05/04/2006 12:00AM

$3,000 new bottom claiming level


WINNIPEG, Manitoba - There are several changes to the claiming levels for the 2006 Assiniboia Downs meet, which begins Saturday with a special 1 p.m. post time to accommodate the Kentucky Derby.

Gone are the open claiming levels at $4,000, $5,000, and $6,250. They have been replaced with claiming races for $3,000, $4,500, and $6,000 tags, to go along with races for $8,000, $10,000, $12,500-$14,000, $16,000, and $20,000.

Also, a $7,500 claiming race for nonwinners-of-three races has been added to provide an intermediary level between the $10,000-$12,500 and $5,000 levels that already existed for this condition.

The meet also has been reduced five days from last year to 70 days.

Ardell Sayler, who won his seventh training title here in 2005, should have the numbers to repeat once again. Carl Anderson, who finished second, 24 wins behind Sayler, and Jared Brown, who finished tied for third with Emile Corbel, will likely have solid seasons again.

Anderson will once again campaign Albarino, the province's top older horse and local horse of the year in 2005, for owner and breeder Ross McKague. Anderson also will condition Resurgent and Brinello, 4-year-olds bred in Manitoba who should make an impact in the older horse division.

Also returning is last season's top mare, Erika's Lass, for Corbel.

Rohan Singh, the defending champion, looks for his fourth riding title in a jockey colony with significantly fewer riders than at this time last year. Absent are Larren Delorme, Felipe Valdez, and Anderson Ward, who have moved their tack elsewhere this season; Jason Leacock, sidelined by injury; and Vince Guerra and Ken Hendricks, both retired.

Hendricks will handle agent duties for two-time leading rider Travis Hightower.

Tim Gardiner, third in the rider standings last season, returns as do Carlos Marquez, Renaldo Cumberbatch, and Lenny Frazzitta Jr.

Highlights of the 2006 stakes schedule are the $100,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby on Aug. 7 and the $65,000 Matron Breeders' Cup and $65,000 Gold Breeders' Cup, run on the closing weekend of Sept. 23-24.

Post times are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 1 p.m. Sundays and holidays, with Tuesday racing July 11, 18, and 25 at 7 p.m.

At a glance

RACING SCHEDULE: 70 days; Saturday through Sept. 24; racing Fridays through Sundays; holiday Monday racing on May 22, July 3, Aug. 7, Sept. 4; Tuesday racing June 27, July 11, 18, 25

HIGHLIGHTS: $100,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby, Aug. 7; $65,000 Matron Breeders' Cup, Sept. 23; $65,000 Gold Breeders' Cup, Sept. 24

POST TIME: 7 p.m. Central Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 1 p.m. Sundays and Mondays

ADMISSIONS: General, free; clubhouse, $2

PARKING: General, free; clubhouse, $2

SLOTS: 140 machines, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily

LOCATION: 3975 Portage Ave., at Perimeter Hwy, Winnipeg, Man.

PHONE: (204) 885-3330; results line (204) 831-0321

INTERNET: assiniboiadowns.com