Thursday, April 6, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 13 (Issue #580)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Treat yourself tonight!

Come for the prime rib, stay for the handicapping workshop

BUFFET: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; WORKSHOP: 7 p.m.

Certified Angus prime rib

It’s Thursday, which means Chef of the Year Michael’s culinary team serves up another certified Angus prime rib buffet from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. while ASD’s handicapping duo, Marshall and Glen, serve up another valuable free advanced education session starting at 7 p.m.

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

YOU WIELD THE ICE CREAM SCOOP! The 5 p.m. buffet, made famous because it spares no expense by serving only the very best prime rib money can buy (hence, certified Angus), also includes salad bar, pasta bar (you pick the ingredients!), homestyle soup and other entrees, side dishes and delicious desserts where you get to wield the ice cream scoop! All you can eat $26.95.

The 7 p.m. workshop will examine trip handicapping, the significance of equipment changes, how to set up a Virtual Stable and will apply principles to the actual playing of simulcast races tonight! Location: Clubhouse plaza.

Attendees will get 2,500 free Player Rewards points and $10 will be added to their HPI account when they’ve bet $50 over the next week.

Play a couple of races before the workshop!
Here are first three races at Charles Town (starts 6 p.m.)

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Bert Blake
    From Juno Beach to Downs patriarch

    $590,000 carryover in today's pick-6 at Santa Anita
  • Team Assiniboia wins $26,400 in Vegas tourney--best ever!
  • Shocker: Unique Bella is sidelined, paving way for monster future wager payoffs
  • Just four Kentucky Derby prep races remain; three of them this Saturday
  • When will the main track open for timed workouts?
  • MUST READ: Private moments with one of ASD's greatest trainers. See Bob's blog

FINAL MONTH TO “SHOW” YOUR STUFF: This is the final month for the 5-Alive Double Your Winnings Show Parlay Challenge. In other words, you have eight chances left to “show” your stuff by turning a $6 five-race show parlay Fridays and Saturdays into the biggest each night to have the Downs match your winnings. And, of course, biggest of the month wins a prime rib buffet for two, too. Last month’s winner of the buffet was Al “Mr. Parlay” Ilott. Said Ilott: “Anytime you can turn a $2.20 show bet into $4.40 (because the Downs doubles it) seems like pretty good value to me.” Put that way, this game is one of the best deals at the track!

So the Florida Derby is history and now we have a Big Three day Saturday: the Wood Memorial from Aqueduct, the Blue Grass from Keeneland in Kentucky and the Santa Anita Derby from Santa Anita. Who do you like in each? Enter the Derby Countdown contest to accumulate more points to win $100 win/place in the Kentucky Derby. And, even if you’re not in the running, your entry will give you THREE chances to score a Derby travel mug and pint glass. Last week’s draw winners were Max Humerang and Kathy Yeroschak. See leaderboard here.

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 April? 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.




Last year's live racing tourney winners won even more in Vegas!

Best year ever!

ASD players return from Vegas tourney with more than $26,000 (Cdn)

They did it! ASD players at this year’s edition of the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas won almost $10,000 more than last year’s group. They won close to $20,000 U.S. which translates into $26,400 in Canadian cash. There were more than 570 entries in the three-day tournament last Thursday to Saturday at the Orleans Hotel/Casino.

  • Bonnie Simmonds, a retired bank employee, finished a spectacular 7th in the overall standings, winning $9,063 (Cdn). She and her significant other, retired bricklayer John Whitehill, were on a roll. He had just won ASD's Player's Choice handicapping tournament days before accompanying her to Las Vegas.
  • Murray Chaban, a retired postal worker, won a total of $9,131 which included $6,865 day money for finishing an incredible 2nd on Saturday plus $2,266 for finishing 26th overall.
  • Randy Premachuk, a horse owner and printing executive, finished an impressive third on Friday, winning day money of $5,492. But he almost finished first! Read his account of his dramatic finish here.
  • Wayne Misko, a retired postal worker, finished 49th which gave him prize money of $1,360.
  • Dave Blake, a horse owner who runs a restaurant in Kenora, finished 60th, the final prize position, which was worth $1,360. And he wins a big shout out from this corner for keeping The Insider informed on what was happening from day to day. Lots of good karma will flow his way!

Murray Chaban
Was Misko's guest

Simmonds, Premachuk, Blake and Misko won their way into the tournament by having won tournaments at the Downs during live racing last summer. Chaban was Misko’s guest.

The winner of the Horse Player World Series—in fact, both the first and second place finisher since he bought two entries—was Pete Puhich, 59, a retired aircraft mechanic from Renton, Washington, who now plans to move to Las Vegas.

Want to follow in the footsteps of these guys? Enter tournaments at the Downs during live racing!

*        *        *

Moderate betting seldom wins pick-6s

To have won $48,000 at Gulfstream Sunday, you needed to go big or get lucky

Playing Sunday’s mandatory-payout Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream reconfirmed a lesson I learned a long time ago but still mess up on.

You have to play to win or play small. Anything in between rarely works. Betting by the “I won big” group has proven the point: the group has spent hundreds of dollars on pick-4s that have paid in the thousands. They won simply by taking every “rule” horse and almost every “opinion” horse. They had the money to throw at it.

Problem is, doing that in a pick-6 multiplies the cost of the ticket hugely. A 20-cent ticket in the Rainbow paid $48,000 and I tried to win it with a few hundred dollars which didn’t allow enough ticket depth, especially in the last leg in which I went two deep when I needed to go five deep because three horses, other than the favourite, were very close in the all-important closing fractions in a turf route.

Four of the six legs were won by “rule” horses--such as, in maiden races, adding up where the horse finished last time with his position at the first call in his previous race--but, problem was, there were too many “rule” horses in various legs. Fields were too closely matched.

In the first leg, for example, a maiden allowance horse was dropping into a claimer. Should this horse be a key or, to be safe, should claimers with the lowest added-up numbers also be played? As it turned out, the claimer with the lowest added-up number (6) didn’t win but the horse with the second-best added up number (7) did. And the allowance dropper finished second.

Most legs offered similar dilemmas. There were likely big consortiums that bet thousands and that’s what it took. Either that or some lucky players spent little but guessed right and collected a nice cheque. The in-betweeners, like myself, were mainly left to lick our wounds – and to vow either to spend what it takes next time or just hope luck is on our side when we take only a modest stab at it.


Sheldon Riskin will be back clocking workouts when the main track opens Saturday!


They went from terrific to terrible

Will Irish War Cry and Royal Mo bounce back?

Irish War Cry
First in the Holy Bull,
7th in the Ftn of Youth

Royal Mo
First in the Robert B. Lewis,
9th in the Rebel

So which Irish War Cry will show up Saturday in the Wood Memorial? Will it be the one who disposed of Gunnevera and Classic Empire in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream in February? Or the one that tired badly and finished 7th in the Fountain of Youth a month later?

And what Royal Mo will we see in the Santa Anita Derby? The one who wired the short field in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita? Or the one who finished 9th in the Rebel at Oaklawn Park?

And, in the Blue Grass at Keeneland in Kentucky, will the four-for-four McCraken show that he’s deserving at least of co-favouritism in the Kentucky Derby?

Who will be your picks in the Countdown to the Derby contest? Will the winner of one of these races come back to win the Kentucky Derby—or even the Triple Crown?

Or will you still be waiting to see what happens in the final big prep race, the Arkansas Derby, next Saturday? Decisions, decisions.

Readers write . . .

Secretariat by a mile

Hi Ivan: No way, not! If there was a match race, Secretariat easily over Arrogate! There's no real comparing the two. In this day and age one great horse, and then Greatness, "Secretariat." Look at the horses Secretariat ran against, Great horses of the era.”Sammy Mysticwriter

SEASON 60 TRIVIA TEASER: What was the distance of the marathon race run at the Downs on the last day of the 1964 meet? (It was also the longest race ever run in Canada.) (a) 1 5/8 miles (b) 2 miles (c) 2 1/4 miles (d) 2 1/2 miles. See answer at the bottom of this column.


There's horse boarding . . .

. . . then there's horseboarding
(All the rage in England)

SHOCKER: UNIQUE BELLA, UNBEATABLE FILLY, LIKELY OUT OF OAKS: The prohibitive favourite to win the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Kentucky Derby, Unique Bella, is reportedly suffering from shin issues that are likely to keep her from being entered into that race. That means players who bet against her in the Oaks Future Pool are hoping to reap a huge return. Exactor payoffs go as high as $17,000. A DRF podcast on March 31 that discussed the race saw fit to publicize a tweet from ASD’s Rob MacLennan who predicts Farrell will now win the race ($22 future pool payoff) and Abel Tasman will finish second (exactor $435).

PICK-6 COMES UP THIN FOR "I WON BIG" GROUP: So last Saturday’s “I won big” betting group won the Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream but it paid chump change (just over $70) when favourites won. Meanwhile, the group’s pick-4 at Tampa got off to a bad start when the group’s key, #4, was a post-time scratch, giving the group a first-time starter as their key—which promptly lost. Tickets should have been cancelled when the key was scratched! Amends will hopefully be made this Saturday (and produce a bacon treat). With no diversions the group will go full-bore on the pick-5 and pick-4 at Tampa at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza.

Corinne rewards Roy Hunchak with VLT tourney winnings

ONE OF ASD'S BIGGEST FANS WINS VLT TOURNEY: Just about everyone who comes to the Downs knows or has seen Roy Hunchak, a retired nurse who is now a harness racing specialist and whose keen eye in the Race Book has rescued cash vouchers I’ve forgotten to take from touch tote machines. Just when I discover I’m missing my voucher and my heart-rate quadruples, Roy is there, waving it in my face. So I’m happy to report he was last month’s VLT tournament winner, picking up a total of $345. Karma.

LIKE NIGHT AND DAY: With McCraken being touted as the most likely winner of the three prep races this Saturday—the Blue Grass at Keeneland—one wistfully recalls Keeneland’s eight-year Polytrack experiment when even picking a top-four contender was akin to throwing darts. In one of those years, the top four finishers in the Blue Grass contained not one horse that had been picked to finish first, second or third by three selectors in the Daily Racing Form. That seems like an eternity ago but it was only two years.


HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

This week's blog is a must read! Bob shares private details of his many visits to the residence of Bert and Eileen Blake and his final conversations with the Downs' patriarch. Read it here.

SEASON 60 TRIVIA ANSWER: (c) The longest race in Canada, called the Winnipeg Free Press Stakes, was 2 ¼ miles. It was won that year by Kenny’s Kid.

So today’s to-do list is:
(1) Win Santa Anita pick-6
(2) Pig out at the prime rib buffet
(3) Bone up on trip handicapping,
significance of equipment changes and more

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