Precambrian rock solid as one of the winningest horses ever at ASD

Precambrian Official Win #6 at ASD, Aug. 12, 1961

Precambrian - Official Win #6 at ASD

by Bob

Which horse holds the record for the most wins in a single season at Assiniboia Downs? Well, if I’ve done my homework correctly there are two steeds that can lay claim to the honour. Navy Days and Major Action each won 11 races in a single season here.

Navy Days accomplished the feat in 1983 when the meet was 109 days (1 win every 9.9 days). Major Action did the same over 119 racing days in 1987 (1 win every 10.8 days). Other horses with multiple wins in a single season include:

    • Our Lane (1979) 9 wins in 131-day meet
    • Not a Tweet (1979) 9 wins in 131-day meet
    • Flag The Train (1977) 8 wins in 123-day meet
    • Speedy Frost (1978) 8 wins in 128-day meet
    • Liz's Pride (1978) 8 wins in 128-day meet

All of these winning records are impressive, yet the most remarkable winning record might belong to a horse that is not even on this list.

So, like Mr. Peabody of Rocky & Bullwinkle fame would say to his “boy” Sherman, it’s time to fire-up the WABAC (pronounced “way back”) machine and return to the year 1961 to revisit the outstanding record of Carberry’s own “youthful” Murray Duncan and his horse Precambrian.

Precambrian ran eight times during the 42-day meeting at ASD in 1961 and won seven straight, finishing second by a head in his eighth start on the final day of the season. Yes, he came that close to having an undefeated season right here at the Downs.

Granted, there was one minor fly in the ointment. He was disqualified from his second win and placed last because his jockey Ray Padron, while in close quarters with second-place finisher Cote Off, decided to grab on to the equipment of Cote Off in the stretch drive.

Padron was suspended for the balance of the meet for his grievous act and the Stewards took the rather unusual action of placing Precambrian last, instead of just reversing the order of finish.

If you want to count all seven wins, that’s one win every six days. And even if you count only the six official victories that’s still one win every seven race days. Now that’s a record you could brag about!

Duncan, while reflecting on his charge’s 1961 season, explained that he bought Precambrian as a 5-year-old from Glen Magnusson sight-unseen for $400. Back in 1961 Duncan was only 19, but he still knew horses and he liked the way Precambrian had raced in Toronto against some decent horses. He thought that the Downs would be a good fit for the horse.

When he finally got Precambrian to the Downs, Duncan had to admit that the horse was in need of a little TLC. Most of the backstretch was in agreement. Precambrian wasn’t the prettiest horse around, but no one would deny he could run – and win.

Precambrian wasn’t one to run any harder than he had to, but he was a well-mannered horse who hated to lose. In August 1964 it was reported in the local papers that when Precambrian finished fifth, it was believed to be the first time the horse had failed to finish in the top three at Assiniboia Downs.

Precambrian's final win at Assiniboia Downs July 61, 1966

Precambrian's final win at Assiniboia Downs in 1966

Two final stats about Precambrian -- he raced until he was 12 and recorded his final win on July 6, 1966 at the ripe old age of 11 with non-other than Murray Duncan’s old friend Bobby Stewart in the saddle.

Despite his winning record and consistent finishes, no one ever claimed Precambrian from Duncan and when his racing days were over, Precambrian was retired to live out his days at the Duncan farm in Carberry.

Equibase only provides Duncan’s race record from 2010 to 2012, but his racing career goes back to the early ‘60s through to the late ‘70s, before he “retired” from the game. He’s back now with partner Garylle Stewart (brother of jockey Bobby Stewart) and we’re glad he’s here!

Mr. Duncan, I’m pretty sure I know what your old friend Bert Blake would say about Precambrian.

“Nice horse!”

Next Post Time for Live Racing: 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, 2012

6 Responses

  1. Pat Duncan

    Thanks, Bob. What a great article. I’m sure that our daughter, Annie, will want to use some quotes from you. She’s been asked to write something in the Carberry News-Express weekly to let folks there know what her Dad is up to at the Downs. I’ll send her this article and to others. Thanks again, it’s much appreciated. Pat

    • Bob Gates

      My pleasure Pat! My thanks to Precambrian for supplying such a great story – he was a keeper and it’s nice to be able to remember horses like him.


    Thank you much for the great article Bob! Once again, you have no peers when it comes to ASD racing history. Really appreciate it!! Audrey

    • Bob Gates

      Thanks for your support Audrey! The truth of the matter is when you have the Stewart family and Murray Duncan serving up such great stories the history pieces almost write themselves. We are glad that the Stewart/Duncan connections have once again decided to make the Downs their home this summer.

    • Bob Gates

      Hi Audrey, I appreciate your continued support. When you are lucky enough to have the kind of storied past the Downs has, the history pieces almost write themselves. And we are glad to have the Stewart/Duncan connections racing at the Downs again this year!

  3. George Moehring

    Just a short note to tell you how much I enjoy your articles. Not being from Winnipeg I cherish all those little insides that a racing fan appreciates. Keep up the good work,

Leave a comment