Thursday, February 15, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 6 (Issue #624)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

TRIVIA TEASER: Which of these celebrated champions from ASD’s past was bred in Saskatchewan? Who was born in the year of Secretariat’s triumphs? Balooga Bull, Monsoon Rain, Astral Moon, Electric Fever, Intercontinent, Miss Missile.

See answer under EYE ON LIVE. Note that these fan favourites selected from the past four decades will be honoured in overnight stakes races during the 2018 live race season.

Seven reasons to come to the track on Louis Riel Day Monday:
  1. Free breakfast sandwich to the first 50 at the track
  2. Special “I won big” workshop at 10:30 a.m. to play Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 with an estimated jackpot of more than $1 million.
  3. Great racing from major tracks since it’s also Presidents’ Day in the U.S. Schedule.
  4. 5x the usual Player Rewards points on all bets
  5. Spin to win draws. Win up to $50 in betting vouchers
  6. The Southwest Stakes—a Kentucky Derby prep race—will be held at Oaklawn Park
  7. New $200 contest begins: Who will win the Southwest Stakes?

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Secretariat's exercise rider dies
  • Am I worried after my Derby pick, Catholic Boy, finishes second in prep race?
  • Take that, U.S. players! A Canadian wins $800,000 in richest horseplayer tourney--again!
  • New ASD stakes purse levels simplify understanding of who's in a race. Nice!
  • Enter free $2,500 online Derby prep race contest!
  • What was "the curse of the crow?" See Racing Through Time with Bob

Enter two Derby prep race contests this weekend!

  • Win these mugs in prep race contest draws

    Saturday: Enter an online contest that could result in your sharing in $2,500 U.S. You pick a horse from 17 Derby prep races up to the Kentucky Derby. Top five win-place-show earners share the prize money. Go here for challenge rules and to enter. CONTEST BEGINS SATURDAY!

  • Monday: Enter ASD’s contest at the track that requires you to pick the winner of Derby prep races. Points will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, 3rd. Your best 10 scores out of 14 prep races will lead to an entrant winning a $200 Derby bankroll. A draw from all entrants each contest day will reward someone with two handsome Derby mugs.
HOW MANY MEDALS WILL CANADA WIN AT THE WINTER GAMES? The most pessimistic entrant to The Insider’s contest sees Canada winning just five gold medals, the most optimistic predicts 17 gold. Total medal wins ranges from 17 to 44. See predictions here. Closest prediction wins an official Canadian Olympic scarf and mittens, a prime rib buffet for two and copious bragging rights. Good luck to all and good luck to Canadian Olympians!
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
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94.3 The Drive

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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. 16 is $1,385.

Playmakers Gaming Lounge

with Shannon Davis, Off-Track Betting supervisor

“WIN BIG” AT THE PLAYMAKERS GAMING LOUNGE AT CANAD INNS WINDSOR PARK: “Learn a little, laugh a little, enjoy pizza by the slice and win big playing the horses!”  says OTB supervisor Shannon Davis about the Playmakers Gaming Lounge at Canad Inns Windsor Park at 1034 Elizabeth Road. Enter the lounge from either inside the hotel or from the parking lot. This is another full-service OTB where you can print a program, get HPI service, buy racing forms and sign up for the monthly handicapping tournament. Opens daily at 11 a.m.

Located at 1011 Pembina Highway the OTB at the Pembina Hotel has lots of TVs, VLTs, a highly-rated restaurant and plenty of parking and offers the same full service to horseplayers as noted above. “Come by and say ‘hi’ and meet the great people at the Pemby!” says Davis. Opens daily at 11 a.m. 

Two more OTBs will be featured next week.
See location of all OTBs here.

Horses to arrive soon; Equi-ciser to open March 1

First horses expected between Feb. 26 and Feb. 28

Equi-ciser opens March 1

The backstretch will soon see its first equine residents, says assistant director of racing Derek Corbel. Here’s the schedule:
  • First horses expected to start moving in between Monday, Feb. 26 and Wednesday, Feb. 28.
  • Backstretch diner will open Tuesday, Feb 27
  • Equi-ciser will open two weeks from today, March 1.
  • Training track is scheduled to open Tuesday, March 13
  • Rental of a backstretch trailer spot including utilities and WiFi remains at $200 a month

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2018 ASD stakes schedule announced

Purse adjustments make it easier than ever to figure out what the stakes are about

Look at how easy ASD stakes will be to figure out when the live season begins on Mother’s Day:
  • $30,000 stakes will be the most important stakes after the $75,000 Manitoba Derby. They will include the Gold Cup (best horse on the grounds), the Manitoba Oaks (best 3-year-old filly), the Matron (top older female) and the Winnipeg Futurity (best 2-year-old). There’s only one exception: a $30,000 purse for the CTHS Sales Stakes for 2-year-olds.
  • $25,000 stakes will be those featuring Manitoba-bred horses only
  • $18,000 stakes will be events for celebrated horses from the past (e.g. Balooga Bull stakes)
  • $27,500 stakes will be all the others
Neat, eh? The total value of all stakes purses is $865,500. Adjustments to the stakes purses should help build bigger fields, too, notes CEO Darren Dunn. And U.S. trainers should like the fact that purse levels help make up for the lower value of the Canadian dollar compared to its U.S. counterpart. With the attractive stakes schedule in hand (and adjustments to other purse levels as well), race secretary Ray Miller and assistant director of racing Derek Corbel will hit the road at the end of the month on a horse and jockey recruitment drive. They will head west and south.

See 2018 purse schedule here.
See 2018 stakes schedule here.

*       *       *

Celebrating past champions

Overnight stakes will honour Balooga Bull, Miss Missile, Monsoon Rain and three others

Miss Missile (Rohan Singh aboard) will be honoured with a race

Six champion horses from the past four decades of ASD racing that were also fan favourites will be celebrated in overnight stakes races when the 2018 live season opens on Mother’s Day. They will be (in chronological order):
  • Astral Moon (31-19-3-3), Saskatchewan-bred mare born in 1973, the year Secretariat won the Triple Crown.
  • Intercontinent (92-28-16-12), Virginia-bred horse born in 1974
  • Electric Fever (42-17-10-5), Manitoba-bred mare born in 1979
  • Monsoon Rain (32-11-5-3), Kentucky-bred gelding born in 2002
  • Miss Missile (36-16-3-4), Kentucky-bred mare born in 2005
  • Balooga Bull (27-16-3-1), Kentucky-bred gelding born in 2009
The committee that selected those race names included track historian Bob Gates, assistant director of racing and race starter Derek Corbel, assistant race secretary Dustin Davis and paddock host Rob MacLennan, all overseen by CEO Darren Dunn. Who’s your favourite from among those champions?

What? Me worry? Catholic Boy's loss worth 16-1 in Derby

Bolt d'Oro and Good Magic are favoured in Futures Pool at 8-1

Flameaway holds off Catholic Boy in Sam F. Davis
(SV Photography)

If Catholic Boy wins the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 5, I’ll collect $996.80. That’s because the colt went off at 16/1 in the Kentucky Derby Futures Pool on the weekend and I had bet $56 on him. The horses with the lowest odds were “the field” at 5/2 and Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic at 8/1. Who did you take a flyer on? See all horses and final odds here.

I also played a $1 exactor wheel with Catholic Boy first or second. My highest payoff will be $2,060 if Catholic Boy wins and Tiz Mischief is second and $2,575 if the result is reversed. See exactor payoffs for all horses in that futures pool here.

The fact that Catholic Boy finished second in his prep race Saturday, the Sam F. Davis at Tampa, wasn’t a concern at all because the horse who beat him, Flameaway at 10/1, who is much more experienced, simply got brave on the lead and Catholic Boy wasn’t quite able to catch him. In fact, I was glad because it kept the future odds high and I cashed a sizeable superfecta on the race because I had predicted the pace set-up. A similar scenario is unlikely to happen in the Derby itself. I’m thinking Catholic Boy will be racing in mid-field, then run down the early leaders. Of course, it’s a bit of a pipe dream but, hey, it’s fun!

NEXT FUTURE POOLS: The next Future Pools are March 9-11. Besides the Derby, you’ll be able to play the filly race, the Kentucky Oaks and— here’s something new--you will also be able to future wager a Derby/Oaks double!

*       *       *

50-point prep races begin Saturday

Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds kicks off championship prep races

The countdown continues to the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May – with three prep races this long weekend, including the first of the 50-point championship preps on Saturday.
  • Saturday: El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate. Winning horse gets 10 qualifying points for Kentucky Derby. Enter the free $2,500 online prep race contest in Fun & Games.
  • Saturday: Risen Star at Fair Grounds. Winning horse gets 50 qualifying points for Derby
  • Holiday Monday: Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Winning horse gets 10 qualifying points for Derby. (This is the last of the 10-pointers.) $200 DERBY PREP CONTEST BEGINS AT THE TRACK. Be sure to pick up an entry form.
WHO’S HOT? Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Noble Indy has been the talk of the track at Fair Grounds. And trainer D. Wayne Lucas’ Sporting Chance, who hasn’t raced since winning the grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga in the summer, will be a horse to watch going two turns for the first time in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn.

Charlie Davis (1940-2018) with Secretariat in 1973

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I'd like people to say about me, ‘I knew a guy that galloped Secretariat.' That is good enough for me.”Charlie Davis, Secretariat’s exercise rider, who died from lung cancer complications last week at 78. Davis simply referred to Secretariat as “The Man.” He also exercised other greats of the 1960s and 1970s including Secretariat’s stablemate and Kentucky Derby/Belmont stakes winner Riva Ridge, champion filly Quill and Belmont Stakes winner Amberoid.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Saturday’s “I won big” betting group for boosting the Manitoba economy by requiring Tampa Bay Downs to send a big cheque to the Downs to cover the group’s winning plays in January. (The group won $21,000 in back-to-back pick-5s.) ASD betting stats show that Tampa was January’s top “better bettor” track by far. Other better bettor tracks included Delta Downs, Santa Anita, Meadowlands (harness), Freehold (harness), Fraser Downs (harness) and Los Alamitos. Tracks that players found most challenging were Oaklawn Park, Mahoning Valley, Miami Valley (harness) and Louisiana Downs. Are you playing to your strengths to be a good citizen while you’re also padding your pockets?

Chris Littlemore of Whitby, Ontario shows up U.S. players

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Chris Littlemore, a retired automaker in Whitby, Ontario, because he became the second Canadian in two consecutive years to win the $800,000 top prize in the richest horseplayer tournament on the continent, the National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas on the weekend. Last year, the winner was Ray Arsenault of Thornhill, Ontario. There were 702 entries in the contest, most of them Americans, of course, so it’s nice to see Canadians carrying the torch. Unlike the past two years, no ASD players qualified to get into this year’s tournament which is by invitation only.


“BIG” GROUP LEARNED ITS LESSON, CATCHES 10/1 HORSE IN CHEAP CLAIMER: Having lost the Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream a couple weeks ago because it failed to take the high-pace horse in a bottom-level claiming race, Saturday’s “I won big” group wasn’t going to make the same mistake again in its pick-5 at Tampa Saturday. It took two horses with the highest pace numbers in a $6,250 claimer along with a few other horses. One of those early-pace types, #12 Abie, won at 10/1 and, as it happened, the horse with the highest pace numbers, Flameaway, beat highly favoured Catholic Boy in the Sam F. Davis prep race at 10/1. All of which at least produced a break-even day for the group. Group play will resume this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (last five races at Tampa) then again on holiday Monday at the same time (the Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream).

It seems counterintuitive but a University of Melbourne study has revealed that resting a horse with stress fractures to its lower legs only makes the condition worse. Moderate exercise is best for helping the bones heal. The University of Melbourne is a public research institution in Melbourne, Australia.

Goldencents, son of Manitoba mare, winning second Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (Getty images)

GOLDENCENTS’ BABIES “LOVE TO TRAIN”: Goldencents, the Breeders’ Cup winning son of a Manitoba mare, is already being heralded as a great sire. “We have seven Goldencents 2-year-olds and I am happy with all of them,” Claran Dunne of Wavertree Stables in Ocala, Florida, was quoted as saying recently. “They have great attitudes and move very well over the track but most of all they want to train. I believe Goldencents will be one of the top freshman sires of 2018.” Goldencents, whose father is Into Mischief, was born to Manitoba mare Golden Works (bred by the late Phil Kives). Golden Works is the daughter of ASD’s great stakes-winning mare, Body Works. Goldencents won back to back Breeders’ Cup Dirt Miles in 2013-14. Will his babies’ willingness to train produce winning efforts this summer? Should be exciting to follow his progeny.


Did you know . . . that the old crow (aka "the Whittier Park Clocker") who inhabited the elm tree in the infield of old Whittier Park put a curse on the St. Boniface track that lead to its demise in 1952? Bob has the details here.


  • The Chinese year of the dog begins tomorrow

    Tonight: All-you-can-eat certified Angus prime rib buffet with onion rosemary chicken, peppers and sausages, potato-crusted cod, pasta bar, good-for-the-soul home-style soup and much more. $27.95. Reserve at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • Tomorrow: It’s Chinese New Year (year of the dog). Will a “hunch” play produce a big score?
  • 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 50, 5x Player Rewards points on bets, Spin to Win draws for up to $50 in wagering vouchers. Special “I won big” workshop 10:30 a.m. Kentucky Derby prep race: the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn.  NEW CONTEST: Predict winners of Derby prep races.
  • Saturday, Feb. 24: Second Players’ Choice handicapping tournament. Sign up by Friday at 9 p.m.
  • Monday, Feb. 26: Target date for ASD horses to begin arriving
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27: Backstretch diner opens


"Now tell me who's smarter!"
(Sunny Skyz photo)

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