Saskatchewan-breds have been participating in Manitoba restricted races since 2013, but they will now also be eligible for the lucrative Manitoba-bred purse supplements offered in those races, and will be eligible to participate in Manitoba-bred restricted stakes. Additionally, Saskatchewan breeders will be eligible for both breeder and stallion awards.
“Saskatchewan breeders had no venue for their thoroughbreds,” said Manitoba CTHS President Pat Wallace. “We’re hoping to have as many horses as possible racing here, and this will hopefully increase the number of entries in our races, and the number of foals born. With the lower horse supply, we have to work together with other provinces, and this is good for both Manitoba and Saskatchewan.”
“We are so pleased to see this progressive and collaborative ‘big picture’ strategy being introduced,” said Assiniboia Downs CEO Darren Dunn. “Our congratulations go out to the many involved who created this important addition to the racing program here at ASD – we applaud their vision.”
“This is a real break for our Saskatchewan horsepeople,” said Saskatchewan CTHS President Rose Backlund. “We’ve had no racetrack for going on three years here. There was a little bit of meet last year, but it was just for a few days, and we didn’t have many horses. I’ve been talking to Grant Watson (Manitoba CTHS Director) for the past few years trying to get something going.
“Originally, we were able to race in restricted races while still running at Marquis Downs, but not many people from Saskatchewan took advantage of it. I could never figure out why. When we ended up having absolutely nothing here, people started shipping to Winnipeg. Now, with this program it’s a win-win situation. It’s good for both provinces.”
Breeders in Saskatchewan had already started shipping their mares to other provinces to foal so that they would be eligible for Alberta or Manitoba-bred bonus programs. With this new program they won’t have to do that, and they’ll still be eligible for stallion and breeder awards.
“When Saskatchewan racing came to a halt a few years ago, a number of their horsepeople left for other provinces,” said Backlund. “Including trainers who moved their strings to Assiniboia Downs. We lost a lot of our trainers and workers, and the tax base from all the people that support getting a horse to the races.”
Backlund estimates there are probably 20 breeders in Saskatchewan and up to 12 stallions, including her own Vindgari, who locals might remember from his races here, and for his son Not Afraid, a six-time winner at Assiniboia Downs trained by Marvin Buffalo.
“We’re pretty excited about this new program, and about supporting your meeting,” said Backlund, who bought her first racehorse in 1980 and has been involved in racing and breeding ever since. “I’m going to have to get to know the road to Winnipeg. We’ll have a full brother to Not Afraid there with trainer Carl Anderson.
“It’s really a lifeline for all of us.”