by Bob Gates
With only three days of "Live" left in 2022 Season, the 65th at ASD, we caught up with the portly old man who can usually be seen sitting on one of the benches closest to the grandstand. There he sat looking pensive, staring into the distance, so we approached carefully and asked, "What are you thinking about?"
"The usual," he mused. "The good old days."
"Do you feel like sharing some thoughts about a final day of racing from the past?"
"Sure," he obliged. "I just happen to have the program from the last day of the meet from August 16, 1962, with me. How's that?"
"Maybe that's a little too far back, people might not remember the horses, riders or trainers from 60-years ago."
The old man was quick to reply, "Than that's exactly why we should talk about them, right?"
Here's a time capsule of the memories he shared, as he flipped through the program. Familiar names for Thursday, August 16, 1962, the 42nd and final day of racing at Assiniboia Downs that year, included:
Racing Officials: D. H. "Duke" Campbell, A. E. "Bert" Blake, Nick Cizik, Dr. Norm Anderson, Harry Jeffrey and Bruce Boreham.
Owners: Tommy Elias, Bill Houliston, Maxwell King Stable, Koltes Investment Ltd. Cece Filby, Bobby Franklin, Lonnie Marsh, Ralph Buchholz, Jim Benjamin, Ivan Dowler, Murray Duncan, Karl Flaman, H. A. Schade, J. Y. Stable, Vern Ewalt, Wendell Mustard and Glen Stewart.
Trainers: Bob Watt, Harry Howell, Bud Greenwood, C. Senebald, Bob Topley, C. D. Irion, George Howell, A. Binnie, A. G. Smithers, Ed Ragen and Bill Teske.
1962 Leading Trainers at ASD
- Bud Greenwood 19
- A. G. Smithers 18
- Gary Danelson 10
- W. L. Cook 10
- Bob Watt 9
Jockeys: Dave Giacomelli, Tommy Stadnyk, Dick Armstrong, Dale Wright, Norman Leid, Clay Ivey, Ron Archer, Bobby Stewart, Frank Barroby, Charles Steck, Tak Inouye, Gordon Nedeau, Kelly Keyworth, Bill Grasby and Glenn Smith.
1962 Leading Jockeys at ASD
- Dick Armstrong 48
- Tommy Stadnyk 45
- Frank Barroby 43
- Bobby Stewart 29
- Ron Archer 26
Horses: Dark Burne, Falcon Lake, Wind Shadows, King's Pleasure, Light Dust, Aunt Maude, Bocage, Go Fly, Broad Zone, Foxy Strome, C. K. Sabie and Coherence.
The 42-day race meet for 1962 was the most successful of the five meets that had been held since the Downs opened in 1958.
Records set included:
- Single Season Mutuel Wagering $8,349,940
- Single Day (August 16, 1962) Wagering $343,901
- Single Day (August 16, 1962) Quinella Pool $59,918
- Single Season Attendance 217,421
In the third race, the entry of Dark Burne and Falcon Lake ran one-two which resulted in a unique payoff for a $2 wager. The "B" entry paid $4.40 to win and 4.80 to place. Yes, the place paid more than the win!
The fourth race pari-mutuel wagers included: Win, Place, Show and "One-Two Betting" (the predecessor to the Exactor wager).
The feature race for the August 16, 1962, race card was the Free Press Handicap, run at a distance of 2 ¼- Miles -- the longest race on a recognized racetrack in Canada. The winner was Bud Greenwood's Ky. Fly with Frank Barroby up.
Also of interest was the listing of Record Prices at the Downs:
- Largest Straight and Place: June 16, 1959, Law O'Rose $121.00 and $106.00.
- Largest Show: July 27, 1960, Fanny's One $44.80.
- Largest Daily Double: July 27, 1960, Fanny's One (9) and Suezac (7) $2,006.00.
- Smallest Daily Double: September 12, 1958, Spangled Jack (4) and Trueday (6) $9.30.
- Largest One-Two: August 14, 1962, Minnibee (5) and High Summit (2) $823.40.
- Smallest One-Two: August 3, 1962, Night Act (4) and Barberola (1) $9.70.
- Largest Quinella: June 30, 1962, Miss Reliable (6) and Kickapoo Joy (7) $499.60.
- Smallest Quinella: July 6, 1960, Boots Darling (10) and Springs Best (4) $6.00.
"Once again, that's quite the history lesson, thank you. Will we see you back at your bench next season?"
"I sure hope so!” said the old man. “You have to like what the Jockey Club boys are doing here, and they owe it to the memory of Harvey Warner to keep it up."
With that, we bid each other farewell. He returned his gaze to the track and went back into the trance-like state that we found him in when we approached.
"Sometimes I wish I could just rewind
back to the old days and press pause…
Just for a little while."
Well that's it for me. Starting next week, The Inside Track newsletter will feature "The Best of Bob," where we will revisit some favourite blog stories from previous years until live racing returns for the 2023 season. Next year promises to be special, as it will mark the historic 75th running of the Manitoba Derby.
While I'm done for the year, there's always lots to do at the Downs during the off-season. So keep an eye out for what’s happening at the track. There's the VLT action, simulcast wagering and dining specials, where you are treated to the best view in Winnipeg. Until then, we'll see you back here when the ponies return in 2023, and…
Thank you so much for reading!