By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)
WINNIPEG — ASD’s red-hot leading jockey Antonio Whitehall rode three second-place finishers at Century Mile in Edmonton on Sunday. He’s slated to be back at Assiniboia Downs tonight and will ride in a couple of big stakes races on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
It’s a prep week for the 2020 Manitoba Derby and Manitoba Oaks this week as the top three-year-old fillies’ race on Tuesday night and the best three-year-old colts got to post on Wednesday.
On Tuesday night, it’s the $25,000 Hazel Wright Sire Stakes for three-year-old Manitoba-bred fillies, non-winners of two-lifetime races. At least one of these fillies should come out of this race-ready to challenge for the Manitoba Oaks in August.
The morning-line favourite is No More Secrets at 1-1. Owned by Barry Arnason, trained by Michael Nault and ridden by Antonio Whitehall, No More Secrets has a second (June 10) and a third (May 27) in two Maiden Special Weight races this spring.
No More Secrets will get a real challenge from Sizzle N Suzie. Owned by Ken Pawluk, trained by reigning Trainers Champion Tom Gardipy Jr. and ridden by Kayla Pizarro, Sizzle N Suzie finished fourth behind No More Secrets on June 10 and second ahead of No More Secrets on May 27.
This should be quite a battle on the front end of this six-furlong sprint.
The only other filly that might have a say in the outcome is Kellysonarole. Owned by Larry Falloon, Shelley Brown and Denis Huberdeau, trained by Shelley Brown and ridden by Rafael Zenteno Jr., Kellysonarole will go off at about 6-1 and does have a third-place finish, ahead of Sizzle N Suzie in that Maiden Special Weight on June 10.
On Wednesday night, the boys enter the fray in the $25,000 Frank Arnason Sire Stakes for Manitoba-bred colts, non-winners of two lifetimes. Nine colts are expected to go to the post in what should be one of the best races of the month.
The favourite is Esther’s Quest at 8-5, owned by Larry Falloon and Darin Bouchard, trained by Steven Gaskin and ridden by Richard Mangalee. In one start this spring, Esther’s Quest finished sixth in the Shanghied Overnight Stakes.
The No. 2 favourite on the morning line at 5-2 is Cross Lake Proud, owned by Maple Grove Equine Ranch Ltd., trained by Elton Dickey and ridden by Alberta’s Rico Walcott. In a Maiden Special Weight race on June 16, Cross Lake Proud finished second. He’s coming back after only a week off so it will be interesting to see how he holds up over the six-furlong sprint.
The colt we like is Bear Me a Moment at 6-1. Owned by Barry Arnason, trained by Michael Nault and ridden by Antonio Whitehall, Bear Me a Moment won its only start of the season – the first race of 2020 – a Maiden Special Weight race to start the 50-day meet at ASD. Bear Me a Moment had two third-place finishes as a two-year-old, including winning third-place money in the 2019 CTHS Sales Stakes.
Of course, the way things have gone this spring, any horse ridden by Antonio Whitehall has to be considered.
Whitehall now has 19 wins, 14 seconds and nine third-place finishes in 67 starts (63 per cent in the money). He has already won a whopping $171,403, almost $60,000 more than No. 2 Rafael Zenteno Jr., who won once and rode two second-place finishers at Century Mile on Sunday. Zenteno Jr. has 13 wins, 12 seconds, and five thirds in 58 starts and $112,167 in winnings. Neville Stephenson is third with eight wins, three seconds, five thirds and $70,036 in winnings in 59 starts.
On the trainer’s side, former champion Jerry Gourneau leads the way with 13 wins, 15 seconds, eight thirds and $128,509 in earnings in 61 starts. Tim Rycroft is next with seven wins, 11 seconds, six thirds and $91,303 in earnings in just 36 starts while defending champ Tom Gardipy Jr. is tied for third with Shelley Brown and Jared Brown. All three have five wins.
Live racing returns to the Downs tonight at 7:30 p.m. Pick up an hpibet.com account and start wagering today.
NOTE: We picked the winner in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. Of course, it wasn’t that hard. Tiz The Law was the favourite and clearly the class of the first jewel of racing’s 2020 Triple Crown. Frankly, Tiz The Law should win the Triple Crown.