Assiniboia Downs is a Canadian horse race track on 150 ha (360 acres) of land in the Winnipeg suburb of St. James-Assiniboia. It is operated by the Manitoba Jockey Club and is the site of the annual Manitoba Derby.
The track is located on the city’s western edge, near the Perimeter Highway and Portage Avenue intersection. It was opened on June 10, 1958, replacing the former Polo Park Racetrack, which was demolished to make way for Polo Park Shopping Centre.
Thoroughbred racing season events run from May and end in September. Harness racing events operate during the winter months.
Racing begins on May 22nd, 2023.
For 2023 live thoroughbred racing dates check out The Assiniboia Downs website.
Preparations were underway in September 1957 to construct an (est.) $4 million new horse racing venue in the Greater Winnipeg area, with a seating capacity for 5,000 spectators. The width of the track would be 80 ft (24 m) with a six-furlong and 1⅛-furlong chutes.
Assiniboia Downs would be located in the RM of Assiniboia at 3975 Portage Avenue. The racetrack took but seven weeks to complete construction.
Harness racers had shown an interest in using the new racetrack and, if they couldn’t, would use one in St. Vital instead.
Construction of Assiniboia Downs would be completed in time for the beginning of the 1958 season in June, where 42 races would take place.
Assiniboia Downs installed a state-of-the-art “tote” machine at the new racing venue, displaying betting information in real-time.
In December 1987, Videon Cable-TV and Westman Cable’s application to the CRTC to telecast live horse racing from Assiniboia Downs was approved.
On January 23, 1988, Videon Cable-tv began telecasting Assiniboia Downs live harness racing to allow for off-track betting via telephone (Telephone Account Betting).
Twenty phone lines were installed to handle incoming calls, and they were frequently full. The signal was uplinked to the Anik C3 satellite. Initial telecasts on VSP-7 were a success, though Videon stated that on-air presentations between races could have been improved.
Across the Red River, cable company Greater Winnipeg Cablevision did not telecast the harness racing and did not (initially) apply to the CRTC to do so.
Today the Assiniboia Downs Racing Network is available on MTS TV ch. 179 and 180 and on the Internet via the HPIbet website.
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