When you’re in love and want to propose marriage and both you and your girlfriend were born in the Year of the Horse in the Chinese zodiac, what do you do?
For Joe Rodrigues, an imaginative dental technician who brought his girlfriend, counsellor Gorete Tavares, to Assiniboia Downs two Fridays ago, the answer was obvious. After the races, you invite her to accompany you to the winner’s circle and, once there, you snatch a ring from your pocket, drop to a knee and pop the big question.
"Look at the couple making out in the winner’s circle," someone looking through the clubhouse window shouted before he and others in the clubhouse realized what was going on.
I quickly grabbed a camera to record the romantic moment. And did she accept the proposal?
"Of course!" she said. No neighsayer, she. (She was born in 1978 and he was born in 1966, exactly 12 years apart, which gave both of them the same animal in the Chinese zodiac: the horse.)
"That’s where winners go," Joe said afterward. "Now I’m a winner today!"
Sigh! This wasn’t the first time romance or marriage has made it onto the track, though. Full wedding ceremonies with large bridal parties are carried out in the winner’s circle from time to time.
And three weeks ago, while two bachelor parties were being held in the grandstand, a stark naked male body — what? — suddenly appeared on the track between races and the guy, who appeared to be in his 20s, streaked down the stretch, hopped over a fence and disappeared into the parking lot. Wanna bet that wasn’t one of the soon-not-to-be-a-bachelor carrying out a dare? Everyone’s still buzzing about that one.
But the main streakers, of course, are of the four-legged variety and there’s nothing like stakes races to get the heart pumping a bit faster. There’s one this Saturday, the $25,000 Frank Arnason Sire Stakes with top three-year-olds bred in Manitoba. And next Wednesday, top three-year-old fillies will be duking it out for $30,000 in the Chantilly Stakes.
And very soon, this paper’s stakes race, the $30,000 Canstar Canada Day Stakes on July 1, will feature the best female horses on the grounds. Look for an ad elsewhere in today’s paper and clip the valuable coupons!
In the meantime, racing continues Friday and Saturday (enter via the Saskatchewan Avenue backstretch) and next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. And note: word has gone out that the only streaking permitted is your rushing to the windows to get your bets down on time.