Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jockey seals win with kiss

Newcomer gets Downs' season off to hot start

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Newcomer Paul Nolan sealed his impressive arrival in Manitoba with a kiss Sunday at Assiniboia Downs.

The jockey put together back-to-back five-furlong victories on opening day at the track, first on Sir Sherman in the fifth and then on The Phenom in the sixth.

Then, to add icing to the cake, the British-born rider of the year at Canterbury Downs in 2006 and Sam Houston in 2010, planted a kiss on the head of five-month-old baby girl Alann Mellon, who was in the winners circle celebrating her brother Carson's seventh birthday, as part of a Downs' promotion.

"That was pretty exciting," said the red-haired baby's mother, Tracee Mellon. "He was a very nice jockey and that was really a surprise."

Nolan saluted the crowd with a spin of his riding crop as he approached the winners circle. "It's always great to get that first win out of the way," he said.

Describing his win in the fifth race, where he finished in front of McCart and Cash Up Front, Nolan said, "He spread the turn a little bit and I had to hold him together, but when we turned home he did pretty good for me."

In the sixth, he was followed across the line by Lees Dyna Man and Many Crows.

Nolan also picked up a second with Bull Market, behind winner Mining Town.

The 2012 season got off to a hot start, with fans cheering wildly as three-time leading jockey Rohan Singh served notice in the first race that he was still on top of his game, riding Plus Ultra to victory.

Another newcomer to the track, Robert Reeves Jr., originally from Cincinnati, but having raced out of Florida last year, hit the winners circle after the five-furlong second, riding four-year-old gelding Vader to victory.

"I expected more in my first race on the filly (Mygallovesgold)," said Reeves, "but this horse here was much the best in this race. I'm just getting into the rhythm of things here. I have been here about 12 days now and I really like it here."

The other new, highly-touted newcomer, 18-year-old Tyler Kaplan of California, will have to wait until a Manitoba Horse Racing Commission ruling on Thursday to find out when he'll finally ride his first race here.

Kaplan was scratched from all five of his rides Sunday after failing to provide his health card to race officials earlier in the week.

"He left his physical card in Phoenix," said his agent Mike Pierce. "He didn't bring it with him when he came up here, and by the time we had it faxed up it was too late, they had already taken entries.

"He has an appointment tomorrow (Monday) with the doctor for his physical, and goes before the Racing Commission on Thursday. He'll have to pay a fine, and/or a two- or three-day suspension. We're hoping he will be back for Saturday, but that's up to the commission."

Racing continues Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday (Mothers' Day) at 1 p.m.

petto@shaw.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 7, 2012 C4

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