Plentiful Vs. Media Melee In The Gold Cup
WINNIPEG, MB. — The 60th season of racing at Assiniboia Downs will come to a close on Sunday afternoon with the second most important race of the year.
But this weekend, there will be a lot more than just a battle between multiple-stakes winner Media Melee and Manitoba Derby champ, Plentiful, in the Gold Cup.
It’s Fan Appreciation Weekend at the Downs, starting Friday night at 7:30 and there will be more than just one of the biggest racing weekends of the entire season.
But it will be a huge weekend of racing. The $25,000 JW Sifton Stakes for three-year-olds, the $25,000 Gold Cup for older horses and the $25,000 Manitoba Matron for older fillies and mares will all be run on Saturday night and then the younger horses will run in a pair of two-year-old Stakes races on Sunday afternoon – the $25,000 Winnipeg Futurity and the $25,000 Buffalo Stakes for Manitoba breds.
On Saturday, racing fans will get a chance to see the most successful filly in decades here at Assiniboia Downs – Escape Clause – race for the final time this season. Escape Clause was only the second Manitoba-bred filly to finish second in the Manitoba Derby and she’s taking on a wide-open field of fillies and mares in the Manitoba Matron. If she wins the final race of her three-year-old career here at the Downs, she’ll bring her earnings up to a whopping $115,000.
But on top of the racing, there will be fun for serious bettors, families and kids. On Sunday, Fan Appreciation Day, all regular punters will five-times Player Rewards on all their ASD wagers, plus discounts on programs and food and 25-50 per cent off selected gift shop merchandise all three days this weekend. And you can also salute the final day of live racing with a two-hour Crazy Hour after the races on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, it’s Kids Day with pony rides, a petting farm and bouncy castles.
Meanwhile, jockey Tyrone Neslon told Ivan Bigg at The ASD Insider that he is so confident in Manitoba Derby-winner Plentiful that he believe the big horse win Saturday night’s Gold Cup.
He told Bigg that the three-year-old Plentiful, who will be facing older horses such as four-year-old multiple-stakes-winning Media Melee, is training exceptionally well and is even better than he was when he won the Derby in early August. Nelson knows his main competitor, Media Melee, very well. After all, he rode Media Melee to victory in three stakes races earlier this year.
A Plentiful win would also complete and outstanding bounce-back year for owner/trainer Murray Duncan whose one-for-39 record last year has rebounded to a whopping 11-for-33 this year and many of those wins have been in stakes races.
Meanwhile, the Jockey race is all but finished. Rohan Singh, the 52-year-old star from Guyana, via Texas, is about to win his fourth Assiniboia Downs jockey title, but in the trainers’ race, it’s a dog fight. Don Schnell and defending champion Tom Gardipy, Jr. are tied for first while the leader for most of the meet, Elton Dickey, is only one behind.
As well, there will be plenty to watch for away from the racetrack this weekend. The Jackpot Hi-5 is now at $43,074 and is expected to grow to more than $100,000 by Sunday afternoon if it’s not won tomorrow or Saturday night.
As always, following live racing fans can enjoy free VLT tournaments. You can get into the draw for 10 chances to win $20 in free VLT spins. The top winner from each night gets to participate in a month-end finale for more spins and $250 in prize money. And there is always Crazy Hour. Beer, shots and wine are only $2.95 plus half-price appetizers (nachos, chicken fingers, chicken wings and gyoza).
And if course, it wouldn’t be a weekend without $10 buy-in poker. The registration starts at 10 p.m. and the game starts at 10:30 p.m. The new Royal Flush progressive jackpot is at $865. The entry fee to play the jackpot is an additional $5. Please note that effective Friday, Sept. 15 poker registration changes to 8 p.m. and the game starting at 8:30 p.m.
Racing goes Friday and Saturday this weekend at 7:30 and Sunday at 1:30. And then, that’s it. The 60th season of racing at Assiniboia Downs will be over.
—Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports
Photo – James Carey Lauder