Warm, sunny skies expected for opening day at the Downs!

 

Trainer Ardell Sayler with 2012 Assiniboia Downs Horse of the Year Balooga Bull

The "Bull" is back! Trainer Ardell Sayler with 2012 Horse of the Year Balooga Bull.

New post times, promotions, bets and... a new Track Announcer!

The 56th season of live horseracing at Assiniboia Downs kicks off today at 1:30 p.m. and the forecast is for a beautiful sunny spring day with a high of 16 degrees. The horses will love it and so will we!

Live racing in 2013 takes place on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the new post time of 7:30 p.m. and select Sundays and holidays at 1:30 p.m. You can see the full schedule here. Post times were changed to 30 minutes later than last year to generate more wagering from partner tracks throughout North America, which means bigger betting pools and more money for all of us!

There will be 28 stakes this year and $1 million in purses, highlighted by the $75,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby on the first Monday in August.

Horse of the Year, Leading Trainer and Leading Jockey return to fray

Horse of the Year Balooga Bull is back to defend his title, as are 2012 leading trainer Shelley Brown (the first female leading trainer in the history of Assiniboia Downs) and 2012 jockey champ Paul Nolan. Jennifer Reid, who came within one win of Nolan last year, is back to battle for the title again after winning 27 races in Turf Paradise this winter. Also joining the jockey colony this year are Tori Gandia, who survived a grueling jockey boot camp in Ireland, and Adolfo Morales, who is only the second jockey in history to win the Peruvian Quadruple Crown. The only other winner of the coveted crown? His father 20 years earlier!

Dunn is done; Contois the new “Voice of the Downs”

Consumed by his responsibilities as CEO of Assiniboia Downs, Darren Dunn is turning the microphone over to assistant and former Paddock Host Kirt Contois after 25 years as Track Announcer and 16,000 races called. Kirt has prepped over the past few years by calling 80 races and while he has some big shoes to fill, he’s ready. The Paddock Host duties will now be handled by 20-year-old Rob MacLennan, a St. Paul’s High School graduate who is now in business school. He’s also a sharp handicapper!

New $6 combo wager – with perks!

Fans will be introduced to an exciting new bet this year, the $6 Combo, which offers the casual bettor more fun and potentially more profit than a $2 wager. The bettor cashing the biggest $6 combo bet of the day will win a buffet dinner for two in the Terrace Dining Room. The top $6 combo player of the month will also have a race named after them and get to make a Winner’s Circle presentation.

Barn tours continue

On the final Sunday of June, July and August there will be tours of the Press Box, the Jocks’ Room and backstretch visits with horses and horsemen, ending with lunch in the backstretch kitchen. Interested people can sign up for $10 at Guest Services during live racing. The minimum age for the tours is 12.

Five Las Vegas trips awarded to horseplayers

Five times during the live racing season, horseplayers will have a chance to compete in a handicapping tournament to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas to compete in the Horseplayer World Series for a top prize of $350,000. Entry fee is $50 but players can get in for free by picking three winning horses on the live racing cards prior to tournament day.

Newbie seminars continue daily

Racing columnist Ivan Bigg will once again be on his stage inside the main entrance, offering secrets to quickly finding the contenders in any race, 30 minutes before live racing begins.

VLT tournaments every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday after live racing, free “Unleash Your Luck” tournaments will be held in the Club West Gaming Lounge, where draws will give players $20 in free spins. Players keep what they win and the biggest winner returns at the end of the month for a chance to win a major cash prize. The lounge has 140 of the latest games and players can enjoy bar service while they play.

Two ways to enjoy poker

$40 buy-in poker will continue on Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in support of the Winner’s Foundation. Players earn points for a chance to get into a major cash tournament in the fall. Also, Molson freeroll poker takes place after the races on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Winners of the freeroll games receive $50 and everyone earns points that will send someone to compete in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Five Family Fun Days

Kids can enjoy free pony rides, a petting farm and a bouncy gym on special Family Fun Days: Opening Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Canada Day and Manitoba Lotteries Derby Day.

Watch for more updates on the Assiniboia Downs Web site, and if you haven’t already subscribed to the entertaining Insider Newsletter you can do that here. See the Insider Archives for past issues.

And of course, we want you to follow George, Rob and Bob’s Horseracing Blog (which you’re reading right now!), where we’ll feature horsey stories, history, handicapping and best bets! We’ll also be posting regular updates on Twitter and Facebook.

We hope you’ll join us on opening day and throughout the year. We appreciate your patronage. And if you do decide to venture out, make sure to check out the new history display on the right-hand side as you come in through the main entrance. Many fond memories here, and with your help…

We’re about to make some more!

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