by Bob Gates
Who's kidding who, you're being short-changed this time around. Our weekly history blog isn't about a historical horse racing figure or event. That's right, no person, horse or anything else was researched for today's tale.
However, in an effort to pacify my editor I've included a couple of "Who Knew" items. We'll get back to our regular history-business next week.
The sole purpose today is to express my thanks to those who have helped to present my history yarns for the last 10 years. This folks, is my 200th blog story!
In this case "help" can mean so many different things. Perhaps the "gift" or loan of a picture(s) and/or memorabilia or simply the sharing of a memory from yesteryear. You know who you are, but I felt that all of these efforts should be recognized. There is no way, I could have researched and written 10 years of historical anecdotes alone. This is for all of you who subscribe to the belief that the past wants only to be remembered.
I want to go back in time, not to change anything, but to feel something again.
My track historian beginnings date back to July 3, 2010. It isn't a date I'll forget any time soon. At 12:53 a.m. I received an email advising that the Downs wanted to hire me to set up a display of Bobby Stewart memorabilia, photographs, clippings and what ever else I could put together for the "Tribute to Bobby Stewart" night that was being organized.
Next thing I knew my “career" with the Downs had begun. Slowly at first, but in full swing come 2012, when I took on the job of writing a weekly history blog during the live racing season. It was a little scary at first. I had never done anything like this before and I really wasn't a writer. Here we are 10 years later with 200 stories under my belt. Wow is all I got! And I have all of you to thank for your patience and assistance as I grew into this writing thing.
Before I get to those "thank yous" I promised, here's those "Who Knew" points-of-interest.
First, an update on that double long-shot guy from 1974, Jose Amigo. After the mention of his two-time, bombs-away wins in the Miko Siah story a couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Suzanne White (Mary Murray) who had Jose's back story. Much to my delight and quite frankly to my surprise, someone actually remembered this boy.
Suzanne and her ex, Ken Murray owned property west of Assiniboia Downs and Jose's trainer, Bill Houliston wanted to get his horse some pasture time. Jose was fit, but running poorly. So Bill shipped him out to the Murray’s for some R&R.
After 10 days with no rider on his back and just having fun with a couple of other four-legged buddies at the farm, Jose Amigo returned to the track. It turns out that getting away from the racetrack was just what the doctor ordered. He won at first asking and paid $109.90 to win. Back to the farm he went for another 10 days of pasture time. I think you see where this is going. In his next race back he surprised the bettors once again, paying $122.90 this time.
Here it is almost 40 years later and fond memories of Jose surface again. Truth is, I don't remember the horse and here we are talking about him one more time. You gotta love it. Thanks Suzanne!
How about one more 40-year-old memory? In the 65-year history of the Downs, no horse had ever won the first race on opening day more than once. And no horse had ever won the first race on opening day and the final race of a meeting. But there was one horse who won the final race of the season, twice. Louis and Anna Selyem's Mr. Bizbee won the final race of the meet in 1973 and 1975. On both occasions Bizbee was ridden by their son, Joseph. This horse, I remember.
Let's return to the task at hand, my "thank yous." Once more I undertake a fool's errand. While every effort was made to make the list as complete as is humanly possible, I leave room for the idea that I might have forgotten someone. If your name isn’t here and should be, I am profoundly sorry, and don't be shy about letting me know. Some of those listed are no longer with us, but their passing in no way lessens the value of their contributions to my archives.
My thanks, in a "loose" alphabetical order, go out to:
Dwayne and Doug Addison, Barry, Wayne and Scott Anderson, Carl and Leonard Anderson, Jennifer Anstey, Dave Anton, Dick, Gloria and Darryn Armstrong, Barry Arnason, Sandra, Wes and Wayne Adams, James Anderson, Tommy Adkins, Glen, Louise and Rick Ball, Debbie Benjamin, Allan Besson, Larry and Sandra Bird. Albert Edward and Eileen Blake, Bill, Hazel, Brian and Tracey Bochinski, Ruth Boreham, Rob Bye, Chris Brogden, Deb and Marvin Buffalo, Shelley Brown, Jim Bannon, Buzz Burke, Sterling Blackner, Kelly Bernhard, Richard Berube, Rick Brownlee, Derek and Keith Corbel, Neil Campbell and family, Larry Carter and Sue Hebenton, Bill Chabot, Angelika (Luckfield) Childerhose, Ted and Bobbie Clake, Vic and Marge Clare, Connie Clauson, Tom Cosgrove, Bob, Marge and Cindy Crockett, Katie Chalmers-Brooks, Dave Coffell, Manley Chan, Shelley Colquhoun, Daryl Carry, Darren and Daryl Dunn, Erin Dack, Gary Danelson and Bonnie McCrory, Dave's Quick Print (Randy Premachuk and Jenn Webb), Shannon Davis, Tim Demetrioff, Sandy Dimma, Hugo Dittfach III, Tom Dodds and Jane Gammon, Tim Dowler, Irwin Driedger, Pat and Murray Duncan, Jacques Desautels, Shannon Dawley, Rusty and Joanie Edwards, Wayne and Donna Elias, Dr. Norm Elder…
Dean Fletcher, Christina Ferguson-Ruhl, Cecil Filby family, Marshall Freed, Dean Fletcher, Gary Flaman, John Field, Brian Gory, Tara Goebel, Heather Graham, Shawn Grassie, Clayton, Margaret and Allan Gray, Lorna Gray, Harry and Gary Gumprich, Sheri Glendinning, Tim Gardiner, Jeff Goy, Samantha Goulet, Sharon Gulyas, Kathy Gates, Jason Halstead, Gerry Hart, Phil and Stewart Hayek, Rosemary Henderson family, Karen Hendricks, Ken (Hank) Hendricks, Murray Howell, Margaret Homenuik, Colleen Holmes, Barry Hodgson, Bill Houliston, Bernie Howland, Shawn Hayden, Joanie Hamilton-Johnson, Jay Jackson, Archer Jackson, Harry Jeffrey family, Linda, Marion, Donna and Evelyn Johnston, Ruth Jewel, Mitch Janzen…
Bob King, Philip and Ellie Kives, Ed Knapp family. Ashley Kabel, Dr. Cyndi Kasper, Jack Kaenel, April Keedian, Jerry Lambert, Tony LaMonica, Pierre-Louis Levesque, Sam Lima family, Simone Moorhouse, Roxy Maxwell, Rob MacLennan, Clarence and Sue Marzolf, Dr. Ian Maxwell, Dr. Ross and Brenda McKague, Gerri McLean, Ken Miller, Lorne Mitchell, Milo and Trevor Monroe, Tom Morris, Doug and Judy Mustard, Nicholas Mills, Jean McEwan, Laura McIvor-Corbel, Dick Mulholland, Blair Miller, Adolfo Morales, David Miles, Blaine Millitaire, Garry Moir, Michael Magee, Robin Nielson, Bob and Robbie Nokes, Paul Nolan, Verla and Mike Olito, Chelsea Obsniuk, Raymond Paquin…
Ed, Joyce and Ken Pawluk, Joan Phipps, Robin and Kris Platts, Stewart Polet, Wayne Pownall, Gerry and Lise Pruitt, Cindy Pirie, Cristen Parks, Tina Pidwerbesky, Russ Passey, Helen and Peter Penner, Cory Ricard, Elizabeth and Debbie Richardson, Jack Robertson, Patti Ross, Daryl Rothwell, Barbara Jo Rubin, Louise Russell, Rycroft family, Sara Rowland, Leona Stahl, Janet, Ardell and Aaron Sayler, Percy Scherbenske, Anna and Joseph Selyem, Patti and Vic Sifton, George and Les Simms, Doug (D.D.) Smith, Brenda Smith, Charlie Smith and Terry Propps, Sue Somerville, Speers family (Jim Fields), Cynthia Stange, Ray Stewart, Stewart family (Garylle, Wayne, Susan, Audrey, Lance and Lori), David Swail family, Scramstad family, Lisa Smith, Real Simard, Bill Sydor, Charles Scotlend, Thorlakson family, Louis Townsend, Carolyn Toye, Trevor Tilston-Jones, Trenholm family, Trevenen family, Bruce Tully, Paul Turney, Brian Taylor, Ron Turcotte…
Harvey Warner, Bert and Al Watson, Iris, Darlene and Linda Wedge, Suzanne White, George Williams, Tom Windross, Windsor Moon family (Ron Bernaerdt, Ray Friesen, Verne Kozar, Don Kyliuk, Moe Oye, John Parker and Keith Radford), Lynn and Marie White, Rosalind Wolchock, Marvin Were, Pat Wallace, Jill Withers, Ken Yendrey, Ron Zerba and we've reached the end, Sherisse and Cam Ziprick!
I love my wife, Kathy and our "Kitty Kat" with all my heart and soul. Nothing will ever trump this pairing, but horse racing in general and Assiniboia Downs in particular will forever occupy a special place in my life. It's hard to explain, but I have a passion for the history of the sport.
The past beats inside me like a second heart.
-- John Banville
My love for all things "horsey” is 60-years old and counting. How often in life do you get to do something you love?
It is always easier to see the beginning from the end, than the end from the beginning.
-- Julia McNair
I don't know when my ride will end, but until my time is up, I can say that I am the luckiest man in the world…