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Barry Arnason: ‘No Luggage Rack on a Hearse’

June 8, 2023 11:46 AM | Sports

By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)

Presented by:

Assiniboia Downs

Barry Arnason

Manitoba horse owner and breeder Barry Arnason (SCOTT TAYLOR PHOTO)

WINNIPEG — Barry Arnason is off to another great start. An owner and breeder of fine thoroughbred racehorses here in Manitoba, Arnason reached a milestone this year.

And with the passing of that milestone, he’s gone all-in on a hobby that has become a passion that is blossoming into a lifestyle.

“The old saying goes, ‘I’m in my fourth quarter looking for overtime,’ and I have some extra time on my hands, so I’ve loaded up for what I hope will be a big year,” Arnason said recently. “I’m 70 now and I thought, well, I’m on the Freedom 85 plan, but I enjoy racing and I figured, ‘Why not?’ So I have all of 20 horses and four or five partnership horses this year. I’ve paid the money, but you never know how they’re going to do until you get out on the track.”

Well, punters, after three weeks “on the track,” Arnason Farms (along with its partners) have had quite an enjoyable start to the 2023 meet at Assiniboia Downs.

Fact is, he and his partners have already won seven races and the early success really came together with two Overnight Stakes victories on back-to-back nights this week.

  1. May 23, Race 2, Crowned Royal won an $18,000 allowance with Antonio Whitehall in the irons.
  2. May 23, Race 3, Chicago’s Gray won a $20,000 Maiden Special with jockey Jorge Carreno (with Partners).
  3. May 29, Race 6, Impressive Sense won a $10,000 Claimer with Whitehall (with Partners).
  4. June 5, Race 3, Ensley’s Dream won a $13,700 Claimer with Whitehall (with Partners)
  5. June 5, Race 6, Chicago’s Gray won the $25,200 Prime Time Overnight Stakes with Carreno (with Partners).
  6. June 6, Race 4, Explosive won a $16,500 Allowance Optional Weight with Whitehall.
  7. June 6, Race 5, Melisandre won the $26,000 Cool Excellence Overnight Stakes with Whitehall.

Melisandre has had a marvellous career at ASD and it would appear she’s better than ever in this, her 5-year-old season. Bred by Arnason, Cam Ziprick, Charles Fouillard, owned in partnership by True North Thoroughbreds and Arnason Farms and trained by Lise Pruitt, Melisandre has nine firsts and four seconds in 16 career races. She also has eight stakes wins and a second in 10 tries and has earned $140,966 in her three-plus years on the track.

Winning her first stakes race of the season on Tuesday certainly brought a smile to her owner’s face.

“Melisandre has been training unbelievably well,” Arnason said. “She had trouble changing leads last year but she’s back on track. I’m hoping she’s going to once again be one of the top Manitoba-bred mares this year.”

This year, Arnason will receive an award from the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society for 50 years of service to the Canadian racing industry. For Arnason, a graduate of the University of Manitoba who took his Arts degree and built a successful construction business in the province, racing has always been in his blood. He is, after all, the son of the legendary Frank Arnason who brought the first Icelandic horses to Manitoba and was president of the CTHS at the time of his passing in 1987. The annual Frank Arnason Stakes is named in his honour.

Barry, meanwhile, has had a remarkable career at ASD and has owned some of the finest horses ever to run in Winnipeg. Magic D’Oro, Zdeno, Langara, Paint My Ride, Hidden Grace, Tadaa, Escape Clause, the list is long and impressive.

This year, however, Arnason has decided to go all in.

“I have a gray horse named Explosive that we claimed out of Turfway Park (Florence, KY) that we really like,” Arnason said. “Steve Keplin is doing a great job training Explosive. I bought some three-year-olds, one out of California and one out of Florida, that we’re expecting to be contenders. I also bought three two-year-olds in training in April and I’m excited about them. And I have some horses that I had last year that have matured and are training very well. I feel I have as strong a barn as I’ve ever had. Lise Pruitt is training most of them. Gary Danelson has one, a horse named Ensley’s Dream, who is a nice competitive mare. I think I’m in pretty good shape.

“I look at it this way,” Arnason said, laughing. “There is no luggage rack on a hearse. As I get older, I’m going to enjoy this racing business as much as I possibly can.”