Thursday, February 21, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14 No. 6 (Issue #676)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


"A little too tough"

Trainer blames himself for running against "best female sprinter in the world"

Escape Clause runs fourth
“I’ll have to educate the trainer not to run her in such a tough spot again.”

Speaking about himself, that’s what Don Schnell, the owner/trainer of Escape Clause, told The Insider after Manitoba’s super mare finished fourth in the Grade 2 $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes Saturday which was won by “the top female sprinter in the world,” as Schnell put it, “Marley’s Freedom.”

“She was mad,”
Schnell said of his 5-year-old mare after not winning the race. “She was throwing her head. I’ll have to drop her down a notch or two.”

The 7-furlong distance was too short for her, too, and it was a day in which “speed wasn’t coming back,” he noted. “Ideally, her best distance is 1 1/8 miles or 1 ¼ miles,” a race in which she gets position, is able to relax and then make a late move.

Which means he will nominate her for these three races, he said, and see what horses she will have to deal with before deciding which one to enter:
  • $400,000 Grade 1 Beholder Stakes, one mile on the dirt on March 16
  • $100,000 Grade 3 Santa Ana, 1 ¼-miles on the turf on March 30
  • $200,000 Grade 2 Royal Heroine, one mile on the turf on April 6
Her fourth-place finish was still worth $12,000 U.S., well worth the seven-hour trip from Turf Paradise where she is stabled. “She came back 100 per cent,” Schnell said of her condition after the race.

*       *       *

SCHNELL’S SISTER’S BIG WIN BECOMES A SIDESHOW: Don Schnell’s sister from Ponoka, Alberta, Marlene York, typically a non-bettor who had come with her husband to watch Escape Clause, turned a $5 wager into almost $3,000 in a pick-5 or pick-4 that afternoon, Don said, and became somewhat of a sideshow as she pretended that her purse loaded with all that cash (minus the IRS deduction) was too heavy to carry around the Santa Anita Clubhouse. So the Escape Clause crowd which also included co-breeder Barry Arnason had a memorable time for other reasons.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • "Everybody was cashing" on Rob's horse last week. Will his horse win today?
  • Losing isn't always a negative. See why in The Week That Was.
  • Are you Honour Roll worthy? Prove it Saturday.
  • Stronach lawsuits fly: Now granddaughter sues Auntie Belinda
  • Record payoffs at Tampa because jockey falls off horse
“3 FOR THE MONEY” PRIZE GROWS TO $125 THIS SATURDAY: The 62-1 winner of the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn killed seven live tickets in Monday’s “3 for the money” contest so this Saturday’s prize pool is $125 in wagering vouchers. The contest legs are the first three legs of Gulfstream’s late pick-4. The five winners of $10 wagering vouchers in a special draw before the “3 for the money” races were Dave Joss, John Whitehill, Jim Cretney, Charlie Johnson and Alan Hampton.

Congrats to Brian Thomson for nailing the FINAL edition of the harness version of “3 for the money” on Saturday night. He correctly predicted the last three winners at Woodbine Mohawk Park Saturday, collecting $50 in wagering vouchers.

Zaldy Bauto wins first of 15 sets to be given away
TRIPLE CROWN GLASSES WIN PRAISE IN DERBY COUNTDOWN CONTEST: Week one of the Kentucky Derby Countdown contest produced a bombs-away winner in the Derby prep race at Oaklawn, the Southwest Stakes—which nobody predicted—but also produced praise for the “Justify” Triple Crown glass set which Zaldy Bauto won in a draw, the first of 15 sets to be given away after each Derby prep race.

The next prep race is the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream a week from Saturday. The person who accumulates the most points in 10 of the 15 prep races wins a $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby. Who were the entrants and who won points? Go here. NOTE THAT HIGHER POINTS WILL BE AWARDED FOR THE CLASSIER PREPS.
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Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Jets. ASD subscribes to NHL League Pass - watch any NHL game any day!

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge every Friday and Saturday 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.

POKER EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker in the clubhouse on the second level. Registration starts at 7:00 p.m and the game starts at 8:30 p.m. Maximum of 60 players. No late registration. Royal Flush progressive jackpot for tomorrow, Friday, is $1,972.50.

GREEDY CORNER: $280,000 Rainbow pick-6 jackpot carryover at Santa Anita tomorrow. First post 2:30 p.m. View others here.


Time for you to shine?

Second handicapping tournament of the year goes Saturday

Will your name be added to the Honour Roll as February’s Handicapper of the Month? Can you turn $60 in win/place/show wagers into about $100? That’s pretty much what’s required to win $1,000 in the second Player’s Choice handicapping tournament of 2019 that starts at noon Saturday in the Race Book.

You make 10 win/place/show plays on horses from any thoroughbred races from noon to 4:30 p.m. and watch your bankroll grow. Even if you don’t win, the runner-up prize money is $400, $200, $100 and $50.

Challenge yourself! The entry fee is just $25, due by 9 p.m. tomorrow. Or pay $35 if you enter before noon Saturday at the horseshoe kiosk in the Clubhouse. Good luck!

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Dirtydeedsduncheap. Hmm. When you get past the message this 3-year-old gelding’s name conveys, you start to think the person who named him is a fan of the Australian hard rock band, AC/DC who originated the song Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap back in 1976. Dirtydeeds broke his maiden Saturday at Turfway Park at odds of 18-1. Don’t you think some horse name-givers are rather proud of using the allowed limit of 18 characters in a thoroughbred’s name?
Q: Why can’t I play late pick-5s at Santa Anita and Aqueduct?

Well, now you CAN play the late pick-5 at Santa (and at Golden Gate Fields, too) which you couldn’t up to now because of differences in take-out rates for the early and late pick-5s at the tracks. However, that issue has now been sorted out so you can play all pick-5s at those tracks. But Aqueduct’s late pick-5 is ONLY available to bettors in the New York area.

Q: Why can’t I play the Black Gold 5, the pick-5 jackpot pool at Fair Grounds? (There’s a huge carryover.)

A: That wager has a 50-cent minimum but Canadian tracks, because of the “breakage” factor, can only handle bets in multiples of 20-cents. So, if the bet were 60-cents, Canadian players could bet it. (U.S. tracks “break” to a dime, Canadian tracks “break” to a nickel which essentially returns more money in betting pools to the bettor.)


“EVERYBODY WAS CASHING;” YOU GET ANOTHER CHANCE TODAY: Was it The Insider story last week about Rob Atras’s amazing trainer stats at Aqueduct that had so many players in the Race Book betting his Promise Me Roses on Friday’s card? The 3-year-old filly won and paid $21. “Everybody was cashing,” mutuel seller Scott Bruce told The Insider. “Players were collecting $300, $100, $200 and more,” he said.

And those who bet his 3-year-old maiden colt, Spectator Sport, on Sunday were cashing again. The colt paid $11.40. That win gives Rob a spectacular record of 13-8-2-0 since setting out on his own in January, a 62 per cent win rate. If you bet $2 on every horse at a cost of $26, you would have pocketed $60.50. Note he has a horse on today’s Aqueduct card: Race 6, #6 Royal Albert Hall. Morning line 9-5. The first race goes at 11:50 a.m.

Daniel Ceteno falls off when his horse, #8 R Baby Driver, swerves

OOPS! JOCKEY’S FALL LEADS TO RECORD EXACTOR/TRIACTOR AT TAMPA: Jockey Daniel Ceteno falling off even-money favourite R Baby Driver when the horse suddenly swerved near the wire in race 8 last Wednesday at Tampa Bay Downs resulted in record exactor and triactor payoffs at Tampa. The winner was 113-1 Goforthegusto and second was 60-1 Spin Boy. The $2 exactor paid $4,288 and the entire $51,724 triactor pool (10-3-5) was won with a very lucky 50-cent ticket. Centeno somersaulted to the ground and was unscathed despite his helmet being knocked off. Watch that race here. (Click on Feb. 13, race 8)

PLAY OF THE WEEK: Les “Longshot” Buzzell
once again had the Race Book buzzing Saturday when he was cheering for a 78-1 bomber, #1 Moon Launch in race 6 at Fair Grounds who won and rewarded him with more than $5,700 for his $80 ticket. “He had two trouble lines,” Buzzell noted. “And I thought if he gets out (from his inside post)--and he did get out--he could win.” (In his two previous starts the colt was caught wide bumping other horses.) Buzzell’s large winning wagers on longshots have become commonplace but they still amaze because no-one has ever seen anything like it.

Okay, so Monday’s “I won bigger” betting group wasn’t the holder of the single $130,000 ticket on Oaklawn’s pick-5. But the two horses the group didn’t have on its ticket DID produce a learning experience that will stand the group in good stead for landing a biggie down the road:
  • Leg 4: 62-1 Super Steed wins. Interestingly, I had puzzled over adding this horse to the discussion because, two races back, he was an even-money horse and didn’t he need another chance to prove he hadn’t soured?
  • Leg 5: 33-1 Tales of War wins. The race was an odd 1 3/16 mile distance. And the ONLY horse to have run that distance TWICE was—you got it—Tales of War. Only two other horses had run that distance—and that was only once. It was a “live and learn” moment.
So, with renewed confidence, the group returns to the last five races at Tampa this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. And, of yah, the group did eke out a bit of profit in last Saturday’s Tampa pick-5 which, of course, gave us the wherewithal to play Monday’s pick-5 at Oaklawn.

Belinda Stronach, head of The Stronach Group, is being sued by niece Serena

NOW FRANK STRONACH’S GRANDDAUGHTER IS SUING AUNTIE BELINDA: The Stronach lawsuits keep piling up. Now Frank Stronach’s 18-year-old granddaughter, Serena, whose parents are divorcing, is suing Aunt Belinda (Frank’s daughter), to preserve her jet-set lifestyle which includes a 15,000-square-foot home with a chef and four other staff, two vacation homes, two luxury cars, unrestricted use of credit cards and private jet flights to monthly vacations. Her aunt Belinda, head of the Stronach Group, controls the purse strings which Frank is trying to wrest back from her. The Stronach Group, among other business interests, owns Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Golden Gates Fields, Portland Meadows and Laurel Park race tracks.
Readers write . . .

"Honour in defeat"

“Hi Ivan: No head-hanging there. Escape Clause gave it her all. Mopotism moving inside her in post 5 really did make it a tough go for her. But she was game. If she comes back fine, look for a bit softer field.  Congrats to the connections!”W.G. Wind, Florida

THE BEST OF BOB: When life at the Downs was a family affair

Who was the couple that journeyed from Big Sky Country to the Downs in 1959 with family members in tow? One son worked on the gate and was a parade marshall.  Another was an outrider. The youngest was a runner in the jock’s room.  The daughter worked in the office for Harry Jeffrey and in the drugstore, too.  And if you can remember the drugstore, your age is showing! Bob makes sense of it all here.  (First published in July 2017.)

Spring training begins Sunday with opening of Equi-ciser!


  • This Saturday, Feb. 23: Backstretch diner opens. Player’s Choice Handicapper of the Month tournament.
  • Sunday, Feb. 24: Equi-ciser opens in ASD backstretch
  • Saturday, March 2: Kentucky Derby prep race -- the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream.
  • Saturday, March 9: Two Kentucky Derby prep races – the Gotham at Aqueduct and the San Felipe at Santa Anita.
  • Tuesday, March 12: ASD training track opens (weather permitting)

JANUARY: Geoffrey Metcalf.
Bankroll $90.30.“I look for trouble lines, equipment changes, good trainer stats.”

Will it be you? Tournament this Saturday, $25 entry fee, $1,750 prize money

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