Thursday, January 16, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 2 (Issue #721)

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


Take a shot!
Download program pages here for this afternoon's Rainbow pick 6 worth

Post time for the six Gulfstream races is 1:30 p.m.
A ticket with two horses in each race costs just $12.80

(See my analysis below)


Exciting new menu items unveiled today

Baked dip and flat-bread chips. Mm-hmm!
The adventurous Chef Gerardo is at it again. Always looking for new ways to please our palates, the ASD executive chef unveils a new menu today with exciting additions:
  • Baked dip and chips: Warm spinach, artichoke and goat cheese dip served with flat-bread chips
  • Breaded dill pickle spears: Lightly breaded, deep fried pickle spears served with southwest sauce
  • The Wing Thing: 16 different chicken wing offerings including lemon pepper, electric honey, Caribbean dry jerk and “suicide” (please give server next-of-kin contact info when ordering)
  • The “I can’t decide” Sampler Platter: Chicken fingers, breaded dill pickle spears, baked dip and chips, mac and cheese bites and carrot and celery spears with ranch dressing
  • The Prime Burger: 6-ounce burger patty topped with certified Angus prime rib, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese and a light blue cheese mayo, all in a Kaiser bun

And that’s just the yummy beginning. Reserve, too, for Valentine’s dinner and dance Friday, Feb. 14 where Chef Gerardo will unleash his Italian heritage favourites in an Italian-themed buffet. Delizioso!

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Is today your lucky day? Take a shot at $2.5m Rainbow pick-6 to find out
  • You think life is tough? Read "Hard Luck Jockey of the Year" and think again
  • Money talks: Saudis spare no expense, building a turf course for Saudi Cup Day
  • Will Woodbine jockey be first Japanese to win Eclipse Award for top apprentice?
  • So long, Smoky
  • Travers rates new NFL coaches: Who gets an "A"? Who gets "D+"?
“3 FOR THE MONEY” JACKPOT INCREASES TO $75: Predict the winners of the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Gulfstream Saturday to win $75 in wagering vouchers. Look for program pages and entry forms in the Race Book.

 with a draw in the Race Book at 4 p.m. for a chance to pick the ace of diamonds from 43 cards to win $1,000 or pick one of the two jokers for $100 (the other cards are $25). Tickets are $5, three for $10, available until 3:30 p.m. and you’re helping the Winners Foundation.
Click to enlarge.

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

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 8 PM: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge Friday and Saturday. 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.

POOL TABLES, ELECTRONIC DARTS, TAP TV TRIVIA: These are the new games added to Clubhouse fun on the plaza. Pool games are just $1 (insert coins). Tap TV Trivia: Download the free app on your phone to answer 12 questions every 20 minutes to see if you’re better and faster than others. NOTE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY ARE TRIVIA NIGHTS WITH PRIZES! Starts at 7 p.m.


GREEDY CORNER: See all jackpot carryovers here.
Lyle Hewitson BEFORE joining Hong Kong jockey colony
HARD LUCK JOCKEY OF THE YEAR: Lyle Hewitson, 22, was a brilliant rider in South Africa, winning two jockey titles in a row that included 219 wins in his 2018-2019 season before deciding to ply his trade in Hong Kong last September. Uh-oh! He set a record--for most losses in a row--140 of them before finally hitting the Winner’s Circle on Dec. 29. “Hong Kong can be a very difficult place,” said Douglas Whyte, the trainer of Hewitson’s winning horse. Call that the Understatement of the Year.

How to play today's 20-cent Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream
$2.5 million at stake

POCKET CHANGE CAN MAKE YOU RICH: Keep in mind the two South Dakota jewellery business partners who spent $8 on a pick-6 ticket in the 2003 Breeders’ Cup and won $2.7 million. So pocket change CAN make you rich.

Statistics tell us that two of six legs will be won by the favourite so consider taking the morning-line favourite in two races and take just longer-shot horses in the other four legs. That may give you a chance of cashing big by spending little.

Glance through the six races and look for longshots that have a high-percentage jockey/trainer combo (listed under each horse’s past performance lines on the right).


Race 5 (1:30 p.m.): Older maidens on turf. #4 , #6 and #8 are dropping. #5 has best turf closing kick.
Race 6:
Bottom claimer where just about anything can happen. #2, 4, 5, 7, 8 have had a big effort somewhere in their past.
Race 7:
Turf route race so take best closers--#3, 4, 5, 8, 9
Race 8:
Another bottom claimer. #2, 4, 5 seem to have an edge.
Race 9:
$75,000 optional claimer, classiest race of the pick-6. #5 looks best, #6, a claimed horse from Woodbine is making a sneaky big jump in class. This race bothers me a bit. I might take a saver ticket with ALL in this race with keys in other races.
Race 10:
Another maiden turf race. #5 and #9 make a big class drop, #2 is next, #8 at 20-1 could wire the field because she has the highest pace figures.

are indicated in red.
If you took my red plays in races 5, 7, 9 and 10 with all my horses in the other legs your cost would be: 1 x 5 x 1 x 3 x 1 x 2 = 30 divided by 5 = $6. Good luck!

(NOTE: I’ll be in the Race Book at noon if you’re interested in joining in a group ticket.)

Saudi Arabia constructs turf course for big day
$20 million Saudi Cup among eight races worth $29.2 million

Constructing turf course for the big day.
Watch video here.
Money talks. And Saudi Arabia is spending a lot of it to introduce the richest race ever, the $20 million Saudi Cup, to the world of racing on the last day of February. Here’s what’s happening;
  • Besides the $20 million Saudi Cup, there will be seven other races worth $9.2 million
  • Turf specialists were hired to construct the kingdom’s first-ever turf course where three turf races will be held as part of the undercard. WATCH THE TURF COURSE CONSTRUCTION VIDEO HERE.
  • The top three finishers of the Pegasus World Cup Dirt race at Gulfstream a week from this Saturday will be invited to participate in the big day, with all expenses on the road and in Riyadh covered for the horses and horses’ connections including air fare, accommodation, vet bills, etc., etc.
NOMINATIONS: Nominations for the eight races closed nine days ago with 140 horses including McKinzie, Maximum Security and Midnight Bisou--among the biggest names in North American racing.

Because the time in Riyadh is nine hours later than Winnipeg (central) time, expect the races to start in the morning, similar to the Dubai World Cup races--although likely an hour later because Dubai is 10 hours later than central time.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: A quick trick for analyzing maiden races

If you can add 2 + 2 or 3 + 4 or 5 + 3 or whatever, you can quickly get a handle on the contenders in a maiden race (where horses have had at least two starts.) Simply add two numbers together: the position of each horse in his last race and his position at the FIRST CALL of his previous race. (E.g. The horse finished third last time and, in his previous race, was in second place at the first call. The added up number is 3 + 2 = 5.) The horses with the lowest added-up numbers are very live.

Once you’ve done that, examine all horses to see if there are any big class droppers (e.g. a maiden allowance horse dropping into a maiden claimer). That horse(s) is live, too.

One other thing: When you’re adding up the numbers, you may find that the horse ran an unusually bad race the last time out. Put a line through that start and add up the numbers of the two races below the last one.

VOTE FOR “HORSE OF THE YEAR” TO WIN A TRIP TO THE QUEEN’S PLATE: Who’s your pick for Horse of the Year? Bricks and Mortar or Maximum Security or Mitole? Go here to vote and have a chance to win a trip for two to the Queen’s Plate and other prizes.

2-year-old sister has been named Reasonable Cause. Said Sherisse Ziprick at Ziprick Thoroughbreds in Russell, Man. where the filly was bred: “We chose a name that reflects a connection to Danger Pay (her mother) and her challenging journey so far. We have reason. We have cause to believe. The rest is up to her.”

YES, SATURDAY WILL BE “CRUNCH” TIME FOR “BIGGER” BETTING GROUP: To save my bacon from the clamoring testy players in Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group, a bacon treat WILL be offered this Saturday for starting the year right -- with back-to-back wins. Each $20 share last Saturday picked up $47 from Gulfstream’s Rainbow pick-6 and pick-4 that resulted in total winnings of $2,080. The Rainbow, with its likely multi-million carryover, will again be the main discussion track this Saturday with Tampa Bay’s late pick-5 also possibly in play. “Crunch” time is 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza.

Kazushi Kimura
Finalist for Eclipse Award (Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun photo)
WOODBINE’S HOT JAPANESE RIDER A FINALIST FOR ECLIPSE AWARD: This could be a first: A Japanese jockey winning the Eclipse Award as leading apprentice rider in North America in 2019. Woodbine’s Kazushi Kimura, who was third in the jockey standings with 146 wins, is among three apprentice finalists at the 49th annual Eclipse Awards banquet at Gulfstream Park on Thursday, Jan. 23.

Kimura, 20, whose parents run a training centre in Hokkaido, Japan, came to North America to ride--despite the huge purses in Japanese racing (average more than $300,000 per race)--because it is easier to break into the sport in Canada. Kimura is a well-liked aggressive rider. His two rivals for the award are Julio Correa (rider at Laurel, Parx, Aqueduct) and Angel Diaz (now riding at Camarero race track in Puerto Rico).
SAVVY NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Conference championship
  • Chiefs over Titans (Sunday afternoon): The Chiefs were left for dead after the first quarter last week against the Texans and then they proceeded to score 41 points in a row and not look back. Seven straight offensive possessions, seven touchdowns. Even when they were down 24-0 to start you could see Pat Mahomes on the sideline rallying the troops, telling them that the game wasn’t over and he was right.
  • Niners over Packers (Sunday evening): We really could just call this game “The Mutuel Seller Bowl”. My 49ers take on Scott Bruce’s Packers. These two teams played in week 12 and it was a convincing 37-8 victory in favour of San Fran. Having said that, the Packers also haven’t lost a game since then but I do think the Niners have the better team overall, so I am not being biased with my pick here.

PICKS RECORD: Last week: 3 correct out of 4. Overall (since week 3): 37 correct out of 64

  • Mike McCarthy
    Rated “A” to turn around Cowboys’ fortunes
    Mike McCarthy (Cowboys) A: The best veteran coach available, McCarthy is returning to the sideline after taking a year off, taking over for the incumbent clapper, Jason Garrett. McCarthy has the best chance to be successful right away with a team that is loaded with talented players.
  • Matt Rhule (Panthers) B+: Maybe the most sought-after coach, Rhule is coming from the college ranks where he turned around a Baylor program that was disgraced for years by multiple player and coaching scandals. The Panthers aren’t expected a quick turn around as they handed Rhule a seven-year contract which gives him time to make this team contenders again.
  • Ron Rivera (Redskins) B: It’s never easy being in charge of the Redskins but former Panthers Coach Ron Rivera is going to give it a go. He’s got his work cut out for him as the Redskins don’t have a lot of talent on either side of the ball. But his 76-63-1 career coaching record plus a Super Bowl appearance may help right the ship.
  • Joe Judge (Giants) C+: Who? That was my reaction when I heard about this hiring. The former special teams and receiver coach of the Patriots wasn’t on too many radar screens but the Giants are hoping he will bring some of that Patriots winning mentality to an organization that desperately needs it.
  • Kevin Stefanski (Browns) D+: The Browns never get this right, or ANYTHING right for that matter, which is why they are on their 10th head coach since 1999. I expect this to go terribly and the team to be looking for yet another coach in two years. The former Vikings offensive coordinator was actually in the running to be the Browns coach last year but a power struggle was lost and Browns went with the “one and done” Freddie Kitchens instead. Good luck, Kevin. You’ll need it.
*       *       *
Travers vs Scott
Mutuel sellers' teams clash Sunday: Will it be Travers' 49ers or Scott's Packers?

Friendship goes out the window Sunday evening for the two mainstay mutuel sellers in the ASD Clubhouse when Travers Cummings' 49ers clash with Scott Bruce’s Green Bay Packers in the NFC conference final to see which team will play in the Super Bowl.

Aaron Rodgers is one of the best QBs ever to play the game,” says Scott. “He’s won the Super Bowl once and he’s going to do it again. This Jimmy guy has no playoff experience and the 49ers are going down. Packers are going to win 28-24.”

responds Travers who notes why he loves the 49ers under TravyFootball above. His predicted score 24-13.
THE BEST OF BOB: Who was the Gang of Seven? / Smoky passes

What do the following trainers have in common - Jack Robertson, Glen Ball, Bert Blake, Blair Miller, Sandy McPherson, Gilbert Ducharme and Lorna Gray? Bob has the answer here and it might just surprise you? (First published in June, 2014)

SAD NEWS: Ed Pawluk’s Smoky Cinder
is gone.  He lived to see his 26th birthday.  As you know, the grandson of Northern Dancer was a winner of the Canadian Derby and countless stakes races at the Downs.  The “Lord of the Pasture” out at the Pawluks was taken by Father Time last Thursday and Ed & Joyce’s farm just isn’t going to be the same without him. Celebrate Smoky’s life with a re-read of Bob’s narrative here.
Kentucky Derby prep race, Lecomte Stakes, goes Saturday at Fair Grounds
  • This Saturday, Jan. 18: Kentucky Derby prep race: Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds. Sunshine Millions stakes at Gulfstream and Santa Anita
  • Monday, Jan. 20: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the U.S.; major tracks are racing.
  • Friday, Jan. 24: Oaklawn Park meet begins 1:30 p.m. Kentucky Derby prep race: Smarty Jones.
  • Saturday, Jan. 25: Year of the Rat begins on the Chinese calendar. Pegasus World Cup Day at Gulfstream. First Player’s Choice handicapping tourney of the year with A TRIP TO VEGAS as the ultimate prize for Handicapper of the Year.
EVERY THURSDAY: Dig into super-tender certified Angus prime rib buffets with soup, salad bar, pasta station and signature Bourbon Bacon Brownie dessert every Thursday evening from 5 to 8 p.m. in the ambience-rich Terrace Dining Room. Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

Bookings for Mother’s Day brunch and dinner open Monday, Feb. 3. It’s the first day of live racing on Mother's Day. See schedule here.
Remember, Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
in the U.S. with top tracks in play. Aqueduct begins 11:25 a.m.

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