Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/8/2019 (277 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Oil Money had speed to burn and he didn’t even have to light the fuse to win the 71st running of the $75,000 Manitoba Derby Monday at Assiniboia Downs.
That made a lot of racing fans very happy, which also brought a smile to the face of Assiniboia Downs CEO Darren Dunn.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome,” said Dunn. “Blue skies overhead, a crowd that was almost too big to count, large fields and wagering that was out of this world. It was just shy of $600,000 on only seven races. That’s incredible. You just can’t draw it up any better than that.”
Heavily favoured by a massive crowd that might have set another attendance record at the Downs, Oil Money sped right to the lead from the start as anticipated, but the race was over much earlier than expected for his seven combatants.
The winner was three lengths in front and coasting after a tranquilizing half-mile of 49.80 seconds, and the mile-and-an-eighth of the Derby was a mere formality after that. Oil Money dawdled through three-quarters of a mile in 1:15.20 and when second choice Call It A Wrap went after him on the final turn, the winner simply turned on the taps and ran away. The final margin of victory was four lengths, but it was never close.
“I was surprised they let him go the way they did,” said trainer Robertino Diodoro, who has now won the Manitoba Derby three of the past four years. “Orlando (Mojica) did a great job of slowing him down. It’s not an easy thing to do with a horse that has sprinted all his life. He’s a young horse, he’s still a little immature, so to get him to stretch out like that and relax, Orlando did a great job.
“A lot of credit has to go to my two assistants at Canterbury. If it wasn’t for them, the horse probably wouldn’t have been here. I wasn’t a believer in him going that far, but Matt Williams, one of the guys who gets on him there, and his brother, said that the further they trained him, the stronger he got.”
Diodoro said he was still nervous watching the race, even though he had the favourite.
“A sprinter routing for the first time, you just never know” Diodoro said. “Sometimes they just run off and stop, but he had his ears pricked into the first turn and I knew we were okay.”
Cared for locally by Diodoro’s travelling lad Kent Knudsen, the Florida-bred gelding by J P’s Gusto-Cryptocandiac by Candy Ride (ARG) stopped the timer in 1:54.60 for the 1 1/8-miles and paid $3.00, $2.20, $2.10 across the board. And not only did that make the local fans happy, but someone else bet over $15,000 to win and dropped Oil Money’s odds from $4.40 to $3.00 with no time left on the clock.
Call It a Wrap gave his best for trainer Tim Rycroft and jockey Wilmer Galvis and managed to hold on to second place by three-quarters of a length over Diodoro’s other entrant in the race, Rocknroll Rocket, who had some minor trouble into the turn before making a decent late rally.
Flinch, the longest shot on the board at 42-1, did what trainer Juan Pablo Silva hoped he would do and finished fourth, followed home by Moscow Minister, Candy Con, Lifesbeengoodsofar and Eye Cloud.
The 44-year-old Diodoro won the Manitoba Derby with Inside Straight in 2016 and Sky Promise in 2018. He also ran first, third and fourth in the race last year. Third by number of wins in North America last year and again this year, he could run his horses anywhere, but he likes it at Assiniboia Downs.
“I’ve been to a lot of different tracks and you can’t beat the way people treat you here,” Diodoro said.
“The hospitality is great, it’s hard not to support it. And travelling-wise, it’s an easy seven-hour drive from Minnesota, where these horses are based. Again, it goes back to years ago. We came here many a time and got dusted 10-15 years ago. But again, it’s how they treated us. It’s unbelievable.”
The 71st Manitoba Derby was the first Manitoba Derby win for Charles Garvey of Nisku, Alta, whose horse finished fourth in the race last year.
“Garvey is awesome,” Diodoro said. “He’s been a big supporter for years. We’ve done really well together. I couldn’t ask for a nicer guy. We’ve won quite a few races together. He was leading owner in Canterbury last year and he’s been the leading owner at Turf Paradise three or four years in a row, but the Manitoba Derby is a big win for him. He was pretty excited.”
The 71st running of the Manitoba Derby also marked the 50th anniversary of the presentation of the Queen’s Cup to the Manitoba Derby victor. The Queen’s Cup was originally given to Assiniboia Downs by Queen Elizabeth II, in person, at the Centennial Manitoba Derby in 1970. It was presented to winning owner Jean-Louis Levesque that year by Her Majesty, who was in attendance to watch Fanfreluche win Manitoba’s most prestigious race.
There be history here.