Quarter Horse racing returns to Ajax Downs this Saturday

By Glenn Hendry

Published May 10, 2022 at 8:48 am

Alex Pikov Championship winner Maryland Magic makes his return to Ajax Downs this Saturday

There’s really nothing like the sound of thundering hooves racing past on a 400-meter straightaway as you grip the rail in excitement.

This Saturday, the fastest breed of horse returns to action at Ajax Downs for the opening of the 2022 season. Post time is 1:30 pm May 11 for the 25-date season, the 53rd in track history and after two years of COVID-induced delays, the first full racing meet since 2019.

“We are excited and looking forward to our first full race season in two years,” Emilio Trotta, general manager at Ajax Downs, told racingent correspond Jennifer Morrison. “It will be great to see the large crowds again, in particular on our special event Sundays.”

Ajax Downs will race on Wednesdays throughout the season but will have one Sunday card of racing each month (post times for Sundays, 12:55 pm) and will race on Thanksgiving Monday, October 10.

The special event Sundays, which begins May 22 with a Fan Appreciation Day also include a Father’s Day celebration, the very popular Family Fun Day and more.

There are 18 stakes races scheduled for the season highlighted by the $75,000 Alex Picov Memorial Futurity, the $60,000 Ontario Bred Futurity, and the $50,000 Princess Stakes Derby.

New to the racing schedule will be ‘hook’ races, longer distance dashes around one turn of the Ajax track. The first-ever ‘hook’ race’ held at Ajax Downs, a 770-yard dash, was a non-betting affair late last season and had the crowd on its feet.

Racing fans can also look forward to many of the top Quarter Horses in Ontario returning in 2022 including past Horses of the Year Country Boy 123, Had to be Ivory, and Fiesty Icon. Last year’s Horse of the Year, the Ontario sired and bred 2-year-old colt First Cold Wave is pointing to the Pikov Derby in June.

Three of the country’s best women Quarter Horse Jockeys, Helen Vanek, Cassandra Jeschke, and Rachael Issacs, will look to topple last year’s competitive top riders including Ismael Mosquiera, Brian Bell, Ramiro Castillo, and 2021 champion Cory Spataro.

Ajax Downs’ opening day card has lured last year’s Alex Picov Championship winner Maryland Magic, who will start in the 110-yard Gridiron Gallop for 2021’s leading owner Milena Kwiecien of Burlington and the year’s leading trainer, Jason Pascoe who hails from Pontypool.

The forecast for opening day, May 11, is for mainly sunny skies and a spring-like temperature of 16 degrees.

With files from Jennifer Morrison

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