Thursday, February 22, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 7 (Issue #625)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

(If this column looks askew in your email, click here for an online version.)


Suddenly, a filly takes centre stage

Paved beats the boys in the El Camino Real Derby prep race with a giant 112 fig

Filly Paved wins El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate (Vassar Photography)

Where did Paved come from? The 3-year-old filly suddenly took centre stage last Saturday by beating the boys in the El Camino Real Derby, a prep race at Golden Gate Fields for the Kentucky Derby and she did it with a very impressive Equibase speed figure of 112, just one fewer than the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Good Magic.

No filly in recent memory has even entered a Derby prep race, let alone posting such a huge Equibase speed figure.

Good on her connections, trainer Michael McCarthy and owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Ciaglia Racing LLC, for even entering the Quality Road filly into the competitive field. Her jockey, Drayden Van Dyke, called her “a Cadillac” to ride. She paid $6.20 as the race favourite.

So where does she go from here? She wasn’t nominated for the Triple Crown races and her connections seem poised to channel her into turf racing but they can still lay down $6,000 by March 19 to put her on the Triple Crown road. By winning on the Tapeta surface of Golden Gate Fields--which is across the bay from San Francisco--she certainly showed her versatility. She had broken her maiden on Santa Anita dirt.

Not since 1988 has a filly, Winning Colours, won the Kentucky Derby. She had been only the third in the 143-year history of the Derby to do so. Forty fillies have tried.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Gulfstream's Rainbow 6 now at $1.3 million
  • Second Player's Choice tournament goes Saturday. Sign up by 9 p.m. tomorrow
  • Horse owner's death evokes a smile. Why? See The Week That Was.
  • When is a stakes race a steaks race? When it's at Turfway Park. See Derby countdown.
  • Probable pay outs and will-pays now available on your smart phone! See Marshall's segment
$200 PREP RACE CONTEST BEGINS: The prep race contest that will award someone with a $200 bankroll for the Kentucky Derby began Monday at the track with the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Here are the standings. A player’s best 10 scores out of 14 prep races will count toward awarding the prize. The next prep race is a week from this Saturday. Congrats to electrician Larry Liebrecht who had his name drawn to win two souvenir Kentucky Derby mugs.

As of yesterday, Canada had this medal count at the Winter Games:

9 gold, 5 silver, 7 bronze

What will the final results be to determine who will win an official Olympic scarf, mittens and prime rib buffet for two? The Games end this weekend so a winner will be announced in the next Insider. Here are entrants’ predictions.
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
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94.3 The Drive

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Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in February? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Jets

FRIDAYS, SATURDAYS & SUNDAYS : Free VLT tournaments starting at 8 p.m. Get into the draw for 10 chances to win $20 in free VLT spins. Top winner from each night participates in a month-end finale for more spins and $250 in prize money.

EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker. Registration 8 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m. The Royal Flush progressive jackpot for Friday, Feb. 23 is $1,675.

Loonie's Sports Bar at The Quest

with Shannon Davis, Off-Track Betting supervisor

ENJOY BIG-BIG-BIG THEATRE-STYLE RACING AT THE QUEST: Looking for a “big” racing experience? Then The Quest Inn at 367 Ellice Avenue is the place to go. “Two projectors in Loonie’s Sports Bar offer the largest viewing experience of the races,” notes off-track betting supervisor Shannon Davis. “Large tables and several chairs provide a theatre-style space for your viewing pleasure. Great management and great staff ensure a great time.” The bar, which also includes VLTs and a pool table, can be accessed from the elevator in the lobby or by the stairway to the right of the main doors. There’s lots of free parking adjacent to the hotel. Betting hours begin 11 a.m. daily except Sunday and Monday when closed.

For further info on this location and all other OTBs go here.


Will that be rare, medium or well done?

Spiral Stakes is now the Jeff Ruby Steaks

Aren’t you surprised that it took someone this long? The Spiral Stakes prep race held yearly at Turfway Park in Kentucky since 1972 has been renamed the Jeff Ruby Steaks race. Correct. “Steaks” race. That’s because the company that operates a steakhouse, Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment, is now sponsoring the race that is worth 20 qualifying points to the race winner in the lead up to the Kentucky Derby.

It will be run on St. Patrick’s Day March 17. It’s only one of two Derby preps run on an artificial surface, in this case Polytrack. The first was last Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby run on Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields.

Remember? In 2011, Animal Kingdom used the Spiral Stakes as a stepping stone to winning the Kentucky Derby. Isn’t all this talk about steaks making you hungry? It is me.

Bigg gets a brow-beating

"Throw him out," they demand of my rule horse in the Rainbow 6 Monday

Never before had your loyal servant received such a severe brow-beating at the hands of the “I won big” betting group as I did during Monday’s discussion of the Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream Park. Major players hated my selection for the final leg of the pick-6 so much that they insisted it be removed from a group of seven horses picked to win the last leg. But one participant wisely said: “Remember, we’re going to have to live with ourselves if his horse wins.” Which they are.

As I saw it, my horse, #3 Darn That Parker (morning line 15/1), was a key because it had the biggest pace number and speed number (see rule #8 in The Insider three weeks ago) and had a positive jockey change to boot (see program page here). But group members kept saying: “He’s an absolute toss-out because he won only one race in 24 starts. He’s a loser.” “But a rule is a rule,” I protested to no avail. My horse opened up in mid-stretch to win at odds of 8/1.

In the end, it didn’t make a difference because I later added that horse to tickets because of a change in the way tickets were constructed and the tickets didn’t win anyway. But if my horse had been singled (as the rule states), could it have led to the group going deeper in other legs and maybe even winning a share of the consolation pool that paid a hefty $68,000 for a 20-cent ticket? “Rules are rules are rules are rules” I have said ad nauseum. Will what happened on Monday finally insulate me from future abuse or should I still consider hiring a bodyguard?

Said a smiling participant as the workshop broke up: “Where else can you get this much entertainment for just $20 (the price of a share)?”

*       *       *

HOW TO GET THAT BOMBS-AWAY HORSE? To his credit, one of the “I won big” participants who had lambasted me for suggesting the horse above also, in another leg, had made a bit of a case for a 30/1 horse—a seemingly impossible horse—that ultimately won and resulted in a $68,000 payoff for a 20-cent ticket. To take that horse would have required the group to take “all” in that race, a maiden race, in which it had already taken six horses.

Taking “all,” of course, is usually the only way of landing a monster payoff and the way to do that is to take keys—usually “rule” horses--in a few other races. That will be part of the discussion at this Saturday’s workshop.

The “Big” group will play the last five races at Tampa and, because Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 is closing in on $2 million, we’ll be looking at the last six races there, too. So, see you at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. And, oh yah, napkins will be available for those who still have egg on their faces following Monday’s races.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Misspent Youth. More profound than most, the name of this 4-year-old colt racing at Tampa Bay Downs sounds like someone lamenting past indiscretions – only to be reminded of that fact every time he/she visits the horse or watches him race. Is this really what the name-giver intended?


Henry S. Witt, Jr.

WITT’S ON A ROLL; WATCH OUT FOR HIS HORSES! Henry S. Witt, Jr., a former champion race car driver who races many of his horses at the Downs is on a roll at Sam Houston race course in Texas and Delta Downs in Louisiana. In seven recent starts his horses finished in the money in six of them (7-2-2-2), his most recent coming Saturday at Delta Downs when Fear the Zodiac, trained by Jerry Gourneau, won at odds of 6/1. Be sure to add his horses to your triactor and superfecta tickets. His record this year is 45-5-5-8 with earnings of $91,700 U.S.

He gave us Peony’s Envy, a horse who won at Saratoga at the turn of the century. Less familiar, perhaps, but designed to tongue-tie a race caller into saying something he shouldn’t, he also gave us Cunning Stunt and Shiny City Shoes (say that over and over again). And imagine yourself calling a race describing the progress of Flat Fleet Feet (23-7-9-3)! Those were just some of the names created by Caesar Kimmel, founder of Warner Communications and a horse owner for 50 years, who died in south Florida last week at 91. It’s rather rare to be smiling when writing about someone’s death but that’s probably just what he would have liked.

Go Go Lolo with foal

IT’S BABY SEASON AND GO GO LOLO IS A PROUD MAMA: You knew Go Go Lolo as an exciting stakes mare who liked to mow down her rivals late. Now know her as the mother of a filly resulting from a tryst with Dialed In. Proud parents like to send their baby photos around and it’s no different with horse owners. Trainer Murray Duncan and the estate of his late partner, Garylle B. Stewart, represented by his daughter, Audrey Farol, own the pair who are stabled at Endeavor Farm in Midway, Kentucky. Go Go’s last big winning season was in 2015 when she captured the Matron, the La Verendrye and the Winnipeg Sun stakes.

So it’s that time of year again – and the weatherman will be cooperating.  As horses begin moving in next week and the Backstretch Diner opens on Tuesday, temperatures are expected to be above normal with daytime highs just below zero and temps overnight of about -9C.  That could get spring training off to a faster—and more comfortable--start than usual.

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. How do I access will pays and probable payoffs on my mobile phone?

A. Well, it’s taken longer than expected but this functionality has now been added to the HPIbet system. At long last, you can now check Will Pays and Probable Payoffs from anywhere. Gone are the days of only being able to access this info on your laptop, desktop or tablet. Now, your mobile phone can also provide access to these payoffs as well.

Here’s what you need to know: in order to accommodate the addition of this new content on your mobile device, HPIbet has replaced text headers with graphic icons. So, instead of the following text boxes RACING INFORMATION, POOL TOTALS, INTERVALS, WILL PAYS & PROBABLES, you’ll now see four small icons representing each of these sections (view image here). To access the Will Pays & Probables section, simply click on the icon with the outstretched hand with the dollar bill on top of it. This will provide you with all of the same content that you’re used to accessing on your computer.

Worth noting is that they also replaced the Results text with a graph chart icon and an arrow.

Got a question for Marshall? Email


Did you know . . . that in 1994 two horses, going the same distance, at the same racetrack, carrying the same weight and ridden by the same jocks, for the same connections, dead-heated twice in consecutive starts? Access the jaw-dropping details here.


  • Fonner Park meet starts tomorrow at 2 p.m.
    Tonight: All-you-can-eat certified Angus prime rib buffet featuring pork souvlaki, creamy tomato mussels and honey garlic chicken plus the pasta bar, good-for-the-soul home-style soup and much more. $27.95. Reserve at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • Tomorrow: Fonner Park meet opens in Nebraska. First post 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 24:  Second Players’ Choice handicapping tournament. Sign up by Friday at 9 p.m.
  • Monday, Feb. 26:  Target date for ASD horses to begin arriving
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27:  Backstretch diner opens
  • Thursday, March 1: Equi-ciser opens


"No, you can't drive!"
(Horse and car driver suffered only minor injuries when a spooked horse crashed through a car window in north western India last spring.) ANI photo

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Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

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