The horse population wasn't what we had hoped, and as a result we saw shorter fields, but the season still featured some fantastic highlights. On the female side of the ledger Go Go Lolo proved herself to be superior. And how about Balooga Bull!
What can you say about the "Bull" that hasn't already been said? Some say it was nice to see him back after being upset early in the year by Magic D' Oro, but for my money I'd say he never left. Not only is he the only horse ever to win the Gold Cup three times, he won it in consecutive years. Quite an accomplishment!
For a horse to win the Gold Cup at age three, four and five is nothing short of unbelievable. This will be a record for the ages. And Balooga Bull is only the third horse in Downs' history to sweep the Wheat City, Speers and Gold Cup in the same year.
So as we approach the finish line to our season of promise here are some gems from the final days of years gone by:
25 Years Ago – October 29, 1989:
Day 117: Tom Dodds wins the top trainer title for the second year in a row despite the fact that he wasn't able to win a race on the final day of the meeting. Todd Kabel captures his third riding title.
30 Years Ago – October 9, 1984:
Day 107: 22-year-old Vickie Warhol makes history when she rides Arikana to victory in the Ivan Dowler Memorial Handicap. It was Vickie's first stakes victory of the meet and her 82nd win of the year, a record for female jockeys at the Downs.
35 Years Ago – November 4, 1979:
Day 131: Racing comes to an unexpected halt after the fifth race on the 12 race card. Rain caused the track to be a sea of mud and the majority of riders refused to ride because of unsafe conditions. It was the third time that season that the races had been cancelled because the jockeys refused to ride.
40 Years Ago – August 11, 1974:
Day 56: Turn to Rule follows up his Gold Cup-winning performance with a nine length win in a one mile allowance race. It was his sixth win in nine starts in 1974.
45 Years Ago – August 18, 1969:
Day 56: Bobby Stewart is crowned top rider with 90 wins, while Gary Danelson and Bob Watt tie for leading trainer with 21 wins each. Danelson's record was impressive to say the least. His horses captured a share of the purse 65 times in 86 starts.
50 Years Ago – August 17, 1964:
Day 42: Brandon's Harry Currie's Dark Burne, trained by George Howell and ridden by Darwyn Howell (no relation), wins the 2 1/4-mile Free Press Marathon.
Sometimes when things look a little on the bleak side, it helps to remember that we have a history of great memories here, and as we move forward I'm proud to do what I can to remember the glory days of the past.
Many times this year, true blue patrons of the Downs, some old, some new, told me how important Assiniboia Downs has been to them over their lifetime, and how important it is as part of the history of our great city and province.
Looking back at the 2014 season objectively, pure survival is something to celebrate! It certainly wasn't the first time the Downs has had to look into the face of old man adversity, and once again, we stared him into submission. We've seen him before, and may see him again, but we're a "Hardy" bunch (pardon the pun), and we look forward to seeing you all next year.
For season #58!
And thank you so much for reading!