George Howell, son of a blacksmith, spent two decades training for the “House”

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by Bob “He was a real gentleman.” That’s how people who knew the man that trained horses and ran Jack Hardy’s JY Farm in St. Adolphe for the better part of 20 years, described George Victor Howell. The Howell family hailed from Saskatchewan, but made their home in Calgary in the 1920s when George was a […]

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Irwin Driedger, the Jock with the Golden Locks

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by Bob Clifford “Shorty” Gray hired 11-year-old Irwin Driedger as an exercise rider. The young blonde schoolboy from Russell, Manitoba tipped the scales at 78 pounds and got his first win on a race track at the Neepawa Fair Grounds on horse named Admiral Zenith. Who knew he would go on to win multiple riding titles […]

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Pool to Market and Bobby Stewart, magic in the 1967 Gold Cup

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by Bob On August 5, 1967 the stars above Assiniboia Downs aligned perfectly for rider Robert Roy “Bobby” Stewart and his chestnut charge Pool to Market, and the pair put on a fabulous show for the 5,000-plus patrons that filed into the track that evening. The closest thing to a perfect race you’ve ever seen. Pool […]

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Manitoba Derby history

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by Bob The first “Derby” was run in 1930; although from 1930 to 1933 it was known as the Manitoba Stakes. In 1934 the name of the race was officially changed to the Manitoba Derby. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the race was the brainchild of Robert James Speers, the Father of […]

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Harry Gumprich, Springfield cattle rancher, spent quarter century racing horses

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by Bob The Manitoba Derby is coming up Monday, August 4, so how about a trip down memory lane for our annual Derby tale. Local cattleman, Helmuth “Harry” Gumprich will never be famous for his efforts in our Derby, but I have a soft spot for Manitoba horsemen who enter their local-breds in the Derby and […]

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Ponies, politicians and a princess — the day the Downs went dark

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by Bob Talk of ponies and a princess evokes thoughts of a fairytale. Insert politicians and it becomes a nightmare. Thirty-two years have passed since one fateful day in July 1982, but it’s a blemish on track history is difficult to forget. It was supposed to be an exciting time. Michael and Adrienne Gobuty had purchased […]

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Larry Carter’s Elite Mercedes and Monsoon Rain were rare Downs’ Triple Crown winners

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by Bob The success that owner Larry Carter enjoyed with Elite Mercedes was unprecedented, but two short years later he further established himself as a dominant and influential force in the Downs’ stakes schedule with Monsoon “The Machine” Rain. While the Downs has never really promoted the concept, it has in its stakes races for older […]

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Brian Bochinski lived his dream at the track, every day

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by Bob Brian Todd Bochinski’s riding career started long before his first mount at Assiniboia Downs in 1986. In a way it had been a work in progress for years. It was always his life-long dream to be a jockey and win races, lots of them. His father, Bill, owned horses, and his mother, Hazel was […]

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Women who rocked the Powder Puff Derby

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by Bob I’m guessing the name “Powder Puff” was created by a male of our species. Certainly there aren’t many women these days that would come up with such a sexist sounding name for a horse race featuring women-only riders or “jockettes” as they were often called, a term which you will not see used again […]

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The Winner’s Circle at Assiniboia Downs, a history of hallowed ground

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by Bob Arguably the most hallowed piece of real estate at any race track is the Winner’s Circle, also sometimes referred to as the winner’s enclosure and the charmed circle. Oddly enough, ours is not, and never has been, a circle! Mind you, not all race tracks even have a Winner’s Circle. Some tracks parade winners […]

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