Thursday, January 30, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 4 (Issue #723)

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 that!
Longshot Les silences skeptics, crushes opponents in Saturday tourney

Les “Longshot” Buzzell had a response on the weekend for those of you who wondered why he couldn’t win a handicapping tournament if, as reported in several Insider stories, he was so good at picking longshots and was betting up to $200 on them.

On Saturday, the railway signals company owner not only won the first Player’s Choice tourney of the year; he crushed. His bankroll was a mighty $145.10, a whopping $54.20 ahead of runner-up Trevor Tilston-Jones. And, if you think Buzzell just takes stabs in the dark, look at his reasoning behind his plays. Note one pick came in a quarter horse race.
  • LAUREL PARK RACE 6: #3 Postino’s Secret (morning line 8-1). Pays $34.50, $7.80, $3.60. “I noticed the horse finished second in his last race after the jockey lost his whip 100 yards from the wire. If he hangs on to the whip, he wins. Which he did!”
  • LAUREL PARK RACE 8: #2 Unequivocal (morning line 8-1). Pays $19.40, $7.80, $3.80. “Rider had to check on the turn for home in his previous race and finished fourth and he is a speed horse. I figured if he got the lead, he would have no reason to check. Got the lead and never looked back.”
  • SUNLAND PARK RACE 2: #10 Rum Running Ode (morning line 8-1). Pays $20.20, $11.80, $6.20. “This was a 400-yard dash. In the previous race he was in the 6 hole and got squeezed at the beginning and lost all chance. This time he is in post 10 where it’s hard to get squeezed. Wins by a half length.”
  • PARX RACE 10: #5 Belly Dancer (morning line 12-1; went off at 28-1). “Belly Dancer did not win but came second, paying $20 to place and $9 to show. Last three races he was gaining between the quarter pole and half-mile pole. Took a chance that he would do better this time. He was dead last in the last turn but came on like a freight train and finished second.”
Congrats to the top five (out of a field of 32) who shared $1,750:
  1. Les Buzzell $146.10 bankroll. Receives $1,000 and 51 points towards year-end HOTY
  2. Trevor Tilston-Jones $91.90. Receives $400 and 45 points towards HOTY
  3. Roger Jones $79.10. Receives $200 and 43 points towards HOTY
  4. Barry Mymko  $75.90. Receives $100 and 40 points towards HOTY
  5. Manuel Medeiros  $67.20. Receives $50 and 39 points towards HOTY

*       *       *
CRAZY LUCK: If you wonder where Lady Luck is, she’s following Les “Longshot” Buzzell around, most recently to Club Regent Casino last Friday where Les was buying a Daily Racing Form for Saturday’s races (where he won the tournament above). “While I was buying the Form, I noticed the first race at Turfway Park was about to go so I figured I’d bet a horse with a name that caught my eye. It was Sweaty Betty. I put $50 on her.”

Do I have to tell you what happened? Sweaty Betty won--at odds of 45-1. (He showed me the cash voucher the next day.) Ho-hum. From previous stories in The Insider, you know this happens regularly to the luckiest person I know. He should manufacture and sell Lucky Les charms; there would be a stampede to buy one. (Watch Sweaty Betty’s race here.)

Bullet briefs . . .

  • "Blind" horse wins 26 races
  • Manitoba Jockey Club president to be honoured with special Sovereign Award
  • What was "the moment of the year?"
  • Blinded by riches: Was the pick-4 the better play on mandatory pick-6 payout day Sunday?
  • Derby prep thrills go Saturday at three major tracks: Aqueduct, Gulfstream and Satna Anita
$125 AT STAKE IN “3 FOR THE MONEY” GAME SATURDAY if you pick the first three winners of the late pick-4 at Aqueduct where the Kentucky Derby prep race, the Withers, will be featured. Program pages and entry ballots available in the Race Book.

with more than $1,100 available if you pick the Ace of Diamonds and $100 for each of two jokers ($5 per ticket, three for $10). Buy tickets before 3:30 p.m.; draw at 4 p.m. And remember, your ticket purchase is helping the Winners Foundation.

Each day you’re at a staffed OTB venue, enter the draw for 10,000 Player Rewards points ($50 value) which will be made Saturday afternoon.
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? 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.

MAKE VALENTINE’S DAY MEMORABLE in the main floor ballroom Friday, Feb. 14. See the Italian-inspired menu created by Chef Gerardo here. Call Samantha for tickets at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.


GREEDY CORNER: See all jackpot carryovers here.

Blinded by riches
Betting group should have pursued pick-4 more than $10 million Rainbow pick-6

Blinded by riches, players ignore better opportunities
The prospect of big money is seductive. We see dollar signs and imagine luxury. Problem is, pursuing big money isn’t always the best money-making strategy.

Take Sunday’s mandatory payout of Gulfstream’s Rainbow pick-6 with a pool of more than $10 million. A $1 pick-4 in the last four races paid $4,856 while a seemingly much trickier 20-cent Rainbow pick-6 paid $11,600.

Where was the value? The “I won bigger” betting group could have nailed the pick-4 for about $600 while it spent $1,800 missing two legs of the pick-6. Constructing the pick-6 ticket began something like this: “We need all horses in the first leg and likely all horses in the second leg. And we need almost all in the third leg.”

Duh! Well, that’s what happens when many players offer good reasons for adding more horses to the ticket.

If there was a lesson to be gleaned on Sunday’s mandatory payout day it is to rub the dollar signs from our eyes and consider other kinds of bets and maybe even at other tracks. One player has a habit of winning entire betting pools at “B” tracks while almost everyone is competing against top players at “A” tracks. Great strategy!

At least we return to a sense of normalcy this Saturday by concentrating on the late pick-5 at Tampa; 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza.

to Manitoba Jockey Club president Harvey Warner who will receive a special Sovereign Award of Merit at the $250-a-plate Jockey Club of Canada banquet in Vaughan, Ont., 29 kilometres northwest of Toronto, on Thursday, April 16:

Harvey Warner
To receive special Sovereign Award
Harvey Warner,” states a Jockey Club of Canada news release, “has been actively involved in the thoroughbred industry in Canada since 1971. Throughout this time he has served as the President of the Winnipeg Horseman’s Club, spent time as a member of the Manitoba Horse Council Board and sat on the Board of the HBPA of Manitoba. In 1994 Mr. Warner was a driving force behind the formation of the Manitoba Jockey Club which assumed ownership and operations of Assiniboia Downs. Currently, Mr. Warner is the President of the Manitoba Jockey Club and a Steward for The Jockey Club of Canada.”

Warner also has been involved in horse ownership through the years and currently is connected to six horses, two of whom were recent purchases, he told The Insider. The star of the stable is the 4-year-old Manitoba-bred gelding, Why So Blue, who has posted an impressive record of 13-7-3-0 including four stakes wins.

to Woodbine jockey, Kazushi Kimura, 20, who became the first Japanese jockey to win an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice. Third in Woodbine’s jockey standings last year, Kimura was presented with the award at a banquet at Gulfstream Park last Thursday. A highlight of his year? “Winning on the Queen’s horse!” (Magnetic Charm in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes). See all Eclipse Award winners here.
ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Three races go Saturday!

POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Taking "all" horses IS handicapping

“Taking ‘all’ horses in a leg of a ticket isn’t handicapping,” is a sentiment I hear. But what happens in bottom-level claiming races at big tracks? Such horses are in and outers. You have to guess which horse is feeling good and ready for a big effort.

For example, it should have come as no surprise that 24-1 Babie Monster won the $8,000 race 9 claimer at Gulfstream on Sunday--an important leg of the pick-4, pick-5 and Rainbow pick-6--while the favourite, a horse picked by all three analysts in the DRF, finished third-last. If there ever was a good argument for pressing the “all” button, wasn’t that race it? Taking “all” in some cases IS handicapping.

A WRONGFUL CHILD APPREHENSION, with scenes shot at Assiniboia Downs last summer, is the subject matter of Crisis of Faith, the fifth episode of the third season of Burden of Truth, that will air next Wednesday on CBC-TV. If you were at the track, you might have seen filming for the Winnipeg-filmed series taking place around the Winner’s Circle.

Ahmed Zayat kisses American Pharoah after the colt won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland (Eclipse Sportswire photo)
ASSETS OF AMERICAN PHAROAH’S OWNER SEIZED: A New York judge last Wednesday granted the seizure of assets, including Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, from the horse’s prominent owner, Ahmed Zayat, amid allegations that he secretly sold $3.3 million in breeding rights to the horse and hid the funds from New York investors to whom he allegedly owes $23 million. This is the second time Zayat has been in financial trouble. In 2010 he and a New York bank reached a settlement in bankruptcy court over $34 million in defaulted loans.

The lustre on Manitoba-bred Escape Clause grew a bit more last Thursday when the mare who beat her by a nose in a Grade 1 stakes at Oaklawn Park, Midnight Bisou, won the Eclipse Award for Champion Older Dirt Mare. Bisou now is training lights-out for the $20 million Saudi Cup on Feb. 29, hoping to knock off the boys.

BLIND HORSE WINS 26 RACES: Amazing! Ken Faulkner, an attendee at “I won bigger” betting group workshops, came across the story of a race horse in Italy who won 26 races despite being almost totally blind (five per cent vision in one eye). Watch the remarkable YouTube video here.

but the news Sunday afternoon of the death of basketball icon Kobe Bryant landed with a thud in the ASD Race Book, setting off a buzz of concern and multiple comments of “you never know when your time is up.” I related it to the deaths of Elvis Presley and John Lennon because Presley was 42, a year older than Bryant, when he died of a heart attack in 1977 and Lennon was a year younger when he was killed outside his New York apartment in 1980.

Bricks and Mortar sweeps 2019 awards
BRICKS AND MORTAR SWEEPS ALL VOTES: Bricks and Mortar has swept all awards for top horse of 2019: most popular horse in Vox Populi online voting, fans’ favourite in Woodbine’s promotion (Bricks and Mortar 55%, Maximum Security 34%, Mitole 11%) and the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year. The 6-year-old turf star was six for six in Grade 1 stakes wins last year including the Pegasus Turf, Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup Turf.

The disqualification of Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby was voted 2019 “moment of the year” at the Eclipse Awards banquet at Gulfstsream last Thursday. The favourite in the Derby was placed 17th after stewards ruled he interfered with several horses on his way to victory on the sloppy Churchill track. Bombs-away Country House at 65-1 was elevated to first. “Moment of the Year” was inaugurated in 1999 and includes obvious moments such as Triple Crown wins by American Pharoah and Justify but also the brave battle by Barbaro to try to recover from breaking a leg in the 2006 Preakness Stakes after winning the Kentucky Derby.

Note that racing on Super Bowl Sunday begins with Gulfstream at 11 a.m. and that Santa Anita has an early post time of 1 p.m. so all U.S. tracks wind up before kick-off time at 5:30 p.m. See race schedule here. (My Super Bowl pick? Kansas City by several points in a last minute touchdown.)

SAVVY NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: the Super Bowl

49ers over Chiefs (Sunday 5:30 p.m.): Arguably the two best teams in the league will face off on Sunday. The Chiefs haven’t faced a defense like the 49ers and the 49ers haven’t really faced an offense like the Chiefs (unless you want to include the Saints) so something has to give. Pat Mahomes is the best quarterback on the planet right now and is playing like it. With Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and Travis Kelce, you understand how they are never out of a game, even if they are down 24-0 in the first quarter.

Having said that, the 49ers defense, more specifically, the front four of Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Deforest Buckner and Arik Armstead are the most terrifying bunch of pass rushers I’ve seen in quite sometime. If those four continue to do what they did all season--which was attack the line with speed and raw power-- Mahomes won’t be able to sit back and find open guys. Other than Richard Sherman, the 49ers don’t have a lot of known names in their secondary but what they did really well is take away the long ball from other teams. It should be a helluva game! Go Niners!

Travers, with a neat 49er poncho his wife bought in Mexico, leaves no doubt who he supports
Grading the teams: S.F. vs K.C.
Offense - B, A+
Defense - A+, B-
Special Teams - B, A
Coaching - A, A
Touchdown Celebrations - A, A+

Fun prop bets (my choice in red)
  • National anthem length - O/U 2 minutes
  • Total sacks for 49ers defense - O/U 3.5
  • Will there be a 2-point convert attempt? Yes/No
  • The jersey number of the first player to score a TD - O/U #35
  • Will the 49ers convert a 4th down? Yes/No
  • Passing attempts for Jimmy G - O/U 15.5
  • Pat Mahomes interceptions - O/U 1.5
  • Will receivers have more total touchdowns than running backs? Yes/No
  • What will happen first? Chiefs TD, Chiefs Punt
  • Who will score first? George Kittle/Travis Kelce
THE BEST OF BOB: He was Canada's colourful racing commentator

Were you in attendance when Michael Magee held his handicapping clinic at the Downs in the spring of 1976? It was a real treat! Michael passed in 2011, but Bob recalls the man who was Canada's greatest horseracing analyst/commentator. Click here for more. (First published in July 2016)
Watch it Wednesday on CBC-TV
  • Saturday, Feb. 1: Three Kentucky Derby prep races: Withers at Aqueduct, Holy Bull at Gulfstream and Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita.
  • Monday, Feb. 3: Bookings open for brunch and dinner on Mother’s Day Sunday, May 10, the first day of live racing
  • Wednesday, Feb. 5: Watch CBC-TV’s Burden of Truth for an episode partly filmed at Assiniboia Downs
  • Saturday, Feb. 8: Kentucky Derby prep race--Sam F. Davis at Tampa.
  • Valentine’s Day Friday, Feb. 14: Italian-themed Valentines dinner and dance $29.95
  • Saturday, Feb. 15: Kentucky Derby prep races--El Camino Real at Golden Gate and Risen Star at Fair Grounds. Countdown to the Derby contest begins for $200 on bets on the Kentucky Derby.
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.
Don't forget to watch Burden of Truth on CBC-TV next Wednesday with scenes filmed at ASD last summer

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