Manitoba Derby History


The Manitoba Derby is Manitoba's most prestigious race. Derby Day at Assiniboia Downs is a true celebration of all that the sport of thoroughbred racing was meant to be -- class, courage, speed and beauty. And not just from the horses. The ladies and their fancy hats are always a beautiful sight to behold!

The first “Derby” was run in 1930, although from 1930 to 1933 it was known as the Manitoba Stakes. In 1934 the name of the race was officially changed to the Manitoba Derby.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the race was the brainchild of Robert James Speers, the Father of Thoroughbred Racing in Western Canada. Speers established the race for horsemen to showcase thoroughbreds that were foaled in Western Canada.

In 1936 the Derby was opened to all horses bred in Canada. The race was run annually at old Polo Park race track with the exception of 1937 when it was run at Whittier Park in St. Boniface. In 1941 the Manitoba Derby was changed to the Canadian Derby.

Few people realize that the heart and soul of the prestigious Canadian Derby can be found in Winnipeg and that the Canadian Derby was “born” if you will, out of our Manitoba Derby. At the time, Canada was the only major country that did not have a national “Derby” so R. J. Speers sacrificed "Manitoba" for a national name.

The new Canadian Derby was run at Polo Park until it closed in 1956 and the race was relocated to Edmonton. Jack Hardy tried to bring the race back to Winnipeg when Assiniboia Downs opened in 1958, but was not successful and the race remains in Edmonton to this day. In 1960 the Manitoba Derby and its storied past was resurrected. It has been run at Assiniboia Downs ever since.

In 1985 the Manitoba Derby was changed to an open event for all 3-year-old thoroughbreds. To date, three Manitoba-breds have won the Manitoba Derby. Gowerlace was the first to accomplish the feat in 1938. It took almost 40 years for the next home-bred, Merry's Jay, to win the race in 1976. Royal Frolic was the next and last Manitoba-bred to accomplish the rare feat in 1993.

The list of previous winners reads like the Who's Who of horse racing with such horses as Fanfreluche, Merry's Jay and Overskate. The list of winning owners and trainers includes Levesque, Mitchell, K5 Stable, Rowntree, Blake and Starr. Jockeys Hawley, Turcotte, Krone and Platts are but a few of the Hall of Fame riders who have won our Derby.

Assiniboia Downs salutes all participants, past and present who have made the race what it is today


Click Here for Full PDF of Manitoba Derby Winners including trainers, owners, jockeys, and purses.


DISTANCE: 1 1/8-Miles
2023 Mano Dura
2022 Red Knobs
2021 Uncharacteristic
2020 Mongolian Wind
2019 Oil Money
2018 Sky Promise
2017 Plentiful
2016 Inside Straight
2015 Flashy Jewel
2014 Street Prancer
2013 Assembly Hall
2012 Balooga Bull
2011 Hammer’s Bullet
2010 Stachys
2009 Smuggler’s Hold
2008 Matt’s Broken Vow
2007 Weather Warning
2006 Lord Kipling
2005 Prime Time T.V.
2004 Royalty Boy
2003 Hero’s Pleasure
2002 Lord Shogun
2001 Stage Classic
2000 Scotman
1999 Wafare Warrior
1998 A Fleets Dancer
1997 My Imperial Slew
1996 Northernprospector
1995 Langara Island
1994 P.C.’s Bluff
1993 Royal Frolic
1992 Jan Arctic
1991 Plenty Chilly
1990 Reancy
1989 Rough Catch
1988 No Malice
1987 Steady Power
1986 Steady Effort
1985 Kamp Out
1984 Ten Gold Pots
1983 Gone To Royalty
1982 Exclusive Canadian
1981 Regimen
1980 Country Free
1979 Easter’s Memory
1978 Overskate
1977 Giboulee
1976 Merry’s Jay
1975 L’Enjoleur
1974 Rushton’s Corsair
1973 Zaca Spirit
1972 Nice Dancer
1971 Speedy Zephyr
1970 Fanfreluche
1969 Fire ‘N Desire
1968 Son Costume
DISTANCE: 1 1/4-Miles
1967 Gilmore
1966 Carodana
1965 Flyalong
1964 Langcrest
1963 Brother Leo
1962 Welcome Effort
1961 Windspray
1960 Bocage
1940 Sir Trapseth
1939 Larry Eckhard
1938 Gowerlace
1937 Goldlure
1936 Sweepden
1935 Nellie Quince
1934 Caramar
1933 Carhan Queen
1932 Lady Marnock
1931 Parisienne
1930 Jack Whittier