Thursday, January 26, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 3 (Issue #570)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Wanna help guys win big in Vegas tourney?

Hope so! Email your Fri/Sat longshot picks to Insider to forward to them

Help Bill Drew and Roger Jones in $2.5 million tourney

Two ASD players—bus driver Roger Jones and businessman Bill Drew—are in Las Vegas from tomorrow through Sunday competing in the $2.5 million National Thoroughbred Racing Association tournament to which they earned berths.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could help them achieve a good finish?

We can. Many of you will be playing in the Player’s Choice tournament at the Downs Saturday. If you spot a longshot possibility you feel strongly about, why not email your pick to:

and The Insider will forward it to them. Do so as soon as you’ve realized it’s a good play.

Do the same with tomorrow’s races if you’re playing them. I certainly will be doing what I can. Add a few words indicating why you like your pick so much.

Bill and Roger must play 18 races tomorrow and Saturday and if they’re among the top 10 per cent of about 600 players they’ll get to play in the finals Sunday as well. The contest tracks are: Gulfstream, Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Laurel, Oaklawn, Santa Anita and Golden Gate.

Nothing guarantees they will play the picks we send them but, hey, wouldn’t it be nice if a few of our picks helped them win a nice chunk of the prize money? If either wins top prize of $800,000 ( U.S.) and it was your pick that put them over the top, who knows how they might reward you?

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Prize money doubles in ASD monthly tourneys! First tourney goes Saturday
  • California Chrome gets worst post in richest race. Only one horse has won from there.
  • Spectacular $30 million 110-foot horse/dragon statue overlooks Pegasus Cup
  • Gulfstream guarantees $1 million pick-4, $500,000 pick-5 on Pegasus Day
  • Hail to ASD harness players! They were better bettors at half the tracks!
  • Diodoro/Atras continue with 29 per cent wins at Oaklawn

LAST TWO DAYS TO BEAT MONTH-HIGH $105 SHOW PARLAY: So tomorrow night and Saturday night are your final chances to bet a $6 show parlay on five races to (1) get your winnings matched by the Downs if they are the biggest and (2) to win a prime rib buffet for two if your parlay is the highest of the month. The amount to beat is $105.80.

Predict the top five finishers in the correct order to win $50 in betting vouchers, doubled to $100 if you bet your pentafecta (Super Hi-5). Let me guess: Your first two horses will be California Chrome and Arrogate. But in what order?

QX104 � Today's Country

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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.

CELEBRATE VALENTINE’S AT FEB. 9 BUFFET: Chef Michael says the always-delicious Thursday, Feb. 9 prime rib buffet will be “Valentine’s inspired.” Sounds like a place to invite a special person. Reserve at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE WAGER THIS WEEKEND! Having an opinion now on what horse will win the Kentucky Derby and who will finish second could make you a lot of money. Consult the stars, ask the Ouija board and draw on your psychic powers to make a Kentucky Derby future wager on a field of 24 entries you can see here. Note Classic Empire, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, is the early favourite at 5/1. Make your bets—win or exactors--from Friday to Sunday.


Let's hear it for Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach

He's holding the richest race in the world overlooked by a 462-ton Pegasus

$30 million Pegaus vs dragon statue

You gotta hand it to Canadian billionaire and U.S. race track owner Frank Stronach. To glamourize and dramatize Gulfstream Park, he spent $30 million building a 110-foot tall 462-ton bronze Pegasus subduing a 242-ton bronze dragon. And this Saturday his track is holding the richest race in the world, the $12 million Pegasus World Cup, which required each of the entrants to pony up a $1 million entry fee.

Grandstand seats at $180 to $225 sold out and so did seats in the Ten Palms Restaurant ($550-$765). Christine Lee’s Restaurant ($500), the Breezeway Bar ($175) and the Corona Beach House ($250). If you just want to get on the grounds, it will cost you $100 (all prices U.S.)

Lucky for Stronach, though, he has two titans in his big race. Everyone wants to see two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome make his last start before he heads to the breeding shed and to see whether 4-year-old, Arrogate can beat him again, as he did in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Chrome's morning line is 6/5 and Arrogate is 7/5.

There’s intrigue, too. California Chrome has post position 12, the worst post position in a 1 1/8-mile race at Gulfstream. Only one horse has won from out there since the remodelled track opened in 2006. Who? See “Did you know that . . .”

Should be a good one. See the program page here. Be sure to enter the Pegasus Pentafecta contest at the Downs and predict the top five finishers. Note the 10:30 a.m. post time for the first race.

Only Big Brown has won from post 12

Did you know . . . the ONLY horse to have won from post 12 in a 1 1/8 mile race at Gulfstream since 2006—the post position of California Chrome in this Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup--was Big Brown in the 2008 Florida Derby? Chrome will have to do pretty much what Big Brown did—which was setting a very quick opening quarter of :22.76. Watch Big Brown’s race here.


Tournament prize money doubles!

Sign up for first Player's Choice tourney this Saturday

There’s good news for monthly tournament players: Prize money has increased from $850 to $1,750 with this distribution. Top prize is $1,000, second-place $400, third $200, fourth $100 and fifth $50.

For contest purposes, there will also be a cap on payoffs similar to the cap in Las Vegas contests: $42 for a win, $22 for place. Of course, players will still pocket the full payoff when they cash tickets they bet on those horses.

There is new prizing for the Handicapper of the Year at the end of the year, too. There will be cash payouts of $3,500 with $1,500 to the winner, $750 for second, $550 for third, $300 for fourth, $150 for fifth and $50 to those finishing sixth to tenth.

Complementary lunches and Player Rewards points have been discontinued as their value has been added to the prize money.

Have you signed up for this weekend’s tournament? Same entry fee: $25. Deadline is tomorrow at 9 p.m. Late entry by Saturday at noon is $35. Same contest rules as before: Bet $2 win/place of your money on 10 horses at any thoroughbred tracks from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday (but you may bet the Pegasus World Cup that goes at 4:40 p.m.). Good luck!


Harness players, take a bow!

You were very smart bettors in December

How interesting is this? While ASD players were mostly spinning their wheels playing thoroughbred tracks in December, harness players were better bettors at half the tracks they played (11 of 21)!

In fact, even Woodbine Entertainment owed money to the Downs in December to pay for the success of ASD bettors playing Woodbine harness. This is a rarity. (As an example, The Insider had written about a trio of players who picked up $4,800 in Woodbine’s Jackpot Hi 5 just before Christmas.)

The better bettor harness tracks were Woodbine, Rosecroft, Harrah’s Philly, Plainridge, Cal Expo, Yonkers, Dover, Northlands, Western Fair, Flamboro and Fraser. Northfield was close.

On the thoroughbred side, Santa Anita was a standout but other thoroughbred tracks were below most harness tracks with these showing the most success: Turf Paradise, Delta, Penn National, Laurel and Portland followed by Tampa and Gulfstream. Players were least successful playing Del Mar.

ASD player spreads out winnings on coffee table

The December stats certainly are curious. This is the only month that has weighed so heavily in favour of harness success. Any ideas on why this is the case? Email opinions to

(When I solicited a comment from a player, he sent me the picture of his winnings showing that December and January last year were his BEST months of the year. He said he won almost $30,000 playing pick-4s and pick-5s at Turfway, Tampa and Gulfstream.) Yeh, I know. The picture induces drooling.


DIODORO/ATRAS BAG TWO WINS AT OAKLAWN: Former Manitoba trainer Rob Atras entered seven horses from Thursday to Sunday at Oaklawn Park for his boss, Robertino Diodoro, and came away with two wins, retaining his consistency of posting one win for every three starts. His current winning percentage from 21 starts is 29 per cent. He won Saturday with Mishegas in race 5 which paid $7 and $4.20. And on Sunday with Four Left Feet in race 6 paying $4 and $3.50. He also chalked up a second on Thursday and a third on Friday.

(Post time 1:30 p.m.): Today: Race 1 -- #7 Desert Thief (4/1); race 8 -- #2 Candy Ruby (6/1). Tomorrow: Race 7 -- #7 King of New York.

WHY OAKLAWN HAS TWO "SHOW" PAYOUTS FOR EACH HORSE: You may have noticed on TVs that payoffs at Oaklawn Park display two prices for show bets. What’s that about? The second (and higher) show price is for on-track bettors only and is meant as a financial incentive for newbies to get rolling into racing by betting show. The way it works is that when patrons at Oaklawn bet “show,” the track’s takeout is lower (10 per cent) than for off-track wagers  (17 per cent) and therefore the payoff is higher. Interesting. I’m sure more than newbies are taking advantage of the wager.

Rain at Santa Saturday; Sunday races cancelled

SANTA, LOS ALAMITOS CANCEL RACES BECAUSE OF RAIN: It’s fun for people in places with weather extremes (such as Winnipeg) to watch what happens in other places that are not used to it. Toronto will forever be the butt of jokes for calling out the army when it snowed there in January,1999 (watch the video with sarcastically dramatic music here) and Santa Anita and Los Alamitos decided last Sunday that a rain-drenched track was no surface for a horse to be racing on.

That brings to mind the fact (a “real” fact, not an “alternative” fact) that Assiniboia Downs raced without fail for 19 years (1958-77) before a race was cancelled on July 6, 1977, because rain the previous day had turned the track into a sticky quagmire. Can you image how really, really, really bad it must have been on that day to merit the first cancellation in track history?

SMART PLAY BY "I WON BIG" GROUP: Last Saturday’s “I won big” group did the right thing. They gave themselves a chance for a big score in Tampa’s pick-5 but, if favourites won, also gave themselves the opportunity for getting most of their investment back. That’s what happened. All favs won pick-5 races but a $5 pick-4 gave them a two-thirds return on their investment. Tampa play on the last five races will continue this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. but the group is encouraged to look at Gulfstream’s late pick-4, too, because the inaugural Pegasus World Cup will be featured and there’s a $1 million guaranteed pool.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

Today Bob recalls a horseman whose life was probably typical of many back in the early days of racing. His was a life of hard work with a small stable of local-breds who seldom found the winner's circle. But horse racing was his life and "happily ever after" endings aren't always in the cards. Who was this extraordinarily ordinary horseman? Click here.

Hope the Year of the Rooster that starts Saturday
on the Chinese calendar gives you something to crow about!

Don't forget about Bill and Roger when you're handicapping!

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