Greatest mare gives birth; Derby day Saturday

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/04/2021 (764 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As Assiniboia Downs prepares for live racing two weeks from Monday – and Manitoba’s greatest mare nurses her first foal an ocean away – attention turns to the greatest two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby, this Saturday at Churchill Downs.

At a time when lives are disrupted by the pandemic, it is of some solace that one of racing’s most enduring events soldiers on, albeit with fewer fans at the track – but with millions watching around the world.

Twenty three-year-olds will fire out of the gate, which can include a top colt from Japan and another from Europe, where there have been Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying races just as there have been in the U.S.

Supplied photo by Noriko Takahashi Manitoba’s greatest race horse, Escape Clause, with foal fathered by Japanese Derby winner Duramente.

While two Canadian colts have won the Derby in its 146-year history – Northern Dancer in 1964 and Sunny’s Halo in 1983 – both were Ontario-breds.

The closest Winnipeg connection to the Kentucky Derby came in 1969 when legendary Assiniboia Downs jockey, Bobby Stewart, rode Ocean Roar to a sixth-place finish. And 10 years ago, Ray Bouchard, CEO of Enns Brothers farm equipment, was part of a syndicate that owned Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

Winnipeg race fans do have a leg up on the Derby on another front, however. A trio of top ASD analysts, led by track announcer Kirt Contois, will present an online workshop in which they will sort out the field for this race as well as for important undercard races Saturday. In their show, titled ASD Live, they will also offer views on the Kentucky Oaks, the filly counterpart of the Derby that races Friday.

To watch their show, simply Google “ASD Live Kentucky Derby Preview” any time after 7 p.m. Thurs., April 29.

Races will be shown on NBC-TV but you can watch and wager on this and all races on your phone with an HPI account you can simply set up by calling Assiniboia Downs at 204-885-3330, ext. 225. The races will be featured in the Race Book at the Downs, too, but with COVID-19 capacity restrictions.

So who’s going to win?

Always a danger are horses from trainer Bob Baffert’s barn. He celebrated his sixth Derby win last year with Authentic, tying the record for most wins by a trainer.   

Meanwhile, there’s been a different kind of celebration in Manitoba. The Ziprick Thoroughbreds family in Russell, Man. are elated at the birth of a colt – in Japan  – to the mare they bred, Escape Clause, the province’s greatest-ever race horse with more than $1 million in earnings.  
Escape Clause’s mate?

Duramente, the winner of the Japanese Derby. A Hollywood script would have their offspring racing in the Kentucky Derby in three years. One can dream!

Ivan Bigg

Ivan Bigg
At the Races

Ivan Bigg is a railbird and handicapper at Assiniboia Downs.

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