It's gonna get crazy at the Downs tonight. Energy 106 DJ J.D. Francis will be doing a live-to-air countdown during live racing that leads to a post-racing dance party and lightshow produced by Nu Frequency, a dream team of audio-visual specialists.
Top o' the week . . .
• Wrong placing: Fans say "fire 'em" but fines are more likely
• Are local stewards "best in Canada?"
• Explosive fun tonight! Ponies 'n' party hump day mixdown
• Wednesday also means prime rib sand, 3% rebate, racing bingo
• Trainer dressed for success--and that's exactly what he got
• Yearling sale boasts 10% increase; top horse sells for $31,000
• Former biz teacher meant business in tourney: Wins Vegas again
• Blogger Rob writes best column. Did you see it?
Stewards in hot water
Being investigated for wrong placing; fines likely
Many fans called for firing the stewards after they posted the wrong order of finish after the fifth race last Wednesday. But David Miles, chairman of the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission, said it's more likely they will be fined. That will depend on the recommendation by lawyer Dan Williams, a former racing commissioner, who will investigate the mis-placement, he said. It should also result in revamping procedures so this never happens again, he said. Two stewards are responsible for signing off on the correct order of finish, Miles said.
"Fewer mistakes than others"
At the same time, Miles said he feels local stewards "make fewer mistakes" than stewards in other jurisdictions. He made the comment after he was asked whether he had told racing commissioners two weeks ago that local stewards "are the best in Canada." Commissioner Bob King said that's what Miles had told them.
Despite a photograph that shows even-money favourite #6, Senator Matty beating #1, Antarian (4-1), by half a head, the stewards posted #1 as winning the race, setting the stage for a frenzied reaction from fans until, six minutes after the race was made official, Darren Dunn announced the finish was under review. After the correct result was posted, cries of "fire the stewards" echoed throughout the plant, with fans noting how harshly and unsympathetically the stewards penalize jockeys and other backstretch people.
The full financial loss to the track will not be known for several weeks after the Downs receives reconciliation reports from the dozens of racing partners around the continent. The Downs must stomach the loss despite the fact they have no control over the stewards who are provincial employees.
The jockeys who rode the two horses--Jennifer Reid on Senator Matty and Paul Nolan on Antarian--couldn't believe the result themselves. Reid remained on her horse for awhile after the result was posted, holding out her hands to illustrate the length of her victory. The photo has two views: The mirror image of the horses crossing the finish line is crisp and clear but the side view is less clear, perhaps leading to the errant call. There was no hesitation in Dunn's race call, however: "Senator Matty wire-to-wire to take the fifth."
Watch the controversial race below in FINISH OF THE WEEK
The Aaron Sayler-trained She's Copacetic, fourth choice in the betting, leaves race-favourite She's Regal in the dust to win the Jack Hardy Stakes Saturday, one of four victories the conditioner chalked up on the weekend
Dressed to the nines for a reason
Aaron Sayler hits the Winners' Circle four times
He was the most nattily dressed horseman on the grounds last weekend so you knew something was up--and it was. Trainer Aaron Sayler finally emerged from the shadow of his Derby-winning dad Ardell to appear in the Winners' Circle again and again and again and again--in the $40,000 Sales Stakes (Arstar $6) and the $30,000 Jack Hardy Stakes (She's Copacetic $11.60) and in two claiming races--Naughty Dotty ($7) Friday and My Ponies Painted ($11.80) Saturday.
Trainer Aaron Sayler
Emerges from dad's shadow
He finally was able to shake off a severe case of seconditis that dogged him through June and July. And he could even dismiss as mere fluff a Daily Racing Form story Friday that erroneously linked his star horse, Arstar, to his father instead of him. You couldn't blame him for wondering what a guy needed to do to get respect.
Well, he's not wondering any more. And sharing the spotlight with him in the Winners' Circle on the weekend were Tom and Gail Payne of T G Stables, owners of Arstar, She's Copacetic and Naughty Dotty.
At least Aaron could now say he was on an equal plane with daddy who stacked up two stakes victories of his own, taking the $30,000 Debutante with Two Barrel Tootsie ($14.90).and the $30,000 Osiris with Da Hoot ($12.50). Which meant the Sayler clan devoured four of the five weekend stakes. And the $50,000 Distaff? They thoughtfully left that for trainer Shelley Brown's and K-5 Stable's Golden Stripe ($2.70).
If Aaron has a superstitious bent, I expect to see him wearing that sky blue shirt, black vest, black Stetson and red tie more often. And if he does, I'll be heading to the windows.
HOTTIES OF THE WEEK:
OF THE WEEK
IN FIVE SECONDS
Wednesday, Friday & Saturday
Hottest jock: Jennifer Reid (7 wins) Hottest trainer: Shelley Brown (6 wins)
Biggest upset: Theministersaffair $33.90 (Saturday's 2nd)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $439 Saturday's 2nd (9-6-5-7)
BOB'S BLOG TODAY: The "canary" got the worm, then flew into oblivion, while Worm lived on and is part of the local racing scene. What? Bob makes horse sense of all this in today's On Track with George, Rob & Bob.
ROB'S BLOG FRIDAY: Rob wrote his best column yet last week, nailing the prime contenders in the five stakes races. You would have cashed a $44.50 exactor if you boxed She's Copacetic and She's Regal, his top two in the Jack Hardy Stakes. See what he likes this weekend in On Track with George, Rob & Bob Friday.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "It is what it is." -- Rob MacLennan, racing analyst and blogger, alluding to Balooga Bull's easy victory in a $18,000 allowance race Saturday instead of competing in the $200,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park that day. There was general disappointment that the locally-owned Manitoba Lotteries Derby winner didn't make the trip to Edmonton.
More Than Wishes fetches $5,500
More Than Wishes, the filly that was the subject of my "name the filly" contest, went on the auction block at the annual CTHS yearling sale Sunday on the Red River Ex grounds and was purchased by one of her breeders, Barry Arnason, for $5,500. Ten per cent of that will be donated to the Children's Wish Foundation. The namer is Maureen Kennington, a nurse at the Pan Am Clinic, shown in the inset photo with the filly and co-breeder Cam Ziprick. The 28 horses sold at the auction for almost $150,000, 10 per cent more than last year. The sales topper? A Milwaukee Brew colt by the name of Zdeno who was bid up to $31,000 by Barry Arnason and partners, the highest price in recent memory. See the complete sales list here. And who won The Insider's "How much will the filly fetch" contest? Bob Heinrichs predicted the price dead-on and wins a buffet for two and free entry into the final Vegas horseplayer tourney Sept. 23. Congratulations!
Quick bits . . .
Jockey race tightens even more
What a scramble! Heading into the final 13 days of the live ASD season, jockey Paul Nolan has 58 wins and Rohan Singh and Jennifer Reid are tied with 56.
ON-TRACK WAGERING IS UP: Despite more short fields this year, on-track wagering per race is up this year over last year. And I'm getting the biggest crowds ever at my "learn the secrets" presentations 30-minutes before the races. Besides newbies there are many who are returning after having not been to the track for many years. They are, in a word, "re-discovering" the Downs.
SECOND PLACE FEELS, WELL, SO SECOND-RATE: You had to watch with at least a bit of sadness as trainer Charlie Smith, head bowed, and horse owner Terry Propps walked silently away from the track after unsaddling Portales, the horse they hoped would win them their sixth Debutante Stakes in a row. It just wasn't to be. Portales could only muster second. "She just wasn't going to get by Two Barrel Tootsie," jockey Robert Reeves said. And so the incredible streak ends for the noble Texans. Second place seems like a continent away from finishing first, say from here to Texas.
WHO WON THE TONGUE-TWISTER PRIZES? Draws Saturday from those of you who correctly said Ponies 'n' Party Hump Day Mixdown gave Diane Duncan the grand prize of a $500 Travelodge spa package. Tickets to Goldeyes games and the Red River Coop Speedway were won by: Roger Jones, Leslie Smaha, Linda Gagliard, Doug Rodway and John Whitehill.
| Wins Vegas for the second time |
He used to teach business. Now he gives tournament rivals the business. For the second time in two months, Bill Siwak (right) won the Get Serious Las Vegas Horseplayer Tournament. And since he's already going to Vegas because he won in June, he'll receive cash instead: $1,500. He tripled his $32 bankroll to a remarkable $92.70, thanks in part to his playing 16-1 Theministersaffair simply because hot-jock Jennifer Reid was riding. Finishing second (and earning $250) with a bankroll of $79.20 was Wayne King (left). Third and receiving $100 was David Blake (middle), who also won a simulcast tournament during the winter. And how did the defending champion from last August, Roger Jones, do? He went from hero to zero. Literally. There were 63 participants. Your final chance to earn a trip to Vegas (and play in a $1 million tourney there) comes Sept. 22, the second last day of live racing. See everyone's tourney finish here and the Handicapper of the Year standings here.
BONUS PRIZES: Norm Fraser, Dennis Lloyd and Bonnie Simmonds shared $100 in betting vouchers for predicting three winners on the most number of cards during August. And Bill Siwak, Wayne King and David Blake shared $50 in betting vouchers for picking the biggest upset horse, Theministersaffair ($33.90) in Saturday's second race.
Looking forward to . . .
Here comes the last long weekend of summer
That means racing Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and holiday Monday racing at 1 p.m. Only nine days of racing will remain after the long weekend--but they will be spectacular nonetheless with $250,000 in stakes races including the Winnipeg Futurity, the Gold Cup, the Matron and the Buffalo for the best Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds on the grounds.
NORTHLANDS FEATURES 2-YEAR-OLD STAKES: Northlands Park this weekend will feature a $50,000 stakes for 2-year-olds Friday and Saturday and the $50,000 Sun Sprint Championship Saturday.
WIND-UP WEEKEND AT SARATOGA: Boo hoo hoo! You know summer's ending--but at least NFL football is starting!--when Saratoga and Del Mar close out their charming seasons. Saratoga's final day is holiday Monday, Del Mar's meet ends next Wednesday. That means wild and wooly racing from the Fairplex bullring starts up a week from this Friday and Belmont's meet will begin one week from this Saturday. Enjoy the summer tracks while you can!
Feel the rush then feel the rhythm!
Nu Frequency is poised to impress.
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