By Scott Taylor
WINNIPEG — Darren Dunn is, generally, a happy guy. This spring, however, with the 2019 Live Racing Season right around the corner, the CEO of Assiniboia Downs has an extra reason to smile.
Despite the fact veterans such as Rohan Singh, Adolofo Morales and Prayven Badrie will not be returning to the Downs this summer, Dunn can assure punters and racing fans that there will be a huge jockey colony at the track this season.
“Our reigning jockey champion, Antonio Whitehall is back and already on the grounds,” said Dunn. “And we’ll have a number of familiar names — Kayla Pizarro might have been the first jockey back along with Tyrone Nelson, Renaldo Cumberbatch, Paul Francis, Richard Mairs, Chavion Chow, Stanley Chadee Jr., Sheldon Chickeness, Arthur Budhu and Dario Dalrymple.”
As well, there is a list of impressive newcomers, who should make the jockey race at the Downs one of the most competitive on record:
Dane Dawkins – Cracked the Top 10 every season since starting in 2016.
Kerron Khelawan – The former leading Apprentice at Santa Rosa Park (Trinidad)
Dillon Khelawan – The former Leading Apprentice at Santa Rosa Park and currently fourth in the standings in 2019.
Ronald Ali – The former leading rider at Santa Rosa Park who is currently third in the standings in 2019.
Alex Cruz – He has 259 Career Wins and earnings of $2,600,000 and is currently riding at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.
To top things off, the Downs will feature four apprentices this summer: Shavon Belle who was at the Downs last year; Nicolle Disdier, who already has 32 career wins and earnings of $375,000 and is currently galloping at Turf Paradise; Nirone Austin who cracked the Top 10 at Garrison Savannah in 2018 and is currently seventh in 2019; and Jose Leon who is currently riding at Turf Paradise and Santa Anita.
“We’re really excited about this year’s colony,” said Dunn. “We expect that it will be a very competitive season in 2019.”
The 2019 50-day Assiniboia Downs Meet begins on Mother’s Day, May 12, and runs until Sunday, September 8.