It was one of the great races of the summer, but in the end, the Manitoba Mile belonged to Stanley Chadee Jr. and Media Melee.
Last Saturday night, it was the 59th running of the $27,500 Manitoba Mile for three-year-olds and upward and at the start of the race, Media Melee was anything but a favorite of the local punters. Going off at 7-1, he was certainly not up there with pre-race favorite and 2017 Manitoba Derby winner Plentiful or last year’s CTHS Sales Stakes winner Langara.
And at the three-quarter pole, Media Melee had fallen to fourth and appeared to be languishing. But that’s when Chadee Jr. asked for a little extra and got it. After a bump with Witt’sdollarnight – a bump that resulted in an objection and a long wait after the race for a steward’s decision -- Media Melee rallied up the rail and passed Plentiful, winning by a neck.
Media Melee, owned by John Ganas and trained by Steven Gaskin, paid $14.70 to win, $5.40 to place and $3.40 to show. Plentiful, already the Free Press Stakes and R.J. Speers winner this season, paid $2.70 to place and $2.30 to show. Langara was third, paying $2.70 to show.
It has been a tremendous summer of stakes races at the Downs and the next one goes this Wednesday night as the $27,500 Winnipeg Sun Stakes for older fillies and mares goes to post. However, this could be interesting. It’s currently a four-horse race with C.J.’s Flair, Amaretto, Tadaa and, you guessed it, Escape Clause. It will be interesting to see how many of these mares with challenge the Super Horse come Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, as we head into the 30th night of racing in this year’s 50-date meet, Antonio Whitehall still leads the jockey standings, but Tyrone Nelson, Kayla Pizarro and Adolfo Morales are making it a race. Whitehall had one win last weekend and leads with 22 wins, 35 seconds and 20 thirds in 138 starts with $259,159 in winnings for his owners. Nelson and Pizarro are now tied for second. Nelson has 20 wins, 17 seconds and 19 thirds in 110 starts and has won $240,321 while Pizarro has 20 wins, 12 seconds and 17 thirds in 109 starts and has won $177,503. Morales, who won twice on the weekend, now has 19 wins, 12 seconds and 15 thirds in 71 mounts and has won $200,416. Renaldo Cumberbatch has 17 wins while Chavion Chow and Prayven Badrie each have 17.
On the trainer’s side of the tables, Jerry Gourneau didn’t have a winner on the weekend, but still has a huge lead. Gourneau has 27 wins, 26 seconds and 20 third-place finishes in 158 starts, and has amassed $238,806 in earnings. Don Schnell is now second, despite only 45 starts. Schnell has 14 wins, nine seconds and two thirds in only 45 starts and has won $130,814. Defending champion Tom Gardipy Jr. is next with 13 wins and $144,095 in earnings in 136 starts.
This will be the final night of Wednesday racing until Aug. 15. There is also racing on both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend and, of course, 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.
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.
And don’t forget, we’re less than two weeks away from Manitoba Derby Weekend. The Manitoba Oaks goes to post on Friday, Aug. 3 while the Derby thrills racing fans on Monday, Aug. 6.
Photos courtesy Assiniboia Downs