Thursday, February 16, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 6 (Issue #573)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

A free breakfast sandwich is waiting for you . . .

. . . on Louis Riel Day Monday (Presidents Day in the U.S.)

  1. Get back what you paid for your tickets

    FREE breakfast sandwich to the first 50
  2. Get back what you paid for your mutuel tickets up to $20 each—both non-winning tickets AND cashed winning tickets—by depositing them in the “Play It Again” draw cube. Twenty draws will be made. (Only tickets swiped with your Player Rewards card are eligible.)
  3. Get 5X the usual Player Rewards for all your wagers
  4. Get $5 added FREE to your $20 share in the special “I won big” workshop at 10:30 a.m.
  5. Watch Uncontested in the Southwest Stakes prep race at Oaklawn Park. Will he match the eye-popping turn of foot displayed by McCraken in last Saturday’s Sam F. Davis?


Bullet briefs . . .

  • A novel idea: Play a "pretend" tournament this weekend! See HANDICAPPING
  • Why should you care about a race in Japan this Sunday?
  • Why Viagra is a no-no for race horses
  • Final two 10-point Derby preps go this long weekend; then 50-pointers begin
  • Do you know what to look for in workouts? Find out at a new seminar
  • Venus Serena has taken over from Serena Venus. What? (You named me what?)

FEBRUARY IS A SHORT MONTH; WILL THIS WEEKEND’S PARLAY WINNER DOMINATE? Can you increase a $6 show parlay to $10? That may be enough to win a prime rib buffet for two! That’s because, with only two Fridays and Saturdays left in February, there are no winning entries yet. Just parlay $6 to show on five races at any track after 7 p.m. Friday and/or Saturday. The Downs will match the winnings of the highest entry, too.

Win these after every prep race

NEW! WIN $200 KENTUCKY DERBY BET PLUS WEEKLY DRAW PRIZES! Get ready to predict winners of the championship series of Kentucky Derby prep races that begin next Saturday, Feb. 25 with the storied Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds. Someone’s going to win a $100 win/place wager on the Kentucky Derby and there’s a handsome useful Kentucky Derby travel mug and pint glass set giveaway in the Race Book after every Derby prep race! Your 10 best scores (1st, 2nd, 3rd) out of the 15 prep races from Feb. 25 to the Arkansas Derby on April 15 will determine the grand prize winner. Look for entry ballots each prep day.

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

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.


Churchill looks for breakthrough in Japan

Second prep race goes Sunday to qualify a horse for the Kentucky Derby

Mont Saint Legame wins first-ever Derby prep race held in Japan

Who’s going to win the Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse in Japan this Sunday and why should you care?

Because this is the second and final prep race in Japan that will determine the horse that will be invited to race in the Kentucky Derby.

Why does Churchill Downs want to see a Japanese horse in the Derby? To break into the lucrative Japanese betting market by having the Kentucky Derby simulcast there, something that hasn’t happened because Japanese authorities strictly limit the importation of foreign race signals.

Churchill has partnered with the Japanese Racing Association to try to make this happen. This is the first time ever that a “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby” has been held and it is expected to be an annual event.

Only two Japanese horses have raced in the Derby in its 143-year history. Last year it was Lani (who got in by winning the UAE Derby in Dubai; the colt finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby) and in 1995 Sky Captain finished 14th.

(It was the Cattleya Sho last November, won by #8 Mont Saint Legame at 5/1)

*        *        *


Final two 10-point preps go this Saturday

El Camino Real goes Saturday at Golden Gate; Southwest at Oaklawn Monday

Will he beat McCraken's speed fig?

After McCraken’s visually impressive move in the Sam F. Davis prep race at Tampa Bay Downs last Saturday, attention turns to the final two 10-point prep races—the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Saturday and the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on holiday Monday—before the 50-point Championship Series begins next Saturday at Fair Grounds.

The El Camino Real, held as it is on a Tapeta surface, is a minor stop on the Road to the Derby. But the Southwest Stakes on Monday will feature the impressive winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes in January, Uncontested, and the horse who followed him home, Petrov. Uncontested had won that race with a 106 Equibase speed figure, two more than the speed figure of McCraken who many handicappers put at the top of their Derby list as a result of his Sam F. Davis victory. Will Uncontested show us even more?

Did you know . . . horses take SEVEN SECONDS LONGER to complete a 1 1/8-mile race on the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate than when the race was run on dirt? The El Camino Real prep race goes this Saturday at that distance and the time is likely to be around 1:50 compared to around 1:43 when the race was last run on dirt in 2008.


Backstretch kitchen opens Friday, Feb. 24

Training track and Equi-ciser open Wednesday, Mar. 1

Equi-ciser opens Mar. 1

Well, here we go! Season 60 officially gets underway in eight days with the opening of the backstretch kitchen on Friday, Feb. 24 and the opening of the training track and Equi-ciser on Wednesday, Mar. 1.

High temperature expected next weekend is -7C. Live racing at the Downs begins with an afternoon card (1:30 p.m.) on Mother’s Day, May 14.

Note that all afternoon cards—Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Victoria Day, Derby Day, Labour Day and the final day of the meet Sunday, Sept. 10--will feature Family Fun (pony rides, petting farm and bouncy gym).

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Venus Serena, a 3-year-old filly with obvious tennis overtones who raced in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa on Saturday. There was a mare named Serena Venus (sired by Wimbledon) who raced from 2009-2014 so I guess Venus Serena (out of a mom named Kurmikova, a sly take on former famous Russian tennis star Anna Kournicova) is the next logical horse to honour the best tennis sisters in the world. Would have been neat to have had both V-S and S-V being called in a race.


A novel idea

How about playing in a "pretend" tournament this Saturday and/or Monday?

This being a short month, your next chance to shoot for the $1,000 first prize and all that extra runner-up cash from 2nd down to 5th in the Player’s Choice handicapping tournament is a week from this Saturday.

But how’s this for a suggestion? PRETEND the tournament is this Saturday and pick 10 horses you’d play if it were contest day. Maybe do it on holiday Monday as well. Who knows, that may give you momentum going into the real thing next Saturday!

*        *        *

Another free seminar on Wednesday, Mar. 1

Glen and Marshall to focus on workouts, contest strategies, Trakus and more

Popular handicapping seminars presented by Glen and Marshall continue with the next one on Wednesday, Mar. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Terrace Dining Room. Topics:

  1. Winning Contest Strategies – An overview of the different types of handicapping contests, what races to look for, how to stay organized with an emphasis on the local monthly contests and the Horse Racing World Series at The Orleans in Las Vegas in late March.
  2. The Importance of Workouts – Gain insight into how your horses will run next out by analyzing their workouts.
  3. Road to the Kentucky Derby – Overview of prep races run to date and a look at the remaining key races. A quick rundown of the likely faves and possible longshots.
  4. Introduction to Trakus  -- A new handicapping tool available free at more and more tracks. Shows the distance travelled for all of the horses in a race.

FREE PERKS: All workshop participants will receive 2500 Player Rewards points and $10 deposited in their HPIbet accounts after they’ve wagered $50 in their accounts the following week. Bring along your laptops or tablets and Marshall and Glen will answer any questions you have about HPIbet.



Infield fireworks display Saturday overwhelms spectators (Manley Chan photo)

"BETTER THAN THE FORKS," SAY FIREWORKS SPECTATORS: As a lukewarm fireworks enthusiast, I have to admit to being blown away—along with many other spectators—at the fireworks display that capped a day of snowmobile racing and other winter carnival activities at the Downs Saturday. I’ve seen displays at the Forks, in Ottawa on Canada Day and at Expo 86 in Vancouver but enjoyed the 20-minute carnival display better than any of those. I agreed with the gushing comments of those around me: “Awesome,” “I’d give that 10 out of 10,” “I’ve never seen that before,” “Better than the Forks.” Just when we thought it was over, it got better. And better.

I’m sorry for those who remained in their seats in the Race Book and didn’t take a peak but since the carnival was such a success—highlighted by snowmobile races with participants from Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba--they’ll likely get another chance to enjoy a display a year from now …. if not on Canada Day after live racing. I’m already looking forward to it.

MORE "NAME THE FILLY" SUGGESTIONS: Breeder Dean Melnic has touched a chord with Insider readers who have come up with another batch of great names for the first Manitoba-bred filly to be born in Season 60 of Assiniboia Downs. What do you think of these, Dean? See the first batch of submissions in last week’s Insider.

  • Chuck Whalen’s suggestions: Slewie Melody, Let's Celebrate and Slewie Rules
  • Ian Wright: Swinging Blues. Blue Velvet, New Orleans
  • Ray Senebald: Roger Wilco, Melnico Blue
  • Don Paul: Rogerwilcoout
  • Edwina Larsen: Sixtyshadesofblue
  • Bill Boyachek: New Years Slew

WHY VIAGRA IS A NO-NO FOR RACE HORSES: Humans use Viagra for you-know-what. But its use in horses isn’t for the same reason. It seems that cells in the penis are also present in the lungs and Viagra is thought to reduce exercise-induced hemorrhaging in a horse’s lungs. But, since the substance is considered a performance-enhancer, two horses that raced at Del Mar had their purses revoked recently because Viagra had been found in their systems. And what about giving Viagra to stallions who don’t seem to be “up” for their mating duties? It apparently DOES physically work but does nothing to put disinterested stallions into the MOOD to do the job.

"I WON BIG" STOPS THE BLEEDING BUT MISSES GREED SHOT: Job One for Saturday’s “I won big” betting group was to stop the bleeding from the previous week. Done. It won $1,036 for a 60-cent pick-5 that included a $20 horse in the first leg. Job Two was to maximize their profit. That effort, a $3 pick-5, missed one leg by half a length. The winner of that race, though, was the best bet of DRF handicapper Chuck Kuehhas so could have been added to the “greed” ticket (to give the group an additional $5,000) on that basis alone. Next time.

So everyone is collecting money this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza then hopefully will extend their winning to holiday Monday in a special Louis Riel Day workshop. Last five races at Tampa on Saturday and, since Tampa doesn't race on Monday, we'll vote on the Monday track on Saturday. See you both days at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. Mantra: “Greed is good, greed is good, greed is …..”

HPIBET Marshall Posner

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. What do I look for when watching HPIbet race replays and making trip handicapping notes?

A. The real key to becoming a good trip handicapper is to be able to spot the hidden troubled trip as opposed to the obvious troubled trip that everyone saw and everybody will be talking about.

Here are some tips to maximize your trip handicapping effectiveness:

  1. Focus ONLY on a single horse during the replay. Watch the entire race and possibly from different angles including the head-on view, especially if you’re interested in the start of the race.
  2. Look for a hidden troubled trip: not necessarily your horse “checking” but possibly dueling wide and putting away inside speed before tiring on a surface that favoured inside positions that day. This can be excellent for procuring a longshot next out.
  3. Another good angle: find a horse that makes a big sweeping move during the fastest part of the race, or around the turns, where they cover more ground than the others before flattening.
  4. Watch how different jockeys ride their horses. Does a jockey prefer to be on the lead or is he/she adept at weaving through traffic to put a closer in the best position to win?

Got a question for Marshall? Email

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

The Downs' elder statesman, Gary Danelson, is confident that if the late great trainer Don Gray had not passed prematurely no trainer on the grounds would have ever caught him. Bob shares the story of the current all-time leading trainer, Henry "Gary" Danelson, who will celebrate his 80th birthday in the last week of August. Read his blog here.

The days are now getting longer faster!
Enjoy the long weekend!

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