Friday & Saturday
Friday & Saturday
Have you reserved your prime seats on the third-floor of the grandstand for the RCMP Musical Ride and racing Friday and Saturday? Phone 204-885-3330. ($50 for a reserved box of four seats; $5 for a reserved rush seat, first-come, first seated) Only those with a ticket will be admitted to the third floor Friday and Saturday.
Did you know . . .
--There will be 32 Mounties on black horses in the RCMP Musical Ride with four replacements at the ready
--Riders are volunteer Mounties who must have performed at least two years of police work. Riders are replaced every three years (so there are 33 per cent new riders each year).
--The musical ride began in Regina in 1887 as a way for Mounties to display their riding skills and to entertain themselves and others.
--Horses are aged six to about 20.
--Their daily feed requirements are 1,250 pounds of hay, 150 pounds of oats and 350 pounds of Purina Horse Chow
--The black horses are bred at a farm near Ottawa where they remain for three years before being sent for 2 1/2 years of training at an equestrian centre in Ottawa
Maple leaf is stencilled on horse's rump
just before the ride
--It takes about 16 weeks for trained horses and Mounties to perfect a performance
--They perform at 40 to 50 locations a year between May and October
--A microchip is implanted in each horse's neck for identification by a scanning device
--Each horse is outfitted with a double bridle, each with a set of reins, for extra control. One is a snaffle bit, the other a curb bit.
--Just before each ride, a maple leaf is stencilled on the rump of each horse with a wet brush
"This Derby looks like the toughest in years."
-- CEO and race-caller Darren Dunn.
She's Regal, seen here destroying other Manitoba-breds in the Gold Strike Mile last Friday, would face much tougher company in the Assiniboia Oaks, one of four stakes races to be run on Derby Day. Entries will be taken Friday.
Entries for the $75,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby are being taken today. The balance of the Derby Day card will be taken Friday.
THE $75,000 MANITOBA LOTTERIES DERBY (3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles): Although 11 horses are nominated, there will likely be seven or eight horses. Among them is likely to be Balooga Bull who will be looking to redeem himself after losing his first lifetime race in the Harry Jeffrey after winning his first six. Pleasant Closing who won the Harry Jeffrey and the second-place finisher, So Shiny, are likely to be among the entrants along with stakes invaders from Northlands Park, Hastings and Golden Gate Fields.
THE $50,000 ASSINIBOIA OAKS (3-year-old fillies; one mile): Expect a big field (there are 15 nominees) with horses from Northlands Park and Canterbury adding to the competition. Is this the year a Manitoba-bred, She's Regal, shows her heels to tougher company? She's been toying with local horses as noted in the Gold Strike Mile race above.
THE $30,000 GRADUATION STAKES (2-year-olds, 5 1/2 furlongs): 21 horses nominated. The headline here is whether Charlie Smith will enter Portales, a filly who won recently at Canterbury Park, in a bid to win his sixth consecutive Graduation. Her main competition would likely come from two Northlands Park stakes winners, Bosco and Holy Reina--and Just Gone, who just missed. Best local contender: Ardell Sayler's Two Barrel Tootsie who won her maiden by four lengths.
THE $30,000 R. J. SPEERS (older horses, one mile): 18 nominations. Inhisglory, a 4-year-old gelding who finished third in a $50,000 stakes at Northlands would likely be the main competition against local horses who have been trading wins: Lake Sawyer, Fresh Ice and Pierre Lapin. I Am Awesome who had an awesome run in the spring at Oaklawn Park winning four of five races in starter allowance ranks, has also been nominated.
OTHER DERBY DAY FUN:
• $10,000 guaranteed pick-4 (with low 15 per cent takeout)
• $300 in cash prizes for hat contest: $100 each (a) most glamorous (b) best racing theme
(c) more outrageous. Plus prizes for kids' creations.
• Get matched with a Derby horse. First prize: $500 Travelodge spa package
• Family fun: pony rides, giant inflatables, petting farm
DERBY TRIVIA TEASER: Who rode the winner of the Manitoba Derby the day before his namesake stepped on the moon? Hint: The jockey launched the Downs' 50th anniversary meet four years ago. Give up? Read On Track with George, Rob & Bob.
The whipping issue
Woodbine and Hastings give warnings. Not ASD.
Colour me baffled. At the best of times, horse racing is a tough business with jockeys risking their bodies and trainers under constant pressure to win races to satisfy owners. It's the love of the horse and of competition that has them getting up at 5 a.m. Against this backdrop, you'd think that those who police the industry would do their best to "work with" horsemen and riders before bringing down the hammer.
That's what went through my mind last week while sitting in on the whipping appeal by jockey Robert Reeves before the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission. It seemed so logical that Reeves, who had just joined the jockey colony this year, should be warned of whipping policies rather than being arbitrarily slapped with a $500 fine for abusive whipping. The Manitoba Horse Racing Commission agreed and dismissed the fine.
In fact, commission member Bob King told the hearing: "From Day 1, that's the way he whips. Why did it take 24 days to bring it up?" Steward Charlie Janoway replied: "If we miss something, we miss it."
But the essential question seems to be: Why was he fined at all? Am I naive to feel that those involved in this industry should favour cooperation over confrontation? Woodbine and Hastings have a policy of working with the jockeys before fining them. And these are tracks where
jockeys earn more--at Woodbine, far more--than they do at the Downs:
Still steaming over 2011 fine
First whipping infraction: Hastings and Woodbine: A warning. ASD: A $200 fine for "excessive" whipping, a $500 fine for "abusive"
Second infraction: Woodbine: a training session on whipping. Hastings: $100 fine. ASD: $400 or $700.
Third infraction: Woodbine: $200. Hastings: $200 (if within three weeks of the first fine). ASD: $600 or $900.
Three-time leading jockey Rohan Singh said he is still steaming over an abusive whipping fine last year when he was desperately trying to prevent his horse from jumping into the infield so he flicked his whip near the horse's face when nothing else seemed to work.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I look in the obituaries. If I'm not there, I'm at the track." -- Bill Tax, 93, former ASD horse owner last week while playing his favourite track, Arlington Park.
Looking forward to . . .
Bob's display on Derby Day
Be sure to take a moment on Derby Day to visit track historian Bob Gates' impressive collection of Manitoba Derby memorabilia in the Clubhouse. He'll be there to answer your questions as well. Can you stump him? Highly unlikely. But if you do, you're entitled to gloat. Then duck.
IT'S SUN NIGHT AT THE RACES! Does the Sun shine at night? This Saturday it will because the Winnipeg Sun will be celebrating Sun Night at the Races--which means a good deal for you if you pick up a Sun this week and clip the discount coupons. The $30,000 Winnipeg Sun Stakes will be featured with K 5 Stables' Golden Stripe the horse to beat after her 13-length victory in the Canada Day stakes. Besides the Sun shining Saturday night, of course, the Mounties will be gleaming and the quarter horses blazing.
Sun will shine
on Saturday night