Thursday, February 1, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 4 (Issue #622)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Historic high
Never had there been an exotic pool in North American racing that reached the heights of Gulfstream's Rainbow 6 on Sunday. How did local player's do? See HANDICAPPING

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Why were players kicking themselves after Gulfstream's Rainbow 6 races Sunday?
  • Bookings begin today for live racing brunches and buffets. Phone 204-885-3330 ext 0.
  • Horseplayer smarts and $11 earn ASD player a $5,000 berth in new online tourney.
  • Dig into authentic Italian cuisine at a candlelit Valentine's Dinner at the Downs
  • Want to know how a horse is feeling? Watch his blinking!
  • Holy Bull--and the Withers and Robert B. Lewis--Derby prep races go Saturday

How many Olympic medals will Canada win?

How many gold? How many silver? How many bronze?

Email your answers to

How many of each will Canada win?


OLYMPIC FLASHBACKS: The last two Winter Olympics resulted in the naming of horses to honour Manitoba gold. In 2010 Jon’s Golden Run, winner of the Buffalo Stakes as a 2-year-old, was named to honour skeleton racer Jon Montgomery of Russell, Man. at the Vancouver Winter Games. In 2014 Gold N Sochi (11-3-5-2) marked team Jennifer Jones’ curling gold at Sochi. Will there be an achievement worth recognizing with a horse name this year?

2010: 13 gold, 7 silver, 5 bronze. 2014: 10 gold, 5 silver, 5 bronze.

Contest deadline is next Thursday at midnight (the Olympics begin the next day). One entry per person per email please. PRIZES: Closest to the correct count wins a prime rib buffet for two and official Canadian Olympic scarf and mittens. And, of course, copious bragging rights.
QX104 � Today's Country

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Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in February? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Jets

FRIDAYS, SATURDAYS & SUNDAYS : 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: $10 buy-in poker. Registration 8 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m. The Royal Flush progressive jackpot for Friday, Feb. 2 is $760.

ENJOY CRAZY EIGHT ($8) DEALS ON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY: Note the earlier post times for major tracks on Super Bowl Sunday so racing ends before kickoff time at 5:30 p.m. And note, too, Crazy Eights food and beverage specials at the track: $8 pizza, $8 regular nachos, $8 cheese nachos and $8 for two cans of Budweiser beer (great deal, eh?). First post is 11 a.m. (Gulfstream) Full schedule.

Chef Gerardo offers Italian favourites at Valentine's dinner

MAKE VALENTINE’S DAY MEMORABLE by taking advantage of Chef Gerardo’s Italian heritage and enjoying his lavish spread of Italian specialty dishes—everything from beef braciole (Italian beef roll-up stuffed with parsley, raisins, parmesan cheese and pine nuts braised in a red wine tomato sauce) to Tuscan panzanella salad (one of my favourites) to pistachio & lemon gelati. See the full tantalizing menu here. All served in a candlelit setting in the Terrace Dining Room for $34.95. Wednesday, Feb. 14 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

Greed but no glory

"Big" group overlooks the rule for a field of ungame, bottom-level claimers

Participants in Sunday’s “I won big” betting group discussion should be kicking themselves. I certainly am. We let $15,000 get away in Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 by somehow overlooking the principles we usually apply to a field of ungame bottom-level claimers: Look for a “cheap” speed horse that could get the lead and get brave. Struggling followers that usually go backwards will not have the will to catch him.

That’s exactly what happened in the last leg of the mega-million Rainbow 6 on mandatory payout day. #5 Forest Gator who had shown a high 91 pace figure in the program (see it here) got the lead at 35-1 in the field of $6,250 claimers and didn’t look back. It’s strange this handicapping rule never entered the discussion. Was it the result of two intense days of handicapping, both as a group and individuals who played in the Player’s Choice tournament Saturday? Were players wilting from handicapping overload? Let’s just call this The Oversight of the Year and hope nothing comes along to take its place.

The “Big” group will be back playing the last five races at Tampa 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the Clubhouse plaza.

Kevin Palmer receives $1,000 from tournament director Dawn Forbes

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Kevin Palmer who followed up his second-place finish in the December Player’s Choice handicapping tournament by winning the first one of 2018 Saturday, posting a bankroll of $107.80 that was $15 higher than Dave Blake who had $92.40. Palmer started the afternoon with two impressive wins at 11-1 and 5-1 in races 3 & 4 at Aqueduct where he correctly predicted there would be a speed duel and the winner would be a horse closing from off the pace. Playing the 9th race at Laurel, he figured a horse with four seconds in a row would finally break through with a win, which it did at juicy odds of 9-1. Palmer picked up $1,000 for his victory, Blake received $400 and the next three were: Kathleen Buckoski with a bankroll of $87.90 (won $200), Murray Chaban with a bankroll of $84 (won $100) and Ken Stewin with $81.50 (won $50). The next tournament is Saturday, Feb. 24. See full tournament results here.

to Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach who received the Award of Merit at the Eclipse Awards banquet at Gulfstream Park last Thursday. The honour was well deserved. Where would racing be without his vision and bold initiatives of the Stronach Group? Gulfstream’s “one unique ticket wins the jackpot” concept has caught on at many tracks for pick-6s and Jackpot Hi 5s. Stronach spent $30 million building an 11-storey bronze Pegasus statue then created the richest race in the world with a $1 million entry fee to match the grandeur. And who doesn’t admire his aggressive marketing that gets customers to pay $180 to sit in the grandstand to watch that race? The more Stronach charges, it seems, the more willing people are to pay it. Gulfstream had its biggest day of wagering ever on Pegasus Day Saturday with $41.9 million – and they deserve it!

Trevor Tilston-Jones earns himself a $5,000 berth in new DRF tourney

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to long time ASD horseplayer Trevor Tilston-Jones for parlaying his horseplayer smarts in three online “feeder” tournaments last month into a seat this weekend in the Daily Racing Form’s new online World Championship of Handicapping event that most others have to pay $5,000 to enter. Prize money could be as high as $1 million. Tilston-Jones, who says he fell in love with horse racing when his father took him to opening day at Assiniboia Downs in 1958, said he had to finish first or second in three tournaments. He just had to pay $11 to enter the first contest. He had to make fictitious $2 win/place bets on 12 mandatory races in each tournament. The championships Saturday and Sunday will require him to play 15 mandatory races. Channel winning vibes his way!


Holy Bull

Prep race goes Saturday at Gulfstream, one of three on the day

With the Kentucky Derby three months from this Saturday, the pace quickens for 3-year-olds to gather points to get into the Derby. Watch for these three stakes races this Saturday:

  • The Holy Bull at Gulfstream. Horse to watch: Enticed, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club in November.
  • The Withers at Aqueduct. Horse to watch: Firenze Fire, easy winner of the Jerome.
  • The Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita. A fairly evenly-matched compact field.

Will the Kentucky Derby winner emerge from one of those races?

*       *       *

FIRST DERBY FUTURE WAGERS AVAILABLE NEXT WEEKEND: Next Friday to Sunday you’ll have a chance to predict a winner and exactor in the Kentucky Derby that could earn you a small fortune. It’s the first of three future pools leading to the Derby on the first Saturday in May. (My horse: Catholic Boy)

Vuvuzela inspired Bubuzela?

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Bubuzela. Quick, what real word does that mare’s name conjure up? Right, vuvuzela. Remember? That was the irritating South African horn at the 2010 World Cup of Soccer that had us muting our TVs. Sure enough, that was the year Bubuzela was born and likely how she got her name. Thank goodness vuvuzelas were banned from later soccer tournaments but Bubuzela, who is racing at Tampa Bay Downs, reminds us of those droning times.


Eddie Olczyk wins inaugural Pegasus tourney

EDDIE O. WINS INAUGURAL PEGASUS WORLD CUP TOURNEY: Playing in the first-ever Pegasus World Cup handicapping tournament Saturday, NHL great Eddie Olczyk was down to his final $3,500 of a $12,000 bankroll when he decided to go for the gusto. He played a big chunk of the money on a straight triactor of Gun Runner-West Coast-Gunnevera. It paid $55 for $1 which earned him a whopping $65,000 which made him the contest winner by about $3,000. His prize? $137,500 plus entry into a similar contest in the Breeders’ Cup in the fall.

Eddie, a former Winnipeg Jet (twice) who always makes a point to stop by Assiniboia Downs whenever he is in town for a Chicago Blackhawk's broadcast, also thanked his fans for supporting him in his battle with colon cancer. He is just ending a round of chemotherapy sessions. “ I couldn’t do it myself and everybody in the game has been so kind,” he was quoted as saying. Nice to have racing to take his mind off his physical concerns.

One would have thought that the $425-a-plate horsemen’s Eclipse Awards banquet at Gulfstream last Thursday (in which Gun Runner was named 2017 Horse of the Year) would have been a classy affair, a mini Academy Awards. But online comments posted the next day were devastating: Wrote one horse owner: “ It is a shame that the NTRA and TVG could not put on a better award presentation to honor the thoroughbred industry. The whole presentation was tacky. The MC was atrocious and so was the band. The speeches were way too long and no one seemed to know what they were doing. Everyone seemed highly intoxicated. It was embarrassing. Congratulations to the winners though, the poor quality of the show does not diminish your accomplishments.” Other writers added their agreement. Who won what? Go here.

A horse's mood is reflected in his blinks

IS A HORSE STRESSED? OBSERVE HIS BLINKING: The Horse magazine reports on a revealing study at Guelph University in Guelph, Ont. that shows the way a horse blinks reflects his stress level. Full or half blinks are good, meaning no stress, whereas fluttering blinks reflect anxiety. So, like a dog’s tail-wagging tells you about a dog’s mood, now we have two ways to discern horse feelings: his ears (pinned down means he’s unhappy about something) and the movement of his eyelids.


Did you know . . . that one-time ASD trainer Mike Smith while growing up spent as much time as he could at Max Graham's Sunshine Riding Academy? Max's daughter, Debbie would find her own way into racing. You may have heard of her: Debbie Buffalo, wife of owner/trainer Marvin Buffalo. Bob examines the life and times of Smith here.


  • Tickets go on sale today for Mother's Day brunch and dinner, the first day of live racing

    Today: BOOKINGS OPEN FOR LIVE RACING BRUNCHES & BUFFETS.  Live racing schedule. Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • This Saturday, Feb. 3: Three Kentucky Derby prep races – Withers at Aqueduct, Holy Bull at Gulfstream, Robert B Lewis at Santa Anita
  • Friday, Feb.9 to Sunday, Feb. 11: Future wager the Kentucky Derby—win and exactor bets available
  • Saturday, Feb. 10: Sam F. Davis Kentucky Derby prep race at Tampa
  • Wednesday, Feb. 14: Valentine's Dinner featuring authentic Italian cuisine. $34.95. Reserve at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • Friday, Feb. 16: Chinese New Year (year of the dog); Winter Games open in PyeongChang. Watch events on Race Book TVs.
  • Saturday, Feb. 17: Two Derby prep races: El Camino Real at Golden Gate and—beginning the championship series of prep races—the Risen Star at Fair Grounds
  • Holiday Monday, Feb. 19: Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, Presidents’ Day in the U.S. Fun perks: free breakfast sandwich to first 25, 5x Player Rewards points on bets, Spin to Win draws for up to $100 in wagering vouchers. Special “I won big” workshop 10:30 a.m. Kentucky Derby prep race: the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn.
Hey, Robert B. Lewis! Withers Holy Bull?

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