Quinellas I have Known

Jun 21, 2024 | ASD History

by Track Historian Bob Gates

On June 16, 1934 quinella betting was introduced to Winnipeg racegoers at Polo Park racetrack.  Traditionally the wager was offered on the final race of the day.  The bet called for picking the first two finishers, regardless of order.

Ninety-eight years later Assiniboia Downs would sell the quinella for the final time.  Somewhere along the way many of us fell in love with what was commonly referred to as the “Q.”

The innocent-minded among us wondered why our Q had been banished from the tote board.  The explanation goes something like this; the wagering pools became too small and were potentially open to “manipulation.”  Gulfstream Park experienced this manipulation and put an end to the wager and Assiniboia Downs, like other tracks, followed suit.  The basis of the decision to do away with the quinella was to protect the integrity of the wagering program and the brand.

There’s no doubting of the popularity of the wager over the years, but those were different times.  In the 1950s Polo Park would routinely have Quinella pools ranging from $40,000 to $50,000.  In terms of feature betting pools at this time the daily double and the quinella were the only exotics being offered.

In the early days of Assiniboia Downs, the last race quinella would see pools anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000.  The popularity of the quinella grew to the point where the Downs would open its gates and allow patrons to wager on the final race free-of-charge.  On a good night it wasn’t unusual for 500 people or so to take advantage of the free admission just to play the Q. 

In more recent times, pre-pandemic quinellas would only manage pools ranging from $600 to $1,500.  The Q was having trouble keeping pace with the wide variety of exotic wagers being offered. 

Before getting to a few favourite quinella memories, let’s look at some Downs record-setting quinella payoffs.  How many of these Qs, horses or riders do you recall?

August 26, 1959 is as good a place to start as any.  Prairie Chief (6) and Blue Sir (10) combined for a $417.40 quinella.  Keith Robinson rode the winner, while Russell Liner had the mount on the runner-up.

On June 30, 1962 Miss Reliable (6) and Kickapoo Joy (7) rewarded ticket holders with a $499.60 quinella.  Miss Reliable had Ron Archer in the irons and Kickapoo Joy had Dale Wright on top.     


Wind Shadows Quinella, July 4, 1962

About a year later on July 13, 1963 Lynn Broom (10) ridden by Virgil Pacheco and Simply Admirable (6) with Frank Barroby up set the new mark for the quinella.  The combination paid $512.20 for punters who managed to pair-up the longshots.

The record would hold for ten years, before Rod’s Doll (3) and Abbey’s Alibi (9) would topple that mark by a few dollars on July 25, 1973.  Ron Burrell rode the first half of the Q, while Clayton Thom rode the other.  This time the $520.80 quinella was on the third race.  By 1973, quinellas were being sold from race three through eight.      

On June 8, 1974 Shady’s Style (1) and Super Jacket (8) paid a tidy $787.50 for the Q.  Jerry Rettele rode the winner and Dean Kutz was aboard the runner-up.


Quinella mutuel tickets

Another year later the record fell when the Glorious Spy (10) and Short Capasin (8) quinella paid $844.00.  Glorious Spy had Scott Woodley in the saddle and Short Capasin had Mervin Kruger up.  We are nearing the end of our tour of quinellas past, as the 10 & 8 quinella stood for more than ten years.

On May 30 1986 Canadian Border lit up the tote board, paying a Downs record $474.70 to win!  The resulting 11 & 3 quinella paid $1,019.50.  Scott Schindler had the mount on the 236-1 shot and Jacques DesAutels piloted second-place finisher Grumpy’s Victory.

The final record-breaking payoff and the existing quinella record occurred on August 16, 1997 when the combination of Main Tain (1) and Sam George Hill (9) paid $1,086.70.  Sean Deveaux rode the winner with Frank Licata completing the Q.    

On a personal note I have three quinellas which stand out over all others.

On July 4, 1962 my mother bought a solitary quinella ticket and picked the pairing 5 & 10.  The #10 horse was Wind Shadows and the #5 was Witchspell.  For mom the names just went together.  Bobby Stewart rode Wind Shadows, while Tommy Stadnyk had the mount on Witchspell. The Q paid $34.30 and from that date forward mom would always make sure she had her 5 & 10 quinella ticket.  To the best of my recollection she never cashed another ticket with those numbers.

Next up is the 1969 Manitoba Derby quinella.  This Derby was one of those special races.  As most of you know by now, Fire N’ Desire (3) and Icy Song (4) had themselves a match race with the third-place horse finishing way back of the leaders.  The resulting race 4 quinella paid, what was then a record low $3.10.  Fire N’ Desire with Dickie Armstrong out foxed Avelino Gomez who was aboard Icy Song.   


Fire N’ Desire Quinella, July 19, 1969

My last and “bombs-away” memory came on May 15,1982.  It was early in the season and that suited Tiger Wave just fine.  He didn’t win a lot of races and if he managed to “eek” out a win, it was early in the year when the races were short.  So I boxed Tiger Wave (4) with every even-numbered horse.  I’ll go to my grave as one of the poorest handicappers you’ll ever know, but you have to like the result.

Tiger Wave (33-1) ran true to form and was followed by Velvet Sunset (18-1) who just happened to be the #10 horse.  My buddy Joseph Selyem was aboard Tiger, and young Debbi Faber rode Velvet Sunset.  The quinella 4 & 10 paid $686.50.  Yikes, more luck than brains, but it was a nice score!


Tiger Wave  Quinella, May 15, 1982

Well our story has come full circle.  On September 28, 2022 Assiniboia Downs carded what would be its last quinella.  For the record, the winning duo was Bitethebulletbro (5) and Ohtani (9) with riders Renaldo Cumberbatch and Tyrone Nelson respectively.

Its been 90 years since that first Q was run at old Polo Park.  Let’s take a moment and reflect on quinellas…

We have all known.