Thursday August 28, 2014

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It's Fun Again

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The May long weekend could mean only one thing for me: it was time to make my annual pilgrimage with my Dad to Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg for a couple days of live and simulcast thoroughbred racing.

Most fans of the "Sport of Kings" were fixated on the Preakness at the Pimlico track near Baltimore – the second race in the Triple Crown of North American thoroughbred racing. After all, most wanted to know whether Kentucky Derby champion I'll Have Another would win the Preakness.

I'll Have Another did indeed prevail, surging past Bodemeister in the final furlongs. If he wins the Belmont on June 9, I'll Have Another will be the first horse since 1978 to capture the Triple Crown. To put it into perspective, when Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, it came about four months before I was born.

For those seeking a Canadian connection, you have good reason to root for I'll Have Another. The super horse is owned by Canadians from Windsor, Ontario. Its Mexican jockey, Mario Gutierrez, was the top jockey a couple times at Hastings Park in Vancouver. Even the horse's chiropractor (yes, thoroughbreds have chiropractors) played for former Estevan Bruins coach Ernie "Punch" McLean with the New Westminster Bruins.

On a personal note, my parents know Gutierrez from his time in Vancouver.

I'll Have Another isn't a super horse like Seattle Slew, Secretariat or Citation, but if he were to win those three races, it would be a monumental accomplishment. Some fantastic horses have won the Derby and the Preakness in the last 20 years, only to lose in the daunting mile-and-a-half test of endurance that is the Belmont.

The Preakness was shown via simulcast in Winnipeg, Vancouver and at tracks across the continent. But it was the race that followed in Vancouver that drew my undivided attention.

My family's four-year-old filly, Fun Again, won her second career race by nearly five lengths in a low level claimer in the fourth race at Hastings. She led from the outset of the race, and was never challenged by the other eight horses in the field, who were clearly overmatched by our powerful, chestnut-haired horse.

Granted, there weren't as many people wagering on the fourth race at Hastings as the Preakness, but we still celebrated when Fun Again, or Rosey, as she's called around the barns, delivered a victory.

I'll be thrilled if there is a Triple Crown champion this year, especially since the horse has so many Canadian connections. But you'll hopefully understand if I'm more pre-occupied with the result of a low-level claimer if Rosey is running on June 9. After all, another victory for our horse family would be fun. Again.


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