Thursday, January 7, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 52 (Issue #771)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

and, remember, if you don’t receive The Insider in the usual way,
you can always find it--and past columns--at

ASSINIBOIA DOWNS REMAINS CLOSED AS COVID RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE but online wagering fun continues as does emailing of programs, home delivery and pick-ups by ASD staff. See bottom of column.


THE YEAR THAT WAS: Photo of the Year

Manitoba Derby post parade

In the year of COVID-19, this bleak picture I took of the post parade on Manitoba Derby Day, Aug. 3, said it all. No hoopla, no celebration, no spectators on the tarmac except for Free Press reporter Jason Bell sitting on the lone bench. It all felt so alien. Mongolian Wind at 7-1 won the race and the saving grace was that a Derby Day record $2.16 million was bet on the eight-race card.

See other highlights of THE YEAR THAT WAS below.


Gulfstream's Rainbow 6 pool approaches $1 million

Looks like a great card of racing at Gulfstream today with a Rainbow 6 pool on the last six races approaching $1 million that you can take down if you have the only correct 20-cent ticket.

There are five maiden races on the card with “rule” horses and several turf route races where calculating closing fractions gives you an edge.
Note that Saturday will be a mandatory payout day.

And you might take a peak at Turf Paradise that now races from Monday to Friday with big competitive fields. Don Schnell who trained ASD’s great Escape Clause (who should be giving birth soon in Japan) is now racing there and, in fact, scored a win in a maiden race on opening day Monday with Eddy Forever owned by Winnipeg business executive Pat Beavis.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • How much did live-race wagering increase by in 2020? 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X?
  • How much did the biggest longshot of the year pay? $200, $300, $400?
  • What jockey was slapped with a world record fine? How much?
  • What do horses prefer? Being patted or being rubbed?
  • What teams are going to win this weekend's six NFL wild card games?
WHO ARE YOUR TOP 10 HORSES OF THE PAST 50 YEARS? Submit them in a contest to win a trip to Kentucky to mark the 50th anniversary of the Eclipse Awards. Download ballot here.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in January? Find out  here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Download 2021 LIVE RACING SCHEDULE here.

JOIN THE ASSINIBOIA RACING CLUB; STILL A FEW SHARES AVAILABLE! $500 buys you a partnership in a horse and pays all racing bills through ASD’s race season. Email Shannon at  
"In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity." ~ Albert Einstein

MOST MONEY EVER BET ON ASD RACES: As the first track in Canada to implement a spectator-free racing strategy in the spring--and with few tracks racing elsewhere--Assiniboia Downs saw its wagering soar to five times what it was in 2019, an average of $1.26 million a day; $64.4 million for the 50-day meet. Players as far afield as England, Germany, Mexico and Brazil discovered Assiniboia Downs.


Jay Cohen plays the Call to the Post to an empty grandstand at Santa Anita

BIGGEST LONGSHOT OF THE YEAR: Standardbred Sandbetweenmytoes at 203-1 paid $409.80 when he edged 1-9 favourite Tall Dark Stranger in a Breeders Crown race at Hoosier Park in Indiana on Oct. 31. A $1 exactor paid $750.

American player Bill Benter developed algorithms to play the races with a partner in Hong Kong where he won more than a billion dollars. That’s billion with a “B.” He didn’t even collect his final $20 million in winnings--his score for having the only winning ticket on the giant Triple Trio wager pool-- because he just wanted to prove his system could even solve the trickiest of wagers--predicting three triactors in a row on huge fields of horses.

Mike Smith fined $210,000
BIGGEST JOCKEY FINE EVER: Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who has won more Breeders’ Cup races than any other jockey, was slapped with a world record $210,000 fine for striking his mount, Midnight Bisou, 14 times in finishing second to Maximum Security in the $20 million Saudi Cup in Saudi Arabia in February. Under Saudi rules, a horse may be struck no more than 10 times. The fine was 60 per cent of Smith’s $350,000 share of the $3.5 million purse for finishing second. He was also suspended for eight days.

The convoluted Triple Crown races. Instead of Kentucky Derby, May 2, Preakness, May 16, and Belmont, June 13, it was Derby, Sept. 5, Preakness, Oct. 3, and Belmont Stakes 12 weeks before the Derby on June 20 (at a reduced distance of 1 1/8 miles instead of 1 ½). At least the races got to go.

The mare, Is It Gold, who raced at ASD for $7,500, fetched $306,000 at a Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale last fall after her half-sister, Swiss Skydiver, won the Preakness Stakes. Her Saskatoon owner, financial adviser Kane Kachur, probably is still counting his lucky stars.

Kirt, Marshall and Stretch in ASD Live set; distancing is electronically removed during show (Jason Halstead photo)    
BEST NEW HANDICAPPING SHOW: A trio of ASD handicappers--announcer Kirt Contois and fan education specialists Marshall and Stretch--presented their racing views--while socially distancing, of course--in a show called ASD Live that proved to be very popular. The show will resume in the 2021 live race season that begins Monday, May 17.

Barred from going to a studio to record radio commercials because of COVID-19 restrictions, ASD CEO Darren Dunn had to create studio-like conditions at home by unfolding an ironing board in a clothes closet and reading the script on the ironing board into his Voice Memo smart phone app. Envision that scene as you listen to his most recent ASD commercial here.

Horses apparently don’t like to be patted, it confuses them. So scratch them instead because that’s what horses do to each other in the wild. Also, it turns out that horses enjoy being taught a new trick--and we’re told it’s not that difficult to do.

Winnipeg businessman Ed Romanik outlasted more than 3,200 players from throughout North America to win $4,000 U.S. in Santa Anita’s free online ShowVivor contest. That was the second time a local player did ASD proud: retired math prof Jim Roberts was the last person standing among 2,800 entrants to a Show Me the Money contest at the now-defunct Hollywood Park, winning $6,000. They give credence to the Winnerpeg city designation.

Charley Horse, of course.

Life is very, very good for Baffert (and exciting for us)
Life Is Good posts 112 E speed in Sham Stakes; his Medina Spirit is second with 110

Life Is Good and Medina Spirit create early excitement in Kentucky Derby countdown (Benoit photo)
It’s hard not to get excited about trainer Bob Baffert’s two new colts, Life Is Good and Medina Spirit. Their one-two finish in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita last Saturday already has players thinking: “One-two in the Kentucky Derby?”

Has the prodigious sire, Into Mischief, given the racing world his best yet? (Remember when he mated with a Manitoba mare, Golden Works, to produce Goldencents who won back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Mile races?)

These horses have enhanced the excitement in this year’s Kentucky Derby countdown which has already seen Senor Buscadero, a Mineshaft colt, sweep from last to first in Remington’s Springboard Mile in December. Your chance to back up your opinions on those colts with wagers will come in a month when the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool opens for three days.
Savvy football picks by TravyFootball: Wildcard weekend

To my surprise the NFL managed to pull off all 17 regular weeks of football without any stoppages due to COVID-19. A few games were moved around, minor outbreaks occurred amongst a couple of teams but, for the most part, it was pulled off pretty flawlessly, so kudos to them. Now let’s pick some playoff games! 

  • Bills over Colts 31-17 Buffalo is the hottest team in the league and for the first time since 1996 they get to host a playoff game WITH some fans in attendance.
  • Seahawks over Rams 20-7 It’s very unlikely Jared Goff returns to the Rams, advantage, Seahawks.
  • Bucs over Washington 28-7 Even if wide-receiver Mike Evans doesn’t play for the Bucs, Tom Brady has enough weapons to get a double-digit win. 
  • Ravens over Titans 23-17 The Titans might have the league’s best rusher in Derek Henry, but their defense will cost them. They give up a lot of points and the Ravens seems to have found their running game which is what made them the most effective.
  • Saints over Bears 20-10 Mitch Trubisky is always going to make one or two bad decisions at the worst time for the Bears. The Saints will take advantage of his mistakes and put this game out of reach.
  • Steelers over Browns 24-14 The late-breaking news on this game is that the Browns’ head coach, Kevin Stefanski along with two additional coaches and two players testing positive for COVID-19, so their services will be unavailable. I’m still convinced the Browns really aren’t a good team and the Steelers should expose them.  
THE BEST OF BOB by Bob Gates: Horses made this jockey whole

Did you know that Jimmy Anderson's riding career spanned 30 years? At one point he had more wins at the Downs than any other jockey (he would eventually be passed by Ken Hendricks). But through it all, Jimmy never won the Downs leading rider title. Bob has Jim's story here. (First published in August 2017.)
Sam Houston fires up tomorrow
  • Tomorrow: Sam Houston meet begins at 6:45 p.m. Racing continues Thursday to Saturday for the month of January.
  • This Saturday, Jan. 9: “I won bigger” group play at Tampa
  • Saturday, Jan. 16: “I won bigger” group play continues online. Kentucky Derby prep race at Fair Grounds--Le Comte, Sunshine Millions stakes races at Gulfstream and Santa Anita
  • Monday, Jan. 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S.--major tracks in play.
  • Saturday, Jan. 23: Two Pegasus World Cup races at Gulfstream ($3 million dirt, $1 million turf)
  • Friday, Jan. 28: 50th Eclipse Awards presentation virtually from Lexington, Kentucky.
  • Saturday, Jan.30: Two Kentucky Derby prep races: Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, Holy Bull at Gulfstream

Merry Christmas to our Ukrainian friends!
( Khrystos Rozhdayetsia)

While Assiniboia Downs and OTBs remain closed due to Code Red coronavirus directives, here’s how to play races, make deposits or withdrawals and get racing programs.

Where can I wager and watch the races?

  • You can wager on your account at or by calling a Telephone Account Betting Operator at 204-885-9800. No account? Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225.
  • Watch the races at or on MTS T.V. channels 179 & 180

How do I open an HPIbet account?

  • You can open an acccount quickly and easily at or by calling the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225.

How do I make a deposit to my HPI account?

  • Deposits can be made at using a Credit Card, Interac Online or PayPal.
  • Deposits can be made by e-transfer. Send e-transfer to and place your HPI account number in the message portion of the e-transfer .
  • Deposits can be made using a credit card by calling 204-885-9800.
  • Deposits can be dropped off at the General Office by using our curbside drop-off service. Please call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to make these arrangements in advance.
  • Deposits can be picked up from your home. Please call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to make these arrangements in advance.

How do I make a withdrawal from my HPI account?

  • Withdrawals can be made at
  • Withdrawals can be made by calling 204-885-9800

How can I get a Program or Daily Racing Form?

  • Programs and Daily Racing Forms will be emailed to you. Request the track you want by emailing Sheri at
  • Programs and Daily Racing Forms can be obtained via contactless curbside pickup. Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 in advance to make those arrangements or email
  • Programs and Daily Racing Forms will be delivered to your home. Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to make those arrangements or email

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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