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Mother’s Day at the races: fathers’ ploy?

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Moms unwinding at Mother’s Day at the races last year.

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Moms unwinding at Mother’s Day at the races last year. Photo Store

Something curious happens at this time of year. Moms head to the race track in droves to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Even if they don’t come to the track one more time during the racing season, they’re there for Mom’s Day. What gives? Why has horse racing become so inextricably bound up with Mother’s Day, not only here, but throughout North America and even overseas?

Just to put this day into perspective: tickets for Mother’s Day brunch go on sale at Assiniboia Downs Feb. 1 and are sold out in about three weeks. And the waiting list is long as your arm. Sure, there’s interest in Father’s Day at the races but nothing like this.

How did it come to be this way? It’s hardly likely that moms themselves started this trend. That would require their having decided, en masse, to pester their husbands to take them to the races.

What’s more likely is that men who like to play the races used Mother’s Day as a sneaky way to take in the races themselves-— though mom was in tow — and therefore enjoy guilt-free fun without worrying about having a wife at home later demanding to know how much money they had lost at the track.

So Mother’s Day at the races really began as father’s Mother’s Day at the races, so to speak. And, with the tracks laying out impressive brunches and fun for the kids as Assiniboia Downs has done, mothers came to the conclusion: "Hey, this is fun!" and so launched an annual tradition.

And that tradition continues this Sunday with, yes, pony rides, a bouncy gym and petting farm for the kids and, because the brunch was sold out long ago, the Downs had added an unwind-after-the-races dinner buffet for moms and whoever else wants to join in.

Tickets are being snapped up for that, too. That’s based, I would think, on the Downs’ reputation as the top server on the continent (according to Downs’ suppliers) for the top-level certified Angus prime rib, beef that meets about eight criterion for marbling and other signs of tenderness.

I have an invitation to moms, too, the ones who may want to show off their horseplayer skills even though they’re infrequent players: Come to my "Learn the Secrets" stage just inside the main entrance at 1 p.m., 30 minutes before the races begin, and I’ll give you tips on spotting contenders.

I mean, let the other moms bet their favourite colours or favourite names or the jockey who winked at them. You might as well pocket their dough knowing some simple tricks to reading a program.

Whatever you do, have fun! Post time is 1:30 p.m. Sunday and there’s racing Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., too.

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