Sunday, September 23, 2012
First-ever female wins training title at Assiniboia Downs
The 55th season of live racing at Assiniboia Downs closed out Sunday in dramatic fashion: Shelley Brown became the first-ever female to win the training title, horse whisperer Paul Nolan won one of the tightest three-way jockey races ever, Arstar won the most important race for Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds and Farm Hand won the longest race of the year, a 1 3/4 miles marathon.
Despite a small reduction in field size, Assiniboia Downs showed a modest per-race increase in wagering.
"We are very pleased with the season. Our on-track wagering numbers were encouraging and attendance was through the roof again," said CEO Darren Dunn.
More drama continues at Assiniboia Downs as a work crew moved in at midnight Sunday to begin a Clubhouse renovation project that will see some major changes including "some big surprises," Dunn said. That includes the VLT area and race book.
The first top female trainer, Shelley Brown, 39, had 48 wins, six more than Ardell Sayler, a leading trainer 10 times. Brown's primary client is K 5 Stables which has won more races than any other owner. The owner of K 5 is Phil Kives, better known as the genius marketer behind "as seen on TV" innovative K-tel gadgets and products. Brown has been training for four years.
Heading into the final weekend of live racing, two jockeys were tied for the lead and the other was only one behind. In the end, Paul Nolan, 50, an Englishman who likes to talk to his horses to make them comfortable with him, logged the most victories with 76, just one ahead of Saskatchewan native Jennifer Reid, 23. He had previously won titles in Minnesota and Texas. This is his first at a Canadian track. Finishing third with 72 wins was popular veteran rider Rohan Singh, 47, who had won three previous titles.
The 2012 season will likely be primarily remembered as the Year of the Bull because a 3-year-old colt by the name of Balooga Bull won both the $75,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby and the $50,000 Gold Cup by virtually destroying the competition. He only lost one race in 10 during his two years of racing and is a shoo-in to win the Horse of the Year title at the horsemen's awards banquet next April.
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