‘One for the history books:’ Horse racing back but without crowds at Winnipeg’s Assiniboia Downs

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A horse track in Manitoba has had some significant moments in its more than 60 years of racing, but animals charging around the oval loop before empty stands will be historic.

“It’s going to be nothing short of bizarre,” said Assiniboia Downs CEO Darren Dunn.

The Winnipeg track is off to the races as the first to reopen in Canada, after sporting venues closed earlier this year to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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On Monday night, however, horses and jockeys at the Winnipeg venue were to race in front of a handful of staff and trainers.

All people going inside were to have their temperatures taken and required to wear face masks. Not even horses’ owners would be allowed to watch.

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Supplied Photo from Assiniboia Downs

Supplied Photo from Assiniboia Downs.

Handout/Assiniboia Downs

Opening day usually sees more than 10,000 people crowded inside the facility.

“The silence is going to be deafening, outside of the thundering hooves,” Dunn said.

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“It’s completely backwards to what we would expect to experience. No cheering crowd, nobody beating a program on their leg,

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