By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)
WINNIPEG — With 13 race nights remaining at the 2022 Assiniboia Downs thoroughbred meet, there will soon be a coronation.
Barring anything unforeseen, jockey Jorge Carreno appears to be a lock to win his second straight jockey title at ASD.
After 149 starts, Carreno has 50 wins, 20 seconds and 21 thirds and a monster winning percentage of 34 per cent. Veteran Renaldo Cumberbatch is second in the standings with 29 wins in 148 while Chavion Chow is third with 25 wins in 156 mounts. With a 21-win lead and only 13 cards remaining it will be almost impossible to catch Carreno, who won last year’s title with 80 victories in 267 starts, 31 ahead of No. 2 Stanley Chadee Jr.
One of the reasons why Carreno is so successful has been his relationship with veteran ASD trainer Jared Brown.
This season, Brown has turned the trainers’ championship race into an actual race. And he’s done it, despite the fact he’s sent 141 fewer horses to the starting gate than the leader and defending champion, Jerry Gourneau.
Gourneau still leads, of course, and he’ll send many more horses out to race over the final 13 nights of the season than Brown will. Gourneau is also trying to win his third straight trainer’s title and the fourth of his career. He’s not fooling around.
After the first 38 nights of racing, Gourneau has 30 victories in 226 starts, while Brown, the only trainer with a legitimate chance to catch Gourneau, has 24 wins in just 85 starts. He has an incredible 28 per cent winning mark and that says a lot about his barn.
“It says I bought my horses well,” he said with a laugh. “I have a good team with me and Jorge Carreno is the first rider for me and he’s the best rider here. So, I have that in my corner and that definitely makes a difference.
“The clients that I have are very realistic and one of my ownership groups – Ira Donald and Kane Kachur – are winning at like a 50 per cent rate. They’re second in the owners’ standings and they’ve had like 30 starts. That’s impressive.”
Brown, 51, was born in Vancouver but had actually lived in Winnipeg from ages 5-10 before his family moved to Seattle in 1983, when Jared was 12. Of the 23 seasons Brown has been in Winnipeg, he calls 2008 and 2009 and 2013 and 2014 his best years. This one, however, could be very close to his best.
Brown, who spent the winter at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, is a fixture at the Downs and he’s both highly respected and well-liked. He’s also paid his dues, done everything one can do in a thoroughbred horse barn and learned, not only, to prepare horses to race, but also to purchase horses that can win.
“I’ve made some strong claims, although I’ve lost a lot of horses here this year,” he said. “We started the year with 17 horses, made it to as many as 26 once, but I’ve lost at least 15 (to claims). We’re down to 19 horses now and I lost six this week. It’s been a crazy year. On the upside, of all the horses I’ve lost, they’ve only one race since I lost them.
Part of the reason he’s having some much fun is that he has one successful stakes competitor in the barn. This past week, Brown’s six-year-old mare Spun Line won the $25,000 Portales Overnight Stakes. The veteran Kentucky-bred that he claimed at Turf Paradise in March for $10,000 also won the $35,000 Canada Day Stakes and has made $37,422 in seven starts this season. Both of her wins this summer came in longer races.
“Yeah, my best horse is Spun Line right now,” Brown said. “I claimed her for 10 ($10,000US) down there and she’s only had one hiccup this year. In her previous race to this week, she didn’t run very well. Might have been in heat, we aren’t sure, but she redeemed herself this week with a big win in that Stakes race. She isn’t the best sprinter. She ran third both times in the two sprint stakes, but we won going seven-and-a-half (The Canada Day Stakes) and then we won going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on Monday so she likes the distance.
“She’s a pretty good horse going six-and-a-half, but we don’t run that distance here and we don’t run a lot of distance races in Winnipeg. We aren’t going to run any more short ones, but there is at least one more Stakes race for her and if she can get that one it will be a great year for her.”
It’s been a pretty great year for Jared Brown and Jorge Carreno, as well.