Thursday, February 4, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 4 (Issue #775)

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.


Bullet briefs . . .

  • It's a boy! Manitoba's greatest race horse gives birth to a son in Japan
  • Mandatory pick-6 payout at Santa Anita Saturday; $5 million pool likely
  • Once a tennis champion, ASD tourney winner now eyes HOTY title
  • Centre of the universe: Tampa boasts classy racing and Super Bowl
  • Did you pay attention to "WIN A TON IN '21" last week? Pick-3s paid big!
Zenyatta rated third-best in 50 years of Eclipse Awards
WHO WON ECLIPSE 50 CONTEST? WHO WERE TOP 10 HORSES OF PAST 50 YEARS? Did you enter the Eclipse 50 Contest with your top 10 horses and top jockey and trainer over the past 50 years?

Here are the results: Mary Holthaus of Maryland was drawn to win the trip to Kentucky. Bob Baffert was named top trainer and Laffit Pincay, Jr. the top jockey. It’s no surprise that Secretariat was named top horse followed by Seattle Slew, Zenyatta, American Pharoah, Cigar, Affirmed, John Henry, Ruffian, Forego and Spectacular Bid. Were they among YOUR top 10?
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in February? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Download 2021 LIVE RACING SCHEDULE here.

Do you have your new HPIbet account card that replaces the previous HPI card and the ASD Player Rewards card? Assiniboia Downs has joined the HPI rewards and bonus program and the new program began this past Monday. See details here.

GREEDY CORNER: Santa Anita’s Jackpot pick-6 is $843,000 heading into tomorrow’s card AND SATURDAY WILL BE MANDATORY PAYOUT DAY if it doesn’t go tomorrow. (Estimated pool: $5 million.) Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 is closing in on $400,000. Charles Town is closing in on $100,000. See other carryovers here.
EYE ON LIVE: ASD’s 2021 stakes schedule has now been posted for horsemen on the ASD website. See stakes line-up here.

It's a boy!

Manitoba's greatest race horse gives birth to her first foal in Japan Saturday

Manitoba’s greatest race horse is now a mother. Escape Clause, who was bred in Russell, Man. and earned more than $1 million, gave birth on Hokkaido Island in northern Japan to a colt on Saturday.

The colt’s father is Duramente who won the Japanese Derby in record time in 2015 and never finished worse than second in nine races that included six graded stakes. He earned more than $5.57 million.

The 7-year-old Escape Clause has lots of company. She is one of about 800 broodmares at one of the largest breeding operations in the world, Northern Farm which is about 45 minutes southeast of Sapporo where the 1972 Winter Olympics were held. She was purchased from her Manitoba owners in November 2019 for $300,000. U.S. at the Fasig-Tipton “Night of the Stars” auction in Lexington, KY.

Escape Clause did Manitoba proud by racing against some of the best mares on the continent. She won stakes races at Santa Anita and Del Mar and her main claim to fame was losing by a mere nose in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park to Midnight Bisou who went on to finish second in the $20 million Saudi Cup a year ago.

*       *       *
"Made our day"
Escape Clause's breeders celebrate birth of mare's first foal

Birth made the Ziprick family’s day: (Left to right) Cam, Keaton, Sherisse and Aiden with miniature horse Derby.
Horse racing is a very challenging game for everyone involved--breeders, owners, trainers, race-track operators, race-players, you name it. Which means special moments could rightly be shouted from the rooftops.

Such was the birth in Japan on the weekend of a foal by superstar mare Escape Clause the Zipricks had bred at their Russell, Man. farm. The family’s 15 years of birthing sessions in the wee hours of the morning, all those painstaking efforts to produce winning foals, faded into the background at least for awhile after Northern Farm’s Noriko Takahashi announced the birth of Escape Clause's son at the Japan farm.

Wrote Sherisse Ziprick in an email to Noriko: “We bred and raised Escape Clause and are just thrilled to be able to receive an update now that she is on the other side of the world, I know your operation is immense and your time is valuable, so please know that you have made the day for a family in small town Russell, Manitoba, Canada.”


Escape Clause’s sire, Going Commando, who now is retired from breeding, turns 21 next Friday. Commando is spoiled and happy,” reports Sherisse Ziprick, from her farm in Russell, Man. “He’s blanketed and gets half a dozen carrots or more mixed in with his daily feed. He’s got my mini (horse) and the yearlings beside him for company. 

“He has a really bad hip but is still feisty when he wants to be. He had a really tough spring and had gone downhill, but as soon as the mosquitoes were gone this fall, he started to perk up and put on weight again. We had him blanketed, but the bugs were just rotten. I think next year we will put him in a spot where we can light a smudge (fire) for him. Makes such a difference.”

HANDICAPPING: Player's Choice tournament

A tennis champion in his youth . . .

. . . ASD tourney winner now sets his sights on Handicapper of the Year title

Kevin Palmer hopes his competitive spirit in sports--that resulted in his winning the Manitoba High School Tennis Championship in his youth--will be the spark to reward him the 2021 Handicapper of the Year title. “That’s my objective,” he told The Insider after starting off on the right foot by winning the first Player’s Choice handicapping tournament of the year on Saturday. He bested 62 competitors.

Betting $2 win/place/show on 10 horses, he built up his bankroll to $132.10 which was more than $20 higher than his closest rival, Al Ilott. He was off to a fast start, catching longshots to place at Laurel with odds of 17-1 and 19-1 and a 35-1 place horse at Gulfstream. His biggest win, though, came in race 8 at Aqueduct when 19-1 Seven Lilies won going away in an allowance optional claiming race. “I thought he stood out. There was enough speed in the race (for him to run at) and two races back he was 5 or 6 wide when he closed to finish third.”

His strategy? “I looked for races with a lot of early speed and would bet a closer with odds of at least 5-1.” Also, “I tried to be patient. All the best races come later in the card.”

His Handicapper of the Year pursuit isn’t an idle fantasy. He won four tournaments since 2016, came second multiple times and, in 2019, finished third for the HOTY title. “It’s in my personality to be competitive,” he said, alluding to his tennis championship and success in baseball and sponge hockey.

Now 52, he recalls being bitten by the racing bug in his teens when he bet $2 across the board on Nifty that paid $84 to win. His best day? “Coming to the track with $10 and going home with $6,000.” He recalls having bet the $10 on a horse that paid $90 and turning that into $6,000 on the pick-4.

His worst? Instead of betting $60 on a five-horse triactor box at Santa Anita, he used some of that money for chips and a chocolate bar. That resulted in his spending $40 on a wheel with a horse keyed for first and second. The result? A $140 horse (which he would have had in his box) won and there wasn’t a single winning triactor ticket. His box would have paid many tens of thousands of dollars. “It was the most expensive chips and chocolate I’ve ever eaten,” he said.

The top five tournament finishers:
1. Kevin Palmer
-- bankroll $132.10 -- $1,000 prize money
2. Al Ilott
-- $111.40 -- $400
3. Darcy Backman
-- $102.90 -- $200
4. Darrell Stephansson
-- $90.40 -- $100
5. Greg Earl
-- $88.50 -- $50      See full tournament results here.
RACE-CALL OF THE WEEK: “Your guess is good as mine with about a quarter mile to go. Up top it's somebody who just leads somebody there in second, and a couple lengths back somebody is coming after a quarter in 1:13 and four. They run to the top of the stretch, it's absolutely wide open!” -- Jimmy McNerney, calling race 4 at Turfway Park Monday during a snowstorm. Watch the stretch drive here.

It's Festival Preview Day at Tampa Saturday . . .

. . . featuring four stakes worth $750,000 including the Sam F. Davis prep race

With millions of eyes trained on Tampa for Super Bowl weekend, Tampa Bay Downs will feature on Saturday a major event on its racing schedule--Festival Preview Day. Four stakes races worth $750,000 will be featured, headlined by the Sam F. Davis prep race for the Kentucky Derby.

With the special race card and thousands flocking to the city for the Super Bowl (while social-distancing), betting pools are expected to be huge. Which is why the “I won bigger” betting group will play the pick-5 there while also playing Santa Anita’s 20-cent pick-6 because it’s a mandatory payoff day.

*       *       *
Here comes Super Bowl Sunday . . .
. . . with earlier post times so racing ends before the 5:30 p.m. CT kick-off

More than 100 million viewers around the world are expected to be watching Super Bowl LV from Tampa Sunday evening when legendary quarterback Tom Brady will attempt to put upstart Patrick Mahomes in his place and collect his seventh Super Bowl ring. Kick-off is 5:30 CT which means an early racing schedule as follows:

11:05 a.m.
Miami Valley (H)
11:25 a.m.
11:35 a.m.
11:40 a.m.
12:00 p.m.
12:30 p.m
. Oaklawn
1:00 p.m.
Fair Grounds, Golden Gate, Louisiana, Santa Anita
6:20 p.m.
Pompano (H)
READER POLL from the Paulick Report

42% say Holy Bull Stakes was most impressive prep race in January. Agree?

Race fans rate Greatest Honour winning Holy Bull Stakes January’s most impressive (Coglianese photo)
Racing’s Paulick Report asked readers to rate the most impressive Kentucky Derby prep race in January. Even though Life Is Good had a giant 112 Equibase speed rating, his race was way down the list. Tops was Greatest Honour winning the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. His E speed was 98 though he vanquished the field. (My fav was Medina Spirit’s tenacious effort in the Robert B. Lewis.)
  • Capo Kane (Jerome) 3%.
  • Life Is Good (Sham) 13%
  • Midnight Bourbon (Lecomte) 5%
  • Caddo River (Smarty Jones) 23%
  • Greatest Honour (Holy Bull) 42%. Watch race here.
  • Medina Spirit (Robert B. Lewis) 15%. My fav. Watch race here.
WIN A TON IN '21: Did you take last week's advice? Pick-3s paid big.

If you read last week’s “Win a Ton in ‘21” segment, you had a chance to cash big at Tampa on Saturday. Race 6 was the dreaded claiming race for 3-year-olds where anything can happen--and which The Insider suggested playing ALL horses in your pick-3s.

And what happened? The longest shot on the board, a $30 horse, won--and it was only a six-horse field. If you took ALL horses in that leg of your pick-3s what might you have collected for your $1 pick-3s?
  • Pick 3 on races 4, 5, 6 paid $1,236
  • Pick 3 on races 5, 6, 7 paid $871
  • Pick 3 on races 6, 7, 8 paid $886   See the program page for race 6 here. #1 won.
You’re welcome. There are two other race conditions which The Insider recommended for ALL in pick-3s as well. Re-read that item here and give yourself the potential to win big.

Who's going to win the Super Bowl?
What are my favourite prop bets?

Super Bowl LV will be coming at you from Raymond James Stadium in sunny Tampa Bay this Sunday with a socially-distanced 20,000 in the stands--but I’m sure it will be end up being more than that. The Buccaneers make history by being the first-ever team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

Some may call it destiny, some may call it fate, but Tom Brady seeks another ring with his new team. Will he do it against a quarterback almost half his age, Pat Mahomes, who is looking to make his own history by becoming the youngest quarterback to win back-to-back Super Bowls?

T.B vs K.C.  
- B+/A+ 
- A/C+ 
Special Teams
- B+/A
- A+/A+ 
Clutch Factor
- A/A+

Chiefs will beat the Bucs 31-21
(5:30 pm Sunday): I’ve agonized over this for two weeks. On paper, the teams are almost even. The Chiefs have better weapons on offense, the Bucs have a better defense, and both have excellent special teams as well as coaching. At the end of the day, I choose the Chiefs because I have a hunch Tom Brady is more likely to make a mistake (an ill-timed interception perhaps?) than Pat Mahomes is.

The Chiefs’ offensive line is a little banged up after losing Eric Fisher to a torn Achilles last week which plays into the hands of the Bucs’ pass rushers who sacked Aaron Rodgers five times in the conference final. But having said that, I still believe Mahomes will make enough plays to guide his team to another Lombardi trophy. 

Now here is the REAL fun part: the wacky and outrageous prop bets. Here are some of my favourites. (Preferences are indicated in red.) 
  • National Anthem run time - O/U 2 minutes 
  • Coin Flip - Heads or Tails 
  • First points to be scored - TD or FG 
  • First team to score - KC/TB
  • The jersey number of the first player to score a TD - O /U #35
  • Passing TDs for Mahomes in the 1st half - O/U 2.5
  • Interceptions for Tom Brady O/U 1.5
  • Which player will score first? Tyreek Hill /Mike Evans
  • Halftime Show runtime - O/U 22 minutes
  • Colour of winning team’s Gatorade - Red/Any other colour
THE BEST OF BOB by Bob Gates: The legend and legacy of Bimbo the pony

Who was the best pony horse ever? Now there's a question that will inspire heated debate! Clayton Gray's Bimbo would have lots of competition but he's probably the only pony who was interviewed for a newspaper. Read Bimbo's story here. (First published July 2016.)
  • This Saturday: Two Kentucky Derby prep races: Withers at Aqueduct and Sam F. Davis at Tampa
  • This Sunday: Super Bowl Day with earlier post times
  • Friday, Feb. 12: Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox
  • Saturday, Feb. 13: Derby prep-- El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate and Risen Star at Fair Grounds
  • Sunday, Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day
  • Holiday Monday, Feb. 15: Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, President’s Day in the U.S. Derby prep race: Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
  • Saturday, Feb. 20: $20 million Saudi Cup
  • Friday, Feb. 26: New Kentucky Derby prep race: John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park.
  • Saturday, Feb. 27: Player’s Choice tournament, Kentucky Derby prep race: Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream

Remember, Saturday is mandatory payout day of Santa Anita’s pick-6.
Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl? Brady or Mahomes?


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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