By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)
WINNIPEG — Freezing Jimmy started late, stalked the field and then took control down the stretch to win the 41st running of the $30,000 Graduation Stakes on Wednesday night.
Owned by Marvin and Deb Buffalo, trained by Marvin Buffalo and ridden by the recently successful Wilmer Galviz, Freezing Jimmy was another huge upset winner of a Stakes race at Assiniboia Downs this summer. Freezing Jimmy paid $20.40 to win, $9.50 to place and $7.40 to show.
Two-year-old races can be a crapshoot and this year’s Graduation Stakes was certainly an example. Impressive Sense finished second and paid $7.7 to place and $5.40 to show while Explorer Bill was third and paid $4.00 to show. The only filly in the race was the 4-5 favourite Tormentica and she was no match for the boys, finishing dead last, nine lengths back of the field.
It was a big win for the Buffaloes who not only have a very nice two-year-old but also won first prize money of $18,360.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday night, in the 31st running of the $30,000 Debutante Stakes for two-year-old fillies, Melisandre, the full sister of successful four-year-old Hidden Grace, did not disappoint. Breaking from the gate as the 6-5 favourite, Melisandre led from the 3/16ths pole and won impressively by five lengths to take home the $18,360 first-place money.
It was Melisandre’s second race and her second win.
Melisandre was bred in Russell, Man., by Cam Ziprick at Ziprick Thoroughbreds and Charles Fouillard. She is owned by True North Thoroughbreds, trained by Michael Nault, and ridden by Stanley Chadee Jr. On Tuesday night, she paid $3.90 to win, $3.00 to place and $2.40 to show.
Jockey Wilmer Galviz had a great week, winning the Manitoba Derby on Mongolian Wind and then the Graduation Stakes on Freezing Jimmy. However, as a late arrival at ASD, he’s not even a part of the race for the leading jockey. In fact, to be blunt, nobody is. This year’s title, with only 17 racing dates remaining, has been locked up by 2018 champion Antonio Whitehall.
Whitehall now leads No. 2 Rafael Zenteno Jr. by 21 first-place finishes. Whitehall now has 54 wins, 37 seconds and 32 third-place finishes in a track-leading 193 starts. He has now earned $480,071 for his owners – almost $175,000 more than his nearest rival. Whitehall has finished in the money an amazing 64 per cent of the time this season.
Zenteno Jr. remained in second place with 33 wins, 23 seconds, and 15 thirds in 149 starts and has $299,706 in winnings. Stanley Chadee Jr. is in third place with 28 wins, 30 seconds and 22 thirds in 168 starts and has $305,955 in winnings. Kayla Pizarro is fourth with 20 wins in 132 starts.
On the trainer’s side of the ledger, Jerry Gourneau, like Whitehall, has locked up the trainer’s crown with six weeks remaining in the meet.
This past week, he won five times and extended his lead over defending trainers’ champion Tom Gardipy Jr. to 26 wins. Gourneau, the veteran trainer from Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reserve in Belcourt, North Dakota now has 49 wins, 39 seconds, 25 thirds and $464,577 in earnings in 190 starts.
Tom Gardipy Jr., from Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation in Duck Lake, Sask., is still second with 23 wins, 27 seconds, 27 thirds and $217,860 in winnings in 169 starts and former champion trainer (2012) Shelley Brown, is third with 14 wins, 17 seconds, 20 thirds and $203,266 in winnings in 106 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. 10, at 7:30 p.m.