Thursday, January 5, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 11 No. 47 (Issue #567)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Veggie farmer turns 20-cent quick-picks into major moola. See the other nine below.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Today's pick-6 carryovers: Aqueduct $83,000, Santa $77,000
  • My 10 favourite headlines of 2016. Is yours among them?
  • Trio nabs juicy share of Woodbine's Jackpot Hi-5 on mandatory night
  • "Best horse in 20 years" wins first Kentucky Derby qualifier of the year
  • What's the significance of a horse changing leads? See Marshall's segment
  • In what race in history did ASD fans cheer the loudest? See Bob's blog.

WHILE THE CAT’S AWAY, WILL THE MICE PLAY? Not that any of you are mice but the cat in parlay contests every Friday and Saturday night is surely Mr. Parlay, Al Ilott, who will be away in Mexico later this month enjoying the vacation he won by out-parlaying everyone else during live racing. But his absence could open the way for you to cobble together a $6 show parlay on five races that will be the biggest of the month. The Downs will not only match your winnings (up to $100) but will also reward you with a Thursday night prime rib melt in your mouth buffet for two.

QX104 � Today's Country

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

EVERY FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY: 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: 5-Alive "Double Your Winnings" contest from 7 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. and $10 buy-in poker. Registration 8 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m.

Are any of these among your favs?

My 10 favourite headlines of 2016

Isle of Man

1. ASD sets $1.1 million betting record with help of Isle players
The bee gees were born there and the most famous motorcycle race in the world is held there but Insider readers came to know the Isle of Man, a tiny island equidistant from England and Ireland (measuring just 52 km x 22 km), as the hub for race players who love to pour money into ASD’s Jackpot Hi-5 pool. It was Isle of Man wagers of more than $500,000 on Manitoba Derby Day that gave ASD its biggest betting day ever: $1.1 million. Its previous high was $714,000 in September,1988. Read more here.

Voice of Jets cashes in on Dink

2. Dink of the Year raises eyebrows and wins hearts
Who says the horse-naming registrar in Kentucky doesn’t have a sense of humour? Dink of the Year was deemed perfectly acceptable for the name of an Iowa-bred filly that caught the attention of ASD horse owners Elton Dickey and Lori Mann. Despite the 2-year-old’s spotty record (one win in nine starts primarily at Prairie Meadows) they bought her. And, as (good) luck would have it, a tenacious ride by leading jockey Christopher Husbands had Dink digging in to win her final start of 2016 by a nose, making her fans—many who bet her simply because of her name—happy. Including the TSN radio voice of the Winnipeg Jets, Paul Edmonds, who tweeted it was “the best name ever” – and cashed in. Read more here.

3. Veggie farmer turns quick-picks into major moola ($13,000)
When Al Siwak wasn’t picking cucumbers, tomatoes and corn from his veggie plot in Winnipeg Beach to sell at his roadside stand he was at the Downs making 20-cent quick-pick plays on the Jackpot Hi 5. And, lo and behold, $4 worth—20 tickets in all—he bought on Saturday, Sept. 3 gave him $13,011 (see picture at top of column) because one of the combinations had the top five finishers in the correct order. The next day Siwak was looking for a tractor (not to be confused with a triactor). Read more here.

New commish likes to do this

4. New racing commission chair is a shark-diving speedskater. Whaa?
After the two previous chairs of the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission were lawyers—I mean, what can you write about lawyers?—it was fun having the newest appointment, Brett Arnason, be a world-class speedskater and an adventurer who likes to go face-to-face with killer sharks. Whaa? And how satisfying was it for ASD management to hear the new chair say: “The horse racing industry provides many jobs, it needs to be taken care of, it needs to survive.” Amen. Read more here.

Hollywood ending

5. Bargain basement filly lifts racing club from gloom to boom
A career-ending injury to the first horse they purchased in the spring left the 39 members of the newly-formed Assiniboia Racing Club on the ropes with little remaining of their $500 shares. But then along came a bargain basement buy at Woodbine -- a filly by the name of Spanish Fowl who had looked terrible in her races at Woodbine but had a sudden form-reversal at the Downs as if a switch were flipped in the 2-year-old’s brain. In what seemed like a Hollywood ending, a legion of horse owners came rushing into the Winner’s Circle to celebrate the filly’s nine-length maiden victory in her last start of the meet. Read more here.

6. Buff lives up to his name and mows down foes
It had worked for Jon’s Golden Run. And it had worked for Gold N Sochi. So why shouldn’t it work for Buff? And it did. Buff became the third horse to live up to a name linked to sports prominence. Maybe that’s the secret to juvenile success. Buff, who was named, of course, for popular Winnipeg Jet defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, vanquished a field of 2-year-olds at odds of 14/1 in his second lifetime start. You may recall Jon’s Golden Run, named for Olympic gold medalist Jon Montgomery, had done that after the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. And Gold N Sochi, named for Winnipeg’s 2014 Olympic gold medal curlers in Sochi, hasn’t finished worse than second in five starts. So, breeders, what you gonna name your next foal?

Rob MacLennan: Impressive

7. ‘Capper Rob watches replays in 8 languages to crush ‘Cup
Have you ever watched a horse race broadcast in French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Arabic or German? Doing so will give you only an inkling of what ASD handicapper Rob MacLennan went through to find you winners in Dubai World Cup races last March. In fact, he watched 106 replays in eight languages. And the result? If you simply had wheeled his top four finishers in the pick-3s, investing a total of $384, your profit would have been $1,869. If Rob’s efforts and results didn’t impress you, nothing will. Will you be paying attention when this year’s World Cup races roll around in less than three months?

8. The Queen hits up Woodbine for $200,000
If The Queen were at her computer at Buckingham Palace on the Sunday night, Oct. 16, that her horse, Dartmouth, ran in the $1 million Canadian International Stakes, she was cheering for him to hold on and not let Erupt pass him as he did. But picking up $200,000 in Canadian money for finishing second was no slim pickings even for a monarch. Wouldn’t it be nice if she visited Canada this year--its 150th anniversary--on the same day as her horse is entered?

Arrogate runs down Chrome

9. Cal Chrome and Beholder meet their match; thanks, Mike!
It was in the tea leaves. In the cup of DRF clocker Mike Welsch. For anyone who paid attention prior to last fall’s Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita Welsch gave huge chances to Arrogate and Beholder in their respective races. So it came as little surprise to his believers that Arrogate caught California Chrome in the Classic for Chrome’s only loss of the year and Beholder ran down the unbeaten Songbird in the Distaff. The Beholder/Arrogate double paid $28.40. Is there any doubt Welsch is the OBFH? (Official Best Friend of Handicappers).

10. Aircraft fueling manager hoses retired fireman to win trip
A place parlay contest during live racing to win a Mexican vacation seemed to be won almost before it started. Surely, many thought, Katie McKenzie’s $68.25 for a $5 place parlay on three races in May would never be surpassed. Oh yeah? The fun was just beginning. Al Ilott, an intensely competitive aircraft fueling manager, struck with $129 in early June. Then retired fireman Dennis Lloyd shot back with $166 a few days later. While Ilott stewed on the sidelines itching to make a new bid, Donn Jenkins came close with $160. Then came the hammer. On Saturday, Aug. 6, Ilott caught place prices of $16.00, $13.20 and $4.30 for a breathtaking $567.60. “Uncle!” cried his would-be pursuers. Will the popular game resume this season with a tweak or two to make it more competitive? Stay tuned.


"We threw out ideas and saw what stuck"

ASD trio wins $4,800 playing Jackpot Hi-5 in Woodbine harness

Bob March (left) and Gord Lee count their winnings

With Texas hold ‘em poker on a Christmas break on Dec. 23, retired chemist Bob March, part-time milkman Gordon Lee and retired bus driver Dennis Dacquay turned their full attention to the Jackpot Hi 5 in Woodbine harness that was in a mandatory payout mode.

Good move. Their $66 worth of 20-cent combinations gave them a return of $4,842. “It pays off Christmas expenses,” Gord and Bob enthused while counting their winnings that Friday night.

And how did the trio make their picks in the 12-horse field? “We threw out ideas and looked at what stuck,” Gord said. Longshot #1 was included “because #1 was running so great in previous races.” And longshot #7? “We liked the name (Half A Billion).”

The total pool was just over $2 million. The top five finishers: #6 The Rev (3/1), #4 ElectricWestern (10/1), #11 Regal Son (8/1), #7 Half A Billion (20/1) and #1 A Cool Card (23/1). Nice going, guys. Great timing for the holiday season!


"BEST HORSE IN 20 YEARS" ROMPS IN KENTUCKY DERBY QUALIFIER: Watch out for El Areeb in the countdown to the Kentucky Derby. The Exchange Rate son romped to an 11-length victory in the slop at Aqueduct Monday to be the first winner of a Kentucky Derby qualifying race in 2017, the Jerome Stakes. His trainer, Cathal Lynch, noted the stable has about 20 2-year-olds each year and El Areeb “is the best in 20 years.” Is he deserving of a wager in the next Kentucky Derby future pool?

SHAM STAKES AT SANTA SATURDAY IS NEXT IN DERBY HUNT: The Derby hunt now switches to the west coast this Saturday for the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. The race was named for the horse who was a rival of Secretariat in 1973. Goldencents, the son of a Manitoba-bred mare, won this race in 2013.

MANITOBA-BRED LINKED TO JAPAN STAKES WINNER: Manitoba horse genes have reached into the top ranks of Japanese racing, Manitoba owner/breeders Dr. Ross and Brenda McKague have pointed out. They note that the 4-year-old Langfuhr colt, Apollo Kentucky, who recently won a grade 1 stakes in Japan is the great grandson of Manitoba-bred Slinkylady who won the Chantilly, R.C. Anderson, Jack Hardy and Assiniboia Oaks in the mid-1990s. Impressive!

VLT hostess Roseanne gives Lily Ellison
$250 month-end prize

GULFSTREAM JACKPOT GOES THE DAY BEFORE MANDATORY PAYOUT: It happened again. The day before Gulfstream was to pay out its Rainbow 6 pool on mandatory payout day on Dec. 31, someone won the $498,000 pool. The track obviously missed out on increased interest and extra betting on mandatory day – and it shows why the Downs and Woodbine have frozen their pools about a week before mandatory payout day. One would have thought Gulfstream learned a lesson when a Florida businessman won a $6.7 million pool the day before mandatory payout in May 2014. Obviously, the track is willing to take its chances.

RETIRED NURSE WINS VLT FINALE: Retired nurse Lily Ellison picked up a bit of holiday cash in the Club West Gaming Lounge on Dec. 30 when she won the month-end finale of the free Unleash Your Luck tournament. She collected $250 that was in addition to $132 she won in free spins at the games she likes, including Viracocha. Free spins continue into 2017 every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. Get into the draw!

"I WON BIG" HAD THE RIGHT IDEA: The “I won big” group had the right idea for the pick-4 and pick-5 at Tampa Bay last Saturday, taking “all” horses in two legs of the pick-4. In one of those legs a $65 horse won. Except the other “all” leg should have been keyed instead and the “all” applied to another leg. The obvious favourite won that leg ($3.60). In the end, no one anywhere had predicted the correct pick-5 (which meant a carryover to Sunday) and the pick-4 paid $12,804 for $1. Will we catch a biggie this Saturday at 10:30 a.m.? Be there to offer your input. Here were the payoffs of the last five legs (pick-5 and pick-4): $14.20, $17.20, $40.60, $3.60 and $65.40.

SOUND FAMILIAR? When coach Dave Dickenson said of his Calgary Stampeders before the Grey Cup: “We have an air of invincibility,” didn’t that evoke the famous words of trainer Richard Dutrow who said Big Brown’s victory in the 2008 Belmont Stakes was “a foregone conclusion?” Of course, we know what subsequently happened to Big Brown and, more recently, to the Calgary Stampeders. The gods of fate seem to have a certain disdain for hubris. The lesson? You can think it but don’t say it. Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots knows that. Has he ever said anything at all worth quoting?

HPIBET Marshall Posner

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. Why are lead changes important and how do I spot them watching race replays in HPIbet?

A. Switching leads is very important for thoroughbreds during the race to ensure that they are able to keep a constant pace by not tiring their lead leg. Usually a horse is on its right lead when on the straightaways and on its left lead when going around the turns. A jockey will also ask their horse to change leads during the stretch run to ensure an even acceleration in finishing the race. Often a horse will lose the race because they do not switch leads properly and end up getting tired.

If you notice a young horse that is not switching leads but is finishing strongly then it’s just a matter of the horse racing greenly and still learning. If you notice an older horse or a bottom claimer not switching leads, especially if that horse has done so properly in the past, then it could signal a potential problem such as soreness. If the horse has run a hard race throughout, it can also just mean that the horse is tired.

That’s where watching race replays can come in handy and it’s extremely easy to do so in HPIbet. Just click on the horse’s name that you’re looking at and you’ll see a pop-up window with all of his previous races. Make sure to have a pen and paper handy and click on the video icon (view image here). Make sure to pay special attention to how your horse is finishing up in his last couple of races and whether they are changing leads properly around the turns and in the stretch. You might be able to toss a big fave in his next out start by watching his stretch run closely.

Got a question for Marshall? Email

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

This week's tribute goes to a Manitoba-bred whose stretch run and 10-length win in the 1976 Manitoba Derby prompted the loudest roar of any crowd to ever watch a race at Assiniboia Downs. Read about it here.

"I give myself permission to do what it takes
to be a winning horseplayer in 2017."

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