Thursday, March 9, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 9 (Issue #576)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Spring training on a foggy Monday morning

Bullet briefs . . .

  • It's Big 'Cap Day Saturday at Santa Anita!
  • Will your 20-cent ticket capture a share of $2 million Jackpot at Woodbine?
  • Shelley Brown arrives from Florida eagerly awaiting battle
  • Will Mastery do what's expected of him in the San Felipe derby prep?
  • "It's the most I ever won!" reader says and tells how she did it
  • Call it a bridgejumper/curbjumper double!

ASD MATCHES WINNINGS OF TWO PARLAY PLAYERS; WHO’S NEXT? The Downs had to “show” two players the money on the weekend when they increased their $6 show bets on five races the most. On Friday, the Downs matched Robert Dubois’s $19.55 parlay at the Meadowlands and on Saturday, matched the $45.50 Woodbine harness parlay of Shawn Gorrie, last month’s top player. Congrats, guys! Will you be the biggest “show” off this Friday and/or Saturday night?

$200 DERBY CONTEST -- GEORGE & MAX WIN DERBY MUGS: The $200 Countdown to the Derby contest continues this Saturday with the Tampa Bay Derby and the San Felipe at Santa Anita. Enter to win a $100 win/place wager on the Kentucky Derby (your 10 best scores will count). In draws for a Derby travel mug and pint glass last Saturday, the winners were “Lucky” George Moehring, who was the recent Players’ Choice tourney winner, and track regular Max Humarang. See Countdown leaderboard here.

QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive

Click to expand


Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in March? 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.

Irish Stew Mar. 16 & 17


  • Next Thursday, Mar. 16: Enjoy a St. Pat’s-enhanced prime rib buffet featuring potato leek soup, Irish stew, whiskey brisket, braised cabbage, glazed turnip, herbed mashed potatoes, spinach pilaf and special desserts. All you can eat $26.95. Reserve at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • Next Friday, St. Patrick’s Day: Irish stew special $7.95. Also, enter to win up to $100 by spinning the shamrock wheel (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.)


Not just horses are champing at the bit

Trainer Shelley Brown can hardly wait to take on her challengers

Just in from Florida, Shelley Brown unloads bags of feed

Don’t let the smile on Shelley Brown’s face fool you. She’s one determined trainer!

As she wrestled bags of horse feed Monday morning out of a trailer that had just transported four horses from Florida, the 2012 leading ASD trainer sounded like a prize-fighter itching to knock out her next challenger. Her winning percentage last year was 15.8 per cent and she doesn’t want to see THAT number again. “I should be at least 20 per cent,” she said.

What excites her is that she’ll be aiming for that mark with almost all new stock. Only about four of her eventual 30 or so horses are previous trainees, she said (including Can’t Use Nellie who won the Manitoba Matron at the Downs and the $50,000 Duchess of York at Northlands last year).

Shelley Brown and Stevie Mac

She can’t wait to hone her new acquisitions into winning machines. And, unlike last year, she says she’s going to resist requests by clients to run in races they have little chance of winning. (Handicappers take note.)

Among her four Florida purchases is Stevie Mac, a 4-year-old filly who finished second in a maiden allowance at Gulfstream. She owns the horse in partnership with Larry Falloon and Scott Anderson.

Her philosophy? Believe everything is going to go well “until they prove you otherwise.” Get ready for battles royale from the Brown barn!

*        *        *

110 HORSES ON THE GROUNDS ALREADY: Horses have been arriving regularly since the training track and Equi-ciser opened nine days ago. There are now 110 horses on-track, reports assistant director of racing Derek Corbel, from trainers Heather Wallerstadt, Don Schnell, Elton Dickey, Lorna Gray, Steve Gaskin, Tanya Lindsay, Tom Gardipy, Jr. and—as above—Shelley Brown. The live season opens on Mother’s Day, May 14 when the Kalfaari Stakes for 3-year-olds and up is scheduled.


Bridgejumpers lick their wounds . . .

. . . as opportunists lick their chops

Call it a bridgejumper/curbjumper double delight. In two races in a row in harness racing at Woodbine Saturday night, the sure-thing show horse in each race forgot to show.

In race 2, bridgejumpers watched in dismay (anquish? horror? disbelief?) as 1-5 favourite #5 Our Sky Major could only muster a fifth place finish which set up $11.20, $14.90 and $25.10 show prices for the top three. If you have a macabre desire to imagine the emotions of the bridgejumper(s) with many thousands of dollars at stake during this race, you may watch that race here.

In race 3, it was curbjumpers (timid bridgejumpers who don’t risk as much) who suffered. Their 6-5 sure thing, #9 P L Jill, finish fourth, resulting in show prices of $10.90, $5.60 and $4.90.

The lesson here is that it pays to check out show pools when you see a huge favourite in a race. Marshall Posner, who keeps you informed on HPI matters, says he tracks bridgejumper opportunities on Twitter. Go here.

*        *        *

Reader writes . . .

"It's the most I ever won!"

“Hi Ivan: Check out race 6 payouts at Oaklawn Park Sunday. I won the $1 exactor and 20-cent super. Most I’ve ever won! OMG! About $5,000! (See the results chart here.) I have been betting Oaklawn since they opened and have done well over-all. A couple weeks ago I won an ex/tri/super combo -- over $2,200. That was a WOW!

“I analyze the program but the “Bigg” thing I do is Play the Numbers. (Hey, I’m an accountant. LOL!) I record the top four finishers for every race and jockey. After a few races I usually see a pattern. At the least, I get a lot of exactors which usually cover my bets. I don’t bet “Bigg” bucks --just $1 ex/tri boxes and 20-cent supers.

“Maybe it’s just dumb luck but I saw the numbers and went with them. Oaklawn pays “Bigg!” Gulfstream is not bad. And speaking of tracks, check out Fonner Park. That little track pays decent!” Edwina Larsen, horse owner and secretary treasurer at a car dealership.

Hi Edwina: Nice going! You make a great case for taking up accounting.


VINTAGE BOOK SALE: Many of you know race track veteran Dan Black. What you may not know is that he has been the proprietor for many years of Black’s Vintage Books and Antiques on Portage Avenue across from Assiniboine Park. Well, Dan is retiring so that means his stock—WHICH INCLUDES ABOUT 40 BOOKS ON HANDICAPPING RACES, he says—is being discounted by 50 to 70 per cent! This is a great chance for you to pick up book titles that have been the foundation of the game. He’s at 2059 Portage Ave. Phone 204-889-0610. Google the storefront.


More questions than answers

Lots of potholes on the Derby road; will Mastery sort things out?

With just eight weeks until the 143rd Kentucky Derby, confusion reigns supreme over which horse has the most likely chance of winning. By now, there would be a clear favourite. This year there is none.

Each prep race, it seems, offers a new variable. And there’s no reason to think this weekend’s two races, the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa or the San Felipe at Santa Anita, will change things.

The likely favourite in the San Felipe will be Bob Baffert’s Mastery who has been among the most-bet horses in future pools. Trouble is, he hasn’t raced since three wins as a 2-year-old. No Dozing is being touted for the Tampa Bay Derby even though he finished sixth behind McCraken in the Sam F. Davis but his trainer, Arnaud Delacour, is very high on him as a result of a recent workout.

And what about the top-rated horses—McCraken, Classic Empire and J Boys Echo? They’re not slated to race until the Blue Grass in April. That could become the most important prep of all.


"FROZEN" JACKPOT TO BE RELEASED THIS SATURDAY: Saturday is your chance—for 20-cents-- to share in a Jackpot Hi 5 pool in the last race at Woodbine harness that is likely to grow to $2 million or more. The Jackpot was frozen last Saturday with $578,000 in the pool and has a mandatory payout this Saturday.

Improved Australian racing coverage

DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT IN AUSTRALIAN RACING COVERAGE: You’ll notice a significant improvement in simulcast racing coverage from Australia which reminds a viewer of election coverage where there is a continuous update on voting for the various parties. There’s a continual update of racing odds in North America compared to odds on those horses in Australia. The bottom left corner flashes expert picks on each race. And, at the very bottom, the number of minutes to each of the three tracks is given. Note, too, that post times are post times. Horses leave the starting gate precisely on time.

George Moehring
Invests tourney winnings in Club

WHAT TO DO WITH TOURNEY INCREASE? BUY A HORSE SHARE! After lashing out at the change in the Players’ Choice horseplayer tournament (see last Insider), “Lucky” George Moehring has decided to become a good sportsman with his doubled winnings as February tournament winner. (He won $1,000 instead of the previous $500.) How? Here’s exactly what he wrote in a letter to The Insider: “Having received that extra $500 I decided to become a horse owner and joined the Assiniboia Racing Club. I think this is money well-spent in the spirit of sportsmanship.” Well spent, George! Could bring some additional luck to the Club!

SHOW WAGERING INCREASES BY 38 PER CENT AT OAKLAWN: As a special deal for on-track patrons, Oaklawn has reduced the takeout in its show pools from 17 per cent to 10 per cent and rewarding them with higher show payouts, a move that has resulted in a 38 per cent increase in on-track show wagering. Proponents of takeout reductions are pointing to this figure as proof that reductions increase wagering. But have players simply switched from betting win or place—especially place—and now bet show instead? Hmm.

Robertino Diodoro
To expand to other tracks

DIODORO PLANS PUSH INTO BELMONT, KEENELAND: Calgary native Robertino Diodoro who is the leading trainer at Oaklawn Park (thanks to his assistant, Manitoban Rob Atras) and at Turf Paradise and is racing in California, says he plans to expand to Belmont Park in New York and Keeneland in Kentucky. Atras, who has given Diodoro a 30 per cent win rate at Oaklawn, has told The Insider that he is likely to be part of expansion activities. The Diodoro/Atras team, of course, won the Manitoba Derby last year with Inside Straight. Diodoro was fifth-leading trainer in wins in North America last year and this year is tied for second. He played semi-pro hockey in Alberta in his early 20’s and won his first race as a trainer at Northlands in 1995.

NOSED OUT OF A THIRD CONSECUTIVE BACON TREAT: A nose cost Saturday’s “I won big” betting group its third bacon feast in a row. That was the margin by which their key horse lost the first leg in Tampa’s pick-5. Since nobody anywhere else predicted the pick-5 either, the group picked up $117 as a consolation prize for having four of five. Two of the five legs were won by “rule” horses, one of which was used as a “key” on group tickets. Had the other “rule” horse also been keyed, instead of going deeper, the group might have won the whole pool! Something to think about this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. which is extra-special because it’s Tampa Bay Derby day with the richest lineup of races in the Florida track’s history, almost $1 million. See you then! Look at it this way: At least your fingers won’t be greasy.


Readers write . . .

Isn't Gold Strike a better choice for top female?

Hi Ivan: Liz's Pride was a brilliant early-maturing filly who had an impressive 2-year-old record at Assiniboia Downs but had only one win in 18 starts away from her home base of Manitoba. On accomplishments alone, I would ask you to consider Gold Strike as top female. Manitoba bred and locally raced at 2, she won the Woodbine Oaks and placed third in the Queens Plate against the boys during her Sovereign Award as top 3-year-old filly of 2005 in Canada. Her record of 4-3-1 in 9 starts with earnings of $564,500 (average of $62,722 per start) is also quite impressive. Gold Strike hit the board in all nine of her starts, eight of them stakes races.”Brian, Clairmont Farm

Hi Brian: Sounds like a major consideration for sure. Thanks for the letter.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

Who knew? Ray Stewart, the man who won the first Gold Cup in 1958 aboard Dr. Pat is alive, well and living in Brandon, Manitoba. In 2015 Bob spoke with Stewart who regaled the historian with tales of old Whittier Park and Al Capone! Read it here.

Where is this? Main floor ASD -- Big Day Wedding Expo where a marriage proposal was made on the spot (she accepted). Manley Chan photos

© Copyright 1996-2017 All Rights Reserved. Assiniboia Downs.
3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Read our Blog  See us on Instagram  Watch us on Youtube
Make Dinner Reservations
Book Your Event
Bet Online