Thursday, January 21, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 2 (Issue #773)

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.


PEGASUS WEEKEND BETTING BONUS! Get a 3 per cent cash-back bonus up to $50 (deposited into your HPI account) this Friday to Sunday in wagering that exceeds $1,000. Maximum bonus $50. Does not include $2.10 payoffs. This is in addition to the regular bonus program.


Convert your points to cash! and Assiniboia Downs are pleased to announce that as of February 1, 2021, ASD is joining the HPI rewards and bonus program!  Some of the many new exciting features include:
  • Earn points that can be converted to CASH yourself or automatically – any time!
  • Earn cash back bonuses which will be automatically deposited into your account
  • Check your rewards status for points and cash back opportunities on
  • One account card now covers all betting – online, on track and at OTBs
This new program will replace the current ASD Player Rewards and bonus programs as of February 1, 2021. All rewards and cash bonuses will now be earned exclusively through the new HPIbet cards.  You will automatically receive a new HPIbet account card in the mail in the coming weeks.  Please double check that your correct address is in the HPIbet system. If your account is set to Do Not Contact, you will need to contact ASD for alternate card delivery arrangements.

Note that points remaining on your present Player Rewards card must be used before June 30, 2021. Points can be used to purchase program and DRF on the kiosks and for food and beverage purchases.


Bullet briefs . . .

  • Will front-runners dominate Oaklawn's opening day tomorrow as they did last year?
  • This horse shoots for Pegasus after racing at nine tracks with nine different jockeys
  • Got a hunch? Bet a bunch. It's Kentucky Derby Future Wager time this weekend
  • Will the Mystery of the Year continue this year? Trainers hope not.
  • How is trainer Don Schnell doing after Escape Clause's departure?
TIME IS RUNNING OUT! 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. Entry deadline is Jan. 25.
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.


Will front-runners dominate as they did last year?
Five of nine races on opening day last year were won gate-to-wire

Oaklawn begins tomorrow; will early speed carry the day?
Want a leg up on betting Oaklawn Park tomorrow, the first day of the Arkansas track’s 2021 meet?

Using last year’s opening day results as a guide, WATCH FOR FRONT-RUNNERS. Five of nine races were won by horses that went to the lead. They paid anywhere from $6 to $26.60. See the results of the nine races below.

Was there a trainer angle for opening day? Two trainers won two races: Thomas Amoss and Ingrid Mason. The longest shot, $35.60, was a Robertino Diodoro trainee shipped in from Zia Park.

Race 1
-- Came from Hawthorne--off the pace--paid $31.60--trainer Ingrid Mason
Race 2
-- Came from Hawthorne--wired field--$7.80--trainer Ingrid Mason
Race 3
-- Came from Del Mar--close to pace--$5.60--trainer John Sadler
Race 4
-- Came from Aqueduct--close to pace--$16.60--trainer Jeremiah Englehart
Race 5
-- Came from Fair Grounds--wired field--$6.00--trainer Thomas Amoss
Race 6
-- Came from Fair Grounds--wired field--$9.20--trainer Bret Calhoun
Race 7
-- Came from Zia--from mid-pack--$35.60--trainer Robertino Diodoro
Race 8
-- Came from Fair Grounds--wired field--$22.80--trainer Thomas Amoss
Race 9
-- Came from Canterbury--wired field--$26.60--McLean Robertson

The $1 pick-4 on the last four races paid $22K. The $1 pick-5 on the last five races--WITH FOUR LEGS WON BY FRONT-RUNNERS-- paid $72K.

The leading trainer at Oaklawn last year was Robertino Diodoro with 52 wins followed closely by Steven Asmussen with 49. On the jockey side, Ricardo Santana Jr. dominated with 61 wins but, with limited starts (45), Joel Rosario had a huge 38 per cent win rate. Watch out when he’s riding!

*       *       *
KENTUCKY DERBY PREP RACE AT OAKLAWN: The Smarty Jones runs tomorrow. It’s one of four Derby preps scheduled for Oaklawn’s 57-day meet including the $750K Southwest Stakes, the $1 million Rebel and the $1 million Arkansas Derby.

Don Schnell
44% wins at Turf Paradise
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Don Schnell who is proving there IS life after training Manitoba’s greatest race horse of all time, Escape Clause. His horses are now burning up the track at Turf Paradise. In nine starts since the meet began on Jan. 4 Schnell has won four races, a win rate of 44 per cent. He’s also had two seconds and a third.

His wins included three maiden claimers and his highest win price was $18.80. If you bet each of his horses to win at a cost of $18, you would have collected $33.40. Turf Paradise races Monday to Friday at 1:40 p.m.
PEGASUS WORLD CUP DAY -- Saturday at Gulfstream

“Who is Sleepy Eyes Todd, Alex.”

Love the name, love the horse
Sleepy EyesTodd criss-crossed the U.S.; now he eyes Pegasus . . .

Sleepy Eyes Todd winning Charles Town Classic with 119 E speed (Coady photo)
How could you not love Sleepy Eyes Todd in this Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream?

Not just for his name. But the fact he raced in nine stakes races at nine different tracks over the past year--all with different jockeys. The tracks were (in order) Remington, Sam Houston, Fair Grounds, Fonner Park, Lone Star, Charles Town, Santa Anita, Keeneland and Gulfstream.

The 4-year-old son of Paddy O’Prado won five of those races--at Gulfstream, Keeneland, Charles Town, Fonner and Remington. Nine different tracks with nine different jockeys. Sounds like that could be a record of some kind.

“He keeps getting better and better,”
said trainer Miguel Silva. And the colt obviously doesn’t mind--or maybe enjoys--being hauled all over the place. Silva, who’s been training since 2009, conditions 60 horses, none better than Sleepy Eyes Todd.

To win the Pegasus, Sleepy Eyes Todd will have to run back to his best performance--an Equibase speed rating of 119 he posted in the Grace 2 Charles Town Classic. His last race--which he won with a 109 E speed figure--came at Gulfstream in December when he beat 11 rivals in the Grade 3 Prospector Stakes.

No surprise
Life Is Good is installed the 6-1 favourite to win the Kentucky Derby

If you live in Canada, tomorrow through Sunday is your first chance to dabble in the Future Wager Pool for Kentucky Derby #147.

It’s an opportunity to bet a horse at long odds that might win the Kentucky Derby at short odds. You may also bet exactors. It’s no surprise that Life Is Good is the early Derby favourite, listed at 6-1 among the 24 betting interests. His Equibase speed rating of 112 puts him well ahead of other colts who have been racing in Kentucky Derby prep races. Essential Quality, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is next with a “morning line” of 8-1. His E speed tops out at 103.

I like Medina Spirit at 12-1. He finished second to Life Is Good in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita and it appears he may appreciate a longer race. Both he and Life Is Good are Bob Baffert trainees.


MYSTERY OF THE YEAR: Included in any list of headline events in the racing world for 2020 should be the mystery of horses testing positive for capsaicin, a compound of chili peppers. Dozens of horses across Canada (three at Assiniboia Downs) tested positive for the banned substance last year and no one could figure out how horses were exposed to it. (Capsaicin is regarded as a performance-enhancer.) Owners of the three horses who tested positive at ASD had to forfeit purse money. What will the new year bring?
Savvy football picks by TravyFootball: Conference finals

So it’s down to the final four teams Sunday in the chase for the Lombardi Trophy. Buffalo didn’t even have to play that great to beat Baltimore, stand-in quarterback Chad Henne saved the day for the Chiefs against the Browns, the third time WAS the charm for Tom Brady as he sent Drew Brees into retirement--and Green Bay showed that the number one offense was far superior to the number one defense.

Packers over Bucs 28-21:
For the first time in his 15-year career, Aaron Rodgers will be able to play the NFC championship game at Lambeau Field. These two teams played earlier in the regular season with the Bucs winning 38-10, but the Packers have come a long way since then and are much improved. Last week, Rodgers put on another clinic against the Rams’ top-ranked defense, throwing for 296 yards and two touchdowns. He was also helped by soon-to-be free agent Aaron Jones who rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown. I don’t expect this game to resemble the previous meeting at all. 

Chiefs over Bills 31-28*:
I put an asterisk beside the score because at the time of writing, Pat Mahomes hasn’t been cleared to play as he’s still in concussion protocol. The football world held its collective breath after seeing Mahomes wobbly-legged and disoriented after taking a relatively standard hit from Browns linebacker Mack Wilson. When it appeared the Browns would take the momentum after Mahomes’ departure, 15-year veteran Chad Henne and gutsy play-calling by coach Andy Reid saved the day for the Chiefs. Will Mahomes be calling signals this Sunday? That will be widely debated but here’s what has to happen for him to be cleared to play.

The good, the bad and the ugly of the past football season. (The Super Bowl takes place on the following Sunday.)
THE BEST OF BOB by Bob Gates: Did you know Man o' War's great grandson raced at ASD?

Did you know that in the 1960s the Downs had its own Mr. Ed? The horse was owned by the "House," Jack and Yvette Hardy and was a great-grandson of Man o' War. Click here for more on this old campaigner from Murray Howell, Carl Anderson and Doc Elder. (First published in August 2018.)
Heartbreaker: Smarty Jones loses to Birdstone in 2004 Belmont Stakes; prep race at Oaklawn tomorrow named for Smarty Jones (Stan Honda/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)
  • Tomorrow: Oaklawn Park meet begins with the Kentucky Derby prep race, Smarty Jones.
  • This Saturday: Two Pegasus World Cup races at Gulfstream ($3 million dirt, $1 million turf)
  • Friday, Jan. 29: 50th Eclipse Awards presentation virtually from Lexington, Kentucky.
  • Saturday, Jan.30: First Player’s Choice tournament of the year; two Kentucky Derby prep races: Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, Holy Bull at Gulfstream
  • Saturday, Feb. 6: THREE Kentucky Derby prep races: Withers at Aqueduct, Sam F. Davis at Tampa and (new prep race) John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park.
  • Friday, Feb. 12: Chinese New Year, the year of the ox
  • Saturday, Feb. 13: Derby prep--El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate
  • Holiday Monday, Feb. 15: Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, President’s Day in the U.S. Derby prep race: Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
How many front-runners will win at Oaklawn Park tomorrow?

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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