Category Archives: ASD History

Jockey Joan Phipps: Saskatoon Sweetheart and Downs Darling

[caption id="attachment_10656" align="alignright" width="1000"] Joan Phipps. First win at Assiniboia Downs. Thistle Dawn. July 7, 1972[/caption] by Bob Gates Life in Saskatoon grew to be a bore and at times even a nightmare for young Joan Phipps. School work couldn’t hold a candle to competing in the Saskatoon-Regina-Prince Albert light horse show circuit where she…
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“Wacing’s” Weird & Wacky

by Bob Gates Not even Looney Tunes with its wascally wabbit has anything on thoroughbred horse racing when it comes to the zany and unusual. From the annals of Winnipeg turf lore, few stories rival the wondrous happenings at Assiniboia Downs or at Jimmy Speers' old haunt, Polo Park racetrack. Polo Park was the scene…
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The Clare’s family horse operation was built on passion

[caption id="attachment_10563" align="alignright" width="1000"] Marge and Vic Clare with one of their many winners together, Cognitive Unit.[/caption] by Bob Gates Marge and Victor Clare ran one of those typical "Mom & Pop" stables.  Their story is a good one, except for the part that it took me seven years to get it done. Marge and…
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Manitoba Derby Trophy makes 50th Curtain Call

[caption id="attachment_10525" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The Queen's Cup.[/caption] by Bob Gates On Monday, August 5, 2019, the Queen's Cup trophy will make her way to the Assiniboia Downs winner's circle to be presented to the Derby champion.  Don’t worry she knows the way, it's a trip she's made many times, but this one's special. This is…
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Fire N Desire’s 1969 Derby “Orbit” Turns 50!

[caption id="attachment_10473" align="alignright" width="1000"] Fire N Desire. 1969 Manitoba Derby.[/caption] by Bob Gates It's been 50 years since Fire N Desire won the 21st running of the Manitoba Derby. The recent media flood of documentaries reminds us of another event that shares this anniversary. Fire N Desire's July 19, 1969 Derby romp took place on…
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Stars of the Western Canada Handicap

[caption id="attachment_10418" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Possibly the best of the best, Light Dust won the Western Canada Handicap in 1954 and 1956. Shown here setting a new track record on February 5, 1957 at Sunshine Park.[/caption] by Bob Gates Polo Park racetrack played host to some of the most historic races in Western Canada including the…
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Larry’s the name, hunting, fishing and riding are my games

[caption id="attachment_10367" align="alignright" width="1000"] June 28, 1992. Darrell Stephansson presents Larry Bird with plaque for his 1,000th winner at Assiniboia Downs.[/caption] by Bob Gates What's the wackiest injury that resulted in a jockey cancelling his mounts for the day? There aren't any records on the subject, but I think I've got a good one. On…
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The Speers. A Modern Day History. Assiniboia Downs Resurrects RJ’s Race.

[caption id="attachment_10332" align="aligncenter" width="2948"] Cosmic Tip. Speers Handicap 1966. Harry Jeffrey presenting to trainer Gary Danelson. Gary's father holding the horse. Roger Jensen in he saddle.[/caption] by Bob Gates When we left off last week's blog story, horse racing's future in Winnipeg looked bleak.  R. J. Speers had known for some time that the Polo…
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The Early History of the R. J. Speers Stakes. 1926-1956

[caption id="attachment_10277" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Fort Garry wins the 1948 R. J. Speers at Polo Park.[/caption] by Bob Gates On Saturday, June 29 "The Speers" celebrates its 60th running, but what most don’t realize is that there is more than 90 years of history behind the race that honours Robert James Speers, the "Father of Thoroughbred…
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Yorkshire Lad CCR. $20 Wager Led to a Life-Long Career in Horse Racing.

[caption id="attachment_10218" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] L to R, Lou Davies, Jim Speers and Dr. Norm Anderson at 1st Horsemen's Ball, circa 1951.[/caption] by Bob Gates Following the death of one of the most popular and respected men in the history of thoroughbred racing in Western Canada in July 1977, Winnipeg Free Press sports editor Maurice Smith…
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