Thursday, April 5, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 13 (Issue #631)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

(Crying moon image by ViewtifulDario)

A Saturday to lament . . .

. . . and move on from as quickly as possible

When the highlight of your day at the races is drinking mimosas and admiring the big blue moon during the drive home afterward, you know it was a day deserving of quick disposal into the dustbin of history. Such was Saturday. The blue moon should have been a clue.

For one thing, lots of trusting people who put their faith (and money) in “I won big” group tickets on Dubai World Cup races and the Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream got no return for their $20 shares. Sigh!

On another disappointing front, my favourite clocker, Mike Welsch, who gladdened me with his comment that my Kentucky Derby pick, Catholic Boy, “has looked terrific since arriving at Gulfstream” and would likely win the Florida Derby went down in flames with me and my $180 in future wagers as our horse finished a dismal fourth. (The colt apparently “bled excessively” and will be removed from training “to heal.”)

Reports said Audible wasn’t training well for the Florida Derby—which had us looking elsewhere for the winner of the last leg of the Rainbow 6--but he went on to win anyway. A podcast guy who proudly described himself president of the Sadler’s Joy fan club watched disappointingly along with the rest of us as his best bet never got untracked in the Pan American Stakes, the fifth leg of the Rainbow 6.

Mistakenly bet horse wins at 67-1

If there was a highlight, it was Mendelssohn making The Insider’s “key” race prediction come true by romping in the UAE Derby in Dubai. There was a kind of “plus,” too, in the mirth we shared with a player in the Race Book Saturday afternoon. He had wrongly bet $50 to win on #13 Chilly Bon Bon in race 9 at Aqueduct when he meant to bet #14 Karma Delight (5-1) in that race. His mistake horse edged past his intended choice to win at eye-popping odds of 67-1. Hahaha. Hallelujah! Lucky guy.

The next blue moon (i.e. two full moons in the same month) doesn’t occur until Oct. 31, 2020. Thank goodness. I’m sure a lot of others reading this column are happy about that, too.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Will Phil "K-tel" Kives be inducted into Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame?
  • Colt touted to break "Curse of Apollo" to race Saturday in Santa Anita Derby
  • Argument erupts over "key" race designation. What's your view?
  • Darren Dunn makes surprise bystander appearance in TV coverage of Dubai races
  • Money management and other stuff you don't want to be reminded of: Marshall's column
  • Out of harness: Standardbred track closes at Woodbine Monday to make way for turf
JUST FOUR PREP RACES LEFT BEFORE A $200 WINNER IS DECLARED: How are you doing in the prep race contest to win $200 in bets in the Kentucky Derby? There are three preps Saturday (from Aqueduct, Keeneland and Santa Anita), then one more next Saturday from Oaklawn. Then a winner will be announced. Leader board. Winners of mug sets last Saturday were John Whitehill and Brian Norris.

Remember to enter the draw Saturday for $50 in specific wagers on a self-serve terminal. The highest amount after five more contest Saturdays wins a VIP invitation with a guest to the ASD press conference and brunch that kicks off live racing.
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
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94.3 The Drive

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Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in April? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Jets

FRIDAYS, SATURDAYS & SUNDAYS: 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: $10 buy-in poker. Registration 8 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m. The Royal Flush progressive jackpot for Friday, April 6, is $4,095.

HAVE YOU TRIED THE PRIME RIB SLIDERS? Have you tried the finger food specials--sliders, tacos or Downs potato chips--during happy hours? (Every day 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight) You’ll love ‘em. Two prime rib sliders or two soft tacos (chicken or beef) for $7 and crunchy deep-fried potato chips sprinkled with parmesan and garlic for $5.


on your HPI account. Don’t have one? Phone 204-885-3330 ext. 225. Your first $20 in wagers are on the house. 

Big money carryovers. Charles Town program. Australia program.

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Green Brier Inn

NEXT OTB SEMINAR IS SUNDAY, APRIL 15 AT THE GREEN BRIER: Fan education specialists Glen and Marshall invite you to bring out friends and relatives to their 1 p.m. workshop at the Green Brier Inn a week from this Sunday for “Betting horses for fun and profit.” Complementary drinks and snacks will be served and attendees will also receive a $5 wager on a group play. Here are the three remaining seminars:
  • Sunday, April 15, 1 p.m.: Green Brier,1611 Main St.
  • Sunday, April 22, 1 p.m.: Canad Inns Destination Centre Windsor Park,1034 Elizabeth Road
  • Sunday, April 29, 1 p.m.: Pembina Hotel,1011 Pembina Highway

Sign up with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0

Art Vandaley was her contrived boyfriend

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Art Vandaley. Seinfeld sitcom fans will laugh at the mere mention of this name which was given to a 4-year-old gelding who raced at Delta and is now preparing to race at Hawthorne (14-0-5-2). That amusing name seems appropriate given his Kentucky parentage of Distorted Humor and Funny Moon. George Costanza coined Art Vandaley for Elaine’s imaginary importing boyfriend. “Just imports?” Elaine asks. “No exports. He’s an importer/exporter, okay?” retorts an irritated George. And, oh yes, in another episode didn’t George lie that he was interviewed for a latex salesman position for a non-existent “Vandaley Industries?”


Mendelssohn destroys field in UAE Derby. Had he come out of a "key" race?

And what's your view?

"NOT a key race," snarls a player after Mendelssohn crushes UAE Derby field

Fists weren’t flying but heated words certainly were. When Mendelssohn destroyed the field in the UAE Derby Saturday by 18 ½ lengths, I said to Dubai players: “See? It’s no surprise that the winner of a key race last fall, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, should decimate this field.”

shouted a player. “The Juvenile Turf was NOT a key race.”

“What? How could it not have been,”
came my reply, noting that three horses--Catholic Boy who won the Remsen at Aqueduct, Flameaway who won the Sam F. Davis at Tampa and Snapper Sinclair who ran second in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds—all came out of that race.

“So what?”
he continued. “It’s not a key race when the race was on the turf and those horses have been racing on dirt.”

As the argument grew more heated, the soft voice of horse owner Anne Champion interceded to calm things down. That leaves it to you to decide whether the Juvenile Turf could be classified as a key race because four horses came out of that race to run big, regardless what the surface is -- dirt, turf or Rice Krispies.

Send comments to

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All eyes on Justify in Santa Anita Derby

Will upstart colt earn enough points to give him a chance to break "Curse of Apollo"?

Will Justify justify all the buzz about him?

It’s put up or shut up time for Justify, the colt who electrified race fans in his two allowance wins earlier this year, causing speculation that he could win the Kentucky Derby and break the Curse of Apollo by becoming the first colt to win the Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old since Apollo did it in 1882.

But first things first. The Bob Baffert trainee has no points to qualify to get into the Kentucky Derby so he needs to finish first or second in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby. One of his main rivals is likely to be Bolt d’Oro, the colt who was favoured to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall.

Private clocker Andy Harrington was quoted recently as saying: “Justify does everything they ask and he does it effortlessly.  He's like a big kid who's just learning how to run. There's really no telling how good he is.”

The Santa Anita Derby will be one of three major prep races Saturday that also includes the Wood Memorial from Aqueduct and the Blue Grass from Keeneland. Predict winners in the prep race contest to win $200 to bet on the Kentucky Derby!


What happened?

Why did group plays come up empty at Dubai and Gulfstream?

It was just one of those days. Last Saturday’s group plays at Dubai and Gulfstream missed in multiple ways:

  • X Y Jet, deemed to be the speediest horse in race 6, the 6f Golden Shaheen, at Meydan in Dubai didn’t get the lead as expected. That set up for the third choice, Mind Your Biscuits, charging from off the pace to win. What?
  • In previous years, a solid U.S. horse (Arrogate, California Chrome, etc.) could be expected to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup. This year, the horse who was pulled up in last year’s Kentucky Derby, Thunder Snow, and since then has been doing all his racing in Europe and the UAE, defeated U.S. favourite West Coast at odds of 10-1. What?
  • The first leg of Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 (race 9) was won by an $80 horse, #3 Outback Bob, while a horse that seemingly had everything going for it, #2 Rhode Island (best Tomlinson turf figure, good closing kick on turf last time, the preferred horse of two DRF analysts) was nowhere. What?
  • Sadler’s Joy, considered a key by many in the fifth leg of the Rainbow 6, never got untracked to do his last-to-first rumble. What?
  • Negative workout reports seemed to indicate that Audible was a vulnerable favourite to be played against in the last leg of the Rainbow 6, the Florida Derby. He wasn’t. What?
  • “Bled excessively” is not what you want to hear about the horse, Catholic Boy, whom you strongly favoured to win the Florida Derby and was keyed on multiple tickets. No wonder he could only run “evenly” in the stretch drive. That’s luck.
Was it a case, perhaps, of being inundated with all sorts of information and trying TOO hard?

Bacon: "Greasing" the wheels to success

LET BACON SOOTHE THE SOUL (AND GREASE THE WHEEL OF SUCCESS): After last Saturday’s debacle, “I won biggers” should be happy to be returning “home” to the Tampa pick-5 this Saturday. When Tampa runs out, Woodbine will become the track of choice because the group did very well there last year. Tell you what: A big crunchy mountain of bacon will await group members this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. to heal last Saturday’s wounds and “grease” the wheels for a successful closing month at Tampa!

Santa Anita's Frank Wrona
Gives a damn

RACE CALLER LINE OF THE WEEK: “Rhettbutler doesn’t give a damn. He wins by three.” – Santa Anita race-caller Michael Wrona as Rhettbutler, a 3-year-old gelding, crosses the wire to win race 3 at Santa Sunday ($10.60). His famous line comes from the movie classic, Gone With the Wind. When Scarlett O’Hara (Vivian Leigh) sobs “Where shall I go? What shall I do?” Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) responds with “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” In Sunday’s race, Rhettbutler didn’t “give a damn” about horses trying to catch him, Wrona said. Witty! (Watch California replays free by signing up at


Darren Dunn in the background while someone is being interviewed at Meydan

DUNN MAKES A “CAMEO” APPEARANCE IN DUBAI: Few knew ASD CEO Darren Dunn was in Dubai for the World Cup so when his face appeared by accident as a bystander during TV coverage of those races, local horseplayers grabbed their phones to record what they were seeing (at right). It seems that Dunn’s friendship with NBC broadcaster—and former Winnipeg Jets hockey great Ed Olczyk—got him perks in Dubai that included a plush suite and hobnobbing in VIP areas of the $2 billion facility. “Amazing city and stunning racetrack. I don't have enough adjectives to describe the level of class I experienced,” Dunn effused. Hey, if something had happened to the Meydan announcer, Dunn was right there to save the day!

PHIL KIVES NOMINATED TO HALL OF FAME: We’ll know next week whether the late Phil Kives, Assiniboia Downs’ most prominent horse owner/breeder in four decades of racing, will be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame as “builder.” Seems like a slam-dunk to me. Twenty knowledgeable racing industry people are on the election committee including Manitoba Jockey Club president Harvey Warner, horseman/breeder Dr. Ross McKague and track historian Bob Gates.

Betting just keeps growing on Gulfstream races, reaching $49.9 million on Florida Derby Day Saturday, their biggest day ever, eclipsing the track’s previous high of $41.9 million on Pegasus World Cup Day in January. Of course, mandatory payout of the Rainbow 6 helped. Florida Derby Day wagering doubled the amount wagered on TWO days of Breeders’ Cup races at Del Mar last fall ($25.4 million).

Mind Your Biscuits winning Golden Shaheen.
Most earnings of a NY-bred (Jour de Galop photo)

NEW NEW YORK CELEBRITY -- MIND YOUR BISCUITS: Move over, Funny Cide. You’re no longer the highest money earner of horses bred in New York. Sprinter Mind Your Biscuits now wears that mantle by virtue of his second victory in the $2 million Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on Saturday. Funny Cide (38-11-6-8), winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, has lifetime earnings of $3.52 million. Mind Your Biscuits, only 5-years-old (21-7-8-3) has made $3.72 million. Does he have two or three more Golden Shaheens in him?

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q: What's more important? Handicapping or money management?

A: The truth is, to become a successful horseplayer you need to master both of these disciplines
. And, nobody said it’s going to be easy.

Generally speaking, most horseplayers tend to gravitate towards the handicapping side of the equation. After all, that’s where most of the appeal lies: analyzing a race, de-constructing a puzzle. Who’s going to finish and where? Deciding on how to play them is the next step.

Things we should do but don't want to hear.

Let’s say you really like a straight exacta and see nothing else. Rather than playing a $10 exacta only one way, say 6-4, consider playing an $8 exacta 6-4 and a $2 exacta saver 4-6, In the long run, playing small saver bets is an excellent way to help with money management.

Are you coming to the track with a financial plan and budget in mind? Most serious horseplayers handicap ahead of time so they have at least a rough outline of which races they prefer most, what bets they’re going to make, which races they’re going to pass, etc. The same goes for money management. Have a budget and stick to it.

That means making sure that after you hit big with a $2 exacta wheel that you don’t suddenly start playing $10 exactas and are broke before your BEST BET is running.

Being disciplined also means not getting carried away when you first get to the track. It took me over 20 years to finally appreciate that it’s not the end of the world if you miss the “next” race. After all, there’s another one running in about three minutes so stick to the plan!

HPIbet announced this past week that the Partial Cash Out feature that was introduced about five months ago, has been discontinued. Details were sparse about what happened but it sounds like it’s not going to be coming back.

Got a question for Marshall? Email


Did you know . . . that there is something very special about a chestnut horse that sports blonde highlights - for example Major Enterprise and Victor's Pride? Read about it here.


  • Last chance to future wager (Friday to Sunday)

    Tonight: All-you-can-eat certified Angus prime rib buffet includes pasta station, herb and roasted chicken, mustard and dijon ham and curry cream meatballs.Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0 to reserve.
  • Tomorrow thru Sunday: Final Kentucky Derby future wagering. Click here for pool #4.
  • This Saturday: The “big three” in Derby preps: the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, the Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita
  • Monday, April 9: Final day of standardbred racing at Woodbine. The harness track will be converted into a second turf course. Now get used to “Woodbine at Mohawk Park” year-round starting Thursday from Campbellville, 30 km west of Woodbine. Note the new post time of 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 14: Arkansas Derby (final major prep race for the Kentucky Derby)
  • Saturday, Sunday, April 14-15: New! The Indulgence Expo at ASD. A unique “live the good life” theme involving fitness, beauty, cars, boats, home and garden, food trucks, micro-brewery, prize draws and much, much more. $10. Free parking.
  • Thursday, April 19: Sovereign Awards banquet in Toronto to name top 2017 jocks, horses and horsemen and women in Canada. Strongly Ontario-oriented, of course.


What's this? It's "White-Out to Win" for the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL playoffs next week

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