Triple threat vies for Derby

SCOTT UNGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

Nominations closed yesterday morning for the $100,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby -- the most prestigious race of the summer at Assiniboia Downs. When the final list was announced, it was a who's who of three-year-olds from Manitoba and beyond that could be gunning for the top prize.

The biggest news of the day came when Shyman Farms and its trainer in Winnipeg Martin Drexler announced that they have purchased three horses that could possibly run in the Derby.

"My owner just wants to win the Manitoba Derby and then move these horses to Woodbine and then maybe down south to run them for the winter," Drexler said yesterday evening after the deal was completed to purchase the horses from Overbrook Farms.

"It turned out this year that I really didn't have much in my barn that panned out for the derby."

Big Chief, Weather Warning and Great Discovery will be the names to watch when the field is announced next week, but it's likely only two of the three will run. Drexler said Great Discovery is a sprinter and could be used elsewhere, while Weather Warning was the most expensive horse in the sale and Big Chief set a track record in Chicago.

All three horses came from Kentucky sire Storm Cat, one of the world's best right now at pumping out top race horses.

Drexler also has Barak and Sharp Shooter nominated for a total of five horses that could go in the derby, but it looks at though they may take a backseat to the Illinois Invaders.

As for the horses that have been running at the Downs all summer, Sylvester Ollivierre's Sir Officer and Country Humor will both go into the race as strong contenders. Sir Officer is a Manitoba-bred horse and it's rare to see a Manitoba-bred horse of his calibre. Ollivierre has Storm Patrol that might go as well.

In Emile Corbel's stable, he has Western Deed raring to go come August long weekend. He also has Gold and Blue Box nominated.

"We'll run him a couple times in the next few days and make a decision next week," Corbel said yesterday of Gold and Blue Box.

And don't forget about Derby Trial winner Rage Till Dawn, who strolled past Country Humour and Western Deed in the final turn of that race to claim victory. Rage Till Dawn was claimed for $32,000 at Hollywood Park last month and is expected to be the morning line favourite when the field is announced next week.

It should be noted, however, that Country Humour and Western Deed were on long layoffs heading into the Derby Trial.

Of the 23 horses nominated yesterday for the Derby, only 12 will run. If more than 12 horses are entered, those horses with highest lifetime earnings will take precedence.


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