Horse of the year honoured without fanfare


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/09/2020 (973 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Presentation of the horse of the year award is usually a big deal.

That’s why annual banquets are held before the live race season begins to hand out awards to the top-performing horses and people from the previous year at Assiniboia Downs.

But in the Year of Covid there was no spring banquet and you had to be a detective — or a nosy reporter — to find out if and how the awards were being dispensed this year.

Photo by Jason Halstead / ASD Shelley Brown, who is battling Stage 4 cancer, was all smiles when her horse, Cash or Card, was named two-year-old colt of the year.

As it turned out, award winners came one by one into the Winner’s Circle, very quietly one afternoon several weeks ago,  to be presented with a plaque or trophy while their pictures were taken. While no one was there from the NHL to crank out fake crowd noise,  that might have been a nice touch.

The Manitoba breeding awards were kept even more under wraps. Those winners were invited to drop into the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society office to receive their awards.

It came as no surprise that Manitoba-bred filly Hidden Grace was named horse of the year by both the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and by the CTHS.

In two years of racing, the filly hadn’t lost a race. She was nine-for-nine, all stakes races.

Receiving recognition were her trainer, Michael Nault, and her powerhouse owners and breeders Cam Ziprick, Barry Arnason and Charles Fouillard.

Her prodigious sire, Going Command — now retired — had produced Manitoba’s greatest horse, the million-dollar earning Escape Clause, and next year we’re likely to see what Hidden Grace’s siblings can do. These are exciting times for Manitoba-breds.

The most poignant moment in the awards presentations had to be the appearance of owner/trainer Shelley Brown, sporting a big smile, whose Cash or Card was voted the two-year-old colt of the year.

Shelley, as you may have read in a previous column, is fighting advanced Stage 4 cancer and there’s a GoFundMe page online to support her.

☐ ☐ ☐

The third leg of the U.S. Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, will be run at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Md. this Saturday. There will be no Triple Crown winner this year because two different horses have won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes but there’s quite a bit of interest from this corner because the horse I predicted to win the Kentucky Derby, Thousand Words, will be racing against the winner of the Derby, his stable mate Authentic. I stood to win $8,500 if Thousand Words won the Derby but he never got to run because he flipped while being saddled for that race.

You’re also reminded that, throughout the fall and winter, Assiniboia Downs is your “great escape place” with daily Vegas-style racing, VLTs and delicious dining including all-you-can-eat soup, salad and freshly-baked breads every Thursday to Saturday.

Ivan Bigg

Ivan Bigg
At the Races

Ivan Bigg is a railbird and handicapper at Assiniboia Downs.

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