Local horse owner Frank Johnson and his wife Betty Hughes have enjoyed a very successful month at the Assiniboia Downs.
The Westbourne, Manitoba native had 31 horses compete in races between May and August but not one of them was able to take home the top prize. After taking part in just six races in the last two weeks, Johnson now has seen four of his horses finish at the front of the pack.
He says it's always exciting to win.
"It was good because we were disappointed that we hadn't won earlier in the year," Johnson explains. "But we're catching up now a little bit. Hopefully, we'll get a few more wins here before the end of the meets."
Johnson notes, while they still get some of the purse money for finishing in the top five, it doesn't compare to getting the 60 percent that comes with a first-place finish. He adds after doing this for a number of years, Johnson and Hughes rarely jump out of their seat with excitement but he says the feeling of seeing your horse cross the finish line first is still unmatched.
Prairie Magic was the first horse to pick up a victory for the duo. After three runner-ups, and two other finishes in the top five, Prairie Magic was able to finally get to the top of the podium on its sixth attempt this season.
On that same day, Prairie Drifter also took the top prize in only its fourth race ever. The rookie horse finished in second place in all three of its prior races and was able to break through on September 6.
Another rookie horse, Dot Dash Dot, came out on top the following week in its seventh race of the season, and Spats took to the track the next day to make it three wins in a row for Johnson and Hughes.
Johnson says even though the wins have only started recently, it has been a fun year at the track in general, especially without the hurdles of COVID-19.
"It's been good with the participation from the people, the cheering, and everything else. The last two years prior to that wasn't too nice," Johnson continues. "The crowds here have been pretty good, and some nights it gets pretty packed. It's been pretty well filled up every night, and I don't even think you can get a spot here for the last five days of racing."
The Assiniboia Downs has just two more weeks left until they close for the season, with the final day being September 28.