Thursday, January 10, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 52 (Issue #671)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

How do you spell Assiniboia Downs?

Other hilarious and interesting jockey Q & Ehs are available under that one on YouTube.

Justify wins Triple Crown last year. What are the odds of a back-to-back winner? (Al Bello/Getty Images photo)

What are the odds there will be another Triple Crown winner this year?

(a) Even money
(b) 3-1
(c) 5-1
(d) 10-1
(e) 20-1

Email your prediction—a, b, c, d or e--in the subject line to

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Does the weight of a horse matter in handicapping a race?
  • Assiniboia Racing Club opts for mystery and suspense in its purchase of two horses
  • Former ASD trainer strikes out on his own in New York. Who is it?
  • $400 racing dud becomes an $80,000 Olympian jumper! Historian Bob has the details.
  • What sounds in recent sporting events has made us cringe (or cry)?
  • Tickets now available for Valentine's dinner and dance at the Downs ($29.95)
NEW! “3 FOR THE MONEY” CONTEST ON HARNESS RACES NOW, TOO: Starting this Saturday evening, if you correctly predict the winner of three harness races in a row at Woodbine Mohawk Park—the first three legs of the late pick-4—you’ll have a chance of winning $50 up to $150 in wagering vouchers, depending on how many weeks the contest is not won. Look for free contest race programs and entry forms in the Race Book.

Win an ASD toque and $25 in Saturday draws at OTBs

CONGRATS TO RAY WEST WHO WON THE “3 FOR THE MONEY” CONTEST ON THOROUGHBREDS: He won $50 in wagering vouchers for correctly predicting the winners of races 7 to 9 at Santa Anita Saturday. His entry survived a draw with Earl Grantham who also was correct so a shout-out to him, too. This Saturday’s contest is on Laurel which features four stakes races. The contest races are the first three legs of the late pick-4.

See location of the off-track venues here.
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive

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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? Jets, NFL. ASD subscribes to NHL League Pass - watch any NHL game any day!

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge every Friday and Saturday 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.

POKER EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker in the clubhouse on the second level. Registration starts at 7:00 p.m and the game starts at 8:30 p.m. Maximum of 60 players. No late registration. Royal Flush progressive jackpot for tomorrow, Friday, is $955.


Better bettor tracks diminish in December

Laurel, Mahoning Valley and Meadowlands harness were among the standouts

Was it the holiday celebrating that distracted horseplayers in December? ASD better bettor stats for December showed positive results at just eight tracks compared to the average of 20 in other months. Laurel, Mahoning Valley, Meadowlands harness, Harrah’s Philly and Dover Downs were among the best.

The final days of the Woodbine thoroughbred meet which ended Sunday, Dec. 16 proved to be the most challenging of all tracks. It shouldn’t come as a real surprise, though, given the fact that trainers are emptying their stalls for one last start whether the horse is in good form or declining in form, thus producing less predictable race results.

Assiniboia Downs, of course, would rather be receiving cheques from other tracks than having to send out cheques to cover lost wagers by Manitoba players—which is a reminder again to play to your strengths to not only reward yourself but boost the economy as well.


Club opts for mystery and suspense

51-member club buys a filly and colt bred by K5 Stables

A 3-year-old colt and a 4-year-old filly bred by K5 Stables suddenly have dozens of new best friends, many of whom will likely be visiting them with love and treats and snapping selfies when they’re stabled at the Downs under the care of trainer Jamie Hartmann.

Racing club hopefuls: Fun in the Sun and Call Me Mister (inset). (John Field photos)

That’s because they’ve just been purchased from K5 Stables—which is winding down--by the 51-member Assiniboia Racing Club, according to John Field, an HBPA director who coordinates the racing club. The Club this year has decided to forego the usual claiming route in favour of what probably could best be described as mystery and suspense. The two horses are:
  • Fun in the Sun – a 4-year-old Creative Cause/Floating Sky filly bred in Manitoba. In her two races at 3, she finished fifth in both an allowance race and in the R.C. Anderson Stakes.
  • Call Me Mister – an unraced Ontario-bred 3-year-old colt by Afleet Alex out of Tizno Now.
Field told The Insider that this year’s 51 members bought 55 shares at $500 each, hoping they can duplicate or exceed the success of last year’s ARC which had a very exciting meet including winning with both of its horses on the same night. (One of those horses, Californium, was claimed for $7,500 at the end of the season by Gary Danelson and the Club’s other horse, Ebadan, was purchased by an ARC shareholder to race at ASD this year, Field said.)

Of last year’s 54 members, Field said, 45 returned as shareholders again and three became separate horse owners. This year’s club has six new members added to the 45 returnees. Let the shallow breathing begin!

Even before the ASD racing season begins on Mother’s Day, May 12, Field said, racing club members will tour the stables on Sunday, May 5 and enjoy a BBQ social at a farm on Saturday, May 11.


Rob Atras (right) with Manitoba Derby winner Inside Straight

FORMER ASD TRAINER, ROB ATRAS, STRIKES OUT ON HIS OWN: Rob Atras, the Oakbank, Man. native and high-percentage trainer at ASD before joining the stable of Robertino Diodoro at U.S. tracks in 2013, has made two big changes in his life: he recently got married and is training on his own, with help from his former boss. In his first start at Aqueduct Saturday, his 4-year-old filly, Promise Me Roses, finished second at odds of 2-1 in a $25,000 maiden claiming race.

Rob’s last appearance at Assiniboia Downs was in the Winner’s Circle for the 2016 Manitoba Derby when the horse he trained for Diodoro, Inside Straight, won the Derby. The horse, who is now retired from racing, went on to win the Grade 2 $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap the following spring under Rob’s tutelage. Rob’s horses at Aqueduct today and tomorrow:
  • Today, race 4: Daria’s Angel in an allowance optional claimer. Post time 1:26 p.m. CST.
  • Tomorrow, race 5: Science Fiction in a $40,000 claimer for fillies and mares. Post time 1:57 p.m.
MAKES $300 SHOW BET HOPING FOR BRIDGEJUMPERS; NONE SHOWED UP: An ASD player who bet $300 to show on Gunmetal Gray in the Sham Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race, at Santa Anita on Saturday, was hoping bridgejumpers would be unloading suitcases of cash on Bob Baffert’s 3-5 favourite, Coliseum, but that didn’t happen. However, he still got a decent show price of $3.40 when Coliseum broke sluggishly and raced wide, finishing sixth.

In a side wager on this race, two “I won bigger” group players are each collecting $10 from a challenger who was so certain Coliseum would win, he offered them $10 each if the horse didn’t. He had made the side wager with them after they pooh-poohed his insistence that Coliseum be singled on group pick-6 tickets.

Not taking “all” horses in a bottom-level claimer which was won by a 19-1 longshot is at least part of the reason why last Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group didn’t cash its pick-5 ticket at Tampa Bay that paid $7,000. The group had another chance to win it: If someone had recommended adding another horse to my suggested ticket that had taken “all” in that tricky race but had singled a horse in the last leg. My horse looked like she would be the controlling speed but another horse did so. Hindsight, as they say, is 20-20.

The group’s other ticket on the Rainbow 6 at Santa Anita faltered after four legs. A 12-1 deep closer in the last leg that was stretching out from a sprint to a route was the main reason for a big $9,460 payoff for 20-cents. So it’s back to the drawing board for the group this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza: the late pick-5 at Tampa and the last six races at Santa. Last Saturday’s plays offered drama but now we need to be cashing.

FORMER BACKSTRETCH COOK, RACE PLAYER DIES: Barry Kinnear, 61, long time race player who, off-and-on, leased the backstretch kitchen to serve meals “that never left you hungry” died suddenly last week on Tuesday of a heart attack, his friend Bill Bochinski has told The Insider. Bill fondly recalls Barry’s well-attended Friday fish fries and Saturday steak-and-salad-bar feasts before live racing began at night. No service will be held, Bill said. Barry’s brother, Brad, is a good tournament player, having placed second in the Player’s Choice handicapping tournament in April.

The year-end Daily Racing Form listed the Winnipeg Jets as the second choice to win the Stanley Cup at odds of 13/2. Tampa Bay Lightning is the favourite at 9/2. Toronto Maple Leafs are third at 15/2 and Calgary Flames sixth at 12/1. Montreal Canadiens are 50/1.

  • “Broke to her knees” – a race favourite loses all chance at Santa Anita;
  • “Snap!” – a broken hockey stick prevents Canadian junior hockey players from scoring an open-net goal and getting into the gold medal championship round.
  • “Doink, doink!” – football bounces off the upright and then crossbar in a field goal miss that sends the Chicago Bears packing.

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? No No No. Despite the negative name, players gave this 2-year-old Louisiana-bred filly a good chance of winning her first lifetime start at Delta which she did, rewarding her backers with $10.40. Two other females had been given the same name years before that. And what about the name “Yes Yes Yes?” Yes, three North American horses have been given that name through the years including one who raced at Del Mar last summer but—get this--all were male. So that’s “no no no” for the girls and “yes yes yes” for the boys. You figure it out.

Readers write . . .

"What stood out for me in 2018"; does the weight of a horse matter?

“Dear Ivan : What stood out for me in 2018 was how good The Insider is. Outstanding work!”Scott Taylor, sports writer

Sooooo kind! Thanks, Scott.

*       *       *

Is knowing a horse's weight helpful?

“Dear Ivan: Couldn't help but notice while watching the Escape Clause race from Santa Anita that prior to the race they posted all eight of the horses' weights. I have never seen that before. What was particularly interesting about the weights was that Escape Clause was the heaviest at 1,155 lbs. A couple other horses were under 1,000. She weighed 175 lbs more than a couple of them. Does anybody know if 1,155 pounds is an okay weight for her to race at? She does not look noticeably larger than most horses she races against.

“It’s reassuring to hear that trainer Don Schnell has lost his patience with jockey Ruben Fuentes. Frankly it is about time. She won the Kathryn Crosby in spite of him, could have won the Red Carpet had he moved on her earlier and then, of course, there was the Robert J. Frankel disaster.”
-- Don Thomas

Hi Don:
No one I know uses horse weights in their handicapping and The Insider would be delighted to hear from anyone who does. I had seen a racing program from Singapore some years ago that listed horse weights and, for some reason, a couple tracks in the U.S. do that as well. Irrelevant in my books.


Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q: What are Clocker Reports and where can I get them?

One of the variables I always factor into my handicapping is workouts. Regardless of what type of Past Performances you’re using to analyze the races, they all include the most recent workouts for every horse. The downside is they only publish the date, time and distance of the workout so you’re often left with more questions than answers, especially if a horse you’re looking at has worked with a stablemate in the same race. Or, you’re wondering whether the horse had a monster gallop out or whether the horse was all out to run the bullet or in-hand late. The answers to these questions can lead to big decisions about whether to include a horse, toss a horse, key a horse, etc.

Here’s where Clocker Reports can become a valuable tool. Clocker Reports are a summary of every horse’s latest workout with insight into the circumstances surrounding the work including:
  • Was the horse all out or under wraps?
  • How did the horse start the work and finish up?
  • Was their new equipment involved in the workout?
  • What was the trainer/rider trying to accomplish with the work?
  • What was the clockers overall rating for the work?
Best of all, they’re written by professionals who know exactly what to look for. There are several Clocker Reports available from different sources so you might want to do your homework before buying them. They’re also available for the larger tracks such as Gulfstream and Santa Anita. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

DRF Clocker Reports
– learn more here and download a sample report here.

Bruno With the Works

Got a question for Marshall? Email

THE BEST OF BOB: $400 racing dud becomes an $80,000 jumper

Did you know that a soft-spoken, humble, Minnesota horseman sold a dud of a thoroughbred to Bill Teske for $400. Teske in turn renamed the horse and made a jumper out of him. The result?  The horse's value rose to $80,000 and he became a silver medalist in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Read more here(First published in June, 2017.)


  • Saturday, Jan. 19: Kentucky Derby prep race at Fair Grounds (Lecomte)
  • Monday, Jan. 21: U.S. holiday – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Thursday, Jan. 24: $425-a-plate Eclipse Awards banquet at Gulfstream; who will be Horse of the Year?
  • Saturday, Jan. 26: 2019 Player’s Choice tournaments kick off; $16 million Pegasus World Cup races at Gulfstream ($7m Turf, $9m Dirt). Kentucky Derby prep race at Oaklawn (Smarty Jones)
  • Monday, Feb. 4: Reservations open for Mother’s Day brunch for live racing
  • Thursday, Feb. 14: Valentine’s Dinner & Dance on the main level with NuFrequency Light & Sound. $29.95. It features a great Italian-inspired feast by Chef Gerardo. See menu here. Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0 for tickets.

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

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