WINNIPEG - It’s unlikely this was unsuspected -- and that means even to casual racing fans who go out to Assiniboia Downs only once or twice a year.
Manitoba-bred filly Escape Clause was honoured twice at the annual HBPA/CTHS Awards Banquet at the Finish Line Banquet Hall last Friday. Not was only was Escape Clause the Horse of the Year on the track, she also won Manitoba-bred Horse of the Year.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said part owner Barry Arnason as he accepted the award on behalf of owner/trainer Don Schnell and the True North owners Phil Allard and Pat Beavis.
Not since Liz’s Pride in 1978 has there been a Manitoba filly who showed Escape Clause’s talent, winning seven of eight races and finishing second to Plentiful in the Manitoba Derby. She then went to Alberta where she tackled and beat horses bred in B.C. and Alberta.
There will be plenty of talk about Escape Clause’s spectacular 2017 season this weekend at the Downs with three days of racing on tap – Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Monday, Victoria Day, at 1:30 p.m.
As well, on Saturday it’s the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes from Pimlico race track in Baltimore. Kentucky Derby-winner Justify is the 1-2 morning line favorite with Good Magic next at 3-1.
The problem, however, could be the weather. Rain is predicted for all this week including Saturday and Justify obviously liked the slop at Churchill when he won the Derby. That sets up for a likely Good Magic-chasing-Justify scenario again.
If it rains, a nice crisp $100 bill will be laid on Justify to set himself up for another Triple Crown run at the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 9.
At the Downs on Saturday, there will be six draws for four-glass Triple Crown collections and a $100 First & Worst contest to predict the first and last place finishers in the Preakness.
So remember, the Preakness is slated to go to post at 5:20 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and then live racing resumes again with the post parade at 7:15.
There is also live racing on Friday, May 18, with the opening post parade at 7:15 and the Downs will also go to post on Victoria Day Monday at 1:30 p.m. It’s going to be an exciting weekend of live racing, plus the Preakness.
And 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