Thursday, January 11, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 1 (Issue #619)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Yay! (Or maybe that should be "groan")
The Insider turns 12 today!


It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S. Monday which means great racing at the best tracks—including a Kentucky Derby prep race (the Smarty Jones) at Oaklawn Park—so ASD is making the day special, too, with these perks:
  • Free to everyone arriving before 10:30 a.m.

    Everyone who arrives at the track by 10:30 a.m. receives a FREE delicious breakfast sandwich (to go with the usual complimentary coffee)
  • Special “I won big” workshop at 10:30 a.m. with $5 added to everyone’s $20 shares in group play. (Group will discuss and play the Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream where the group had logged its best win before switching to Tampa: Almost $10,000). Workshop begins 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza.
  • You will receive 5X the usual Player Rewards points on all bets you make on-track, at an OTB and through your HPIbet account.
  • Enter the draw at the track for a 60-second betting spree
FIRST POST MONDAY: Aqueduct 11:20 a.m. Full schedule.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Gulfstream's 20-cent Rainbow 6 now more than $1.5 million. Group play Saturday.
  • "I won big" group wins $9,553 pick-5. How did they do it?
  • Would you have made money blindly betting all of Rob's picks during live racing?
  • Woodbine adds second turf course to attract more turf horses
  • Rare triple dead heat at Hawthorne
  • Oaklawn Park, Arkansas begins tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.
DOUBLE WINNERS IN SATURDAY’S 5-ALIVE CONTEST: Congrats to Dave Brockhill and Terry Pagee who shared $100 in wagering vouchers Saturday night by entering the 5-Alive contest and being successful in their show-show-show-place-win picks at Delta Downs on which they bet $10 per race. In addition to the prize money, Brockhill’s plays on races 6 to 10 netted him $121.50 and Pagee’s bets on races 5 to 9 won him $113. The contest continues tomorrow night and Saturday night from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
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 17 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

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, Jan. 12 is $145.

A stunning stat

You would have made $638.50 profit if you had bet $10 to win on Rob's 343 picks

Playing Rob MacLennan's top picks produced an 18.7 per cent ROI (return on investment)

Betting the same amount to win on every single race is the surest way to the poor house, say handicapping books. But the authors of those books haven’t met ASD paddock host Rob MacLennan or noted his picks.

The stunning truth is that if you had simply wagered $10 to win on his top pick on every race run last year at the Downs, all 343 of them, your profit would have been $638,50. That’s a return on investment (ROI) of a lofty 18.7 per cent. (Stock market investors, take note.)

Just over 39 per cent of his picks won, up from 37.4 per cent in 2016. His ROI of 18.7 per cent was also an impressive increase from 5.5 per cent the previous season. Consider this: The book, The Best of Thoroughbred Handicapping by James Quinn, says the best of public handicappers generally score no better than MINUS 15 PER CENT ROI. Minus!

Rob attributes his success to “familiarity” with the horses and attributes his increased profitability over 2016 to his “taking more risks.” The average odds on his 2017 winners was 4.01-1 compared to 3.83-1 in 2016.

  • If you had played his suggested wagers posted at the bottom of the TV screen before each race your profit would have been $5,922 but that number was skewed by his $4,098 pick-4 that nobody had played. Eliminate that, though, and you still would have shown a profit of $1,854.
  • If you had played his suggested Super Hi 5 wheels, your profit would have been $1,242.
  • If you had bet $10 on his top choice across the board—win, place, show—your end of season profit would have been $581.50. You would have lost money in the show position ($113.50).
ONLY WEAKNESS WAS EXACTOR PLAY: If you played a $1 exactor box (costing $6) on his top three selections for each race, you would have lost $353.50, up from a loss of $220.95 in 2016.


Watching replays and computing closing fractions in turf race earns "Big" group $9,553

It was truly a “Happy New Year” start to 2018 for Saturday’s “I won big” betting group. The group cashed a pick-5 ticket at Tampa Bay Downs worth $9,553. Each $20 share netted $250.

Watching replays in two races and analyzing closing fractions in a turf race brought home the (crunchy) bacon. The win prices for the five races were: $10.40, $7.80, $23.20, $3.40 and $41.60.
  • The group singled #3 Tiz Samurai (the third choice in the betting) in the second leg--even though two other horses in the race had beaten him last time—because a replay showed he had a stumbling start in his previous race and had gotten into a tiring pace duel. With no other real speed in the race, Tiz Samurai wired the field and one of the horses who had beaten him last time, #1 Side Pocket, faded to sixth as the false favourite at 2-1.

  • Similarly, a group member was high on #7 Celebrity Warrior in the third leg because a replay showed the horse was stopped while trying to come up the rail in his last race. He mowed down the field at odds of 10-1.

  • Axiom (19-1) surges past Appreciate (2-1) in final leg of pick-5

    The last leg, a one-mile turf race, was won by a filly, Axiom, who was almost 20-1 despite having the best closing fraction in her previous turf race compared to others in Saturday’s race. You had to be in the Race Book Saturday to experience the wild cheering as she produced the group’s biggest pick-5 payout of any horse in the field. “Axiom stalked two wide, advanced into contention on the turn, loomed at the quarter pole, rallied three wide into the stretch, closed well outside and prevailed late (by ½ length),” says the chart on the race. Sweet!
NOTE: If you want to find out how to calculate closing fractions in turf route races, come to a group session and we’ll show you. This is a MUST if you play turf races.

We’ll discuss the late pick-5 at Tampa and Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 where about $2 million is at stake. And, oh yah, expect greasy fingers. (Bacon!)

Also at 10:30 a.m., concentrating on Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 which will be huge if not won.

*       *       *  

In a slump? Want to make 2018 a banner year?

Join Marshall and Glen for an "improve your skills" workshop next Wednesday

Fan education specialist Marshall Posner asks: “ Has your handicapping flat lined this past year? Are you looking for new ways to improve your handicapping skills? Are you stuck in a losing rut and looking for the perfect slump buster strategies?”

He and Glen Sirkis will hold their first workshop of 2018 to discuss ways for you to make 2018 your best year ever, with particular emphasis on Santa Anita. Bring your laptops.

Assiniboia Downs Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.
Sign up by calling Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0

Participants will be rewarded with the usual perks: 2,500 Player Rewards points and $10 deposited into their HPI account after betting $50 within a week.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”Dolly Parton. Although the rainbow she refers to isn’t the Rainbow 6 variety, the same sentiment pertains to both. Thanks to ASD horse owner David Champion for passing this on.

Rob and I go out on limb

He says Principe Guilherme; I say Catholic Boy

It’s way too early to make a Kentucky Derby prediction but, then again, it doesn’t cost anything to go out on a limb and wouldn’t it be nice to look back and say “I was right way back then!” So that’s where ASD paddock host Rob MacLennan and I are going as we head into a long weekend with three Derby prep races (two on Saturday, one on holiday Monday).

ROB’S CHOICE: Principe Guilherme.
Says Rob: “ Beautiful pedigree, impressive wins, looks like the real deal. And ‘cause picking Bolt D'Oro is no fun.” (Principe won his first two starts handily—a maiden special weight and an optional claimer.)

I’m leaning to Catholic Boy whom I predict, will do an Animal Kingdom because he, like Animal Kingdom (who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby), has shown he can perform well both on turf and on dirt. (Catholic Boy finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and won the 1 1/8 Remsen Stakes Derby prep race on Aqueduct dirt.)

Where are you leaning? The three must-watch prep races this weekend:
  • Saturday: Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct in New York (re-scheduled from Jan. 1)
  • Saturday: Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana
  • Holiday Monday (U.S.): Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Ausbred Trump. No mystery here. The name-givers decided to make it obvious that an Australian bred Trump, a 3-year-old gelding, is racing Down Under. Does the name emanate from the fact that his sire is All American? But his performance in a $20,000 maiden claiming race at Murwillumbah in northeastern Australia recently left something to be desired. He finished last.
  • A HUGE SHOUT-OUT, of course, goes to ASD’s own Rob MacLennan. Even the most jaded player has to agree that an 18.7 per cent ROI (return on investment) for picks he MUST make for every single race as part of his job description is something to trumpet from rooftops. Try it. Even on paper. Pick a winner in every single race for a few weeks from your favourite track and compute your winnings/losses. Consider the fact that even when top ASD players GET TO CHOOSE the 10 horses they play from among dozens and dozens during horseplayer tournaments, not many players even break even.

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to participants in Saturday’s “I won big” workshop who take seriously their role in helping the group be consistent winners. Especially important in the group’s $9,553 pick-up at Tampa this past Saturday was electrician Larry Liebrecht’s noticing that $23 horse, #7 Celebrity Warrior, got into trouble while trying to come up the rail in his previous start, making him a strong contender (and winner) in the third leg of the group’s pick-5. Retired bricklayer John Whitehill can take a bow, too, because his best bet for the pick-5 three Saturdays in a row have won—including the group’s singled horse in the second leg this past Saturday. Will your insight help the group land another biggie? Join us!


WOODBINE TO CONVERT HARNESS TRACK INTO SECOND TURF COURSE: Woodbine’s 1 ½-mile E. P. Taylor turf course is getting company. Seeking to make Woodbine a prime destination for turf racing, Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) has announced it will turn the harness track into another turf track (7f) after harness racing ends in April and moves permanently to “Woodbine at Mohawk” in Campbellville, Ont., 65 kilometres west of Toronto on Hwy 401. “ Our goal is to offer five or six turf races a day,”’ WEG CEO Jim Lawson was quoted as saying. “We’re going to offer $45 million in turf purses in 2019. With the horse supply shortage that faces North America, the key for us to attract horses is to say Woodbine is the home of the turf.” Betting is higher on turf races, too, he said.

In other news, Woodbine has announced that thoroughbred wagering increased by more than seven per cent last year and harness betting (Woodbine and Mohawk) was up almost two per cent. On the employee-rated “Great Places to Work” scale the company scored 71 per cent.

Triple dead heat at Hawthorne Sunday

RARE TRIPLE DEAD HEAT AT HAWTHORNE: Adding an element of drama to Sunday night racing was a rare triple dead heat for win in the tenth race in harness racing at Hawthorne in Chicago. Picky Picky Valor (3-2), Keep the Cash (8-1), and Skyway Jaylo (2-1) all hit the wire together in the open trot race -- preceding, would you believe, a two-horse dead heat for win in race eight with MightyHot Shot and Bestnotlie Hanover. In the triple dead heat, two winners paid $2.20 and the 8-1 horse paid $3.80. It was a crowded Winner’s Circle.

before someone names his horse “Stable Genius” in light of political goings on and the double meaning of “stable.” Who will be first to register the name?


Did you know . . . that Assiniboia Downs came within a whisker of securing Triple Crown winning American Pharoah's halter? The man behind the plan was none other than legendary Downs jockey, Bobby Stewart's brother, the late Garylle Stewart. Bob has the details here.


  • Tomorrow: Oaklawn Park meet begins at 1:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan.13: Two Derby preps – Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds, Jerome at Aqueduct
  • Monday, Jan.15: U.S. holiday  (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) with the Smarty Jones Derby prep race at Oaklawn, a special “I won big” workshop and lots of perks (see top of column) 
  • Thursday, Jan. 25: Horse of the Year revealed at Eclipse Awards banquet at Gulfstream
  • Saturday, Jan. 27: First Player’s Choice tourney of the year; $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream
  • Thursday, Feb. 1: Bookings begin for LIVE RACING -- Mother’s Day brunch and dinner and beyond.

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