Thursday, March 21, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14 No. 10 (Issue #680)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

TRIVIA TEASER: How big a purse does Escape Clause have to race for and win to become the biggest purse a Manitoba-bred horse has ever raced for? (a) $350,000 (b) $400,000 (c) $500,000 (d) More than $500,000. See answer at bottom of column.

Manitoba's mighty mare faces seven in Sunday test
Likely to be favoured in the $100,000 Harry Henson Handicap at Sunland Park

Hopefully it will be Crazy Hour in the ASD Clubhouse early Sunday evening because that will mean Escape Clause will have won the one-mile $100,000 Harry Henson Handicap for fillies and mares at Sunland Park in New Mexico.

It’s race 8 on a stakes-rich 12-race card that starts at 1:50 p.m. CDT and includes the $800,000 Sunland Derby, a Kentucky Derby prep race.

Escape Clause is a stand-out in Equibase speed figures. Eight in a row of her most recent races have been over 100, ranging up to 112, compared to only a single 103 for trainer Steve Asmussen’s Clever Serve who earned that mark winning a non-graded stakes race at Remington Park in December.

Escape Clause’s previous two races came at Santa Anita where she won a grade 3 stakes and finished fourth in a grade 2 event.

Speaking of which, Escape Clause’s owner/trainer Don Schnell said “I will never go back to Santa Anita” if the track, facing a rash of fatal breakdowns, starts requiring horses to be shipped to the track earlier. Schnell has had great success shipping Escape Clause the day before a race and that’s what he intends to keep doing.

That is one of the reasons he is strongly considering entering Escape Clause in the Grade 1 $700,000 Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park at Hot Springs, Arkansas, after her Sunland race. That 1 1/16-mile race—a good distance for her--is three weeks from this Sunday.

Schnell told The Insider in an interview from Turf Paradise, where Escape Clause is stabled, that there aren’t many really good dirt mares around. For example, he noted the Grade 2 $350,000 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn this past Saturday—a race he had considered entering—had only five starters. Will the Apple Blossom come up similarly short on talent? Schnell is hoping.

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  • 5x the normal Player Rewards points when you make your bets at the track
  • Watch the Kentucky Derby prep race: the $800,000 Sunland Derby and other major stakes races
  • Enter the Derby Countdown contest on the Sunland Derby to earn Kentucky Derby points and win souvenir Triple Crown glasses
  • Enter a bonus “3 for the money” contest to win up to $150 in wagering vouchers for predicting winners of three races ending with Escape Clause’s stakes race.
  • As noted above: Crazy Hour will be held in the Clubhouse if Escape Clause wins; beer, wine and shots $2.95 and half-price appetizers.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Whipping under a microscope at Santa Anita & Golden Gate
  • Common-sense horse kills betting group's ticket
  • Sign up for Saturday's Handicapper of the Month tournament
  • What Manitoba horse made the Guinness Book of Records? (See Bob's blog)
  • Good news! ASD's former handicapper will analyze Dubai World Cup races
DOUBLE YOUR FUN SATURDAY AND SUNDAY: Double your weekend contest fun by entering the two weekly contests both Saturday and Sunday. (1) $150 is at stake in the “3 for the money” contest to predict the winner of three races—the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Fair Grounds on Saturday (when the Louisiana Derby is held) and races 6 to 8 at Sunland on Sunday, ending with Escape Clause’s race.

Enter Derby Countdown Contest featuring the Louisiana Derby on Saturday and the Sunland Derby on Sunday. Accumulate points to earn a $200 Kentucky Derby bankroll and get drawn to win Triple Crown “Justify” souvenir glasses both days. Congrats to Alan Hampton and Rick Zaretsky for having been drawn to win last Saturday’s glasses. See Derby Countdown leaderboard here.

A draw will take place at each location for a $20 wagering voucher and ASD T-shirt. Locations.

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.
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 $3,492.50.

GREEDY CORNER: MORE THAN $2 MILLION in Gulfstream's Rainbow pick-6 pool. First post: 12:15 p.m. See other carryovers here.


Whipping questioned, Lasix to be phased out

New rules for Santa Anita & Golden Gate are designed to curb breakdowns

Santa Anita management will be walking on eggshells over the next little while, hoping that new racing rules will help curb the spate of fatal breakdowns that have plagued the Southern California track. Live racing resumes there Friday, March 29.

A meeting between the Thoroughbred Owners of California and Santa Anita management will result in changes at Santa Anita and at Golden Gate Fields that will be put before the California Horse Racing Board next Thursday. Among the likely changes:
  • Curtailment of whipping. The apparent ultimate goal is to have jockeys carry a whip only for safety reasons.
  • Lasix may continue to be used on race days but with a limit of 5 cc (which is what most horsemen use anyways). They were able to use up to 10 cc.
  • Lasix will be phased out starting with 2-year-olds next year. After endless talk on the subject, will this be the beginning of the end for Lasix across the continent? Horses in Europe don’t race on Lasix yet more than 96 per cent of horses in the U.S. raced on Lasix last year.
  • “Cheap” claiming races are likely out at Santa Anita. Claiming races will likely carry a minimum claiming price of $10,000 and maiden claiming races of $16,000 and $20,000 have been eliminated
Santa Anita horsemen work their horses harder than anywhere else. Will they ease up? Here are the Equibase stats on the average workouts per start at three tracks:
  • Santa Anita horses average 3.02 workouts per start
  • Gulfstream horses average 0.88 workouts per start
  • Aqueduct horses average 0.42 workouts per start


Will you be March's Handicapper of the Month?

$1,750 is also on the line in tournament this Saturday; sign up for just $25

Because a bunch of ASD players are heading to Las Vegas to compete in the annual Horse Player World Series at the Orleans Hotel Casino next Thursday to Saturday, this month’s handicapping tournament will be held this Saturday instead of the last Saturday of the month.

Sign up for $25 by 9 p.m. tomorrow night or for $35 by Saturday at noon. Why not challenge yourself if you’ve never played before? Just bet $2 win/place/show on any 10 thoroughbred races between noon and 4:30 p.m.

That could turn into the top prize of $1,000 if your bankroll is highest. And, regardless where you finish, you get points toward Handicapper of the Year where the top 10 share $3,500 in cash. (Based on your seven best tournament scores during the year.) See HOTY leaderboard here.

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Got common sense?
Even non-horseplayers would know this

Pretend you know nothing about horses or racing but, for some reason, a horse is transferred to your care. What would you do? You’d have a veterinarian check out his health, maybe take an x-ray or two to double-check an infirmity and provide good feed.

Duh. That’s common sense, isn’t it? If that horse were a race horse, maybe your care would improve his performances. Logical, isn’t it?

Well, not applying this bit of common sense had “I won bigger” group players kicking themselves around the Race Book this past weekend. A horse taken over by a new higher-percentage trainer who quickly won a race by more than three lengths wasn’t added to group tickets when the horse was entered in his next race at a higher claiming price.

The horse, Faction Cat, simply destroyed the field in that start Saturday at odds of 5-1 (indicating lots of other common-sense players out there) and cost the group about $7,000. To be fair, a couple other horses in the race caused a handicapping distraction, resulting in this oversight.

Now that you’ve read this, will you find a similar horse racing Saturday that will help you win you the Handicapper of the Month tournament? Or will you miss the opportunity and be looking to borrow a “Bigger” group member’s crying towel as a result?

Moody Manitoba morning
VLT hostess Ellie Dobbin snapped this great ASD training-track picture on a frosty St. Patrick's Day morning. Everyone is loving the mild weather; forecast high this Saturday is 9C (48F)


BRUISED FROM KICKING THEMSELVES, “BIGGER” GROUP LOOKS FOR BREAKOUT: Two “Bigger” betting group sessions were held on the weekend with group members receiving most of their investment back on Sunday but missing out on $7,000 on Saturday which had a few of them kicking themselves. That was for missing a “common sense” play which you can read about under HANDICAPPING above. Break-evens or just-about break-evens are leaving a bad taste that only bacon can eradicate. So with “spring” in our step and renewed determination, let’s make it happen this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza – the last five races at Tampa. Humble pie and crow will not be menu options.

Nobody anywhere through the years has provided Insider readers and ASD players with the level of Dubai World Cup analysis that former ASD paddock host and handicapper, Rob MacLennan, has -- and, lucky us, he has agreed to provide the same this year from his new assistant race-secretary position at the new Century Mile race track in Edmonton where he has received permission to provide his Dubai insights for an Insider special. Betting his picks produced a loss last year but previous years produced spectacular results: Wheeling his top four picks in the pick-3s and pick-4s in 2016 produced a $4,100 profit and in 2015 a $3,552 profit. Watch for that Insider special next Friday.

THE BEST OF BOB: What Manitoba horse made the Guinness Book of Records?

Did you know that a Manitoba-bred horse made it into the Guinness Book of Records when he covered a half-mile in :44 2/5? Who was the horse and when did he do it? Read “Spring, sprints and a Spike with record-setting speed” here. (First published in August 2015.)


  • This Saturday: Handicapper of the Month tournament, Kentucky Derby prep race—Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds
  • This Sunday: Kentucky Derby prep race—$800,000 Sunland Derby at Sunland.  Escape Clause races in $100,000 stakes at Sunland, 5x Player Rewards points (on-track only)
  • Thursday, March 27: ASD players in Las Vegas for the three-day Horse Player World Series tournament lasting through Saturday
  • Friday, March 28: Insider special: Dubai World Cup analysis by Rob MacLennan.
  • Saturday, March 30: Dubai World Cup races, Kentucky Derby prep races—UAE Derby from Dubai, Florida Derby
  • Saturday, April 6: Big three Kentucky Derby prep races at Aqueduct (Wood Memorial), Keeneland (Blue Grass) and at Santa Anita (Santa Anita Derby)
  • Sunday, April 21: Easter Brunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. $26.95 (kids 12 & under $13.50). Tickets available from Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0. Menu.

ANSWER TO TRIVIA TEASER: (d) Escape Clause will have to race for (and win) a race with a purse higher than $500,000. That’s because, in 2006, Manitoba-bred Kimchi won the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

JANUARY: Geoffrey Metcalf, retired salesman. Bankroll $90.30.“I look for trouble lines, equipment changes, good trainer stats.”
FEBRUARY: John Whitehill, retired bricklayer. Bankroll $124.60. “I look for horses with odds at least 5-1.”
Will it be you? Tournament goes this Saturday March 23. Entry fee $25. Prize money $1,750.

Go, Escape Clause!

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