Another Strong Downs Season Coming Up
WINNIPEG, MB. – Derek Corbel, the Assistant Director of Racing, couldn’t be more fired up about the 2017 live racing season at Assiniboia Downs.
In fact, Corbel can’t get over how many horses are currently in the backstretch and that despite the nasty weather, on occasion in March, it’s been a pretty tremendous spring training season.
“March 1st was the opening day of the training track and Equisizer and the main track opened on Sunday, April 9, with an outstanding 24 horses that had official clocked workouts,” said Corbel.
“Mother Nature has toyed with the overall training this spring, with bitter cold, snow storms, melting and freezing, but with their experience and endless hours of effort that the backstretch grounds crew put in, they kept the training track from freezing and the roads and paths to the track sanded — pumping water out of the overflowing ditches so that training went on no matter what was thrown at them.”
Thanks to a superb staff at the Downs, Corbel and Co. have already been able to welcome back some of the stars from last year’s meet.
“Returning trainers this summer include 2016 leading trainer, Tom Gardipy along with Don Schnell, Ardell Sayler, Jared Brown, Gary Danelson, Shelley Brown, Jerry Gourneau, Elton Dickey and Steven Gaskin,” said Corbel. “We have a new female trainer, Jamie Hartman from Saskatchewan, who will have a large stable of 20-plus horses and has been at or near the top of the standings in her own province for the last few years.”
Perhaps just as importantly, many of the top jocks from 2016 are back, as well. It’s going to be a remarkably competitive racing meet.
“The riding colony is strong again this year with 2016 leading rider Chris Husbands along with Antonio Whitehall, Rohan Singh, Adolfo Morales, Tyrone Nelson, Kayla Pizarro and some returning riders that have missed a year or more including 2015 leading jockey Chavion Chow, Rasheed Hughes and Prayven Badrie,” said Corbel. “Some newcomers include Affrie Ward and Apprentice Dario Dalrymple from Barbados, Kerron Khelawan from Trinidad and Luis Garcia from Puerto Rico.”
The return of Chavion Chow has many punters excited. This summer, Chow will compete against the same jockeys he beat for the riding title in 2015: Christopher Husbands, Rohan Singh and Adolfo Morales. Chow went on a tear at the end of the 2015 season, winning six races in the final two days of the meet including the Winnipeg Futurity with Heber and the Gold Cup with Magic D’ Oro.
It was by far his best year as a jockey. He notched 63 wins and $544,000 in purse money, more than double his 31 wins and $249,000 in purse money in 2014.
Last year, he only rode in Caymanas Park in Jamaica where he was a rather famous native son. Without Chow at the Downs last year, Christopher Husbands won his second riding title since 2014 with 83 wins, 15 more than No. 2, Antonio Whitehall.
“I think it’s safe to say everyone out here at the track is excited about the 2017 Meet,” added Corbel.
Don’t forget, the 2017 Live Racing Meet begins Mother’s Day Sunday, May 14.
Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports
Photo – Supplied by ASD