Thursday, February 18, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 6 (Issue #777)

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

NO CHANGE! 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.


Anyone for zorse racing?
When a male zebra mates with a female horse, this is the result.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Harness racing resumes at Mohawk tonight at 6 p.m. after two-month absence
  • Jockey returns to the scene of his "crime." Who? Where?
  • Eye on Live: When does spring training begin?
  • Eye on Live: What ASD past greats will be celebrated in stakes races this year?
  • How would you like to become a racing steward? See bottom of this column.
  • How does the Equibase race program give you an edge over the DRF?
NEXT HANDICAPPING TOURNEY NEXT WEEK: The next Player’s Choice handicapping tournament goes a week from this Saturday on Feb. 27. Have you thought about doing a practise round this Saturday?
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 Monday, Feb. 1. See details here. If you haven't received your new card in the mail call 204-885-3330 (ext. 225) to check on the status.

OFF-TRACK WAGERING: One location is open. Note that the Rookies sports bar OTB in the Central Hotel in Transcona is now open from noon to 10 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. It’s the only Winnipeg OTB currently open.

GREEDY CORNER: The biggest 20-cent jackpot pick-6 pools--closing in on $300,000--are featured at Santa Anita and Turf Paradise this week. You’re reminded, too, that Super Hi 5 pools from race to race at Florida tracks are worth following. When the pool is big and the field is small, there’s great value in making a bet. It’s like getting into a poker game where the pot has been built up and a few players have left the table. See carryovers here.

ASD barns open in just two weeks . . .

. . . for horsemen to haul in horses, feed and equipment

Spring training is almost upon us. The ASD stable area opens two weeks from today for horses, feed and equipment. Then spring training officially begins two days later with the opening of the indoor Equi-ciser merry-go-round. Then, weather permitting, the training track will open two weeks later, Friday, March 19.

The 50-day live race season begins in three months: Monday, May 17 followed by racing Tuesday, May 18, then Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday all season. Post time is 7:30 p.m. every live race day. See schedule here.

*       *       *
Remember Proven Reserve and Astral Moon?
Those horses will be celebrated in two of six overnight stakes races

Gold Cup-winning Proven Reserve in 1986 with owner/breeder Phil Kives
(Gerry Hart photo)
The tradition of celebrating special ASD horses and their connections with overnight stakes races will continue with six more in the upcoming season. Remember?
  • Proven Reserve -- Manitoba-bred won a vaunted 12 stakes races including the Gold Cup in 1986
  • Astral Moon -- a refuse-to-lose Saskatchewan mare who won 19 of 31 starts and settled for second or third only three times each.
  • Polynesian Kitty (32-11-5-3) -- this mare won six stakes races including the Matron in 2007
  • Sail to France -- this mare won five of nine races in 1986-87 including the Chantilly and Buttons and Bows
  • One Night Lover -- 1994 Gold Cup winner
  • Far Flung 1992 Gold Cup winner
WORLD'S RICHEST RACE: $20 million Saudi Cup Saturday

No more than 10 times, eh Smith?
Striking Midnight Bisou 14 times (four more than allowed) cost Mike Smith $210,000 in 2020 Saudi Cup. (Vanessa Ng photo)

Jockey returns to the scene of the "crime"

Mike Smith expected to be on his best behaviour after last year's $210,000 fine

Mike Smith expected to be on his best behaviour (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Mahmoud Khaled photo)
I think it’s a safe bet that Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith will be on his best behaviour Saturday riding Charlatan in the $20 million Saudi Cup.

That’s because he was fined a record $210,000 last year and slapped with a nine-day suspension for striking second-place finisher Midnight Bisou four more times than the allotted 10 times. One of those suspension days was for “using the whip with no regard for the horse’s stride.” In addition, Smith had been handed a two-day suspension for failing to weigh in after riding in an undercard race.

So he flew back to the U.S. last year facing an 11-day suspension. The $210,000 fine was 60 per cent of the $350,000 he earned for the second-place finish. The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia meted out the discipline after written and verbal warnings to jockeys about riding rules at King Abdulaziz race track in Riyadh.

Eclipse award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., who finished fourth on Mucho Gusto in the Saudi Cup, had also been fined 10 per cent of his riding prize and suspended two days for his whip overuse. That was in addition to eight days for excessively whipping a horse he rode the day before the Saudi Cup. Ortiz will not be riding in Saudi Arabia this year.

*       *       *
Eight Saudi races begin 7 a.m.; bet on your HPI account
Baffert-trained Charlatan early favourite in $20 million Saudi Cup

First Saudi race Saturday goes at 7 a.m. CT
The Bob Baffert-trained Charlatan is expected to be favoured to win the second edition of the world’s richest race on Saturday--the $20 million Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz race track in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The first of eight races goes to post at 7 a.m. CT (4 p.m. in Saudi Arabia) with betting available on HPIbet or by calling a TAB operator at 204-885-9800. See list of races here. See types of bets here.

Five U.S.-based horses are expected to contest the Saudi Cup:
  • Charlatan -- won Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita in December
  • Knicks Go -- won the Pegasus World Cup in January
  • Max Player -- fifth in the Preakness Stakes; won Withers at Aqueduct a year ago
  • Sleepy Eyes Todd --fifth in the Pegasus World Cup, won Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream in December
  • Tacitus -- finished fifth in last year’s Saudi Cup which was won by Maximum Security

RACING CANCELLED AGAIN AT OAKLAWN PARK, MEANING NO SOUTHWEST: The $750,000 Southwest Stakes will again be put over to a new date as Oaklawn Park has cancelled racing because of unusually cold weather. The Kentucky Derby prep race, featuring the 2021 debut of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Essential Quality, was to have been run Sunday after being postponed from last Saturday.

Last weekend’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool #3 resulted in Life Is Good taking more bets than other individual horses in the pool. His odds settled in at 7-1 followed by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Essential Quality at 8-1 and Holy Bull Stakes winner Greatest Honour at 9-1.


The next future wager pool is Friday, March 5 to Sunday, March 7.

WIN A TON IN '21: Why you should look beyond the DRF

If you looked at race 6 at Tampa last Friday in your Equibase program, you would immediately have included the longest shot on the board, #2 Splash Cash in your pick-4 and other tickets. But if you looked at the race ONLY in the DRF you might have missed the horse.

Why? Download that race here.

Note the giant pace number, 138, for #2. That pace number is way ahead of any other horse. And what does that mean? The filly has a great chance of getting the lead and going all the way--which is exactly what she did. She won easily at 9-1, a great key for a pick-4 that paid $1,812 for $1.

And what if you just looked at this race in the DRF? You would have seen the early fraction for this horse two races ago was under 22 seconds but that wouldn’t have jumped off the page as 138 did in the Equibase program.

WOODBINE BANS LASIX IN “WIN AND YOU’RE IN” RACES: Woodbine Entertainment has quickly agreed to go along with a Breeders’ Cup stipulation that stakes races leading to entry into a Breeders’ Cup race be run without the use of Lasix. Woodbine’s three “Win and You’re In” (a BC race) races are the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Sept. 18 and the $400,000 Natalma Stakes (for 2-year-old fillies) and $400,000 Summer Stakes (for 2-year-olds) on Sept. 19. This year Lasix will be banned from all Breeders’ Cup races that will be run at Del Mar Nov. 5 & 6. Lasix use is already banned in all stakes races at major U.S. tracks.

BEST MINDS FAIL TO STOP “I WON BIGGER” GROUP HEMORRHAGING: Sometimes you just have to chuckle when a horse you don’t have on a big pick-6 ticket wins despite exhaustive brain-wracking by some of the best handicapping minds at ASD. Such continues to be the fate of the “I won bigger” betting group that played six of 10 horses in the first leg of the mandatory pick-6 pool at Gulfstream last Saturday then watched a 30-1 sleeper wire the field. Never say die, though. And, hey, it’s only $20 a share for sometimes hours of entertainment. It will be sunny at Tampa this Saturday so that’s where we’ll head, virtually speaking. Get on board for thrills and--oh no, not again--spills.
THE BEST OF BOB by Bob Gates: Last season's most popular column -- "I dreamed . . ."

Did you know that Bob's take on Tex Ritter's 1961 hit "Hillbilly Heaven" was his most popular column last season? Click here for one more trip to racetrack heaven, joining Bob to “visit” Phil Kives, Bert Blake, Max Freed and our historian's old friend, Garylle Stewart. (First published in July 2020.)
Mohawk Park fires up again tonight at 6 p.m.
  • Tonight: Harness racing resumes at Mohawk Park at 6 p.m. See revised February racing schedule here.
  • This Saturday: $20 million Saudi Cup from Saudi Arabia. Eight-race card begins at 7 a.m.
  • 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
  • Saturday, March 6: Spring training begins at ASD. Trio of Kentucky Derby prep races: Gotham at Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa and San Felipe at Santa Anita
  • Saturday, March 13: Kentucky Derby prep race: Rebel at Oaklawn Park.
  • Friday, March 19: ASD training track opens, weather permitting
  JOB OPENING: Want to become a race steward-in-training or judge-in-training for the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission? Click here for details.


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. (Please note that Rookies OTB is open daily from noon to 10 p.m and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.)

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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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

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