Thursday, March 28, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14 No. 11 (Issue #681)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Dubai World Cup, Florida Derby, must-pay Gulfstream Rainbow, Woodbine Mohawk Hi-5

  • 6:45 a.m. – ASD doors open; betting window opens for wagering on race 2 from Meydan in Dubai. Enter Derby Countdown Contest on UAE Derby before 9:05 a.m.
  • Exactly 7:15 a.m. Race 2 Godolphin Mile is off. Note that horses leave the starting gate at precisely the listed times.
  • Exactly 7:50 a.m. Race 3 Dubai Gold Cup (turf) is off.
  • 8:00 a.m. – “I won bigger” workshop #1 on Clubhouse plaza to construct group tickets on pick-3s and pick-4 at Meydan. FREE: Arrive by 8:00 a.m. and get a $2-off breakfast coupon and free $5 wager on the UAE Derby.
  • Exactly 8:30 a.m.Race 4 Al Quoz Sprint (turf) is off

  • Exactly 9:05 a.m. Race 5Kentucky Derby prep race, the UAE Derby, is off. Draw for souvenir Triple Crown "Justify" glasses.
  • 10:30 a.m. – “Bigger” workshop #2 on the last five races at Tampa and Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream
  • Exactly 11:40 a.m. – World’s richest race, $12 million Dubai World Cup, is off.
  • Saturday afternoon – Features the Florida Derby Kentucky Derby prep race and mandatory payout of the Rainbow pick-6 with a carryover of more than $2.5 million.
  • Saturday evening – Mandatory payout of the 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 wager on the last race at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Carryover: $525,000.

PARKING: Note that traffic will be heavy Saturday because it’s monster bingo day on the main level. Parking has been reserved for horseplayers behind the grandstand, however, and security guards will guide you there. Better still, get to the track early for races from Dubai and you’ll miss the congestion.

TOMORROW: Insider special – Dubai World Cup analysis by Rob MacLennan


Cheer 'em on!
(From left) John Whitehill, Jim Roberts and Brian McKellar, winners of ASD tournaments last summer, are representing ASD today through Saturday in the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas. Top prize: About $350,000.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Manitoba's Escape Clause sets track record at Sunland Park without really trying
  • Cal board meets today to okay whipping/Lasix changes at Santa Anita & Golden Gate
  • "Easy" 49-1 longshot earns bus driver Handicapper of the Month glory
  • Your morning smile: Comparing Escape Clause dad's stud fee with horses she crushed
  • Fizzling favourites foment Kentucky Derby confusion
$150 AT STAKE IN “3 FOR THE MONEY” CONTEST AT GULFSTREAM SATURDAY: Predict the winners of the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Florida Saturday—Florida Derby Day—and $150 in wagering vouchers could be yours.

Win these Saturday in draws after UAE Derby and Florida Derby
TWO DERBY PREP RACES SATURDAY: UAE DERBY AND FLORIDA DERBY: Predicting the winners could earn you points in the Derby Countdown Contest to win a $200 Kentucky Derby bankroll. And there will be draws after each for a set of two souvenir Triple Crown “Justify” glasses. Last Saturday’s glasses were won by Chuck Whalen (Louisiana Derby) and on Sunday by Dave Brockhill (Sunland Park Derby.) See contest leaderboard here.

This Saturday is your last chance at off-track venues to be drawn to win $20 and an ASD T-shirt. Next month, $50 in Player Rewards points (10,000 points) will be given away each Saturday in a draw at each OTB. Locations.

QX104 � Today's Country

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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 $3,967.50.

GREEDY CORNER: $2.5 MILLION at stake today in Gulfstream’s Rainbow pick-6 and more than $600,000 tomorrow in Santa Anita’s similar pool. Saturday evening is mandatory payout time for the harness Jackpot Hi-5 pool at Woodbine Mohawk Park which should grow to $1.5 million.


Sets track record without really trying

Manitoba's mighty mare gears down in final sixteenth of $100,000 handicap at Sunland

Sixty years after Sunland Park opened in New Mexico, a Manitoba-bred mare by the name of Escape Clause has come along to set the track record for a mile – while being geared down in the final sixteenth of the race.

“Brought tears to my eyes as she crossed the finish line!”
HPIbet columnist Marshall Posner said shortly after the Sunday afternoon race. “Amazing. So happy right now.”

Which pretty much echoed sentiments of other Manitoba race fans. The 5-year-old mare has a way of endearing herself to her fans, of connecting. We can almost feel her confidence as she grabs the bit to dispose of her rivals.

Her victory in the $100,000 Harry Henson Handicap for fillies and mares in 1:34 shaved 2/5 of a second (two lengths) off the previous track record for one-mile but that could easily have been a full second or more if jockey Tyler Baze had persevered to the wire. “I was just galloping at the end,” he told owner/trainer Don Schnell.

“The race took nothing out of her,”
Schnell told The Insider from Turf Paradise where Escape Clause is stabled. “She could have run in the last race on Sunday and won that, too.”

Next race? Schnell said he’s leaning heavily toward the Grade 1 $800,000 Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park in two weeks. “I’m being told she could even be favoured in that race!” he said. Wow! He’ll have a better idea once he sees the nominations tomorrow, he said.

*       *       *

STUD FEE COMPARISON WORTH A (BEMUSED) LOOK: What did it cost to breed Escape Clause? See the stud fee for her father, Going Commando, below and compare it to the breeding cost for the other gals she crushed in the Harry Henson.
  • Baydar - $15,000 for Graydar’s stud service (Bred in Kentucky)
  • Jet Away Sue - $25,000 for Quality Road (Bred in Kentucky)
  • Clever Serve - $30,000 for Honor and Serve (Bred in Kentucky)
  • The Incident - $60,000 for Unbridled’s Song (Bred in Pennsylvania)
  • Super Humor - $20,000 for Super Saver (Bred in Ontario)
  • Performance Review - $22,500 for Eskendereya (Bred in Kentucky)
  • Escape Clause - $1,250 for Going Commando (Bred in Manitoba)
By Rob MacLennan

Is U.S. contingent the fastest group ever?

The 2019 edition of the Dubai World Cup features an international cast of characters that once again promises to stage one of the biggest racing days of the year. With American, Japanese, European and local defenders all poised for big runs on Saturday we are bound to be offered a tremendous card of racing.

The North American contingent is all fueled up and ready to go. And by fuel I don’t mean the gas for the plane. This might be the fastest group the United States has sent over. Led by Peter Miller’s two-time defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Roy H, the field for the Dubai Golden Shaheen is distinctly American. Promises Fulfilled, Imperial Hint, Switzerland and XY Jet are all also entered in the race making half the field American.

The speed doesn’t end with the Golden Shaheen. The Al Quoz Sprint features Peter Miller’s other two- time defending Breeders’ Cup champion, Stormy Liberal. Also lining up in the race are Belvoir Bay and Caribou Club both who won recent Santa Anita turf sprints.

The UAE Derby draws the attention of some horses further down on the Derby trail looking to get into the Kentucky Derby. The best of the group might be Gray Magician once again for the Peter Miller barn. The local filly Divine Image won the prep by over seven lengths and, with a victory, could be Kentucky Oaks bound. The other cool thing to note is there are two Ontario-bred horses in the race from foreign connections--Razeena and Van Beethoven.

The $12 million Dubai World Cup has a ton of familiar characters from the Breeders’ Cup and Kentucky Derby trails. Thunder Snow, the third-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, is the local hope but Yoshida, Audible, Seeking the Soul, Pavel, Gunnevera, Gronkowski and Axelrod combine to make a very even field albeit one lacking star power.

That should make it a good betting race but the horse to beat is probably going to be a North American who has been dominant in two starts at Meydan this year.

Rob is watching dozens of replays in various languages
and will give us his picks in a special Insider tomorrow.

(Rob is now assistant race secretary at Century Mile in Edmonton.)

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Winnipeg transit driver Roger Jones for spotting an “easy” 49-1 longshot at Fair Grounds Saturday afternoon to win the Handicapper of the Month tournament for March. Other players were kicking themselves for not having spotted that huge overlay: It was #8 Temprano in race 4 who was dropping into a race for state-breds after showing speed in “open” allowance races. See program page here.

The win—that had him pocketing top prize of $1,000--brought back the memory of his earning a trip to Las Vegas in 2011 by being the only player during a live racing tournament in August to make another “easy” longshot pick: A horse in race 1 going off at 30-1 that had a monster 92 pace number, way ahead of other horses in the race. Jones kindly assisted ASD in producing a how-to video for newbies of that race that will be uploaded soon on the ASD website under Handicapping 101.

The top five tournament winners Saturday and their bankrolls and prizes:
  1. Roger Jones – bankroll $122.20 - $1,000 prize
  2. Geoffrey Metcalf - $92.00 - $400
  3. Les Buzzell - $82.60 - $200
  4. Brad Kinnear - $81.20 - $100
  5. John Whitehill - $81.10 - $50
See full tournament results here. See Handicapper of the Year leaderboard here.


RACING GODS GET UPPER HAND; “BIGGER” GROUP CRANKS UP RESOLVE: You’ve got to hand it to the racing gods. They keep throwing curve balls at attempts to win the late pick-5 at Tampa. This past Saturday you could almost hear them chortling in the wings when no one had a winning ticket. It paid out on four out of five. But that just cranked up the resolve of the “I won bigger” betting group to put the chortlers in their place this Saturday.

The group’s tickets were dead after the first leg—a tricky 1 3/8-mile distance that none of the horses had raced in. Should the longshot winner, Lemon Zip—who had previously been beaten by eight lengths by the favourite in the race—been added to tickets just because she added blinkers? Hmm. In the last leg, the 24-1 early-pace horse, Mz Foo Do, was probably a must-take, too, because she was a danger to get loose, which she did. Two chances to make amends Saturday: at 8 a.m. for Dubai races (group will play pick 3s and pick 4) and at 10:30 a.m. for the last five races at Tampa and the must-pay Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream. Share in the 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. pools—or just one.

With the moving of the Assiniboia Racing Club’s two horses to the Jamie Hartman barn, club coordinator John Field tells The Insider that membership into the club is closed for this year with 56 members but inquiries may be made about participation next year. Members bought shares at $500 each which covers all costs associated with buying, training and racing horses through the 2019 live race meet that begins on Mother’s Day.

Readers write . . .
Where have all the favourites gone?

Dear Ivan: How do you pick a favourite in the Kentucky Derby when not one favourite in the preps so far has won? Just wondering!”Dave Champion, ASD horse owner

Good question, Dave. Good observation! It’s been that kind of year, hasn’t it? Here’s a round-up of the most recent fizzling favs:
  • Gulfstream: 9-1 Code of Honor wins Fountain of Youth, defeating 6-5 Hidden Scroll
  • Tampa Bay: 8-1Tacitus wins Tampa Bay Derby, beating 7-5 Win Win Win
  • Aqueduct: 4-1 Haikal wins the Gotham, defeating even-money Instagrand
  • Oaklawn: 4-1 Omaha Beach wins Rebel, beating 1-2 Game Winner. And 8-1 Long RangeToddy wins the other division of the Rebel, defeating 2-5 Improbable
  • Fair Grounds: 22-1 By My Standards wins Louisiana Derby, beating 4-5 War of Will
  • Sunland: 2-1 Cutting Humor wins Sunland Derby, defeating 4-5 Mucho Gusto
Will this anomaly continue into the UAE Derby and Florida Derby this Saturday?

THE BEST OF BOB: The Saskatchewan speed demon

Did you know that Bill Grohn had his own special training methods? He had no one to exercise horses on his farm so the former standardbred owner conditioned Astral Moon in a sulky. A what? Read Bob’s blog on the Speed Demon of Saskatchewan here. (First published in July 2016.)


  • Today: ASD players in Las Vegas for the three-day Horse Player World Series tournament through Saturday
  • Tomorrow: Insider special: Dubai World Cup analysis by Rob MacLennan; Santa Anita’s meet resumes with new rules to help curb horse breakdowns
  • This Saturday: ASD opens at 6:45 a.m.; Dubai World Cup races, two Kentucky Derby prep races —UAE Derby from Dubai, Florida Derby; mandatory payout of the Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream and of the Woodbine Mohawk Park jackpot hi-5.
  • Thursday, April 4: Keeneland’s boutique stakes-rich spring meet begins a day earlier than usual
  • 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 .

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.”
MARCH: Roger Jones
, bus driver. Bankroll $122.20. “I look for longshots I’m hoping others will overlook.”

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