Trainer Jerry Gourneau who continued to dominate in the trainer standings last week, winning seven of the 21 races from Monday through Wednesday, had all of his entrants scratched from the Assiniboia card on Wednesday, June 19.

Gourneau won three races on Monday, scored a single on Tuesday, and notched a second hat trick on Wednesday to open a 9-win lead in the standings over Devon Gittens (8 wins), followed by Mike Nault (5), Tom Gardipy, Jr. (4) and Steve Keplin, Jr. (4).  Keplin had his horses scratched on Wednesday due to an outbreak of swamp flu.

Gourneau had some 20 horses scratched over a 3-day period last July due to a positive test – read more here.

Two of Gourneau’s seven winners were ridden by jockey Prayven Badrie, who recorded five wins this week to increase his lead in the standings to four over runner-up Damario Bynoe. Badrie now has 14 wins, followed by Bynoe (10), Antonio Whitehall (9), Ronald Ali (8), Renaldo Cumberbatch (6) and newcomer apprentice Rachaad Knights (6).

Knights also won five races on the week, and is improving fast in his first season at Assiniboia Downs. Knights was aboard two of the most impressive winners of the week, winning the seventh race on Monday with Brody’s Streak ($6.90) for trainer Tom Gardipy, Jr., and the fifth race on Tuesday with Prairie Drifter ($12.20) for trainer Devon Gittens, neither of which were favoured.

Gittens continued to build on the promise he showed early in his training career, winning yet again with a first-time starter in the fourth race on Tuesday. This time it was with Manitoba-bred No Magic ($5.60), bred by Dr. Betty Hughes and owned by Gittens and partners Frank Johnson and Stephanie Kutny. Shavon Belle was up for the win, which was the first of back-to-back winners for Gittens on Tuesday, the second being Prairie Drifter.

The secret is out on Gittens now. When he runs a first-time starter, it’s ready, and everybody knows it. Winning with a first-time starter is an uncommon skill among trainers across North America, and Gittens is only going to get better. His horses making their first start off a layoff are also better prepared than most.

And finally, 2023 leading percentage trainer Gary Danelson, the all-time-leading trainer at the Downs, got his first win of the season in the second race on Wednesday with Kate’s Princess. It was the first victory from six starts for the 86-year-old Danelson, who has been one of the top trainers here since he first arrived in 1959.

Kate’s Princess was making her third start of the year after being bumped at the break in her opener and breaking against the bridle in her second start. Bettors pounded Kate at the windows and she only paid $4.30 to win. They also swamped the Pick 4 pool on the same night with a whopping $152,159. Some of that money was no doubt courtesy of Kate’s Princess.