Windy City blowout

SCOTT UNGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

The rest of the field in the 59th running of the $100,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby was put on alert when trainer Marty Drexler and Shyman Farms pulled off a deal to bring in three horses from Arlington Park in Chicago for the race.

It seems, though, the competition didn't heed the warning.

Yesterday afternoon under a cloudy sky at Assiniboia Downs, Drexler's long shot 20-1 Weather Warning sped away from the pack out of the gate and went wire to wire, winning the Manitoba Derby by four lengths over Derby Trial winner Rage Till Dawn.

The crowd of 6,000 were hushed as Weather Warning flew down the final stretch, still gaining on the field. But Drexler was numb to the shock.

"I don't get that shocked anymore," he said. "It's been that kind of year. Horses have been running through the bridle all year long.

"I am surprised this horse won. I thought maybe Great Discovery would run him down late."

Great Discovery, another of Drexler's Chicago invaders, finished third.

"He didn't do too bad either and made some money," said Drexler, the leading trainer at the Downs this year.

Weather Warning paid $71.00 to win, $21.70 to place and $8.30 to show. Rage Till Dawn paid $4.20 and $3.70 while Great Discovery paid $3.70.

Drexler wasn't surprised about the way Weather Warning took down the 12-horse field.

"We wanted him to run like that. I wanted him on the lead," Drexler said. "I knew that he was a fast horse. I knew that he probably didn't want a lot of dirt in his face.

"We just took him out there and worked out some issues with the equipment on him. It seemed to work out well."

With those directions given, jockey Paul Leacock just did as he was told.

"I just followed the race instructions from Marty and it turned out really good," said Leacock, who has a 35% win rate in races longer than six furlongs.

"By the half-mile pole I knew how much pony I had on and that was a lot of pony. I was happy to get to the half-mile pole unpressured from anyone. I think that's what worked out. ... From then I knew I had it wrapped up."

With his win yesterday, Leacock has now won two derby races in his career, with his other one being the United Insurance Barbados Derby in his home country in 2001.

"People say a derby is a derby, no matter where you go. It's really good to win it here as well because I consider here home too."

With Weather Warning running races no longer than six furlongs this season, the only concern Drexler had with the horse going into the race was if he could last the whole mile and 1/8.

"He has the class to do it. It was just matter of he could get the distance," the trainer said.

"This horse had heart and he proved it (yesterday)," added Leacock.

With three horses in the biggest race of the season, Drexler's schedule was even more jam packed with horse racing goodness this past week, but that also comes with a lot of stress. Now he can kick up his feet and enjoy the sweet taste of victory.

"I'm dressed up a little bit today, so I might not even go back to the barn," he chuckled.


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