High drama and great news for the future have closed out the 60-day live race meet at Assiniboia Downs.
The drama is evident in the photo accompanying this column. I took that picture, happening to be in the right place at the right time to capture the precise moment a filly’s nose hits the track in the beginning of a somersault that results, frighteningly, with both jockey and horse lying motionless on the track for what seemed like an eternity.
But finally jockey Paul Nolan, who had just been given a trophy for the leading jockey of 2013, staggers to his feet, brushes himself off and gets on his mount for the next race. And a little while later, the two-year-old grey filly, Smoke Show, also rebounds and is led away by trainer Ardell Sayler — the leading trainer for the 11th time — as onlookers applaud. She cools out and eats heartily, none the worse for wear. Phew!
That scary bit of action took place in the biggest race for two-year-old Manitoba-bred babies, the $50,000 Buffalo Stakes, who were racing a mile for the first time in their young lives.
Smoke Show had gone down as a result of clipping heels with the horse ahead of her, Regal Silver, and the jockey on that horse, Adolfo Morales (in pink), was fined $250 for careless riding.
Incidentally, the runaway winner of that race, Zdeno, who was purchased at the yearling sale at the Downs last year for $31,000, will be a leading candidate for Horse of the Year, having won all four starts of his young career including the $50,000 Winnipeg Futurity. He has already earned almost $93,000.
And the great news for the future? The Downs has already signed a contract with horsemen for next year for another 60-day meet with the same purse structure as this season. Overall wagering this past live season increased from $8.2 million to $8.7 million, primarily the result of a hefty 24% increase in out-of-province wagering.
With the end of live racing, attention turns to Vegas-style simulcast racing and I’m holding weekly workshops Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m., where participants will discuss and play pick-5 and pick-6 tickets at New York’s Belmont Park that could have the group sharing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everyone attending gets a free $5 share in group tickets.
Hope to see you! And, of course, there’s VLT action every day — with free tournaments Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. — and Thursday prime rib buffets.
See you in three weeks to talk about my favourite two days in racing: the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 1 and 2!