How would you like to add a horse to your family — with no responsibilities and no bills to pay?
And you get these perks: you get to visit him in the stables with your friends; feed him carrots or other horse treats; watch him work out on beautiful summer mornings; get your picture taken with him in the winner’s circle when he wins a race; and enjoy a coffee or hearty meals in the backstretch kitchen with other horsemen.
Too good to be true? Oh, but it is.
It’s called the Honorary Horse Owner Program and it’s made available at Assiniboia Downs by other horse lovers in the Manitoba chapter of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
All you do is sign up for a $25 registration fee — and you’re assigned a horse. Yippy! You’re an instant owner — in an honorary way. With interesting memories sure to follow.
Remember when we returned to school after summer holidays and had to write an essay on "what I did during my summer holidays"? How interesting it could have been (and could still be if you have a child in school) if "owning" a horse is part of it?
If I’ve piqued your interest, you may simply sign up at the track during live racing Wednesday, Friday or Saturday. Races start at 7:30 p.m. Go to the info centre on the main level. Or you can call the general office at 204-885-3330.
You may recall the famous quote of Winston Churchill, the great British wartime prime minister: "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."
Lucky you, under this program you get to experience what it’s like with no commitments.
Of course, if you enjoy it and want to own a horse for real, well, that’s a step that may have pitfalls, because now you have responsibilities, but your joy could be multiplied as well. No one was happier in the winner’s circle last week than courier driver Bob Stremich who, finally, after buying Manitoba-bred baby horses at the annual yearling auction for 10 years with his partners, hit the big time with a three-year-old filly named A Girl’s Gotta Do, that won two stakes races in a row: one for $25,000 and the last one, the R.C. Anderson, for $50,000.
"It finally clicked," he said, as he hugged everyone in sight and the winner’s circle was packed with him and his five partners’ family and friends. It seemed as if half the city was there.
There’s just something about winning a horse race, whether you’re an owner or player, that turns people giddy. Recall how genuinely excited Queen Elizabeth II was several weeks ago when she became the first monarch to have a horse, Estimate, win the highly coveted Gold Cup at the prestigious Royal Ascot meet in England? She beamed like a schoolgirl.
And, for you, it can start simply by saying "sign me up," and picking up an extra bunch of carrots at the supermarket.
We’re two weeks from the biggest race day of the year, the Manitoba Lotteries Derby on holiday Monday, Aug. 5, at 1:30 p.m.
Remember there’s a hat contest where you can win $100 for any of these hat designs: (1) most stylish; (2) best racing theme; and (3) most outrageous.
Get thinkin’ and creatin’!