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Assiniboia Downs opening restaurant Monday for in-person race spectating

Click to play video 'In-person racing, betting return to Assiniboia Downs' In-person racing, betting return to Assiniboia Downs
Although Winnipeg's horse racing track received the green light to resume races a month ago, the public was only able to watch from home. As Global's Marek Tkach explains, that changes this week – Jun 8, 2020

You’ll finally be able to watch some live sports in person in Manitoba starting Monday, and even get a bite to eat in the process.

Assiniboia Downs is reopening its Terrace Dining Room, which features a panoramic view of the track, for live racing nights.

READ MORE: Back at the track — Assiniboia Downs set to resume racing Monday

In its announcement Saturday, the Downs says the dining room will feature a full-service food and drink menu.

As with any other restaurant in the province that’s been able to reopen, it’s not back to business as we knew it before the coronavirus pandemic.

“Reservations are a must,” explains CEO Darren Dunn. “There is no walk-up because we do have to control the capacity.”

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Dunn says the dining room usually seats up to 325 guests, and with the 50 per cent capacity limit in place, that means 162 guests can visit on any given night.

READ MORE: Woodbine Entertainment resuming horse racing after suspension due to coronavirus

“The tables are distanced, our team is using masks, you’ll have to sanitize your hands when you walk in.”

He adds that the restaurant offers a theatre-like seating arrangement — and it’s a unique way to socialize with your friends and family and watch the horses.

“Interact with your table, and every 20 minutes we’ll dim the lights, give you an audio cue, and the show’s on outside. Hopefully, you win.”

The first few races of the season have garnered huge betting handles, including a record last week.

READ MORE: Assiniboia Downs enjoys successful season opening night

This season, the schedule has been adjusted so races run Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The Downs will only be taking bookings for the next two weeks at this time due to the anticipated release of expanded guidelines in the third phase of Manitoba’s Restoring Safe Services plan — which could come as soon as June 21.

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“We’re not open for mass gatherings; that’s still embargoed until further notice with concerts, festivals, and the like,” Dunn says. “But it is the ability to return the public in a limited fashion to the Downs. It’s at least an opportunity to have a taste of horse racing.”

If you can’t make it out to the track, you can wager and watch online by going to HPIBet.com.

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