Jockey Chris Husbands won four of the eight races on Mothers' Day opening night 2016 at Assiniboia Downs; trainer Tom Gardipy Jr. scored a hat trick, and trainer Gary Danelson bookended the card with wins in the first (Don Gray Memorial) and eighth races in front of a fabulous crowd.
"The crowd was very large and exceptionally enthusiastic for the return of live racing," said Assiniboia Downs CEO Darren Dunn. "When you combine that with a full doubling in the amount wagered versus opening day last year, this was a winner in every sense of the word."
Longshot Out of Mischief ($17.90) kicked off the evening in the first race, the Don Gray Memorial, for trainer Gary Danelson and jockey Richard Mairs. Last year's top money winning trainer Don Schnell won the second race with favoured Blackburn ($4.00), Antonio Whitehall in the irons. And yet another new jockey, Paul Francis, won the third race aboard Money Cannon ($8.30) for trainer Jerry Gourneau, before the Chris Husbands/Tom Gardipy Jr. show started.
Husbands won fourth race for Gardipy Jr. aboard Mike's Halo ($16.70), the sixth race aboard Ellie's the Boss ($3.20) for trainer Jared Brown, the seventh aboard Back Away ($6.80), again for Gardipy Jr. and the eighth and final for trainer Gary Danelson on Sober Sue ($7.50).
Sandwiched in between those races was another win for Gardipy Jr. in the fifth race with Star of Sky ($4.40) and Kayla Pizarro in the saddle. Pizarro also just missed to Husbands in the sixth, the most exciting race of the night, when she dueled throughout aboard Cole Bennett trainee About a Girl. There were no losers in that race.
The best payoff off the night came in the eighth race Superfecta, which paid $2,096.20 for $2 wager when heavy favourite Hollysindependent finished sixth after being wide early. The $2 Pick-4 paid $205.60, which wasn't too bad considering heavy favourites won the first two legs.
It was special to see the family of the late Phil Kives at the races on the opening night of 2016. Phil's wife Ellie was in the Winner's Circle for the presentation to the Don Gray Memorial winner in the first race. Phil Kives and Don Gray were one of the finest owner/trainer teams ever to play the game in this neighbourhood. What are the chances they've teamed up again?
We should have asked.
They were watching tonight.