By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)
Just call it The Jerry Gourneau 61st Running of the $25,000 Manitoba Mile.
On Wednesday night at Assiniboia Downs, Gold Buyer, a Texas invader owned by Mike Powers and trained by Jerry Gourneau finished first. The favourite, Deep Explorer, owned by Henry Witt Jr. and trained by Jerry Gourneau finished second and Mas Mischief, also owned by Henry Witt Jr. and trained by, wait for it, Jerry Gourneau, finished third.
It was an incredible result for Gourneau, the leading trainer at the Downs this year and the 2018 champion trainer at ASD.
Gold Buyer is a four-year-old gray gelding bred in Texas by Douglas Scharbauer and ridden by Kayla Pizzaro. Gold Buyer last ran at Lone Star Race Track in Grand Prairie, Tex., on June 14 and finished sixth in a $75,000 stakes race. Owner Mike Powers brought him to Winnipeg and his first race at the Downs proved to be a four-length victory over a solid seven-horse field and a heavy favourite.
In fact, it’s been a great seven days for Powers. On July 22, he and Gourneau won the Escape Clause Stakes with Labhay.
Deep Explorer, owned by Henry Witt Jr., trained by Jerry Gourneau and ridden by Antonio Whitehall, had already had 10 starts this year and had won three times – he won both of his races at Assiniboia Downs but also ran at Will Rogers and Sam Houston in 2020. The seven-year-old gelding won a $25,000 stakes race at ASD on June 17 and then won the $25,000 R.J. Speers Stakes on July 8. However, on Wednesday night, Deep Explorer showed a lot of heart at the end of the race to fight off Mas Mischief to finish second.
Mas Mischief, a Kentucky-bred owned by Henry Witt Jr., trained by Gourneau and ridden by Nirone Austin last raced on July 12 at Lone Star and finished seventh in an $18,000 claimer.
Gold Buyer paid $7.60 to win, $4.00 to place and $2.90 to show. Deep Explorer paid $3.30 to place and $2.40 to show and Mas Mischief paid $3.10 to show.
It was another big week for Gourneau. This past week, he won five times and extended his lead over defending trainers’ champion Tom Gardipy Jr. to 22 wins. Gourneau, the veteran trainer from Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reserve in Belcourt, North Dakota now has 44 wins, 36 seconds, 22 thirds and $408,177 in earnings in 172 starts.
Tom Gardipy Jr., from Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation in Duck Lake, Sask., is still second with 22 wins, 26 seconds, 27 thirds and $209,309 in winnings in 160 starts and former champion trainer (2012) Shelley Brown, is third with 12 wins, 15 seconds, 19 thirds and $179,181 in winnings in just 97 starts.
Meanwhile, on the jockeys’ side, Antonio Whitehall won three times last week and has pretty much guaranteed himself a jockey championship. In fact, he now leads No. 2 Rafael Zenteno Jr. by 19 firsts. Whitehall now has 48 wins, 34 seconds and 27 third-place finishes in a track-leading 172 starts. He has now earned $431,096 for his owners – almost $170,000 more than his nearest rival.
Zenteno Jr. remained in second place with 29 wins, 22 seconds, and 15 thirds in 137 starts and has $266,906 in winnings. Stanley Chadee Jr. is in third place with 23 wins, 23 seconds and 21 thirds in 149 starts and has $246,789 in winnings. Kayla Pizarro won five times last week and remains in fourth with 18 wins in 118 starts.
Remember, there is more than just live racing three nights a week to enjoy at the Downs. There are 60 VLTs open daily from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. and while the grandstand and tarmac are still closed to spectators, you can watch live racing from the Terrace Dining Room, the Club West Lounge and the Racebook. Reservations are required for the Terrace Dining Room, just call 204-885-3330.
Live racing is back next Monday night, Aug. 3, at 7:30 p.m. The featured race is the featured race of the entire summer: The 72nd running of the Manitoba Derby.