Thursday, January 19, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 2 (Issue #569)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Eight years after General Wolfe died on the "Heights" of Abraham in 1759, a horse race was held there. (James Barry oil painting 1775)

It's the 250th anniversary of racing in Canada!

First advertised race was held on the Plains of Abraham in 1767

Plains of Abraham in Quebec City today

Whew! Talk about all the milestones that are being marked this year. Now we discover that 2017 is the 250th anniversary of horse racing in Canada and the federal government is planning to recognize this in its July 1 Canada Day celebrations.

So, in case you lost count, 2017 is the . . .

  • 60th season of live racing at Assiniboia Downs
  • 250th anniversary of horse racing in Canada
  • 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation
  • 50th anniversary of the Canada Summer Games (to be held in Winnipeg)
  • 100th anniversary of the NHL
  • 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl

SO WHERE WAS THE FIRST RACE? On the Plains of Abraham (then called the “Heights of Abraham”) in Quebec in 1767, eight years after General Wolfe, leader of the Brits, and Montcalm, leader of the French, died in a famous battle that was won by the British. Captain Prescott riding a mare by the name of Modesty won the race and a purse of $40.

Racing continued to grow at that location and regular meets were held at the turn of the century. Read the government's description of the early growth of racing here. There will be a test.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • A 14/1 Atras horse at Oaklawn sets up $1,035 exactor. Did you have it?
  • Diodoro/Atras have two entries today at Oaklawn. First post 1:30 p.m.
  • Mr. Parlay heads to Mexico as a new parlay star emerges
  • Two ASD players earn berth in Vegas tourney where $800,000 is top prize
  • Why was a player shell-shocked on Monday?
  • Playing Tampa? See two insights below. Think Hawthorne and think Peck.

MOVE OVER, MR. PARLAY! A NEW PLAYER RINGS UP $105 AND GETS $100 BONUS: So congrats to businessman Dan Debreuil who found out that playing a show parlay for a mere $6 makes great business sense because he not only won $105.80 in the five-race parlay at Woodbine harness Saturday night, he also gets a handsome $100 from the Downs for accumulating the biggest parlay of the night.  And, what's more, if that amount holds up as the biggest of the month, he will receive a prime rib buffet for two.  

Dan Debreuil: New parlay star

That would break the three-month winning streak of Al "Mr. Parlay" Ilott who won't be playing a parlay tomorrow or Saturday because he'll be in Mexico courtesy of WestJet Vacations and Charleswood Travel for having won the Winnipeg Sun "Place in the Sun " place parlay contest during live racing last summer. What about you?  Ready to argue the point?  Play your show parlays tomorrow and Saturday night after 7 p.m.

DAN'S PLAYS: Dan's five show parlay plays starting in race 5 at Woodbine: (Race 5) $6 to show on #4—$7.20. (Race 6) $7 show on #8--$19.95. (Race 7) $19 show on #4--$37. (Race 8) $37 show on #2--$46.25. (Race 9) $46 show on #1--$105.80.

QX104 � Today's Country

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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? 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.

GET 5-TIMES PLAYER REWARDS MONDAYS AND TUESDAYS: Be sure to use your Player Rewards card Mondays and Tuesdays to benefit from FIVE TIMES the usual points on all your wagers both days. Click here for the simulcast schedule showing you Monday and Tuesday tracks.

FIRST TOURNEY GOES ON PEGASUS WORLD CUP DAY: Ready to get into the hunt to become Handicapper of the Year for this momentous year, 2017? The first Player's Choice tournament will be held on Saturday, Jan. 28, the day of the richest race in the world – the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream. It's also the first day of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rooster. (Will that figure into a hunch play?)

ECLIPSE AWARDS BROADCAST SATURDAY NIGHT: Go to the Daily Racing Form website,, Saturday night at 7 p.m. CST to watch live streaming of the 46th annual Eclipse Awards. Who will be crowned Horse of the Year?

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Woodacudashuda, a 3-year-old gelding pacing at Woodbine. He could be the mascot representing every (whining) horseplayer, right?


Diodoro/Atras horses bag four wins in 12 races

14/1 winner sets up a $1,035 exactor payoff

Rob Atras
In the Winner's Circle every day

Last week's Insider gave you heads up on Diodoro/Atras horses racing in the opening days of Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. And Rob Atras, the Manitoba native who conditions horses there for Robertino Diodoro and has been the leading percentage trainer there for two years, didn't let us down.

He had entries in 12 races from Friday to Monday and had a winner each day. And two horses finished second. The biggest winner was a $30 horse in the last race Monday, Lamu, that combined with a 48/1 horse for a $2 exactor paying $1,035.

Wheeling Lamu first and second for $1 would have cost $22 for a return of $517. An ASD player capitalized on a 9/2 Atras horse on Saturday, Smokin Now, using him on the bottom of a pick-3 that paid $628 for $1.

Race 5: Half Dome Dude won and paid $6.40 and $4.80
Race 8: Inside Straight, last year's Manitoba Derby winner, finished third at 5/1 in a $125,000 stakes

Race 1: Trust Your Gut ( 9/2) out of the money
Race 5: Malibu Tide (13/1) and True Ten (7/1) – both out of the money
Race 9: Smokin Now won and paid $11.40 and $6.60. Anchored a pick-4 that paid $6,000 for $1 and a pick-3 (that at least one ASD player capitalized on) that paid $628 for $1.

Race 2: Jet Over won and paid $4.60 and $3.40
Race 3: Rojak finished second at 2/1 and paid $4.80
Race 4: Or Sunday (9/2) finished out of the money
Race 8: Tanner's Popsicle ( 3/1) out of the money

Race 1: Big Tire (8/5) out of the money
Race 6: Double Ours (3/1) finished second and paid $4
Race 9: Lamu 14/1 won and paid $30.80 and $14. Exactor paid $1,035; 20-cent super paid $4,440

Today: Race 6 #8 Larissa's Love (10/1) and Race 7 #7 Atlantic Slew ( 5/2).
Tomorrow (Friday): Race 1 #6 Nxt Stop Fort Erie and Race 2 #1 Elijah.


They're shooting for $800,000

Two ASD players get to compete in $2.5 million Vegas tourney next week

Bill Drew, Roger Jones shoot for big bucks in Vegas

Channel positive vibes their way! By virtue of skilled play last year, two ASD players, bus driver Roger Jones and businessman Bill Drew, have won expense-paid berths in the invitation-only $2.5 million National Thoroughbred Racing Association tournament in Las Vegas next week. Top prize is $800,000 (U.S.)

Drew won a berth for being among the top 150 handicappers in North America (he placed 106th) and Jones got to compete after placing among the top five players in an online handicapping contest. This will be Drew's second consecutive year of earning a berth.

What did Drew learn from last year's experience and what's his strategy?
“I'm going to do a couple of things differently. First thing is to be better organized with a game plan. It is a really busy event and you need to bet 18 races a day. So I think you need to have some idea of what chances you may have in later races. I think it is important to pick the right optional races and then have a few back-up races in case you need them.  I'm also going to be much less conservative. You have to take some shots. It does not work to play safe. That was my biggest mistake last year. It will be great to have Roger there, too. We can help each other out.” 

And what is Roger's strategy?
“Number one strategy is looking for vulnerable favourites. Preferably at tracks other than Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. Then look for horses I like at a price. Then trainer plays or strong replay horses. Will start handicapping Friday races on Tuesday or Wednesday. Then switch to Saturday on Thursday. Try to have a good idea which races are playable. Make a colour-coded chart for possible plays based on such things as field size, favourites' chances, etc.” 

It's a three-day tournament, with all players (about 600) playing on Friday and Saturday and then the top 10 per cent continuing into Sunday playoffs.


SELMAN ABLE TO DRIVE A CAR; IS A HORSE NEXT? CBC-TV produced a segment showing paralyzed jockey Alyssa Selman driving a car with hand controls and talking about riding a horse again. See the CBC piece here.

"UNCONTESTED" AN EASY WINNER IN SMARTY JONES: It was a walk in the park (actually in the slop) for Uncontested who went to the lead in the Smarty Jones Kentucky Derby prep race at Oaklawn Monday and didn't look back. The Tiz Wonderful colt, trained by Wayne Catalano and ridden by Channing Hill, paid $4.40 and set an Equibase speed figure of 106, 11 points below the fastest 3-year-old, Classic Empire. Next in view: the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds Saturday.

WORST BEAT OF THE MONTH (YEAR?): Everyone in the Race Book on Monday was pulling for a retired police officer who was holding a $100 win ticket on #3 Tale of Preseli at odds of 21/1 at Gulfstream and for his $2 triactor that had a 30/1 horse in second place. He stood to make $10,000 or more except he had to survive an enquiry that showed his horse coming over on #7 and #7 having to check. It didn't look good—and it wasn't. His horse was set down and the resulting triactor paid $9,485 and that was with a 3/1 horse in second place.

Shell-shocked, he asked me whether I had ever suffered a similar bad beat. As a matter of fact, yes, I told him. In the early days of ASD common-pooling with Santa Anita, I was collecting a $9,500 superfecta payout but waited and waited to collect my winnings only to find out that bets from ASD and some other tracks had somehow not gotten co-mingled in the Santa pool so all I got back was the $75 I had spent on my tickets. You never really get over those setbacks.

QUIRKY OCTOPUS USED IN CHILDHOOD CANCER FIGHT: What an odd name, I thought, for an Australian race: Ollee the Golden Octopus. But an online investigation showed it was more serious than quirky: it's a foundation Down Under to fight eight groups of childhood cancers (represented by eight arms of the octopus) and Ollee is the cartoon figure associated with fund-raising efforts. It's interesting to see how Australian customs are quite different from those in North America.

DID "I WON BIG" BET PICK-5 TOO EARLY? Not waiting until just before the running of the first leg of the pick-5 at Tampa last Saturday might have cost the “I won big” group the pick-5 that paid $3,500 for $1. Why? Because clues to the ultimate winner, Awalkinthemoonlite at 11/1, might have been gleaned from early wagering on the race or from double and pick-3 probable payoffs. Last year, for example, a 22/1 horse was added to leg one of tickets because there was suspicious early money on that longshot. So this week's lesson is to prepare picks close to post time of the pick-5 even though players prefer to find out the picks as quickly as possible. This Saturday's 10:30 a.m. session on the last five races at Tampa—which everyone is invited to attend—begins with players sharing in a small pick-4 pick-up from last week.

Kenny Peck: Valuable picks

HERE ARE TWO OTHER HELPFUL INSIGHTS from last Saturday's plays: (1) Horses who show some ability on Hawthorne turf are very live at Tampa. (2) Also, look carefully at the picks of DRF handicapper Kenny Peck. He's a top level tournament player so obviously knows his stuff. (Incidentally, the 11/1 horse the “I won big” group missed in the first leg of the pick-5 was his selection to finish second.)

SAD DAY AT K5 STABLES: Leona Stahl, manager of K 5 Stables, posted this sad note on Facebook: “Sad day here at K-5 Stable. Primary Factor (Chopper) had to be put down. Monday Jan 16.2017. 2013 to 2017. Rest in peace big boy. Run high in the sky.” Primary Factor (6-2-1-0) had been purchased by the late Phil Kives to be a factor in the Manitoba Derby. He won the Derby prep, the Harry Jeffrey at 19/1, but had to be scratched from the Derby.

SHOULD THEY HAVE ENDED THIS PARLAY? The Downs loves parlays and players who have the stomach to keep their parlays going rather than cashing in. Which is why this story about two guys running a parlay on the Green Bay Packers is an interesting read. What would you do?

HPIBET Marshall Posner

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. What's the best way to play exactas? Hint: Boxing is the LEAST EFFICIENT!

A. There’s no shortage of different exacta strategies but here’s one for you to consider. Most bettors simply box their favourite horses -- which happens to be the least efficient. It means you think all horses have the same chance of winning.

More effective is a WHEEL keying horses on top you feel have a better chance of winning. It could allow you to get a $2 exacta compared to only a $1 one spending what a box would cost.

Another option is to consider playing WEIGHTED exactas where you bet a different amount for different combinations. For example, I could bet $3 on my favourite combination, $2 on my second favourite combination and $1 on my least favourite combo. This is actually the most efficient way to play exactas but it requires you do your homework by checking the exacta payoffs to determine value.

HPIbet lets you check prices easily by clicking on the PROBABLES & WILL PAYS tab found in the middle of any track screen (view image here). You can use the horse name on the left aligned with the number on the right to determine how much your exacta is currently paying. Remember that fluctuations occur so be sure to check back close to post time.

Got a question for Marshall? Email

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

Who knew? The founder of Assiniboia Downs, Jack Hardy, was once a POW! This week Bob takes a closer look at the quiet man who met all challenges and built the Downs at a time when the future of horse racing in Manitoba was bleak. Read about it here.

Will Rob continue to win a race a day at Oaklawn Park?

Uh-oh, tomorrow's the day a certain person
will be taking the presidential oath!

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