By Scott Taylor
If you have a shiny new Toonie, you might want to head out to Assiniboia Downs on Monday and let the whole coin ride on the favourite, Call It a Wrap.
Or, you might want to take a chance on the speed, Oil Money. Or even place your hard-earned cash on the local favourite, Lifesbeengoodsofar.
Whatever your poison, the 71st running of the $75,000 Manitoba Derby probably has a three-year-old colt/gelding you’ll like. After all, eight are going to post ion the biggest thoroughbred race of the 2019 season at ASD.
“I’m a little surprised that he’s the favourite,” said former Downs outrider turned trainer Tim Rycroft of his beautiful Chestnut gelding Call It a Wrap. “Hopefully that bodes well come race time that other people think that much of the horse, too. I really like the horse. He’s improving and I brought him in a little early and he’s getting accustomed to the track here.
“I don’t much about the other horses in the race. I’ve watched a few of their races and I know that Oil Money is the horse people are talking about. He’s the real speed in the race. Oil Money hasn’t gone the distance before, but if you get an easy lead, you get a little breather down the backside and you can turn the race into a bit of a rout, so none of can let him get too far ahead.”
Rycroft, who hails from Grande Prairie, Alta. and whose barn is now at Century Mile in Calgary where he’s currently the leading trainer, has been in the racing business his entire life. He started out as an outrider and even worked at ASD for three years. He married a trainer, but when they decided to have a family, she turned the barn over to Tim and raised the kids while Tim got his trainer’s license and has been running the family’s thoroughbred business for the past 15 years.
With Call It a Wrap, he has one of the three horses with a legitimate pre-race chance to win the Derby.
Here’s the eight-horse field for Monday’s big race:
POST HORSE ODDS
- Oil Money, 5-2, won the Golden Boy Stakes at Assiniboia Downs on June 22. He’s owned by Charles Garvey, trained by Robertino Diodoro, — who has two of the last three Manitoba Derbies in 2016 and 2018 – and will be ridden by Orlando Mojica from Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn. Oil Money is the speed and if he gets out in front he will be hard to catch. However, he’s never run the 1 1/16-mile distance before. Interestingly, Mojica will be flying in from Mountaineer in West Virginia where he will ride last year’s Manitoba Derby champion, Sky Promise, in the West Virginia Governor’s Grade III Stakes.
- Flinch, 40-1, owned by MJ racing and trained by Juan Pablo Silva, has a win, two seconds and a third in eight starts this summer, six at ASD. He’ll be ridden by ASD’s leading jockey, Alex Cruz.
- Rocknroll Rocket, 10-1, from Canterbury in Shakopee Minn., is trained by Robertino Diodoro and will be ridden by ASD’s defending jockey champion, Antonio Whitehall.
- Call It a Wrap, 9-5, from Century Mile in Calgary. The Tim Rycroft-trained, Wilmer Galviz-ridden pre-race favourite.
- Candy Con, 15-1, owned by 2PF stable and trained by five-time champion Tom Gardipy Jr., won a $14,400 race on June 29 at the Downs and finished third in the Harry Jeffrey Stakes on July 13.
- Eye Cloud, 20-1, owned by Mike Powers, trained by Jerry Gourneau and ridden by Chavion Chow, Eye Cloud has not won this season and just finished fourth in the Harry Jeffrey Stakes. He has two third-place finishes in eight starts this year – the last three at Assiniboia Downs.
- Moscow Minister, 3-1, who last raced on June 23 in a $20,000 claimer at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. (finished seventh). Moscow Minister is owned by restauranteur John Ganas (Nick’s Inn), trained by Steven Gaskin and will be ridden by Woodbine’s Christopher Husbands. He is the only colt in the race.
- Lifesbeengoodsofar, 6-1, owned by Garth Grieder and Violetta Adamczyk and trained by Murray Duncan, he won the Royal Frolic Overnight Stakes and finished second in the Golden Boy Stakes. Duncan trained the 2017 Manitoba Derby champion, Plentiful. Tyrone Nelson will ride.
Our money is on No. 1, Oil Money with a 1-4-7 Triactor, but our heart is with Murray Duncan and Lifesbeengoodsofar.
Don’t forget, the 2019 $75,000 Manitoba Derby — the 71st running — will be held on Monday, August 5, at about 5 p.m. at ASD. There is also a $20,000 guaranteed Pick-4 Pool and, of course, the Derby Hat contest with a $100 first prize.
There is also live racing Friday (Debutante Stakes and Manitoba Oaks) and Saturday night (Graduation Stakes) at the Downs, with first post each night at 7:30 p.m.