Manitoba filly toys with rivals in season finale

Season 60 at Assiniboia Downs came to a stirring conclusion on the weekend as the most dominant 3-year-old Manitoba-bred filly in decades, Escape Clause, simply toyed with her older rivals in the $25,000 Manitoba Matron Stakes to put an exclamation point on a season in which she won seven of eight races by a combined total of more than 70 lengths.

That victory pretty much sealed the likelihood she would be named the Downs’ 2017 Horse of the Year. The last—and only other—time that local race fans saw such a precocious Manitoba filly was in 1978 when Liz’s Pride won all seven of her 2-year-old races at the Downs and finished second in the Manitoba Derby, a feat also accomplished by Escape Clause.

“It was a dream year,” said one of her owners, Barry Arnason, as he watched her male counterpart, Paint My Ride, which he also co-owns, win the $25,000 J.W. Sifton Stakes for Manitoba 3-year-old colts and geldings. Escape Clause is trained by co-owner Don Schnell and was ridden by Adolfo Morales.

It was also a solid year for attendance and wagering. Per-race wagering was up by 14.42 per cent over last year. A total of $11 million was wagered compared to $9.8 million last year.

Other highlights in the final weekend of the 50-day racing season:

  • A low-key trainer with only five horses, Linda Kropius, became a giant killer in two stakes races: Her Galitzianer knocked off Manitoba Derby winner and fan favourite Plentiful by ¾ of a length in the $25,000 Gold Cup for the best horses on the grounds and, in the Winnipeg Futurity, 2-year-old filly Dandy Deen at odds of 9-1 upset favoured Cheertothenewyear trained by 12-time leading trainer Ardell Sayler. Galitzianer paid his backers $21.20 for a $2 win ticket and Dandy Deen paid $20.50.

  • Jockey Rohan Singh rode up a storm to win his fourth riding title, the last being in 2005.
  • In a down-to-the-wire tilt, trainer Tom Gardipy Jr. grabbed the trainer title for the fifth time with 36 victories, two more than Don Schnell.

  • Wayne Misko, last year's Handicapper of the Year, won the 60-second betting spree finale over four other frenzied motor-mouth competitors, turning his $116 in wagers into $259.20 which also gave him the $600 season-ending bonus.

Assiniboia Downs’ CEO Darren Dunn called Season 60 “extremely gratifying,” noting not only extraordinary horse performances and an “exceptionally competitive jockey colony” but also “for the first time in years” having a new industry-friendly Manitoba Horse Racing Commission that allowed the track to space its live races between other competing track’s races so “wagering pools exploded in a positive fashion to the delight of our customers.”

He said he also liked the recounting of glorious moments from the past—“recognizing everything from legendary horses and jockeys to industry builders and the many concerts.”

The Downs now turns its attention to simulcast racing and Saturday horseplayer workshops which anyone may attend and getting ready for the biggest racing event of the year, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar race track in California on the first Friday and Saturday of November.

The Downs is open every day of the year, including Christmas, for simulcast racing, dining, 140 VLTs, $10 buy-in poker, Thursday prime rib buffets, weddings, trade shows, business meetings and the like.


For more information contact
Darren Dunn