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Assiniboia Downs concludes 2006 Season with two Breeders’ Cup Stakes

September 29, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

The 2006 Thoroughbred season concluded at Assiniboia Downs on the weekend of September 22-September 24 with two $65,000 Breeders’ Cup stakes races, and the final weekend of racing also helped determined the season’s close jockey and trainer championship titles for 2006.

Empress Pegasus breaks maiden in Matron Breeders’ Cup
Saturday’s feature was the $65,000 1-1/8-miles Matron Breeder’ Cup for three-year-old & up, fillies and mares. This race saw a field of seven out to capture the top purse money of $24,000 plus a share of the $25,000 bonus purse money if eligible which is offered through the Breeders’ Cup Fund.

Three-year-old Kentucky-bred filly Empress Pegasus (7-2) with jockey Paul Leacock never ran worse that fourth through the early stages of the race following the pace of front-runners Fancy Tango (10-1) with Kirk Johnson, Vicar’s Daughter (5-1) with Mark Anderson, and pre-race favourite Hey Hey Renee (7-5) with Rohan Singh.

On the final turn for home, Empress Pegasus advanced between the front runners, took a short lead and then ran on to score a five-length victory over Vicar’s Daughter. Remiewaterbluz and Ken Hendricks finished third. The heavy pre-race favourite Hey Hey Renee finished a disappointing sixth. The running time for the feature was 1:52. 20.

CTV Weather Anchor John Sauder presented the Matron Breeders’ Cup trophy to the winning team.

Empress Pegasus paid $9.60, $500 and $3.60. Vicar’s Daughter paid $19.60 and $16.50 and Remiewaterbluz paid $3.00. The triactor of (1-2-3) paid $318.50, the exactor $143.50 and quinella $77.10.

Sired by former Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus out of Empress Club (ARG) by Farnesio (ARG), the filly earned her first career win in eight lifetime starts and improved her record to (1-3-0). She had one start as a two-year-old and seven starts this season. Eligible for the Breeders’ Cup bonus, Empress Pegasus took home $39,000 for the win and has now earned $69,621 for her owner Stewart Hyman and his Ontario-based Shyman Farm.

Jockey Paul Leacock recorded his third stakes win of the season. This was also his first win on board Empress Pegasus and he was pleased with the result.

“This was a very nice race for the filly. I just had to sit on her and wait for the opportunity to arrive and when I asked her for more she just took off.”

In her last outing Empress Pegasus finished second and a length back of Hey Hey Renee in the Assiniboia Oaks stakes on September 3, but avenged that loss with her victory in the Matron Breeders’ Cup. Leacock added, “She ran a great race tonight, that’s the truth.”

The filly’s victory handed trainer Martin Drexler his three consecutive win on the 9-race evening card and his third stakes win of the season. Drexler could not have been happier.

“After losing to Hey Hey Renee in the Assiniboia Oaks, she was training much better recently. We brought her up here for the Manitoba Derby, and it was a little bit too tight for time. Then in the Assiniboia Oaks Hey Hey Renee got away on a loose lead, and I thought she ran a big race then when she came second and was only a length back at the wire.

“Tonight the race set up a little bit better for her. I thought we had a great shot to win and she did it.” Drexler added that this has been a great season for him as a trainer and he doesn’t know how much better it can get than this. He said he appreciates the help he has received this season from his father, Stewart Hyman, owner of Shyman Farm and the Hard Ball Stable.

Elite Mercedes scores wire-to-wire in Gold Breeders’ Cup
Sunday, September 24, the stakes race feature was the $65,000 1-1/8-miles Gold Breeders’ Cup for three-year-olds & up. The race originally offered a field of six top contenders chasing the top purse money of $24,000 and the additional $25,000, if eligible, offered through the Breeders’ Cup Fund.

But three-year-old New York-bred Quick Witted, from the barn of trainer Emile Corbel, was a morning scratch, reducing the field for the Gold Breeder’s Cup to five.

The pre-race favourite Elite Mercedes (2-1) with leading rider Alan Cuthbertson charged out of the starting gate to lead the feature throughout. They ran on to score a wire-to-wire two lengths victory over The Max (5-2) with Paul Leacock. Defending Gold Breeders’ Cup champion Albarino with Rohan Singh grabbed the show position followed by Trick Of The North with Carlos Marquez. Resurgent with Mark Anderson finished 5th.

The running time for the feature was 1:51.60. Don Percy, 1290 CFRW’s “Master of the Morning” presented the Gold Breeders’ Cup trophy to the winning team.

Elite Mercedes paid $3.70, $3.20 and $2.10. The triactor of (3-6-1) was worth $21.40, the exactor $8.40 and quinella $3.70.

Owned by Calgary’s Larry A. Carter and trained by Emile Corbel, the 9-year-old Florida gelding scored his 6th straight win of the season, took home top purse money of $24,000 and also recorded his third consecutive stakes win at Assiniboia Downs since arriving here in late July.

Prior to the Gold Breeders’ Cup win, Elite Mercedes also won the Wheat City Stakes and the R. J. Speers Stakes. The veteran gelding also won 3 previous starts running at Kentucky’s Churchill Downs. This was his 11th start this season and improved his season record to 7-1-1 with season earnings of $146, 630.

The victory also handed veteran rider Alan Cuthbertson the 2006 jockey crown at Assiniboia Downs. Cuthbertson recorded 81 wins which included six stakes race victories during the season and beat out defending champion Rohan Singh by 3 wins. Singh finished with 78 wins. Top apprentice rider Kirk Johnson also recorded 78 wins.

Cuthbertson went on to thank the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission for giving him the chance to ride at Assiniboia Downs; his agent and the support he received from both the small and big stables. “They all supported me and we got it done; and there is no other horse I’d rather be on than Elite Mercedes.”

Winning trainer Emile Corbel had some concerns earlier in the day, when there was some speculation as to whether Elite Mercedes would run in the race. “It has been a really stressful week, trying to get him ready for this race. One day he was sick; one day he wasn’t, but this morning he was feeling pretty good, so I felt confident but he wasn’t quite as sharp in the paddock, but he came through like he’s used to and is all class.”

This was trainer Emile Corbel’s fourth stakes win of the season. Corbel admitted he was concerned about a challenge from The Max and Albarino. “They are all dangerous, when they are in race like this. I give all the credit to all the guys that get their horses there for the big races, but it is nice to win. I give a lot of the credit to my groom Sharon Campbell; she’s worked hard on the horse and everything turned out great.”

Owner Larry Carter also thank his trainer and the everyone in the stable for the job they did on Elite Mercedes and Assiniboia Downs for the great job the track does all season long. “My wife also said to remind everyone that she was the one who said to claim the horse and we’re certainly glad we did.” Carter added, “He’ll be back, he’s got the winter off now.”