Thundering hooves soon to become a reality
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/07/2021 (680 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Are you looking forward to hearing the sounds of thundering hooves with horses and jockeys in the flesh?
Then stay tuned to what is happening at Assiniboia Downs. Plans are afoot to allow spectators — within limitations.
That will mean sitting at a table on the tarmac — socially distanced, of course — and going right up to the fence surrounding the racetrack. Sounds like the good old days.
Up to now, only diners with reservations have been able to watch the races, which take place from Monday to Wednesday.
Just as importantly for many, VLTs are now open — and in greater numbers than before because plastic separators have been installed between terminals.
And, of course, dining and simulcast races from around the world continue. Look for steak and prime rib specials Friday and Saturday nights.
Live racing goes Monday to Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., simulcast races go every day from about 11 a.m. to midnight, and VLTs are available from 9 a.m. to midnight.
The joy of opening up to spectators comes at a time when the Manitoba Derby on the first Monday of August is wide-open because the horse from California that was doing nothing but winning, City Champ, faltered in the Derby Trial Stakes. That has left no heir apparent for favouritism in the Derby.
A blanket could have covered the four horses who reached the wire in the Derby Trial after City Champ was no longer a factor. Flash of Glory won the race by a neck at odds of 11-1.
The absence of a standout horse actually works in favour of having more horses entering the Derby. Trainers may now see the $100,000 race as well worth the cost of shipping their horses to the Downs. The winner gets $60,000, second place is worth $20,000.
And what else has race fans licking their chops? The chance of earning a trip for two to Las Vegas to win mega-riches, which you can take a stab at for an entry fee of just $50.
The next tournament is Monday. The tourney works this way: you bet $2 win-place-show on a horse in each of seven races. If your bankroll is highest among about 80 players, you’re going to Vegas, baby!
Don’t think you have the skill to make it happen?
A city employee who didn’t even know how to read a race program earned a trip some years ago. Call 204-885-3330, ext. 225, by Saturday at 1 p.m. to sign up for the tournament.
Now let’s look forward to feeling the rush, once again, of racing excitement under prairie skies.
Is there anything else like it?
At the Races
Ivan Bigg is a railbird and handicapper at Assiniboia Downs.