It’s the biggest event in Western Canadian racing—the thrilling afternoon where the past and present collide and the sport of kings gets the full attention it deserves. It’s a day of glamour and action, filled with history and tradition.
It’s the Canadian Derby and this is how it began.
Robert James Speer was an Ontario-born racing fan who moved to Manitoba in 1900 when he was 18. Over the subsequent decades he built several racetracks across Western Canada, including Winnipeg’s Polo Park, which opened in 1925. Five years later, Polo Park inaugurated the Manitoba Stakes—an annual race limited to Manitoba-bred horses. Six years later, the race was renamed the Manitoba Derby and opened up to all three year-old Canadian thoroughbreds.
It stayed that way for another five years before finally officially becoming the Canadian Derby. From 1941 to 1956, the race drew the top competitors from across the country to Winnipeg, including legendary Canadian racehorses Budpath (who won in 1941) and Chain Reaction (who won in 1953).
Following the closing of Polo Park, the Canadian Derby moved to Edmonton’s Northlands Park, where it has been run annually for nearly six decades, growing in importance and prestige throughout the years.