Ronald Ali -- 30, won the riding championship in Trinidad in 2016, and made his Assiniboia Downs debut in 2019, winning at a solid 14% clip and compiling win-place-show record of 17-11-24 from 121 mounts. Forced to miss the next two years at Assiniboia Downs due to pandemic restrictions, Ali continued to ply his trade successfully in Trinidad and Barbados as one of their top riders and was second in the standings before leaving to come to Assiniboia Downs for the 2022 season.
Prayven Badrie – 31, tied for the leading rider title at Assiniboia Downs in 2018 with Antonio Whitehall with 41 wins and has now developed into one of the top riders in Western Canada. Badrie originally arrived here in 2011 and won 26 races before returning home to Trinidad for five years, where he won the riding title in 2015 and numerous stakes including the 2016 Trinidad Derby. Riding full time at Century Mile in 2019, Badrie won 46 races and three stakes. The pandemic kept him at home for the past two years and he’s happy to be back at the Downs.
Shavon Belle -- 28, first arrived at Assiniboia Downs as an apprentice from Barbados in 2015 and is a perfect example of what perseverance can do for a jockey. Riding primarily for smaller stables early in his career, he gradually earned his way into the mainstream and had his best year ever in 2019 with 19 wins, while riding primarily for three-time leading trainer Jerry Gourneau. “I just like horses,” said Belle, “And winning.”
Arthur Budhu -- 35, got his start as a jockey with the late 12-time leading ASD trainer Ardell Sayler. From limited opportunities in 2018 and 2019, Budhu won seven races and finished in the money 17 times. The Jamaican jockey showed experience beyond his years despite not riding many horses, no doubt due to getting on numerous horses in the mornings for Sayler, and after two years off due to the pandemic, he could be ready to make a big jump forward if he can secure the right kind of mounts.
Jorge Carreno, 38, won the 2021 Assiniboia Downs riding title in his first year here with 80 victories, 31 more than his nearest rival. The native of Cocula, Guerrero, Mexico has won 1,585 races and over $17 million in purses during his career and has definitely been to the big leagues. Carreno has ridden numerous top horses, but cites one of his major career highlights as finishing a game second beaten only half a length in the 2017 Arkansas Derby (G1) aboard Conquest Mo Money, ahead of riding superstars Mike Smith, Javier Castellano and Kent Desormeaux. Carreno spent this past winter riding at Sunray Park and Sunland Park, where he won 12 races including the $300,000 Sunland Park Oaks aboard 80-1 shot Cleopatras Charge. Defending local champ could be tough to beat.
Stanley Chadee, Jr., 31, was the leading stakes-winning rider at Assiniboia Downs in 2021 with an amazing 14 stakes wins aboard some of the top horses on the grounds including the undefeated Melisandre, Gold Cup winner Plentiful, Winnipeg Futurity winner Diamond Digger, and Canada Day Stakes winner Miss Imperial. Chadee won 49 races in total at Assiniboia Downs in 2021 to finish second in the standings for the second year in a row. Chadee had his breakout year in 2020 with 52 wins. He has now won 232 races and over $1.8 million in purses.
Sheldon Chickeness, 40, had the best year of his 20-year career at Assiniboia Downs in 2021, winning 50 races and $447,994 in purses to finish third in the standings. Hailing from Poundmaker Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Chickeness spent the winter exercising horses in Houston for three-time leading ASD trainer Jerry Gourneau and honed his fitness this spring riding at Fonner Park. He wants to train horses when he retires from riding, but right now he’s focussed on having another big year in the saddle.
Chavion Chow – 35, won the leading rider title at Assiniboia Downs in 2015 with 63 wins. The Jamaican-born jockey first arrived at Assiniboia Downs as an apprentice in 2008 and has now won 269 races and over $2.4 million in purses. In his championship season, Chow showcased his talents by winning five races on a card early in the season including the Golden Stripe Stakes, with a variety of trips and riding styles. But it all looked so natural. Chow can adapt to any pace scenario and has ridden some of the best horses at the Downs including multiple stakes winners Deep Explorer, Witt Six and Magic D’ Oro.
Renaldo Cumberbatch – 43, is perhaps the most underrated jockey in the history of Assiniboia Downs. More smooth than flashy, he’s been a top-5 rider at the Downs almost every season since he arrived in Canada in 2005. He has now won 412 races and over $3.5 million in purses. He’s also ridden some of the best horses in Western Canada including Escape Clause, Hidden Grace, Sixthirtyjoe, Can’t Use Nellie, Aware and Hot Rodin. The soft-spoken jockey often goes off at overlay odds, and if a fellow rider makes a mistake on the favourite, he’ll beat them every time. Oh what the heck, he might just beat them regardless. Trainers like that. Fans like it more.
Leonel Camacho Flores – 39, is making his debut at Assiniboia Downs after spending the winter in Phoenix. Originally from Mexico, Flores started his career in 2009 at Portland Meadows before moving on to ride at Golden Gate and Emerald Downs, where he won multiple stakes. A winner of 562 races and over $5.5 million in purses, Flores has ridden numerous good horses during his career, with one of his all-time favourites being $300,000 earner and multiple stakes winner E Z Kitty at Emerald Downs.
Rasheed Hughes – 24, has won five riding titles in Barbados. Winning at a 23% clip last year, he guided top 3-year-old colt People’s Champ to win the Barbados Triple Crown, which includes the Barbados Guineas, the Midsummer Creole Classic and the Barbados Derby. Hughes began his riding career at the age of 16 and quickly rose to prominence in Barbados racing, which he now dominates. Hughes has been considering testing his talents in Canada for a few years now, having won the riding title five of the last six years, and his time has now arrived. Hughes is the brother of 2014 Downs’ leading rider Chris Husbands, the first jockey from Barbados to win the local riding title, and if he can transfer his obvious talents to the local scene, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in 2022 at Assiniboia Downs.
Dwight Lewis, 46, made his debut at Assiniboia Downs in 2021 after a decade of riding in Lethbridge and Grand Prairie. He also rode at Century Mile in 2020. The Jamaican-born jockey won his first race at a recognized track in Barbados and shortly afterwards decided to come to Canada. A multiple 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,” said Lewis. “I'm a trying jockey.”
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 -- 32, began her career at the Downs in 2015 and has been a consistent winner ever since. The daughter of jockey Jorge Pizarro had her best season at the Downs in 2016 when she won 40 races and was honoured with a Sovereign Award as Canada’s Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. Some horses just love to run for her. Pizarro won the first race of her career with her first ever mount, Indian Ancestry, at 19-1, on July 1, 2015. From that day on she was convinced that developing a bond with your horse makes a huge difference when it comes to winning. Hampered by injuries in 2021, Pizarro is coming off a tough season, but she’s healthy now and ready to roll.
Neville Stephenson -- 52, is a seasoned rider from Jamaica, having ridden for 21 years. He finished sixth in the local standings in his first season at Assiniboia Downs in 2020 with 25 wins and improved on that number in 2021 with 28 victories to finish fifth. The former three-time riding champ at Marquis Downs in Saskatchewan began his riding career in North America at Calder Race Course in 2005 and moved his tack to Canada in 2007. A winner of 527 races and over $2.4 million in purses, Stephenson came to Assiniboia Downs "for a new experience and challenge" and learned the local oval quickly. One of the hardest working jockeys you’ll ever meet, Stephenson had best year ever in purse earnings in 2021 at the Downs.
Antonio Whitehall – 28, has won two riding titles at Assiniboia Downs, the first in 2018, when he tied with Prayven Badrie for top spot with 41 wins, and the second in 2020 when he won 74 races to win the title outright. He also finished third among all jockeys in Canada in 2020 with 117 victories. Whitehall was a force in the local jockey colony as soon as he arrived from Barbados in 2016, winning 68 races during his first year in Canada. He split his time riding last year between Alberta and Manitoba and ended up sixth in the local standings with 24 wins and fourth in the Century Mile standings with 30 wins. Already a winner of 364 races and over $3.2 million in purses in Canada after only six seasons, tough competition brings out the best in him.