A Manitoba-bred horse with a name inspired by the north captured the first win of his horse-racing career at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg July 14, earning his owners $13,300 in the process.
Owned and bred by Maple Grove Equine Ranch Ltd., which also owns Maple Bus Lines, Cross Lake Proud’s first win came in only his third-ever race, after second-place finishes in his first two.
“He blew the doors off,” says owner Lori Mann, who breeds horses with her husband. "I’m pretty sure he’ll go one to win some more, too. He’s not done.”
Three years old, Cross Lake Proud started his racing career against horses from California and Kentucky and finished second, Mann says, then repeated the feat in another race against the best horses at the track.
“He knows how to race,” Mann says. “There’s certain horses that you are race horses. They have that heart. They want to race. If somebody passes them, they’re mad. He’s got heart.”
The horse’s name resulted from a partnership that was developing between Maple Bus Lines – which features a horse’s head in its logo – and Pimicikamak Cree Nation (PCN) at Cross Lake around the time that Mann and her husband were deciding on a name.
“It seemed natural to name one of our babies … in honour of Cross Lake so I phoned the chief, suggested it to him and he was very honoured and he said he’d love that,” Mann says. “And then we said how does Cross Lake Proud sound?”
The owners weren’t at the track to see their horse’s first win live, but PCN Chief David Monias was there to witness it, along with Ivan Monias.
“I was at the bus depot and the chief sent me a picture of the horse … just before the race and he said, ‘I know he’s going to win because there’s a rainbow over him,’ and he sent me picture of a a rainbow over Cross Lake Proud. It was extra nice because the chief accepted the winner’s blanket.”
Cross Lake Proud’s win is a bright spot in a year that’s been memorable for all the wrong reasons, said Mann.
“COVID has been awful. It’s just kind of nice to put your efforts and energy into something that pays off.”
Cross Lake Proud races again in three weeks, Mann said, and next year there might be another northern-named horse owned by Maple Grove Equine Ranch on the track – two-year-old Hub of the North.
“He’s still in training,” said Mann. “He won't hit the track this year.”