Two trainers come out of the shadows
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This article was published 28/06/2021 (701 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Two trainers at Assiniboia Downs have race fans doing a double-take.
After years of racing in the shadows, Lise Pruitt and Wendy Anderson have hit the big time. Not only are they second and third in the trainer standings, they each have a horse that has the potential to enter and win the $100,000 Manitoba Derby in August.
But, shh — they don’t want to hear anyone say that out loud for fear of attracting the attention of the purveyors of jinxes and curses.
The star of Pruitt’s barn of 21 horses is three-year-old filly Melisandre, who is looking a lot like Manitoba’s greatest race horse ever, Escape Clause, who won more than $1 million before being retired into motherhood in Japan. Melisandre is six-for-six, winning all her races for fun, including the latest $35,000 Chantilly Stakes. And she ran that race a touch more quickly than Escape Clause did.
Anderson has a three-year-old gelding, City Champ, who’s three-for-three since she bought him in California, and his last win was the important Golden Boy Stakes, a prep race for the Manitoba Derby on the first Monday of August.
Both trainers have been around horses for decades, so what accounts for their sudden surge into the limelight?
For Pruitt, it’s having one of ASD’s biggest owners, Barry Arnason, giving her a chance to train his classy horses after she looked after them all winter. And what a job she is doing; her win rate is an astounding 38 per cent.
“It’s crazy,” she told At the Races. “It’s my best year ever.”
As for Anderson, she said she is “scary pleased” to see how things are going since she retired from her family counsellor job in a Saskatoon health district after 43 years to dedicate herself to full-time horse training.
“This is a business for me; I want to make money at it,” she says.
To that end, Anderson brought 10 horses from Northern California, giving her a total of 22 horses.
She owns or is a partner in most of them. Her best accomplishment before this year was winning the Distaff Stakes for top female horse but that was back in 2002.
Both trainers have had great success with other horses as well. Players have wisely been jumping all over Anderson’s California imports and have regretted it when they haven’t, such as last week when a miler from Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, Gooch Express, won a sprint race at ASD and paid $13.20.
Pruitt is excited about the potential for Escape Clause’s full sister, Reasonable Cause. The filly, who was badly injured last year fleeing a lightning strike in her Kentucky enclosure, is getting better each race.
“I can’t wait until the races stretch out,” she says.
You can be watching them, of course, not yet as spectators at the track but online at ASDowns.com or MTS channels 179-180 or on YouTube (www.youtube.com/ASDowns/live) and betting them at www.HPIbet.com
At the Races
Ivan Bigg is a railbird and handicapper at Assiniboia Downs.