Fond memories of opening day at the Downs
It’s hard to believe that seven months have passed since we put a wrap on the 2012 live racing season.
The winter was a tough one and spring posed more challenges for the Manitoba Jockey Club than Chair, Harvey Warner and CEO, Darren Dunn would have preferred, but here we are chomping at the bit and poised to get another season of racing underway on Sunday May 5, 2013!
So a quick, but heart-felt thank you to Harvey, Darren and the dedicated Board Members of the Manitoba Jockey Club for meeting serious challenges head on. We now have a 60-day meet with the usual slate of stake races to look forward to in the months ahead!
Now let’s get back to business – history business that is – I’ve had a lot of time to sort through our treasured Memory Vault and found a bunch of facts and figures to start off the year. So let’s take a look back at opening days from yesteryear!
50 Years Ago – June 14, 1963
An opening day record of 7,225 race fans wagered $177,520, which was also an opening day record. Max Freed’s Hal S, remember him? He won his first race as a 3-year-old on this day. Who knew that he was named for Sydney Halter, Chair of the Manitoba Horseracing Commission?
45 Years Ago – May 17, 1968
3,318 fans braved near freezing temperatures and snow, driven by winds gusting to 30 mph – sounds like it could have been this year, doesn’t it?
35 Years Ago – April 28, 1978
Beau Blade set a new track record for 4 furlongs – 45 3/5 seconds and 6,484 bettors put an opening day record of $406,406 through the mutuel windows.
30 Years Ago – May 1, 1983
The Dowlers’ Northern Spike showed his usual early season prowess by demolishing his opponents in the Crocus Stakes with Joseph Selyem in the irons.
25 Years Ago – May 1, 1988
On this opening day the track bias favoured inside post positions in a huge way. On the 10 race card, four winners came from post 1, four left from post 2, and the remaining two wins went to post 3!
In closing I’d like to mention that the front lobby at Assiniboia Downs has undergone some renovations. You’ll notice that the right side of the lobby, just after you enter the main doors, features an area dedicated to remembering Manitoba’s racing history.
Our tribute to history includes leading rider photos (relocated from the second floor of the Clubhouse) and under the photos is an assortment of plaque-mounted memorabilia from River Park, Whittier Park, Polo Park and the Downs. You will also find two trophy cases and three “history cases” filled with photos and other assorted treats from the past.
Please stop by and enjoy the memories, even if you weren’t around “back in the day.” They serve as a wonderful reminder of racing days long since gone!
Well, there you have it fans, see you on Sunday, May 5. First Post Time is 1:30 p.m.
And… they’re off!