Thursday, February 9, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 5 (Issue #572)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Six reasons to circle Monday, Feb. 20 on your calendar

It's Louis Riel Day and it's filled with perks

  1. Enjoy a FREE breakfast sandwich (first 50)
  2. 20 FREE “Play It Again” draws. Toss your non-winning AND CASHED WINNING TICKETS into a drum for 20 draws that will pay you the FACE VALUE of your tickets up to $20 each. (Be sure to swipe your Player Rewards card when betting. You must be in attendance to win.)
  3. Get five times the usual Player Rewards on all your wagers. (It’s like a five per cent reduction on every bet.)
  4. Come to a special “I won big” workshop where each $20 share will be bumped up by $5 – 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza.
  5. There’s great racing from major tracks because it’s also President’s Day in the U.S. First post is 11:15 a.m. (Saratoga harness) followed by Laurel at 11:30 a.m.
  6. The Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas will be the final 10-point Kentucky Derby qualifying race before the championship 50-pointers begin five days later with the Risen Star at Fair Grounds.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • ASD unveils "Season 60" logo
  • Horse spirit exhibition opens tonight at Cre8ery Gallery
  • Date set for return of thoroughbred racing to Calgary area
  • Classic Empire falters; McCraken the horse to beat at Tampa Saturday
  • Copycats: Australia to hold its own Pegasus -- calling it The Everest
  • He first rode at 11 and won the most races at ASD. Who? See Best of Bob

Cassandra, 10, Al Ilott's guest in Mexico, kisses a dolphin

UH-OH! MR. PARLAY IS BACK FROM CAVORTING WITH DOLPHINS: Back from a Mexican vacation courtesy of Charleswood Travel and WestJet Vacations that he won for being the top place parlay player during live racing last year, Al “Mr. Parlay” Ilott will be looking to reclaim his monthly status as the top show parlay player, too. The Downs, of course, is matching the winnings (up to $100) of the top five-race show parlayer on Friday and Saturday nights and will award a prime rib buffet for two to the best of the month. Al did it from October to December. But others (such as January’s winner, Dan Debreuil) would like nothing better than to be spoilers. What about you? Make it happen with a stake of just $6.

ADDED VLT FUN ON VALENTINE’S DAY TUESDAY! Enter “Spin to Win” for a chance to spin the Valentine Wheel for cash prizes from 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Have you played the popular new game with a $2,500 jackpot – Sugar, Sugar?

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

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.

DO VALENTINE’S AT TONIGHT’S PRIME RIB BUFFET: Still some openings for the all-you-can-eat certified Angus prime rib buffet with Valentine’s touches! Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 to reserve.

SNOW DRAG-RACING, ARM WRESTLING AND MORE THIS WEEKEND! In a Winter Carnival at the Downs Saturday and Sunday that everyone is invited to attend. See snowmobile racing particulars (with $15,000 in prize money) here. See all the Winter Carnival fun here.

CHICKEN TORTELLINI IN BLUSH SAUCE A VALENTINE'S DAY SPECIAL:   Everyone at the Downs is getting into the act on Valentine's Day Tuesday!  There's Spin the Wheel for Valentine's cash, there's five-times the normal Player Rewards points on all your wagers and, not to be left out, food and bev manager Manley Chan yesterday announced he will feature a chicken tortellini dish in a blush sauce with a garlic stick for $10. Glass of house wine: Just $5.  Starts at 11 a.m.


Classic Empire falters in Holy Bull . . .

. . . opening the door to McCraken at Tampa Bay Downs this Saturday

The fastest baby last year, Classic Empire in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (116 speed fig), wasn’t the fastest 3-year-old this year. He faltered as the 1-2 choice in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream last Saturday, finishing third to Irish War Cry who went gate to wire, posting an Equibase speed figure of 110.

Which means this Saturday’s Kentucky Derby qualifying race, the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, opens the door to other Derby hopefuls. Topping the list is the unbeaten Ghostzapper colt, McCraken, who won the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs (101 Equibase speed fig) and has been getting better and better in morning workouts, according to his trainer, Ian Wilkes. “He has a great turn of foot and that's the main thing," Wilkes has been quoted as saying.

His main rivals:

  • Fact Finding: A Todd Pletcher trainee unbeaten in three with 103 Equibase speed
  • No Dozing: Second in the Remsen Stakes. 98 speed fig.
  • Wild Shot: Second to McCraken in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Also a 98 speed fig.



ASD unveils Season 60 logo

"Better to celebrate Season 60 while it's ongoing instead of afterward"

There are two ways of celebrating a milestone: While it’s actually happening or after it’s over. Assiniboia Downs has decided to celebrate its 60th season IN PROGRESS rather than to mark it next year as an anniversary when it’s all over (as the track did for the 50th “anniversary” in 2008). Makes more sense when you think about it.

So when the starting gate opens for the first race on June 10 that will be exactly 60 years from the day the starting gate opened for the first time ever at the Downs. It’s like the Super Bowl: Last year was Super Bowl 50—which was glorified—but not this year’s Super Bowl even though it’s the 50th “anniversary” of the Super Bowl. Feels more current and exciting when a milestone is rolled out day by day, don’t you think?

*        *        *

CLAYTON GRAY HONOURED IN STAKES: So how did the 10 Overnight Stakes races in this year’s stakes schedule--with horse names many of you will instantly recognize—come by their names? Here’s what Wayne King, vice-president of the Manitoba division of the Horsemen’s Protective and Benevolent Association (HBPA) says:

“ We don't really have any kind of set criteria for naming the Overnight Stakes but we (HBPA and the Manitoba Jockey Club) had discussed naming some of the races after Clayton Gray trainees to honour him, his long time contribution and tremendous success at ASD. We named one race from each division (3-year-old filly, 3-year-old colt, older mare and older colt/gelding) after a Clayton trainee.

“There were lots to chose from so you'll likely see other Clayton names from the past in future years as well. As for the other Overnight Stakes, being Season 60 we wanted to use some of the more recognizable names this year. Most of the names are "hammers" from the past. I don't think that too many of them would require most fans to have to think too hard to remember their accomplishments.”



Australia to hold a Pegasus-like race

Called "The Everest," it will be the richest TURF race in the world at $10 million

Is Frank Stronach beaming? He should be. The Australian Turf Club is copying his Pegasus-race concept with the hopes of attracting a global audience.

The Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney will stage the richest TURF race in the world at $10 million on Oct. 14 (Friday, Oct. 13 in North America) with 12 post positions available at $600,000 each. (Slots in the Pegasus cost $1 million each.) It will be a 1,200 metre (6 furlong) sprint.

One thing is different from the Stronach model, however. Those buying a post must commit to buying a post for $600,000 in 2018 and 2019, too. That means The Everest has at least a three-year life.

Royal Randwick: Site of The Everest

The winning horse will receive $5.8 million in purse money. Runners-up in the race will be awarded $1.4 million, $800,000, $400,000, $250,000 and the remainder of the field $175,000 each. The total of $10 million in purse money will come from a combination of the entry fees (which amount to $720,000) plus money gleaned from the extra wagering expected on The Everest as well as sponsorships and broadcast rights.

Will North American owners of turf sprinters buy a position? That will be bear watching. It’s the kind of race two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection could have been pointed to. Mizdirection only had lifetime earnings of $1.7 million despite her extraordinary turf prowess (17-11-4-1).


HORSE SPIRIT ARTS EXHIBITION OPENS WITH A RECEPTION TONIGHT at the Cre8ery Gallery at 128 Adelaide St. from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. then continues until Tuesday, Feb. 21. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday noon to 5 p.m. Visit the website here .

FULL TOURNAMENT RESULTS NOW AVAILABLE: Click here to see the full leader board for the Player’s Choice horseplayer tournament held last month. Congrats again to winner Brian McKellar. Going forward, say tournament organizers, the goal will be to have full results completed on the day of the tournament – so you’ll be able to see them on the bulletin board in the Race Book and, of course, in The Insider. Good luck to all in this important celebratory year for Assiniboia Downs.

GOT A SUGGESTION FOR THE HORSE RACING HALL OF FAME? Go here to download the particulars.

Century Downs: Thoroughbreds begin Sept. 23

THOROUGHBRED RACING RETURNS TO CALGARY AREA: For the first time since Stampede Park discontinued racing in 2008, Calgary race fans will have their first opportunity to experience thoroughbred racing in the fall at Century Downs in neighbouring Balzac. The track announced it will stage a “boutique” 14-afternoon meet on weekends from Sept. 23 to Nov. 5. It’s expected Northlands Park in Edmonton, which has not released its schedule, will race in the spring and summer and horses will move south to Century in the fall. Harness racing begins at Century next month: Saturday, March 18.

"NAME THE FOAL" SUGGESTIONS FROM INSIDER READERS: Thoughtful Insider readers have so far suggested these names for the filly born to breeder Dean Melnic on Jan. 30. (Father: Wilco. Mother: Slewie Blues):
• Jim Swail
suggests “Celebrity Slew” and “Slew of Talent.” A third name he submitted has too many letters (18 letters and spaces is the maximum permitted).
• Chenoa Deegan
has based a couple names on a diamond concept since it’s ASD’s Season 60: “Adamas” (Greek for diamond), “Diamond Blues” and “Blues on First.”
• Donna Cretney
has sent “Wilslew,” a contraction of mom’s and dad’s names.
What do you think? Send your ideas to Gives you a link to posterity.

FEMALE JOCKEYS IN FRANCE TO GET 4.5 LB WEIGHT ADVANTAGE: In a move that Hall of Fame U.S. jockey Julie Krone calls laughable and insulting, female jockeys in France will be given a 2-kg (4.5-pound) weight allowance over their male counterparts in races below the Class 1 level, about 90 per cent of the races held in France. France Galop vice president Jean-Pierre Colombu is quoted as saying: “This measure is designed to encourage trainers and owners to make as much use of the many women riders within the industry in the afternoons as during morning training." About one-sixth of the approximately 600 jockeys in France are female. Said Krone in an interview: “It's such a backhanded insult….It's literally a laughable idea.”

"I WON BIG" GROUP SHELLSHOCKED: A $1 pick-3 paid $19,296. A $2 double paid $2,180. Nobody anywhere had the pick-5. The pick-5 paid three out of five. That’s the kind of day it was at Tampa last Saturday as the “I won big” betting group could only lick its wounds with two of four in the pick-4. Winners of the last five races were: Chique to Chique $19.20, Mach Trial $58.60, D’craziness $82.20, Wooley Allen $17.80 and Here’s Johnny $29.80. Who’s going to bring the dartboard to this Saturday’s session at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza?

IMPEACHMENT ODDS FALL TO 2/1: Betting companies are reporting brisk business on President Donald Trump being forced from office. Impeachment odds have dropped from 4/1 on inaugural day down to 2/1 now at Paddy Power. And Ladbrokes is offering only even odds that Trump will be impeached OR will resign. Odds are 100/1 that Trump will receive the Nobel Peace Prize as President Obama did.


HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

This week's trip down memory lane tells the story of the jockey who holds the record for the most wins in a single season at the Downs - 214. Who is he? Hint: He's from Russell, Manitoba. Find out here.

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