Thursday, March 11, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 9 (Issue #780)

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


Saturday is prime rib night
ASD is open for simulcast racing, VLTs and dining

With masks and distancing required, Assiniboia Downs is open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. for VLT play, Race Book betting and dining.

DELICIOUS DINING: Friday is steak night, Saturday is prime rib night from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. $24.95. (Reservations not required.)

OTB’s ARE OPEN, TOO: Pembina
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; Central Hotel (Rookies) 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. except Sunday 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. NOTE: Canad Inns Windsor Park and Green Brier are only open to purchase programs from the kiosks and to make HPI deposits via the self-serve terminals. Both Casinos and Quest Inn remain closed.


ASD announces $5,000 jockey incentive program, $1,000 for referral

Coming to ride at Assiniboia Downs--or referring a jockey to ride at the Downs--could put extra money into your pocket. See details here.

Why the special incentive program? Said CEO Darren Dunn: “The federal travel ban to the Caribbean that lasts at least until April 30, will once again cost us access to some of our regular top flight jockeys.  Our best option to fill our roster will therefore be via the U.S.  As such, we have created an incentive program to attract American riders who may not have had ASD on their radar.  While the program is technically available to all jockeys, our intent is not to cannibalize from other Canadian racetracks.”


Bullet briefs . . .

  • Groom/exercise rider gained experience in Alaska and Australia
  • Longshot of the week pays $162.
  • Why is Gulfstream installing a third track?
  • How is history against Life Is Good supporters?
  • Will Santa keep delivering for "I won bigger" betting group?
ARE YOU GETTING CLOSE TO CHALLENGING YOURSELF by entering ASD’s Player’s Choice handicapping tournament? What better day to jump in than Florida Derby Day on Saturday, March 27. Maybe it will elevate your fun so much, you’ll say to yourself: “How come I haven’t entered before?”
Click to enlarge.

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

ASD TIP TRIO RETURNS AT END OF MONTH TO ‘CAP DUBAI AND FLORIDA DERBY: Got questions for ASD’s tip trio--Kirt, Marshall and Stretch--for their special online handicapping analysis at the end of the month on the Dubai World Cup and the last six races at Gulfstream on Florida Derby Day? Make a mental note of the opportunity and I’ll flesh out details in next week’s Insider.

Turf Paradise shocker
On a track favouring closers, Dom Strait at 80-1 gets up to win by a nose

On a track biased toward closers, #11 Dom Strait, a 7-year-old gelding bred in New Mexico, swept seven wide in race 7 at Turf Paradise Monday under jockey Alfredo Juarez to win by a nose over 2-1 Super Account, setting up a $1 exactor that paid $415 and a 20-cent superfecta that paid $6,840.

That win meant no one won the 20-cent pick-6; it paid $45 for five of six. It also resulted in boxcar $1 payoffs in the pick-4 ($33,656) and pick-5 ($26,084). Turf Paradise races from Monday to Friday at 1:40 p.m. central.

EYE ON LIVE: Profile

Puts her global experience to work for Mike Nault
Born in Germany, Hanna Dilts has worked with horses in Alaska and Australia

Hanna Dilts with Diamond Digger
Born to an equestrian mother in Germany 35 years ago, Hanna Dilts has been putting her worldly experience to work as a groom and exercise rider for three years in Mike Nault’s barn.

Interrupted by The Insider as she walked Diamond Digger back to his stall from his Equi-Ciser workout, she revealed she has worked with Icelandic and pleasure horses as far afield as Australia and Alaska. And, before coming to the Downs several years ago, she was training and selling horses in Jaffray, B.C.

“It’s my mother’s fault,”
she said of her love of horses. “She rode while she was pregnant with me.”

Hanna is a great asset (as well as a partner) to trainer Nault who suffered with sciatic nerve pain through last year’s race season after being thrown from a horse. “Nothing stopped the pain,” Hanna said. The sciatic nerve is at the base of the back, extending into the legs.

Hidden Grace
was the barn’s most famous horse. At 2 and 3 she was unbeaten in nine races. The mare is now in Alberta being conditioned by leading trainer Tim Rycroft.

Hanna expects 12 to 15 horses to be under Nault’s care this season. There are hopes, of course, that Diamond Digger (named for the diamond shape on his forehead), will be a diamond in the rough. The son of Violence was a Nolan Allard purchase for $2,000 U.S. at the Fasig-Tipton October sale in Kentucky.

Hanna said her favourite horse is the 5-year-old mare, Gold Diggin Darlin. “Everything about her is awesome,” she said. “She tells you when she wants out, she loves having her butt scratched. She just makes you feel much better about yourself.”

Wow, imagine a horse that does all of that -- and has an impressive race record to boot: 18-4-4-3.


History is against highly favoured Life Is Good winning the Kentucky Derby

On the face of it, Life Is Good appears to be a slam-dunk to win the Kentucky Derby, given his latest San Felipe victory at Santa Anita. He simply went to the lead and widened as he pleased.

That resulted in his being the biggest favourite ever in the March Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool. His odds settled at 2-1. If you’re holding tickets on him, though, history is against your cashing them. What? The three biggest favourites in the March future-wager pools in the 23--year history of the pool have lost. L-O-S-T. Not a good sign.

Those three previous record-breaking favourites were:
  • Mohaymen (7-2 in 2016) Finished fourth in the Derby; winner was Nyquist
  • Uncle Mo (3-1 in 2011) Was scratched from the Derby the day before the Derby because of a reduced appetite and energy; winner was Animal Kingdom
  • Pyro (4-1 in 2008) Finished eighth in the Derby; winner was Big Brown

So, all-in-all not something you want to hear if you’re holding future wager tickets on him. Life may be good now but the eight weeks until the Kentucky Derby is an eternity. Get out your lucky charms and do a silent prayer daily to the mischievous racing gods.

*       *       *
It's Baffert vs Cox vs Diodoro in Rebel Stakes
Three prominent trainers are likely to duke it out at Oaklawn Saturday

There’s just one Kentucky Derby prep race this weekend, the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn, but it’s a rich one, with $1 million in purse money. The likely contenders will be:
  • Brad Cox’s Caddo River who won the Smarty Jones Stakes (99 Equibase speed). Future wager odds: 16-1.
  • Bob Baffert’s Concert Tour who won the San Vicente (106 E speed). Future wager odds: 17-1.
  • Robertino Diodoro’s Keepmeinmind who won the Kentucky Jockey Club. (91 E speed). Future wager odds: 30-1.

*       *       *

WHAT WERE THE FINAL ODDS ON FUTURE-WAGER HORSES? Life Is Good was the lowest odds in last weekend’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool at 2-1, followed by Essential Quality at 5-1 and Greatest Honour at 6-1. See other prices here.
WIN A TON IN '21: Learn from betting group's costly omission

I hate to admit this, but if the “I won bigger” betting group followed through completely on this tip, it would have won more than $6,000 in the mandatory payout Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream Sunday.

The group’s tickets missed #6 Dancing Doll in the third leg. Why? Because of a failure to consider that that horse had previously raced in a $16,000 starter allowance race whereas only ONE other horse had raced in a starter allowance event. The group only played the other horse (#11 Swirling Candy) who raced in a $20,000 starter allowance. If the group had taken the next logical step and examined horses who had raced in a $16,000 starter allowance race, it would have taken #6 instead of playing horses that had raced only in $16,000 CLAIMING races.

Handicapping is so much about common sense and common sense should tell all of us that a horse racing in a non-claiming race is classier than a horse that has raced in claiming races at that level. Duh!


GULFSTREAM TO INSTALL TAPETA TRACK: Gulfstream plans to install a Tapeta synthetic track outside its turf course. It’s a money issue, according to track management. We had over 100 races taken off the turf last year and that becomes a major blow to our handle due to the inevitable reduction of field sizes,” Gulfstream's Bill Badgett was quoted as telling the DRF. “With the option to switch those races to the Tapeta track rather than a wet main track, we'll be able to keep the fields intact, which keeps the handle intact, which in turn helps keep the purses intact.” There’s no date set for installation.

It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that after breaking the ice with a $3,700 win in Santa Anita’s pick-6 last Saturday the “I won bigger” betting group will continue to play the southern California track online this Saturday. (Play will centre on the last six races.) The advantage of playing Santa Anita, of course, is that there aren’t many ship-ins so results are more predictable. I think I hear the mischievous racing gods grumbling--which is a good sign.

ARLINGTON MILLION RENAMED TO HONOUR 99-YEAR-OLD OWNER: With Arlington Park in its death throes because Churchill Downs Inc. is selling the property this year, the famed Arlington Million race has been renamed the Mister D Stakes to honour the long time owner Dick Duchossois who turns 100 on Oct. 7. The purse has been reduced to $600K. It will be run on Aug. 14. Duchossois bought the track in 1983 and, after the track merged with Churchill Down Inc. in 2000, his company continued to serve on the board of directors. In World War II Duchossois commanded a tank destroyer battalion in the battle of Normandy.
THE BEST OF BOB by Bob Gates: What did MB Derby and moon walk have in common?

Did you know that Dick Armstrong rode his one and only Manitoba Derby winner on July 19, 1969 and the very next day another Armstrong, called Neil, aboard lunar module "Eagle" landed on the moon and went for his famous walk. Read Bob's story about two Armstrongs making history worlds apart here. (First published in July 2019.)
  • This Saturday: Kentucky Derby prep race: Rebel at Oaklawn Park
  • This Sunday: Daylight Savings Time begins.
  • Wednesday, March 17: St. Patrick’s Day. Win wads of green!
  • Saturday, March 13: ASD training track opens, weather permitting. (Forecast is for -1C and sunny.)
  • Saturday, March 20: Kentucky Derby prep race: Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds
  • Saturday, March 27: Dubai World Cup day. Player’s Choice handicapping tournament. Kentucky Derby prep races: the Florida Derby, Jeff Ruby Steaks, UAE Derby.

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