Trainer Ardell Sayler put on quite a show, the weather co-operated beautifully, and the fans packed the house for Mother's Day live racing weekend at the Downs.
It was clear that people thoroughly enjoyed getting out of the house after one of the longest, coldest winters in Winnipeg history, and enough short-priced horses came in to keep everyone warm and happy, while still allowing a few gems through the cracks for the longshot hunters.
An 11-time leading trainer here, Sayler got off to his fastest start ever, with five wins on Saturday and another three on Mother's Day, to take a huge lead in the trainer standings.
"It has to be at least five years since I've done that," said Sayler with a big smile after his fifth winner on Saturday. "I've had four winners on a card numerous times over the years but it's been awhile since I've had five."
Sayler, who also won four races on opening day, now tops the trainer standings with 12 wins, nine more than current runner up Rob Atras, who has three wins, and 10 more than Blair Miller, Jim Meyaard and Jared Brown, each of whom have two wins. Emile Corbel, Irene Britton and Gary Danelson have a win each. Also notable among trainers was Shelley Brown, who now has five seconds and three thirds from 16 starts. Her horses will improve as the meet goes on.
The jockey race after the second weekend was much closer. Adolfo Morales vaulted into the lead with seven victories after scoring back-to-back hat tricks on Saturday and Mother's Day Sunday. Last year's champ Paul Nolan scored a hat trick on Saturday and added another win on Mother's Day to move into a tie for second with newcomer Christopher Ho with six wins apiece. Ho won three races on the weekend, as did Chris Husbands, who now has four wins.
There was a Pick-4 carryover of $4,743 heading into Saturday's card and the pool built up to $12,250 before paying out $411.60 for a $2 ticket. Prices on the individual winners of races 4-7 on Saturday were $5.90, $7.30, $3.90 and $7.00. The $2 Pick-4 also paid a solid $358.60 on Mother's Day with winners that paid $9.10, $2.80, $5.70 and $12.60.
Trainer Emile Corbel owned the honour of saddling the highest priced winner of the weekend at $23.00, when Paul Nolan scored with King Julien in the third race on Sunday. The second-best longshot of the weekend belonged to of course, Ardell Sayler, who took the third race on Saturday night with Eternal Valor at $17.20, Christopher Ho in the saddle.
The jockey colony looks very competitive this year. There won't be any easy wins for anyone. Except the fans that is. They will get great value for their money on the track, and even better value enjoying a warm spring evening or afternoon out at the track in the fresh air...
...that seemed to have just a touch more romance in it this weekend. It must be spring.
Happy Mother's Day!