Nirone Austin, 28, who had previously raced in the Barbados for eight years, came to Assiniboia Downs last year "to get some outside experience." He had finished seventh at the highly competitive Garrison Savannah racetrack in Barbados and his favourite horse was Just U and Me. In 2020, he won 19 races at ASD.
Jorge Carreno, 38, has definitely been to the big leagues. The Mexico City native has already won 1,490 races, but perhaps his greatest moment was finishing a game second beaten only half a length in the 2017 Arkansas Derby aboard Conquest Mo Money, ahead of riding superstars Mike Smith, Javier Castellano and Kent Desormeaux. He also recalled that riding in the 2017 Preakness was “like being on top of the world. I love riding,” said Carreno. “I love to win.”
Stanley Chadee, Jr., 31, is a native Trinidadian who's been riding for 14 years and was leading rider at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon in 2015. His favourite horse was Storm Street in Trinidad and his ambition is to "ride at the big tracks." He came to the Downs a couple years ago with Marquis trainer Jamie Hartmann. In 2020, he finished second in the ASD standings with 48 wins.
Sheldon Chickeness, 39, is a prairie man, having started riding at Marquis Downs 19 years ago where he chalked up 33 wins in 2005. His favourite horse was Victory Call at ASD. He came to the Downs “for the opportunity at a higher-level track” and ultimately wants to train horses.
Dwight Lewis, 49, is making his first appearance at Assiniboia Downs after a decade of riding in Lethbridge and Grand Prairie. He also rode at Century Mile last year. The Jamaican-born jockey won his first race at a recognized track in Barbados and shortly afterwards decided to come to Canada. A stakes-winning jockey in Lethbridge, Lewis was persuaded to come to Assiniboia Downs by local groom Dwight Taylor and trainer Courtney Ross. “I'm a race rider. I'm a trying jockey.” Lewis said.
Richard Mangalee, 34, who started riding 16 years ago in Trinidad and won 24 races in a season at Northlands Park came to ASD "looking for a new track to call home." His favourite horse was Minmus in Edmonton and his goal is to win a Breeders' Cup race. In 2020, at ASD, Mangalee won 27 races.
Ismael Mosqueira, 35, has a special reason for deciding to ride at Assiniboia Downs this year. It's the only major track in Canada he hasn't ridden at. “This makes my riding career in Canada complete,” said the saddlesmith from Mexico City. Mosqueira has been riding since 2007, primarily at the now defunct Northlands Park, but has spent the past five years at Woodbine. He has cracked the $100,000 mark in purses in every season he's ridden in Canada. He won the 2015 Duchess of York Stakes at Northlands Park for trainer Shelley Brown.
Shamaree Muir, 27, is a three-time champion apprentice in Jamaica who started riding in Canada in 2016 and immediately made an impact, winning the Canadian Derby at Northlands Park that same year aboard Ready Intaglio for trainer Amber Meyaard. Muir did make occasional forays to Assiniboia Downs in 2020, and won a race for sharp horseman Shaun Morin, which helped him decide to make it his home track this season. Muir has won 130 races and almost $2 million in purses since arriving in Canada.
Leroy Nelson, 41, was the leading apprentice at Gulfstream Park and the top bug rider at Calder in his early years in the saddle. Nelson is the cousin of former top local rider Tyrone Nelson, who suggested he give Assiniboia Downs a try. The Jamaican-born jockey has ridden with the best in the business including Jerry Bailey, Pat Day, Garrett Gomez and Shane Sellers, and defeated a number of them on his best days. A winner of 176 races to date, but off since 2016 due to an injury, Nelson is hoping his natural ability in the saddle will help him make Assiniboia Downs the perfect place for a comeback.
Kayla Pizarro, 30, who's been riding at Assiniboia Downs for five years, said she followed her mother here. Her first win came on Indian Ancestry and her best record was 40 wins in 2016. She's upfront about her ambitions: "I want to be leading rider in Canada." Consistently a top rider in the standing at ASD, in 2020, Pizarro won 30 races locally.
Hector Rabbitskin, 52, has a love for speed. The Cree First Nation rider from Big River, Saskatchewan was introduced to racing at the age of 15 riding in bush meets throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta. Rabbitskin arrived at Assiniboia Downs this spring on a suggestion from fellow rider Sheldon Chickeness and he's been getting on horses for leading trainers Jerry Gourneau and Tom Gardipy, Jr. “I'm excited to get going!” he said.
Neville Stephenson, 53, is a seasoned rider from Jamaica, having ridden for 21 years . Before coming to ASD in 2020, he had been riding at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon but his most memorable day came at Lethbridge where he won five races in one day. His favourite horse was Daughter's Pride at Marquis. He came to ASD "for a new experience and challenge" and caught on quickly last year by winning 25 races.