by Bob Gates
This year's Winnipeg Futurity marks the 90th running of the prestigious race for 2-year-olds, which makes it the oldest continuously run race in western Canada. Yeah, I know, you'll hear a lot about the recent Canadian Derby's 90th running, but those numbers include the first 11 years of the Manitoba Derby. Fact is, the first Canadian Derby was in 1941.
The Winnipeg Futurity was inaugurated in 1930 by Robert James Speers as a race for 2-year-old Western Canadian-breds. From 1936 to 1985 the race was opened to 2-year-olds foaled in Canada. In 1986 the Canadian breeding restriction was taken off and the race became an open event for 2-year-olds. Over the years the Futurity has showcased the finest young horses in western Canada and 90 years later it remains the premier event on the 2-year-old racing calendar.
Track - From 1930-1935 and in 1937 the Futurity was run at Whittier Park racetrack. In 1936 and from 1938-1956 the Futurity was run at Polo Park. Following the closure of Polo Park in 1956, the 1957 Futurity was run at the Edmonton Exhibition Grounds. The race returned to Winnipeg when Assiniboia Downs opened in 1958 and has been run at the Downs ever since.
Distance - The race has been run over distances from 4 ½-furlongs to a mile, with six-furlong races being run on 46 occasions. A total of 16 Futuritys have been run at a mile, making it the second most popular distance. The last 10 running of the Futurity (2009-2018) have all been six-furlong events.
First Winner - Hot Whittier, owner, Winnipeg Stable, trainer, W. L. Stanfield, jockey, D. Meade.
Richest Futurity - The largest gross value of the race topped out at $98,660 for the 1985 Futurity. The winner, Bishop Bob, took home $59,196, which was the largest Futurity pay cheque.
Most Wins, Owner - 3, H. C. Hatch (1938, 1943, 1944), Whittier Park Stock Farm (1939, 1940, 1954), Stan Ryan (1993 - 1995), K5 Stables (1996, 2000, 2001) and Terry Propps (2009, 2010, 2012).
Longest-Priced Winner - $61.80, Black No Sugar, 1987.
Shortest-Priced Winner - $2.10, Flagboro, 1940.
Largest Field - 16 runners in 1954 and 1955. The race was run in two divisions in 1956. In 1956 there were 12 runners in the first division and 11 in the second.
Smallest Field - 5 runners 1975, 1977, 2003, 2005, 2014 and 2018.
Largest Margin of Victory - 18 lengths, Bally Hill, 1959.
Smallest Margin of Victory - Dead Heat, Double Dove and Canadian Zenith, 1963.
Wins by Fillies - 32. The first filly to win the race was Streamony in 1933 and the last filly to win was the 2018 winner, Eye Catching. In the eight-year span from 1936 to 1943 the race was won by fillies on seven occasions.
Special Futurity Memories:
-- Jockey Rohan Singh holds the record for most wins with four (2000, 2001, 2010, 2012). Winnipeg native, Tommy Stadnyk won the Futurity three years in a row in 1961, 1962 and 1963. Jockey, Janine Smith is the only female rider to win the Futurity. Janine rode Zdeno to victory in 2013.
-- Trainer, Tom Dodds won the Futurity a record-setting four times and did so in consecutive years from 1992-1995. In 1989 Hazel Bochinski became the first female trainer to win the Futurity when she saddled Pick Sure.
-- The 1963 dead heat between Canadian Zenith and Double Dove was the only stakes race run at the Downs when the stewards were unable to determine who hit the wire first.
-- The 45th running of the 1974 Futurity was a special event as the City of Winnipeg celebrated its centenary. The aptly named race, the Winnipeg Centennial Futurity, was won by 1975 Queen's Plate winner L'Enjoleur with Sandy Hawley aboard.
-- The Futurity saw three of its victors go on to win the Queen's/King's Plate the following year - Uttermost (1944), L'Enjoleur (1974) and Sound Reason (1976). The overall record of the 15 winners of the Futurity who appeared in the Queen's/King's Plate is three wins and four thirds.
-- The Futurity had three of its winners go on to win the Manitoba Derby the following year - Gilmore (1966), L'Enjoleur (1974) and Balooga Bull (2011). The overall record of the 17 winners of the Futurity who appeared in the Manitoba Derby is three wins, five seconds and five thirds.
And that, my friends, is a wrap! Beginning next week, the Insider newsletter will feature the "Best of Bob" where you can catch-up on my favourite "Tails from Assiniboia."
While I bid you a fond adieu, remember there's always plenty to do at the Downs in the "off" season: trade shows, simulcast horse racing from all parts near and far, the Club West Gaming Lounge with its 144 VLTs and my fave, the all-you-can-eat Thursday night Prime Rib buffet which returns September 26.
As always, thank you for reading and I hope to see you all again next spring when the ponies return!