Thursday, April 11, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14 No. 13 (Issue #683)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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



Whipping banned in tomorrow's races
Jockeys must hand-ride horses; carry whip for safety purposes only

Tomorrow's card will be first-ever to disallow whipping
All eyes, especially those in the racing industry, will be on Santa Anita Park tomorrow afternoon as the track holds its very first no-whipping card of races. Jockeys may carry a riding crop for safety reasons only (to steer a horse) but cannot use it to encourage a horse to run faster.

It should be an interesting experiment. The California Horse Racing Board has already voted to ban whipping at Santa and Golden Gate Fields but it is required to get public feedback before voting a second and final time. The “no-whipping Friday” will be part of its pre-vote research.

The Southern California track is looking for ways to cut back on the number of breakdowns which were occurring at the rate of about two a week since the meet opened on Dec. 26. The board will have a special meeting tomorrow to discuss “possible reallocation of racing dates” at Santa Anita. Does that mean shifting racing elsewhere?

Bullet briefs . . .

  • It's "do or die" time for Escape Clause Sunday in the biggest test of her life
  • Escape Clause in the running for two Sovereign Awards, Canada's biggest honour
  • Final big Kentucky Derby prep race, the Arkansas Derby, goes Saturday
  • Hockey playoffs begin: Do "rules" trump "opinions" as they do in racing?
  • Play Keeneland's pick-4s on HPIbet, get five percent rebate
BARKWELL GETS ALL PREP RACES RIGHT TO WIN $150; NEW CONTEST SATURDAY: Congrats to Carol Barkwell who picked up $150 in betting vouchers for predicting the winners of Saturday’s three prep races in the “3 for the money” contest:
  • Tacitus in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct ($7.20)
  • Vekoma in the Blue Grass at Keeneland ($4.80)
  • Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby at Santa ($8.20)

Her name also goes into a draw for an invitation for two to ASD’s kick-off press conference for live racing that includes a gourmet lunch, This Saturday’s contest, on the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Oaklawn, will offer $50.

The Arkansas Derby Saturday is the final prep race in ASD’s Derby Countdown Contest to win a $200 bankroll to play the Derby. With last week’s leader, Anne Champion, vacationing in England last weekend with her third-place husband, Dave, they were unable to enter last Saturday’s contest and were passed by other entrants. See the new leaderboard here. Final draw for Triple Crown glasses will take place Saturday after the Arkansas Derby, too.

(10,000) will be awarded in draws at the Pembina, Quest Inn, Canad Inns Windsor Park and Green Brier Inn this Saturday and every Saturday in April. Players at McPhillips Station Casino, Club Regent Casino and Rookies will earn 5X Player Rewards points for their wagers made on Saturdays in April.


Something new! Bet Keeneland’s pick-4s on your HPIbet account this Saturday and Sunday and the following Friday and Saturday AND GET A FIVE PER CENT REBATE on your bets when you wager $20 or more! Remember to "opt-in" when prompted to be eligible. Not an account-holder? Open one up quickly and easily by calling 204-885-3330 ext. 225. You’ll also receive $20 in free wagers.
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive
TRIVIA TEASER: Which of these colts is favoured most to win the Kentucky Derby (according to Future Pool #4 held last weekend). (a) Tacitus (b) Game Winner (c) Improbable (d) Maximum Security (e) Roadster. Answer at bottom of column.

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 $4,912.50.

GREEDY CORNER: $214,000 carryover in 20-cent pick-6 at Golden Gate Fields. Post time tomorrow 2:45 p.m. See other chances for greed here.


It's "do or die" time Sunday

Escape Clause ready for toughest test of her life--a Grade 1 handicap at Oaklawn

Escape Clause in her new Oaklawn digs following a two-day trip from Turf Paradise. "Shipped excellent. Prettiest mare in the world. Already looking for her competition!" said Don Schnell who snapped this photo
If you had been living in a cave the last couple years and emerged today to find out that a Manitoba-bred mare is racing in a Grade 1 stakes race at Oaklawn Park this Sunday, you’d think someone was pulling your leg.

But that’s exactly what’s happening: Escape Clause is racing against some of the best fillies and mares on the continent in the $750,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at the Hot Springs, Ark. track. Will her humble beginnings endear her to fans there as they did at Del Mar and Santa Anita?

How tough will the competition be? Entries for that race are being taken today but owner/trainer Don Schnell expects it to be a short field with Midnight Bisou, the winner of the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes last month with a 107 Equibase speed figure, the likely horse to beat. (Bisou has a lifetime high of 118 compared to Escape Clause’s 112.) Another entrant could be last year’s Queen’s Plate winner, Wonder Gadot.

“On her best day, Escape Clause could beat Midnight Bisou,”
Schnell said. Let’s hope it IS her best day. If she does win, a Crazy Hour celebration will ensue in the Clubhouse with beer, wine and shots $2.95 and half-price appetizers.


Escape Clause nominated for two awards

A Manitoba-bred hasn't won award since 2006; awards banquet next Thursday

Will Escape Clause be awarded one or two of these?
Will Escape Clause--with a record of 13-9-1-2 last year including eight stakes wins--be the first Manitoba-bred to win a vaunted Sovereign Award since Kimchi did so in 2006 after winning the Woodbine Oaks? The 5-year-old mare has been nominated in two categories: Champion Older Female and Champion Female Sprinter. The Jockey Club of Canada will present the awards at a $250-a-plate banquet next Thursday in Woodbridge, Ont., two days before the 2019 Woodbine thoroughbred meet begins. Who is Escape Clause up against?
  • Champion Older Female: She faces Starship Jubilee (8-3-1-0) who won the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes and the other nominee is Gambler’s Ghost (5-3-0-2) who won the Grade 3 Ontario Matron. None of Escape Clause’s eight stakes wins came in graded stakes but her overall earnings are close to the other two: Escape Clause $226,000; Starship Jubilee $270,000 and Gambler’s Ghost $210,000.
  • Champion Female Sprinter: She faces Grade 3 Hendrie Stakes winner Code Warrior (10-3-1-0) and Grade 2 Bessarabian Stakes winner Moonlit Promise (9-2-1-2). Code Warrior earned $186,000 last year and Moonlit Promise $174,000.


BETTING GROUP BREAKS THROUGH WITH A BIGGIE: It was just a matter of time and that time came Saturday afternoon for the “I won bigger” betting group. It held one of only two winning tickets sold on Tampa’s pick-5, a ticket worth $17,128. Each $20 share was worth $341. Ticket seller Scott Bruce predicted success throughout the afternoon, noting the “lucky” cost of the ticket: $777. And was there help from “on high,” too? Group member Glen Gray pointed out that the horses in the last leg of the group’s ticket--3, 7, 9--was the address of the family home for many years and the family’s patriarch, Bert Gray, the Downs’ oldest fan, died last week at 97. “Pops wouldn’t let us down,” Glen said.

And he didn’t. #3 Happy Lady took the lead at the top of the stretch (which would have resulted in a $7,000 payoff) and #9 War Beauty, cheered on by screaming group members in the Race Book, passed her in late stretch to result in the bigger payoff. The prices of the horses in the five-race sequence were $11.40, $47, $3.40, $17.80 and $10.40. The ticket was 4 X ALL X 2 X 6 X 3. The tasty part is yet to come: A crispy bacon reward will be served this Saturday when the group once again tackles the last five races at Tampa at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. Join us for the crunch.

NO STAKE, NO PAY: Spendthrift
stallion breeding farm in Kentucky has an interesting offer. Breed your mare to a list of Spendthrift stallions and, if that stallion’s progeny doesn’t win a stakes race during the year, your breeding fee is waived.

KIVES PASSED OVER AGAIN FOR INDUCTION INTO HALL OF FAME: The late Phil “As-Seen-on-TV” Kives, a major horse owner and breeder in Manitoba for more than four decades, has been passed over again for induction into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Six people and four horses were inducted. See them here. Kives died three years ago but Goldencents,the son of one of his mares, is one of the most popular stallions in the breeding shed after a career that included back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Miles. Goldencents’ grandmother, Body Works, was one of Kives’ best mares to race at ASD.    

Winnipeg during Jets games
IT’S HOCKEY PLAYOFF TIME: WILL “RULES” TRUMP “OPINIONS”? “Rules,” you’ve read in The Insider, generally trump "opinions” in picking winning horses. Can this be applied to the NHL playoffs? I hit Handicapper of the Month Roger Jones with my “opinion” that the Winnipeg Jets would advance to the third round of the playoffs because they have a way of elevating their play for important games. Although a huge Jets fan himself, he struck back with an analysis--let’s call them “rules”--that rips my opinion to shreds.

He gives the Jets only a 40 per cent chance of beating the St. Louis Blues in the first round (the second game goes tomorrow) because: (1) the Jets were 18th in the league in points since the halfway point of the season and St. Louis had only three points fewer than the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning (2) the Jets can’t beat the trap (opposition lining up at the red line) (3) Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars outskate them (4) the top line gets overused, causing fatigue and (5) the Jets’ man-to-man defense is susceptible to breakdowns. All of which tells me my opinion is in trouble. Is it?

THE BEST OF BOB: Those were the days

Did you know that noted racing analyst Michael Magee was right: "There's something sacred about horseracing?" If you walk the tarmac in front of the Downs' grandstand late at night and listen carefully you can almost hear the thundering hoofs of thoroughbreds past. Read more here. (First published August 2015)


  • This Saturday: Final big Kentucky Derby prep race at Oaklawn Park (Arkansas Derby)
  • This Sunday: Escape Clause in the $750,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn; 5X Player Rewards points for bets made at the track
  • Saturday, April 20: Woodbine thoroughbreds return
  • 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  
  • Saturday, April 27: Racing begins at Belmont Park and Churchill Downs. Player's Choice tourney at noon.
  • Sunday, April 28: Century Mile’s inaugural thoroughbred meet in Edmonton 2:45 p.m. Racing on Saturdays and Sundays, adding Thursdays in late May.


ANSWER TO TRIVA TEASER: (e) Roadster is most favoured to win the Kentucky Derby. See full Future Pool #4 results here.

Go, Jets, go! Go, Escape Clause, go!

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