ave. If you’re driving west down Saskatchewan Ave. from Sturgeon Road you will have to take a detour down Hamilton Avenue because a part of Saskatchewan Avenue is closed during the reconstruction of a bridge over Sturgeon Creek. Got all that? I know, it can be confusing, but it will be a problem until next Sunday.
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.
Photos courtesy Assiniboia Downs