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No more old boys club

Three female trainers in the Top 10 at Assiniboia Downs

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Tanya Lindsay (right) and Irene Britton are sending out plenty of winners this season at Assiniboia Downs.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Tanya Lindsay (right) and Irene Britton are sending out plenty of winners this season at Assiniboia Downs. Photo Store

2What she left out, and which her hot walker Andrew Hretzay displayed a few minutes later, were the champagne glasses left over from the celebration she and her staff had in her tiny office at the north-east corner of Barn F.

Pointing her finger at Hretzay, she said, "Andrew went all out, full bore."

 

Lindsay's horses won two more times on Aug. 3 and again on Aug. 9. Tuesday morning, however, she got a reminder of how quickly fortune can switch from good to bad.

'I guess women trainers are more accepted now.

I found it a little hard to break in, but I just kept working at it.

To break in and get going is a little bit hard for anyone.

It takes hard work, but sooner or later, if you are doing your job, things should fall into place'

-- Irene Britton

When she arrived at the barn that day, she discovered that during the night My Natalie had injured herself, and had to be scratched from Wednesday's sixth race.

"She had an accident in her stall," said Lindsay, adding that it amounted to cuts and bruises. "Nothing too serious, but it isn't good because time is running out (in the season)."

Victory that night went instead to another woman trainer, Irene Britton. Her horse (Yankee Candy), enabled her to move into fourth place in the standings with 20 wins. Lindsay, who has 17 wins, is tied for seventh and is one of three women in the top 10, with only 18 race dates left.

Never before at ASD has more than one woman been ranked among the top 10 trainers at the end of the season.

Last year, Brown finished first to become the only woman to ever win the thoroughbred trainer title. In 2011 she was sixth and in 2010 she was fifth. Lindsay finished sixth in 2009 and in 2006 Rebecca Welch was fifth.

"I guess women trainers are more accepted now," said Britton. "I found it a little hard to break in, but I just kept working at it. To break in and get going is a little bit hard for anyone. It takes hard work, but sooner or later, if you are doing your job, things should fall into place."

"I'm sure if you go back in history, there is probably more women (trainers) now," said Lindsay. "I mean, 50 years ago there was none right? When I first started training (in 2001), I felt it was an awful lot like an old boys club. To be taken seriously you had to work harder than the men, but maybe that's me imagining it, I don't know. At least when I started, I found it that way."

As for the standings, neither Lindsay nor Britton pay much attention to them.

"Maybe we don't want to talk about it because we just don't want to jinx it," said Lindsay." I mean if you are doing good and you are on that list, you want to stay there. Right?"

Lindsay was bitten by the horse racing bug at the age of five when she got her first pony. "Her name was Carmel and she died a couple of years after that. Then I got another pony named Patches."

While her mom had horses in Quebec, Lindsay, who is from Winnipeg, didn't grow up around them. Still, she was drawn to them. "I just loved horses and I had to figure out something I could do to be around them and this seemed like the logical thing."

Britton, on the other hand, practically grew up in a stable. "My family had race horses here back in the '70s so I used to come here (from Yorkton, Sask.) as a kid for summer vacation. I loved just being at the race track, and I knew when I was seven years old that this was what I wanted to do.

"When I was 17 (and) 18 years old. I used to race in the bushes (unsanctioned tracks) as a jockey. Places such as Rossburn, Gilbert Plains, McCreary and in Saskatchewan I raced in Melville, Hudson Bay and Moose Jaw. The bushes were a great place to learn. You got every opportunity to try every job you want to out there.

"There are no days off in this job," said Britton, who winters with her stock near Yorkton, but I love what I am doing so much, that I don't even see it as a job. When I get up in the morning it's not like I've got to go to work. It's just get out of bed, get down here and see the horses. It's not for everybody, but I guess it's kind of bred into me."

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 16, 2013 C5

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