Assiniboia Downs is set to open its 63rd racing season on May 24, which would make it the first Canadian track to open for racing since the COVID-19 virus spread halted racing and businesses in March. The track’s originally scheduled opening date was May 10.
Horses have been on the backstretch preparing for racing with strict protocols managing the small amount of people looking after each horse. There are about 236 horses there currently and the track has implemented an on-track video feed so that owners, who are not allowed on the backstretch, can watch their horses work or gallop.
Racing will be held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with additional holidays added.
Like other tracks in Canada, Assiniboia has had to lay off a significant number of people and hosting racing without spectators will take a big bite out of revenue, not only from wagering, but from concessions.
Some trainers welcome the two-week delay for training purposes according to a story in the Winnipeg Free Press:
“It’s quite a feat to get a race horse ready from March 1 and be ready to race around Mother’s Day — which is usually our opening day — to get them ready and conditioned properly. To be honest, it’s almost to an advantage to start a little later for those horses.” – trainer Shelley Brown
Read more here.
Not far from the track, on April 11, Ziprick Farm in Russell welcomed a full sister to champion ESCAPE CLAUSE. Incredibly, Escape Clause, a millionaire now retired, was also born on April 11. From The Insider newsletter at AssinibiaDowns.com:
“We are super excited to have another sibling on the ground!” said Sherisse Ziprick. “She is a very leggy filly, correct, and with lots of muscle. She was bred and is owned by Cam Ziprick, Charlie Fouillard and Barry Arnason.”
Escape Clause, who earned more than $1 million racing at 13 different tracks over a three-year period, was purchased at a Kentucky auction in November for $300,000 U.S. by a Japanese breeder who shipped her to his Northern Farm on Hokkaido Island in northern Japan where she is now in foal.