Jun 042022

Record Breaking Handle Kicks off 65th ASD Meeting

High-quality cards and excellent riding colony make for big bucks at windows

Strong competitive fields and smooth rides over an exceptionally kind surface resulted in a new opening day record handle on the opening day of the 65th live race meeting at Assiniboia Downs, as bettors from around the world and on-track pumped $1,151,223 through the wires and windows. Wow! What an opening night!


The $25,000 guaranteed Pick 4 pool had a whopping $109,686 in it on opening night and a $1 ticket paid $1,134.05 to a pile of happy punters. It was more of the same on Wednesday evening with a total handle of $1,123,118 and a Pick 4 pool of $74,121 that resulted in a $1 ticket paying $4,494.85.


If you liked a horse, you could basically bet as much as you wanted to win without changing the odds. And all but one of the 14 races appeared to run to handicapped form, which made many a handicapper’s dreams a reality.


Manitoba-bred first-time starter Miss Giving (Kentucky Bear-Bull Market Lady by Holy Bull) showcased trainer Devon Gittens’ ample skills with young horses with a win in the first race of the year, the Don Gray Memorial, and it was onwards and upwards from there.


The highlight performance of the first two days was a scintillating score by Halfinthewrapper in the Ruby’s Big Band Overnight Stakes. Claimed for $15,000 last fall at Woodbine, the 5-year-old mare trained by Saskatchewan born and raised trainer Mike Taphorn rifled out of the gate and set fractions we haven’t seen here by a female since One More Lady in the mid-1980s.

Halfinthewrapper went 21.60 and 44.40 to open up 8 ½-lengths on the field by the eighth pole and coasted home under jockey Neville Stephenson to win by 4 ¾-lengths in a sizzling 57.60 for owners Lets Dance Stable, paying $11.50 to win. Kudos to Taphorn for having this mare ready to rock ‘n roll at first asking.

Halfinthewrapper winning the Ruby’s Big Band Overnight Stakes for trainer Mike Taphorn. Neville Stephenson in the saddle. (Jason Halstead photo)
Also impressive in the nicely paying stakes department was Market King, who faced pressure throughout in the Nifty Overnight Stakes on Tuesday night and called on his back class to hold off a determined Real Grace to win by neck. Claimed by trainer Jared Brown for $10,000 off a fourth-place finish in his last start at Turf Paradise, the one-time Triple Crown trail competitor was all heart under jockey Jorge Carreno and paid $14.40 to win.
Market King (#5) called on his class to hold off Real Grace and win the Nifty Overnight Stakes on Tuesday evening for trainer Jared Brown. Jorge Carreno up. (Jason Halstead photo)
Earlier on the Tuesday card, another former claimer, Kim’s Texas Bling, gave three-time training champ Jerry Gourneau his first stakes win of the season in the Electric Fever Overnight Stakes. Claimed for $15,000 out of her last start at Sam Houston Race Park, Kim quickly paid dividends for five-time leading ASD owner Henry S. Witt, Jr. with jockey Chavion Chow in the saddle, winning by 3 1/2-lengths.
Kim’s Texas Bling rolls to victory in the Electric Fever Overnight Stakes on Tuesday evening for trainer Jerry Gourneau. Chavion Chow in the saddle. (George Williams photo)
Six-time leading trainer Tom Gardipy, Jr. was also in a stakes-winning mood on Wednesday, saddling yet another former claimer to win the Lord Balcony Overnight Stakes. Brody’s Streak dueled outside even-money favourite Gold Special under jockey Ronald Ali and drew out through the stretch to win by 2 ¾-lengths for owner Larry S. Henry, paying $10.90.
Brody’s Streak makes it three wins in a row with his victory in the Lord Balcony Overnight Stakes on Wednesday night for trainer Tom Gardipy, Jr. Ronald Ali up. (Jason Halstead photo)
Three out of the four overnight stakes were won by “price” horses and the riding was smooth and pleasurable through both opening cards, especially that of Renaldo Cumberbatch, who won three races to lead all riders over the first two days. Jorge Carreno, Neville Stephenson, Chavion Chow, and newcomer Leonel Camacho-Flores each won two races to keep it close.

On the trainer front, Jared Brown, Wendy Anderson, and Marvin Buffalo each won two races and Buffalo’s win with wife Deb Buffalo’s Fair Challenge ($17.80) in the third race on Wednesday gets the nod for best late rally of the first two days over a track that played absolutely fair to all running styles.

In summary, the first two days of the 2022 race meeting probably couldn’t have been scripted any better!

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