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Whoop-Up Downs in Lethbridge ready to whoop up with live racing

April 25, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Garry Allison

The Horses, Rocky Mountain Turf Club at Whoop-Up Downs kicks off its 10th anniversary season this Saturday and Sunday, coinciding with the Kentucky Derby. If you can't be part of the live action at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, the next best thing is to be at Whoop-Up Downs in Lethbridge.

“People say that next to being at the Kentucky Derby, the place they want to be on Derby Day is at our Rocky Mountain Turf Club party," says RMTC CEO Max Gibb. “With the Derby, you can bet all southern Alberta will be cheering for Brother Derek, owned by the Peacock family of Calgary. And of course we'll have the start of our own live races for the season."

The entire card of the Derby Day at Churchill Downs will be shown live on the giant screen TVs at Bullys and in the RMTC grandstand area. The party, centered in Bullys Sports and Entertainment Centre, kicks off what should be a superb live racing season in Lethbridge.

The live racing card kicks off at 1:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday with the Spring meet continuing each weekend through July 3-4. The Fall meet begins September 4-6 and runs each weekend through October 29-31.

“This season marks our 10th year running horse races in Lethbridge at Whoop-Up Downs and we'll be celebrating in a big way throughout our Spring and Fall Meets, so come on out to the track and join the fun all year, not just on Derby weekend,"says Gibb.
It was 10 years ago Gibb engineered the creation of Alberta's first racino - a casino (Bullys) combined with a live horse race track right out the main door. Besides the live horse race excitement, opening action on Derby Day will also feature mint julips Derby style, hors devoirs, and a room full of Rose Rossi's staff at Bullys all decked out as southern belles.

Along with the Kentucky Derby and the live racing at the RMTC, you can also enjoy the regular line-up of simulcast racing from top North American tracks and numerous on-grounds activities for the entire family.

“Opening day is a major event for us and the idea is for people to enjoy the Derby in a special way and also help us celebrate our next decade here at the RMTC," says Gibb. “All year long as well, we feature the Vegas style slot machines in Bullys Sports and Entertainment Centre, along with off-track simulcast horse racing with wagering facilities in our Royal Ascot Lounge."

RMTC has all sorts of promotional days, special events and special occasions lined up, with giveaways and festivities to excite both kids and adults, all arranged by Rossi. Race fans always enjoy the Rocky Mountain Dixieland Jazz Band each race day, and Rossi has lined up a load of other special events including the Hot Rod Weekend on June 23-24 with a super car show combined with the weekend race card, and in July the popular Street Machine Weekend on the 14th and 15th. Look for the Monster Trucks July 21-22, and a huge Aboriginal Fest in September. RMTC will also play host to the RMTC Horse Auction October 29.

RMTC's Betting Buddies will be back each weekend to teach novices, and regulars, how to read the program and place a wager.
“You can also be an instant winner of all sorts of prizes just for placing a bet on an instant pop-up when you place your wager," says Rossi.

Every race day Rossi puts together a full package of features, not only this opening weekend but throughout the entire race season. The regular Junior Jockey Club is a free feature attraction for the kids each weekend, where the youngsters learn to ride a horse and take part in other fun activities. Fans always enjoy the live music each race day, from classic rock and country to jazz.

There's also Bullys for those 18 years and older, with the Vegas-style slots and exciting food menu and refreshments.

“We'll have many special weekend events this year to tie in with our anniversary, complimenting the many regular features we have each year," says Gibb. "One of our first special events will be June 16-18 when we'll have more horse power on our track in one weekend than anywhere else as we combine live horse racing with the extreme world of chuckwagon racing, featuring the World Professional Chuckwagon Association, with many of the same drivers you'll see at the Calgary Stampede. We have horse racing in the afternoon, wagons at night, and then reverse the program when the wagons run in the afternoon. We took over sole sponsorship of the chuckwagons five years ago and the sport has been building each and every year."