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Assiniboia Downs Gears Up for Thrilling Manitoba Derby

August 4, 2023 7:01 AM | Sports

By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)

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Assiniboia Downs

Heroic Move


When the bell goes on Monday night, the heavy favourite in the 75th running of the Manitoba Derby is a three-year-old, Kentucky-bred, bay colt named Heroic Move.

Heroic Move last won a race on Feb. 23 at Oaklawn Park with superstar jockey Joel Rosario in the irons. Since then, he has finished third on three occasions and sixth once. In his last race, he was a close third in the $250,000 Iowa Derby on July 8.

However, the Iowa Derby was an outstanding race with a tremendous field and because of that performance alone, Heroic Move is the even-money favourite on the morning line.

For Kirt Contois, the host of the Paddock Show and the man who will call Monday night’s big race, Heroic Move is clearly the favourite.

“My money is definitely on Heroic Move,” said Contois. “Coming out of the Iowa Derby, where he was third, the two horses that beat him were very good horses. The horses behind him were very good horses. That was a very tough race in comparison to our Manitoba Derby. So, running third, beaten a half (beaten by half a length) makes him the one to beat here.”

Monday night, the 75th Manitoba Derby over one mile and one-eighth, will go to post at about 10:05 p.m. at Assiniboia Downs. It will be the most important Manitoba Derby in the race’s history. Not only is it a $125,000 race for the first time ever, but it’s also part of the Western Canadian Triple Crown, a three-race stakes series that offers an extra $100,000 to any horse that wins all three races – the $125,000 Manitoba Derby in Winnipeg on Aug. 7, the $200,000 Canadian Derby in Edmonton on Aug. 26, and the $125,000 B.C. Derby in Vancouver on Sept. 16.

The connections for all 10 horses entered on Monday night obviously have dollar signs dancing in their heads.

“Because of this Derby series it didn’t force people to purchase horses, but there are a lot of owners with a lot of money who like being the big dog and have a chance to win a lot of money, so they went shopping,” explained Contois.

“Even here at Assiniboia Downs, we had a lot of people on the shopping trail. For instance, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Tshiebwe, was purchased for $145,000 US at the very exclusive and prestigious Fasig-Tipton Sale in Kentucky. Right after his win at Ellis Park (Kentucky), this beautiful bay colt, who has raced at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Gulfstream Park, went into the sale and Eclipse bought it and immediately brought him here. Everybody around here has been glowing about this horse who has been here now, for about three weeks. They shipped it straight here from the sales barn and it’s been working here and stabled here, getting ready, getting acclimatized to the racetrack.

Heroic Move

Heroic Move wins debut at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. (OAKLAWN PARK / HANDOUT)

“It’s a dark horse even though it won its last race by seven lengths in a $100,000 maiden claimer in Kentucky, but by being here for nearly a month, it has a huge advantage.

“He’s my sleeper because Robertino (trainer Diodoro) a four-time Derby winner who has two horses in the race – the favourite Heroic Move and the second favourite on the morning line, B Minor – will have his horses bet right off the board. Tshiebwe will be the third or fourth favourite, but because he’s been here for so long – Wow! That could make all the difference.”

This year’s Derby will feature a mandatory payout day for the ASD Jackpot Pick 5, with a colossal carryover of $597,143 set for the event. The pool for the night is expected to add over $1,000,000, promising a great Monday night opportunity for horseplayers from all over North America to share in that pool.

Additionally, Assiniboia Downs is offering a guaranteed Pick 4 pool of $100,000, further enhancing the betting opportunities for fans playing the Manitoba Derby card.

“This year’s Manitoba Derby is set to be a highly competitive race featuring a diverse field of 10 horses and it offers a great start to the Western Canada Triple Crown,” said Downs’ CEO Darren Dunn. “We now have the highest ASD Jackpot Pick 5 in the track’s history to add to the excitement. The atmosphere at the Downs will be electrifying, and we can’t wait.”

Fans can join in on the fun by watching the full racing program on the YouTube Live feed in high definition and through your favourite ADW or licensed betting facility throughout North America and across the globe.

“It’s going to be one of the most interesting Manitoba Derbies in years based on it being the first leg of the newly created Western Canadian Triple Crown series,” Dunn added. “That interprovincial cooperation should really put a spotlight on the best three-year-olds in Western Canada.”

The first race for the Manitoba Derby card of racing is set for 7:30 pm CT.

2023 Manitoba Derby Media Kit by ChrisDca