Thursday, March 30, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 12 (Issue #579)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

From left: ASD's Dawn Forbes presents Wayne Misko, Bonnie Simmonds and Randy Premachuk with spending money for Vegas trip

It's compete time today in Las Vegas!

Channel winning vibes to four ASD players in three-day tournament

David Blake at the Orleans yesterday registering for the tournament

Can they match the $17,000 in winnings of last year’s Las Vegas team or do even better? That’s the challenge facing four ASD players today at the Horse Player World Series at the Orleans/Hotel Casino.

The four—retired banker Bonnie Simmons, retired postal worker Wayne Misko, horse owner/Kenora restaurant owner Dave Blake and horse owner/printing executive Randy Premachuk—won their way into the annual tournament by winning tourneys during live racing last summer. Misko was also last year’s Handicapper of the Year.

They will show their stuff by making 15 fictional win/place wagers a day. They will play against about 600 other entrants for a top prize of more than $300,000.

Channel winning vibes their way!

Bullet briefs . . .

  • $1.5 million at stake today in Gulfstream's Rainbow 6, MANDATORY PAYOUT SUNDAY!
  • ASD's own Chef Michael named Chef of the Year
  • New $50 million race track to replace Northlands Park in Edmonton
  • Bounce: After two profitable years, MacLennan blanks on Dubai pick plays
  • Sign up for new Posner/Sirkis workshop a week from tonight!

WILL YOU WIN $100 WIN/PLACE BET ON KENTUCKY DERBY? There are two big Kentucky Derby prep races this weekend—the Florida Derby and the Louisiana Derby--for you to enter to accumulate more points toward earning a $100 win/place wager on the Derby on May 6 – plus two draws for a Derby travel mug and pint glass. Congrats to last weekend’s draw winners:
• UAE Derby – Brad Kinnear
• Spiral – Joe Vocadlo
• Sunland Derby – Roy Hunchak
See leaderboard here (your 10 best scores count toward winning the Derby wager).

Can you increase a $6 show parlay on five races tomorrow night (the last day of the month) by more than $65.50? Then you’ll not only get the Downs matching your winnings but also will win a prime rib buffet for two because that’s this month’s high. Challenge yourself to make it happen!

QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive

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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.

Michael Keeler

ASD’S OWN CHEF MICHAEL NAMED CHEF OF THE YEAR! Congratulations to ASD’s executive chef, Michael Keeler, for being named the Chef of the Year by the Winnipeg branch of the Canadian Culinary Federation. He received the prestigious award at the President’s Gala Awards Dinner at the RBC Convention Centre last Saturday.

Book quickly if you want to enjoy ASD’s popular Easter Brunch two weeks from this Sunday. All you can eat $25.95, kids 12 and under half-price. See menu here. To reserve, call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

Who do you like to win the Kentucky Derby? You may get better odds this weekend by placing a wager in the final Future Pool from Friday thru Sunday. Exactors also available. See the lineup of horses here.


Need inspiring during your low moments?

Replay Arrogate's World Cup race

Arrogate's breathtaking win
(Martin Dokoupil / Getty Images photo)

Need inspiring when your horseplayer juices are running low? Replay the Dubai World Cup race. That’s a racing lifter-upper if there ever was one. Watch it here.

I’d equate Arrogate’s last-to-first victory to Secretariat decimating his Belmont field by 31 ½ lengths 54 years ago. Simply put, it was a race for the ages. And, at the Downs, it will be remembered as a particularly memorable highlight during Season 60.

The Race Book was abuzz for the rest of the day Saturday and that buzz is likely to continue for the rest of the year at least. Arrogate is not a normal horse, just like Secretariat wasn’t.

Secretariat’s heart weighed about three times that of an average horse heart and we can likely expect something similar with Arrogate.

The sheikhs who built the most magnificent race track in the world at a reputed cost of $2 billion to showcase the richest day in racing have to be revelling in the glory of having had one of the most brilliant equine performances of all time take place at their facility.

There’s never been a ticker tape parade for a horse in New York. Now’s the time!

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Was Arrogate’s victory as impressive (less impressive, more impressive?) than Secretariat’s performance in the Belmont Stakes in 1973? Tell The Insider at

Watch Secretariat’s 1973 Belmont Stakes win here.

*        *        *

MacLennan suffers a "bounce" year

After two years of profit ($7,652), Rob's picks produce a $576 loss

There was no way of sugar-coating it. ASD handicapper Rob MacLennan had a “bounce” year in his pick-3 and pick-4 picks in the Dubai races Saturday.

Wheeling his top four selections in the five pick-3s starting in race 3 (when ASD opened for betting) resulted in a loss of 5 x $64 = $320 and the pick-4 of $256. Total loss: $576. By contrast, the same plays in 2015 had resulted in a profit of $3,552 and in 2016 a $4,100 profit.

It wasn’t a negative, though, for the Dubai “I won big” betting group which actually made a couple dollars on their investment because, during discussions, more horses than Rob’s top four picks were added to their pick-4 ticket and they picked up $867.

Did the downpour before the races have anything to do with horses not performing as predicted? Days before the races, MacLennan had said “if it rains, all bets are off.” But on the actual day, he wasn’t as insistent.

How was he feeling afterward? “Disappointed, embarrassed, confused,” he said, “but also glad we came back as a group.”

If this was a “bounce” year, as seems to be the case, next year’s World Cup should again be profitable.


Momentum for Vegas?

Whitehill wins Player's Choice tourney days before partner plays in Vegas

TOP FIVE TOURNEY TIGERS: Centre: winner John Whitehill with tourney director Dawn Forbes. From left: Brett Perrault (5th), Mel Peddle (4th), Rick Henry (2nd), Randy Premachuk (3rd)

What a team! Days before he accompanies his tourney winning partner, Bonnie Simmonds, to the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas (see top of column), John Whitehill won the Player’s Choice handicapping tournament on Saturday which gave him $1,000 to take to Vegas with Bonnie.

The retired bricklayer has a knack for spotting longshots and it was no different on Saturday when he hit 24/1 Brute Strength in the seventh race at one of his favourite tracks, Fair Grounds. It was a maiden special event and Brute Strength was going from turf to dirt and cutting back to 6f from a mile.

The other top four players who shared $750 were: Rick Henry (2nd with $61.90 bankroll), Randy Premachuk (3rd, $60.40), Mel Peddle (4th, $59.40) and Brett Perrault (5th, $56.30).

See full results here. See Handicapper of the Year leaderboard here.

*        *        *

Sign up for April workshop!

Learn about trips, equipment changes -- and play races as a group, too!

Master handicappers Marshall and Glen are at it again with another workshop a week from tonight at 7 p.m.! Not only will they discuss trip handicapping and the significance of equipment changes, they will host the actual playing of simulcast races applying techniques discussed at their seminars!

Want to find out how to set up a valuable Virtual Stable on the Equibase website? They’ll show you.

It’s sure to be an enjoyable interactive night (bring your laptops) – and everyone who attends will receive 2,500 Player Rewards points and a $10 deposit into their HPI accounts once they’ve wagered $50 in a week. The workshop will be held on the Clubhouse Plaza.

Sign up by calling Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0


Bombs away!

Longshots rule the weekend in two of three Derby prep races

Fast and Accurate (Spiral Stakes) $57
Hence (Sunland Derby) $23.60

Thunder Snow edges Epicharis in UAE Derby

You gotta love Turfway’s synthetic Polytrack to produce longshot winners. In fact, the two longest shots on the board finished one-two in the Spiral Stakes Saturday. Winner Fast and Accurate paid $51; the exactor with BlueridgeTraveler paid $800.

The Sunland Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico on Sunday produced another upset when Hence paid $23.60 as favourite Bronze Age stumbled at the start and was eased. The UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai Saturday morning was the only formful prep: favourite Thunder Snow at 8/5 edged Epicharis who had already qualified to race in the Kentucky Derby by virtue of his performances in Japan.

None of the winners produced great numbers so don’t look for them to be factors in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. (Famous last words?)

So attention now turns to the remaining Big Six in derby preps, all worth 100 winners’ qualifying points to get into the Kentucky Derby: the Louisiana Derby, Florida Derby, Wood Memorial, Blue Grass, Santa Anita Derby and the Arkansas Derby.

WHO’S LIKELY TO WIN SATURDAY PREPS? THE FAVOURITES! From this corner, at least, you need not look further than Girvin to win the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and Gunnevera to win the Florida Derby unless the pace is so slow he can’t close into it. Gunnevera, of course, comes off a win in the Fountain of Youth and Girvin keeps getting better, with his last race a victory in the Risen Star Stakes. Consider him a serious contender to win it all on the first Saturday in May!

Readers write . . .

Suggests "showvantager" for someone who capitalizes on bridgejumper races

Hi Ivan: How about ‘showvantager’ to describe someone who takes advantage of cashing (in bridgejumper races) when huge favourites finish out of the money?”Brenda McKague

Hi Brenda:
I like it! And will use it in future Insiders when the topic arises again!

Hi Ivan: Enjoy your weekly Insider. My thought for the word would be ‘rolldrainer’ -- as in bankroll.”
-- Al Peterson

Hi Al: “Rolldrainer” certainly describes bridgejumpers as well as other players who play recklessly. I’m going to use it for that!

SEASON 60 TRIVIA TEASER: What is the highest paying quinella ever at ASD? (a) $1,086 (b) $842 (c) $956 (d) $607. Answer at bottom of column.


CONSTRUCTION TO BEGIN SOON ON $50 MILLION EDMONTON TRACK: Construction is expected to begin this spring on a one-mile $50 million racetrack near Edmonton’s international airport. It is expected to be completed by fall next year and will replace Northlands Park that will continue operating until the new track, called the Century Mile, opens. The same company that built Century Downs near Calgary is behind this project which was approved Monday by the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission.

Tepin wins Woodbine Mile
(Toronto Star photo)

CAN A HORSE REFUSE TO WORK OUT? YUP! When two-time champion turf mare Tepin was led onto the Palm Meadows training track in Florida for the first time in eight weeks Monday by jockey Julien Leparoux, she simply refused to breeze during 30 minutes of coaxing. So Leparoux turned in the opposite direction and she jogged back toward the barn. What’s up with that? Could she be in heat, trainer Mark Casse wondered. Does she prefer Kentucky to Florida? That’s where the mare will likely be shipped – and if she balks at working out there, that could mean the end of her career. Casse’s Classic Empire, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, also twice refused to breeze at Palm Meadows so he was sent to Ocala which he didn’t mind. This is what turns trainers’ hair prematurely gray!

STRANGE MISS BY "I WON BIG" GROUP: Strangely, after catching a tricky $27.20 longshot in the first leg of its pick-4 play at Tampa Saturday, the “I won big” group missed a relatively easy 4-1 horse in the last leg (a maiden special weight dropping into a claimer) to miss cashing a 60-cent $2,600 pick-4. Overlooking that horse maybe was the result of a crush of activity: the group was playing Dubai races, the Gulfstream pick-6 (which fizzled immediately with a 102-1 shocker winning the first leg) and participants were in a hurry to get to the handicapping tournament (group members are the top four players of the year so far). Whatever. It’s not the kind of horse the group would usually miss but it did provide amusement for a bystander who enjoys mocking the group’s efforts. (Karma will take care of that.) Normality should return this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Clubhouse plaza for the last five races at Tampa and a look at Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 with about $1.5 million at stake.

TRYING A NEW "SHOW-OFF" GAME: ”I won big” participants this Saturday will be invited to participate in a new “Show-off” show parlay game that requires each entrant to put up a $10 entry fee and play a $10 four-race show parlay at any tracks between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Entrants must designate their four picks when they give their entry to the mutuel supervisor before 3 p.m. The prize for the top player is $100 or more, depending on the number of entrants. (For this dry run, the Downs will pony up half of each player’s $10 entry free.) What will YOUR four show picks be between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. this Saturday?

JOURNALISTIC ETHICS: Readers take exception from time to time with this column and this columnist which should come as no surprise. I’ve been yelled at, sworn at and laughed at. So maybe it’s time to put into words what this column and columnist are all about. It’s simple, really. I look for newsworthy items and present them in as fair and objective way as I can, without fear or favour. That last part is important: What I think of a person I’m writing about is irrelevant. An achievement is an achievement, a misstep is a misstep, regardless whether the person is an angel or a miscreant. If it’s newsworthy, it gets covered and let the chips fall where they may.

HPIBET Marshall Posner

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. What's the best way to structure tickets for horizontal wagers like a pick-4?

A. The old school method of playing a “caveman” ticket on multi-race wagers such as a pick 4 is an antiquated strategy. Today’s horseplayer recognizes the need to maximize their coverage/budget by rating each selection into one of the following categories – A, B, C and then constructing multiple tickets using their “A” selections as keys in each leg and including longshots in different combinations.

Your “A” selections obviously have the highest chance of winning the race and therefore your ticket structure should be weighted accordingly, relying on your “A” horses to win at least two of the four legs in a pick 4 sequence, depending on your overall budget, in order for you to cash. A sample ticket structure could look like any of these: All “A’s”, all “A’s” with one “B”, two “A’s” with two “B’s”, all “A’s” with one “C”, etc. Keeping track of which tickets to play can get confusing if you have several choices for each category. That’s why I like to use a helpful tool such as the DRF TicketMaker application - (see attached image). To get started, just select the date and track you’re playing, assign a budget amount and it will prompt you to add your “A”, “B” and “C” selections from each race in the sequence. Once you’re finished, it will automatically produce the various ticket combinations that you can play in HPIbet or at the wickets.

Got a question for Marshall? Email

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

Which jockey has won more races than any other rider at the Downs? He rode in five different decades and was described by Don Gray as the best money rider to ever mount a horse at the track. Bob has the details here.

SEASON 60 TRIVIA ANSWER: (a) On Aug. 16, 1997 – Main Tain and Sam George Hill combined for a record-setting quinella of $1,086.70. Did you have it?

“ ‘A’ is for Arrogate, ‘A’ is for absolute superstar,
‘A’ is for anointed. Have we seen the anointing
of the Man o’ War of the 21st century?”

-- Announcer Terry Spargo calling the Dubai World Cup

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