Thursday, March 1, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 8 (Issue #626)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Wish ‘em well!
Join ASD tourney director Dawn Forbes (centre) in wishing (from left) Alan Hampton, Wayne Misko and Chris Lucyshyn well in the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas next week.

They won the trip for two plus the $1,500 U.S. entry fee into the Horse Player World Series at the Orleans Hotel Casino by winning a monthly tournament during live racing last summer. They’ll be playing for prize money that could reach $1 million.

Who are they and what are their strategies?
  • Alan Hampton, accountant and 2017 Horseplayer of the Year: “If there’s a horse in a race that doesn’t make sense, I’ll look at it carefully. I like to follow horses going up (in class).”
  • Wayne Misko, retired postal worker, former Horseplayer of the Year and long time veteran of Vegas tournaments: “I don’t plan to do anything new. I’ll talk plays out (with other ASD players). If you like it, you bet it.”
  • Chris Lucyshyn, retired provincial natural resources officer, played in a darts tournament in Las Vegas but never racing. “I intend to enjoy myself and not put too much pressure on myself.” Bonus: He and his wife, Lillian, will be celebrating the 12th anniversary of their being married in Las Vegas.
They will be making imaginary $20 win/place wagers on 15 horses each day from next Thursday to Saturday.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Gulfstream's Rainbow 6 hits $2 million. First post today 11:35 a.m. Program page here. Bet now.
  • Round and round they go: Equi-ciser opens for spring training today
  • Olympic contest winner just one bronze medal shy of perfect prediction!
  • Will Good Magic prove on Saturday that his Breeders' Cup Juvenile win was no fluke?
  • Grim revelation: Player misses $14,000 Rainbow 6 by not taking controversial horse
  • Breeders' Cup adds turf sprint for babies

Bob Pirson: one bronze medal shy of perfect

PLAYER NEARLY PERFECT ON OLYMPIC PREDICTION AND TOURNAMENT: It was some weekend for retired air force Col. Bob Pirson. After collecting prize money of $400 for finishing second in the Player’s Choice horseplayer tournament Saturday, he returned Sunday to don Olympic mittens and scarf for being one bronze medal shy of predicting the exact gold/silver/bronze medals Canada would win in the PyeongChang Winter Games. His prediction in The Insider contest was 11-8-9. The actual count was 11-8-10. Incredible! He also receives a prime rib buffet for two and—probably most important—extreme bragging rights.
QX104 � Today's Country

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Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in March? 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, March 2 is $2,050.

McPhillips Station Casino

with Shannon Davis, Off-Track Betting supervisor

McPhillips Station Casino offers exciting televised racing every day in comfortable surroundings with a convenient “help” phone to answer any questions you may have. Download programs at the program kiosk, wager at self-serve terminals and cash winning tickets at casino cashiers. And, of course, tasty food and drink options are readily available nearby.

“Located at 484 McPhillips St., I encourage you to park in the parkade and use the skywalk. Turn left after you pass security or after you pass the gift shop,”
says OTB supervisor Shannon Davis. Or, she says, if you’re entering via the front entrance, you can walk up the grand staircase, use the elevator or ride up the new escalator. 

For further info on these locations and all other OTBs go here.


Was it a fluke?

Good Magic, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, makes his 2018 debut Saturday

Will Good Magic live up to his Breeders' Cup Juvenile win? (Zimbio photo)

Is Good Magic the real deal – or was his winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November a fluke, caused by a terrible trip for race favourite Bolt d’Oro? We should get a clue this Saturday in the Fountain of Youth stakes at Gulfstream when the 3-year-old colt finally makes his 2018 debut.

Or will we? Favourites in the last few Kentucky Derby prep races floundered. Instilled Regard was touted as a world beater before finishing a very ordinary fourth in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds while ASD handicapper Rob MacLennan’s pick to win the Kentucky Derby, Principe Guilherne, was a very disappointing seventh in the same race. In the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, winner My Boy Jack (who?) at 8/1 was four positions better than race favourite Mourinho.

So what will Saturday bring? Does Good Magic deserve the #1 rating Kentucky media voters give him? That’s why they run these races and that’s why you have to be at the Downs, or at an OTB, or watching the TV racing channel or your mobile device to see what happens. And also to take a stand yourself by entering the $200 Kentucky Derby prep race contest at the track.

*       *       *

CATHOLIC BOY RATED #1 IN KENTUCKY NEWSLETTER: The most recent issue of ThePressbox, a newsletter published by the Louisville Thoroughbred Society in Kentucky, ranks my Kentucky Derby pick, Catholic Boy, as its number one preference on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. First in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, second to the front-running Flameaway in the Sam F. Davis stakes several weeks ago, Catholic Boy is pointed to the Tampa Bay Derby next Saturday. Read more here.
"BIG" GROUP HANDICAPPING: Read and weep (or not)

A participant at Saturday’s “I won big” group who hadn’t attended the previous session had a grim tale. He had played a Rainbow 6 ticket on his HPI account and had been alive to three horses in the sixth and final leg. Did he collect the $14,000 payoff? No. But here’s the kicker: He missed the very “rule” horse that created a kerfuffle which was written about in the last Insider. Would he have been $14,000 richer if he had been present during that discussion?

So, players this past Saturday wanted to know: Since I collected $3,150 on Gulfstream’s pick-5 by spending $67 on a 60-cent wheel, why didn’t the “I won big” group cash a 20-cent pick-6 worth $34,000 simply by taking my pick-5 horses with “all” horses in the first leg of the pick-6? It’s painful to say. It was because I had been jaded by the previous week’s discussion about a “rule” horse and decided not to try to sell my pick-5 singled horse. I simply acquiesced with the group’s desire to take six horses in that leg.

Taking six horses made “all” in the first leg too expensive so just four horses were taken and the group lost. For which, of course, I’ve been kicking myself since. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t, kind of thing, isn’t it? I’m thinking about starting out with a basic framework of a Rainbow 6 this Saturday and then “tweaking” it based on strong opinions from other players. After leaving almost $50,000 on the table the past two Saturdays, maybe that strategy will put bacon back into the group’s life and a restful sleep back into mine. Be prepared to play the last five races at Tampa, too.

Tournament director Dawn Forbes presents $1,000 to Alan Hampton who is flanked (from left) by Greg Earl (4th), Rob Solmundson (3rd) and Bob Pirson (2nd)

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to accountant Alan Hampton for not resting on his laurels after winning the 2017 Handicapper of the Year title and charging into 2018 by winning Saturday’s Player’s Choice handicapping tournament and the $1,000 that goes with it. Ironically, his biggest winner was a horse that prevented Saturday’s “I won big” group from winning the Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream. It was Dancing Donut at 20/1 in race eight. Hampton said the field was filled with “non-descript horses” and he took a chance on the Donut.

Shout-outs, too, to the runners-up in Saturday’s tournament:
  • Alan Hampton -- $119.40 bankroll
  • Bob Pirson -- $99.60
  • Rob Solmundson -- $99.20
  • Greg Earl -- $94
  • Doug Evans -- $90.40
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Full Moon Dodger and his connections. Who? Full Moon Dodger won a race every Saturday afternoon from July 30 to Sept. 10 at small towns on Manitoba’s Great Western Harness Racing Circuit and thusly was named Manitoba Standardbred Horse of the Year Saturday at the annual standardbred awards banquet in Miami, Manitoba. His trainer, Trevor Williams, and driver, Donald E. Howlett were named tops in their categories. Full Moon Dodger, who was bred in Alberta, paced up a storm in the towns of Killarney, Miami, Morris and Holland after starting the year at Century Downs in Alberta where he had also won. He ended his season at Northlands Park in Alberta with a second-place finish. Read about other awards from the banquet here.


NEW BABY RACE ADDED TO BREEDERS’ CUP PROGRAM: A Juvenile Turf Sprint race will be added to the fall’s Breeders’ Cup line-up at Churchill Downs. The race will be 5 1/2f for 2-year-olds and carry a purse of $1 million. That will bring to 14 the number of BC races scheduled for the Nov. 2-3 cards at Churchill Downs. “The upgrade of the Juvenile Turf Sprint is in response to the increasing popularity of turf racing in North America,” a Churchill spokesperson said. Also, it has been announced that the BC Juvenile purse will be increased by $500,000, making it $2 million. The BC purse total is now more than $30 million.

ASD’s Manitoba-bred super filly, Escape Clause, who finished second in the Manitoba Derby and defeated other western-bred horses in a $50,000 Sales Stakes race at Century Downs in Calgary in the fall, is back on the workout path at Turf Paradise. The 4-year-old went 3f handily in :37.20 seconds Friday morning.

Jerry Gourneau
Now at Fonner Park

ON THE ROAD WITH ASD TRAINERS: How are they doing?

  • Jerry Gourneau at Fonner Park: 20-2-4-4 (20 starts, 2 wins, 4 seconds and 4 thirds). Last win was with Quadruple Dog Dare at 6/1 in a $2,500 claimer on Feb. 25
  • Don Schnell at Turf Paradise: 37-4-4-8. Last win was with Whining at 13/1 in a $3,000 claimer on Feb. 7 with former jockey Janine Smith aboard
  • Jared Brown at Turf Paradise: 30-2-2-4. Last win was with Alpine Luck at 6-1 in a $10,000 claimer on Jan. 10
  • Murray Duncan at Oaklawn Park: 7-0-0-0. His Manitoba Derby winner, Plentiful, finished fourth at 16/1 on Feb. 22 in a starter allowance race.

GOSSIP CORNER: GUESS WHO DATED? Arrogate and Songbird. Will a super baby be the result?

ASD trainer Murray Duncan no longer owns the mare Go Go Lolo who recently gave birth. Mom and her filly are owned by Endeavor Farm in Midway, Kentucky where they are stabled.



Did you know . . . that the 1977 Polo Park Handicap featured eight of the best ever to run at the Downs: Sunraysed, Taboga, Persian Memories, Victor's Pride, Merry's Jay, Federal Ruler, Icy Welcome and Island Fling? Six were multiple stakes winners, Sunraysed and Icy Welcome "only" achieving the rank of stakes winner and seven had set and/or equaled a Downs' track record. What a field! Read “Field of Dreams” here.


  • Lemon oregano chicken
    Tonight: All-you-can-eat certified Angus prime rib buffet featuring Asian meatballs, lemon oregano chicken, krunchie perch, pasta bar, potato bacon soup and much more. $27.95. Reserve at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • This Saturday: Fountain of Youth prep race at Gulfstream. Enter $200 prep race contest.
  • Friday, March 9 to 11: Future wager the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks
  • Saturday, March 10: Three Derby preps – Gotham at Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa and San Felipe at Santa Anita. Enter $200 prep race contest.
  • Saturday, March 10: Training track opens
  • Saturday, March 17: St. Patrick’s Day. Derby preps: Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway, Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn. Enter $200 prep race contest.


"Great! Now I have to worry about a lion attack!"

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