Candy Giant, ridden by Tyrone Nelson and trained by Eurico Martens threw his name into the Manitoba Derby sweepstakes last Saturday night.
Candy Giant, nearly lapped the field, winning by five lengths in the one-mile contest for three-year-olds, over Pate Marwick with Adolfo Morales aboard. And Pete Warwick was five ahead of the third-place finisher, Primo Touch with Rohan Singh in the irons.
The big surprise was Zack Ridge Road, coming off multiple stakes’ wins, the favored Zack Ridge Road finished fifth, almost 16 lengths in arrears. Back in the Golden Boy Stakes on June 23, Zack Ridge Road edged Candy Giant by a neck, but on this night, the Martens-trained-and-woned chestnut colt was clearly the better thoroughbred.
Candy Giant’s win threw the doors wide open, at least in terms of the local contenders in this year’s $75,000 Manitoba Derby. Zack Ridge Road looked like the class of the Manitoba three-year-olds up until last Saturday night. Now, however, it looks like the betting money might turn toward the invaders in this year’s big race on Aug. 6, considering there is no clear favorite among the potential local entries.
Meanwhile, last Friday night, Estherfourfourteen, ridden by Kayla Pizarro and trained by Steven Gaskin the $27,500 Jack Hardy Stakes for three-year-old fillies over seven furlongs. Estherfourfourteen fought off a challenge from Rohan Singh on True Confession to win by a neck. Estherfourfourteen paid a whopping $38.40 to win, $9.10 to place and $5.80 to show. True Confession, a favorite, paid $2.70 to place and $2.10 to show.
Estherfourfourteen has thrown her hat into the ring as a contender for the $30,000 Manitoba Oaks on Aug. 3.
Meanwhile, as we head into the 27th night of racing on Wednesday, Antonio Whitehall still leads the jockey standings with 21 wins, 35 seconds and 17 thirds in 128 starts ($249,004 in winnings for his owners), but look out for Tyrone Nelson and Kayla Pizarro. Both jockeys won three races on the weekend and now Nelson has 19 wins, 14 seconds and 16 thirds in 98 starts and has won $220,775 while Pizarro is still tied for second with 19 wins, eight seconds and 14 thirds in 93 starts and has won $161,773. Adolfo Morales is still fourth with 16 wins, 12 seconds and 13 thirds in 63 mounts and has won $171,641. Renaldo Cumberbatch and Chavion Chow each have 15 wins while Rohan Singh has 12.
On the trainer’s side, Jerry Gourneau won only once on the weekend but widened his lead. He now has 27 wins, 21 seconds and 17 third-place finishes in 144 starts and has $224,678 in earnings. Defending champion Tom Gardipy Jr. is next with 13 wins and $133,638 in earnings in 130 starts, while Don Schnell is still tied for second, despite only 40 starts. Schnell has 13 wins, nine seconds and a third and has finished in the money in 59 per cent of his races. He’s won $121,437.
There is Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night race this week 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.
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.
Photo by Jason Halstead, Assiniboia Downs