“The Buffalo” -- What a great name for a stakes race dedicated to Manitoba-breds! Is there a name that better represents our Province? This Sunday marks the 50th running of this prestigious race for the “babies,” Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds, who will be stretching out to a mile for a $50,000 purse.
As you might expect from a stakes that is going to celebrate its 50th running, the Buffalo is steeped in history, so let’s takes a look at some of the highlights:
- The inaugural of the Buffalo took place on July 15, 1963 when it was run as a handicap (assigned weights to equalize winning chances of entrants). The winner was Canadian Zenith, who was owned by Shoal Lake’s Art Schade. Canadian Zenith also won the Osiris Plate and finished in a dead heat in the Winnipeg Futurity to complete a sweep of the “Triple Crown” races for 2-year-olds.
- In 1966 and 1967 the “Buffalo Trophy” was awarded for the race, which was referred to as the Manitoba Championship, but in 1968 the formal Buffalo Stakes name would return.
- The 1975 edition of the Buffalo saw a horse named Lore Eze Two best future Manitoba Derby winner Merry’s Jay by a short neck.
- In 1985 Irish Acres Farm’s Somebody’s Great covered the then 6 furlong distance in 1:09 4/5 – a record for 2-year-olds and only 3/5 off Intercontinent’s track record set on May 18, 1981.
- Trainer Tom Dodds won the Buffalo a record 4 times (1992,95,97,98).
- Downs’ all-time leading rider, Ken Hendricks is the riding star of the Buffalo with five victories (1974,75,95,97,98).
- Graded stakes winner Gold Strike and multiple graded stakes winner Fancy As top the list of previous Buffalo winners. Gold Strike won the race in 2004 and Fancy As won it in 2000. Multiple stakes winner and Downs’ perennial favourite Northern Spike won the Buffalo in 1997. Other previous winners include notable local stars Body Works, One and Only, Parry’s Pride, Prince Robby, No Questions Asked and Merry’s Hi Note. An impressive list of Manitoba-breds!
Season Ending Trivia
Who knew? In the 54-year history of Assiniboia Downs no horse ever won the first race on opening day more than once. And no horse ever won the first race on opening day and the final race of the meet (in any year). But one horse did win the final race of the meet – twice!
Ok hands up, any guesses?
Who was the horse that closed-out a meet by winning the final race of the season on two occasions?
It was Louis and Anna Selyem’s (Anna Stables) Mr. Bizbee in 1973 and 1975, ridden on both occasions by their son, Joseph!
I couldn’t end my last blog of the year without expressing my heart-felt thanks to all of you that have loyally read our weekly trip down memory lane. It has been my absolute pleasure to bring these stories from the past to you each week. We are indeed fortunate to have such a storied history. And deep inside the grandstand is a memory vault loaded with more tales from the past that are aching to be told!
In just seven short months we’ll begin our 55th season of racing, and we’ll tell you a few more stories from the past, while we make some new history. Thanks so much for reading!
See you next year!
Next Post Time for Live Racing: 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 19, 2012