Jockey Janine Smith was in the spotlight again on Saturday night at Assiniboia Downs when she became the first female jockey in history to win the $50,000 Winnipeg Futurity. Quite an accomplishment for the 24-year-old rider from Denman B.C. considering the race has been run 84 times.
And she did it aboard a Manitoba-bred!
Smith was aboard Zdeno for the first time on Saturday night and she made no mistakes. Stalking a pressured pace set by Storm Chaser, favourite Maddie’s Gold and Megatron Ruler through a first quarter in 23.40, Smith advanced smoothly between horses on the turn to be just back and outside of pace battle winner Maddie’s Gold after a half mile in 46.80.
Turning for home Maddie’s Gold opened a two length lead under Christopher Husbands but Smith’s energy resulted in a determined rally from her mount to catch Maddie’s Gold late. And Maddie’s Gold certainly wasn’t giving up. It took a strong effort from a good horse in a tough field to win this race.
At the wire it was Zdeno by a half-length over Maddie’s Gold. It was 7 ½-lengths back to For Old Times Sake in third and a further 1 ¼-lengths back to Megatron Ruler in fourth. Megatron Ruler, the second choice in the wagering, was expected to run better, but stumbled at the break before making the early lead on the outside. He then ended up forcing the pace three-wide into the turn and stayed close to late turn before tiring in the drive.
The final time for the six furlongs over the fast track was 1:13.20, which equaled salty older horse Vader’s winning time for the fourth race as the fastest of the night. Trained by Chad Torevell for the partnership of Barry Arnason, Darrell Sundsbak, Al Daley and breeder Cam Ziprick, Zdeno paid $13 to win and improved his record to a perfect 3-for-3 with his Futurity victory.
Now a multiple stakes winner, having won the $40,000 CTHS Sales Stakes in his previous start, the dark bay gelding by Milwaukee Brew-Silver Sonnet by Silver Deputy earned $30,600 for his Futurity win, increasing his earnings to $62,280.
The $31,000 sales topper at the 2012 CTHS Manitoba Yearling Sale, Zdeno is a half-brother to stakes winner Almighty Silver by Catienus, who won the Tinchen Princess Stakes going 1 1/16-miles at Aqueduct and earned of $372,215.
Up next for Zdeno, the restricted $50,000 Buffalo Stakes going a mile on September 22.
Also on Saturday night’s card, Adolfo Morales won three races, Chavion Chow took a pair and the $2 Pick-4 paid a healthy $1,462.10. Winners in the Pick-4, races four through seven respectively, included Vader ($3.80); Checkered Cab ($5.30); Silver Street ($12.60); and Wild Party ($21.40).
The Pick-4 likely would have paid much less if favourite Swiss G’s had won the seventh race, and that horse should be on your horses to watch list after steadying at the break and advancing six-wide on the turn before rallying to get beat 1 ½-lengths. The rider? Adolfo Morales.