Does a three-year-old dark bay gelding named It's All Here (Offlee Wild - Oh Caramel by Othello) have what it takes to win the 65th running of the mile-and-an-eighth, $75,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby Monday afternoon at Assiniboia Downs?
Jim Meyaard, his owner and trainer, has confidence in him but considers him somewhat of a clown.
"He's still a baby (born late on May 14, 2010). Some horses mature sooner than others, but this horse is just coming into himself. He's doing everything right, but he's a clown, a big kid that doesn't put everything together perfectly every day, but we're working with him."
On July 17, It's All Here, touting 2-1 morning-line odds, managed to put everything together quite nicely to win the mile-and-one-sixteenth Harry Jeffrey Stakes. In that one, Christopher Husbands rode him to victory over the favourite Stormin Monarcho (Adrian Ramos up) by a length and a half.
It's All Here will have to beat eight horses, including the usual influx of shippers in Stormin Monarcho (5-2), who is back for a rematch, and Assembly Hall (4-1), both out of Canterbury Downs, and Omission (20-1), out of Alberta.
The one change in Meyaard's plans for Monday is putting Tyrone Nelson in the saddle, not Husbands, who broke his right collarbone last Saturday when his horse, Malibu Bullet, clicked heels with El Cadete in the final turn and went down hard.
"We had options of shipping riders in from Alberta and the United States," said Meyaard, "but Tyrone has ridden one horse for us (Rubyintheruff), and he's had two wins and a second. We want a rider whose been riding for this colony, and we have confidence in him."
Monday's race is shaping up as something resembling the shootout at the OK Corral, and trainer Joel Berndt says Stormin Monarcho is ready.
"It's funny," he said by phone from Minneapolis. "I ran him at Hawthorne (Chicago) in an allowance race, and it looked like distance would be no factor, but he faded. I would say, however, that the distance is an advantage at this point, because (in the Harry Jeffery) he showed he has the ability to get the mile and an eighth. He has an unbelievable amount of stamina."
The son of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos out of Her Own Terms, Stormin Monarcho is a fighter, having finished third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity. As a two-year-old, he had a few wars to the wire. He made his first start of 2013 at Turfway Park (Kentucky) in the $75,000 John Battaglia Memorial and was roughed up twice in the stretch but still finished fifth.
Later, Berndt shipped him here from Canterbury Downs, and on June 5, with Ramos up, he won the $30,000 Golden Boy Stakes.
Assembly Hall, a bay gelding by Sharp Humor out of Dynaffair, could also upset the status quo. Owner and trainer Bryan Porter, who won the Manitoba Derby in 2009 with Smuggler's Hold, said of his horse, who will have Canterbury jockey Alex Canchari riding: "He's got a better-than-average chance of winning this race. The thing is, he wants that much ground (distance) and he likes even more than that. A lot of the horses in that race will struggle to get the mile and an eighth, and he can do that quite easily."
With early odds of 20-1, you wouldn't think Omission would be a horse to worry about. But owners and trainers don't transport their horse long distances unless they think they have a legitimate chance to win.
Purchased for $1,200 in Kentucky, Omission doesn't mind being an underdog, but don't sell him short. He's comes into the race with confidence after wins in his last two starts at Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie. On July 21, he won the $15,000 Triple K Oilfield Services Grande Prairie Derby by 91/2 lengths going a mile. He also took the trial for that race by 12 lengths, going six furlongs in mud.
Three other stakes races go on Monday as well. They include the $30,000 mile-and-a-sixteenth R.J. Speers, for horses three years old and up; the $30,000, five-and-a-half furlongs Graduation for two-year-old horses and the $50,000, one-mile Assiniboia Oaks for three-year-old fillies.
Saturday's card features one stakes race with the $30,000, mile-and-one-sixteenth Winnipeg Sun for fillies and mares three years old and up.
Post times tonight and Saturday are 7 p.m. On Monday, it's 1:30 p.m.