With the stakes season at Assiniboia Downs ready to enter the starting gate tomorrow, one contending trainer is counting on some good fortune, while another wants to keep his late arrival under the radar.
The $45,000 Golden Boy, which will feature the top three year olds the Downs has to offer, runs tomorrow night, in what is sure to be the most hotly contested race of the evening.
Favourite Western Deed will try to hold off challengers like Albert Royalle and Country Humour, who won a race last September by a monsterous 12 lengths and finished third in a race against older horses in May.
"It's going to come down to racing luck," Country Humour's trainer Sylvester Ollivierre said, adding his horse will need to find the right breaks on track tomorrow to win the top prize.
Western Deed arrived in Winnipeg on Monday from Belmont, N.Y. and is using the Golden Boy Stakes, which has a maximum 12-horse field, as a tune up for the Manitoba Derby in August.
"He wasn't bought for the Golden Boy. He was bought for the (Manitoba) Derby," said his trainer Emile Corbel. "We have the big picture in mind. We put him in the Golden Boy to get him a start, but it doesn't really matter where he finishes.
"He's not really a sprinter. He likes to sit behind the leader and make a push at the end."
While Western Deed has a very impressive two wins, two seconds and third in six starts in New York this season and is the 2-1 favourite, Corbel pushed all the attention to Country Humour when asked about the race.
"I think Country Humour is the favourite," he said. "I've seen him run and Sylvester has trained him hard. He's the one to beat. I don't care what the odds are."
In addition to Western Deed, Corbel also has the lanky Gold and Blue Box running in the Golden Boy. Like Western Deed, Gold and Blue Box arrived earlier this week from New York.
"We call him fish," Corbel joked about the three year old. "He'll be in the clouds against the other horses on Saturday, but he isn't very wide."
Gold and Blue Box also comes to Assiniboia Downs with great credentials.
"He's won three races at Belmont. There aren't a lot of horses at Assiniboia Downs that could do that there," said Corbel, who along with owner Larry Carter, also has horses in Kentucky and Florida.
The last time out both Western Deed and Country Humour finished second behind older, more experienced horses and both will have veteran jockeys on board for this race. Rohan Singh will ride Western Deed, while leading jockey Alan Cuthbertson will mount Country Humour.
"We've ran him according to the price and the competition," Corbel said of Western Deed, adding they don't really look at age when deciding which race to run him in.
Other Manitoba-bred contenders in the race include Holy Smoke Ya and First Cavalry.