With the Derby done, fans eye $250,000 prize


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/08/2021 (662 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

With a record-breaking Manitoba Derby in the books (see below), what is creating the biggest buzz these days at Assiniboia Downs?

• Manitoba’s mask mandate has ended, which means you can watch the races, play VLTs and dine without wearing a mask. They’re optional. But if you’re watching live racing on the main level including the outside tarmac, you must provide proof of full immunization (a QR code on your phone or printed out, or a provincial vaccination card). ASD staff will continue to wear masks.

• $250,000 can be yours if your 20-cent ticket predicting the winner of five races in a row is the only correct one (Jackpot Pick 5 wager). This continues to the end of the live race meet which runs until Wed., Sept. 15.

Photo by Ivan Bigg B.C. jockey Alexander Marti and trainer Robert VanOverschot with trophies from Uncharacteristic’s victory in the Manitoba Derby.

• Races are stretching out to include those of a mile or more. Who doesn’t love long races?

• The battle of the babies is intensifying. What two-year-old is creating the biggest waves? Who will be the main contenders to win the Winnipeg Futurity, the most storied baby race of all?

• Would-be horse owners are gearing up for the yearling sale on Sun., Aug. 22. Manitoba-bred horses have really been coming into their own lately, beating even Kentucky-breds. Will there be a world-beater among this year’s offering?  Everyone can come out (behind the ASD grandstand on the Red River Ex grounds) to watch the bidding.

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Race fans are still talking about the feel-good Manitoba Derby night on Aug. 2. The eight-race card on holiday Monday shattered last year’s wagering record, which had also been a record. Last year’s betting was $2.16 million. That increased by 17.6 per cent to $2.54 million.

What made the night extra-special is that the COVID shroud that had enveloped race fans for more than a year was lifted. With reduced provincial restrictions fans were free to whoop and holler on the outside tarmac and inside the clubhouse as the trainer who was expected to win a record fourth Derby, Robertino Diodoro, was edged out by a trainer from Vancouver, Robert VanOverschot, who won the 2002 Manitoba Derby with Lord Shogun.

In a stirring stretch duel, VanOverschot’s Uncharacteristic pressed Diodoro’s Myopic and took over to win the $100,000 Manitoba Derby presented by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries by just over a length.

The higher value of the race (it was $60,000 last year) increased interest in the race and resulted in a maximum field of 12 three-year-olds. Not since 1992 had fans seen this many horses in the Derby.
Derby night also gave someone the opportunity to win $1 million – by having the only correct ticket in the Jackpot Pick – but there were many winning tickets  and each 20-cent ticket paid $600 in a wagering pool that grew to almost $1.5 million.

With just 15 days of live racing remaining, the races go Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Will your 20-cent Jackpot Pick 5 ticket take down the $250,000 prize?  I’d love to write about it in this space.

The Downs is open every day from 9 a.m. to midnight for VLT action, simulcast racing and dining.

Ivan Bigg

Ivan Bigg
At the Races

Ivan Bigg is a railbird and handicapper at Assiniboia Downs.

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