Thursday, April 12, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 14 (Issue #632)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Today is “WEAR YOUR JERSEY DAY” across Canada to honour the memory of the Humboldt Broncos killed in that sickeningly horrific bus/truck crash last Friday and, to show respect, today’s Insider is using the team colours--  green and gold —in headings. God grant their families the strength to persevere in the face of such an enormous tragedy.

"When the Jets play, we pay!"

To celebrate the Jets’ appearance in the playoffs, Assiniboia Downs has announced bonus Player Rewards points on your bets on the days the Jets play:

  • You get 3X Player Rewards points in the first round (Jets vs Minnesota Wild). That means you will receive 3X the rewards on bets you make tomorrow, Sunday and Tuesday for sure and whatever extra games that are required in the best of seven series.
  • You get 4X Player Rewards points in second round games if the Jets get there
  • You get 5X Player Rewards points in third round games if the Jets get there
  • You get 10X Player Rewards points in the Stanley Cup final games if the Jets get there
No Player Rewards card? It’s easy to get. At the track, just apply at the VLT cage; at off-track locations, see the mutuel seller.

And, of course, all Jets games will be broadcast on giant-screen TVs in the Race Book. Watch them in the comfort of private carrels, too, as you play the races for bonus rewards points.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Star filly Escape Clause to make 2018 debut on Kentucky Derby Day. Where?
  • "Live the good life" Indulgence Expo at the Downs Saturday 11-8 p.m. and Sunday 11-6 p.m.
  • Why basketball fans think time is right for Curse of Apollo to be broken in the Derby
  • Last year's Debutante winner impresses in 2018 debut at Turf Paradise
  • Four-way drama for $200 as prep race contest ends with Arkansas Derby
LOGJAM ATOP LEADERBOARD FOR $200 DERBY BANKROLL WITH ONE RACE LEFT: Whew! If the top four contestants in the $200 prep race contest pick the winner of the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, there will be a four-way dead heat for the prize and a draw will be required. Stan Stewin and Jim Cretney are currently tied for the lead with 40 points and Anne Champion and Damian D’Souza have 38. But, because only their top 10 scores count toward the prize, Stewin and Cretney can earn just two more points while Champion and D’Souza can get four. What will happen? Good luck to them all. (Still enter the contest because you could win two souvenir Derby mugs in a draw after the race.) Full leader board.

$120 IS STILL THE AMOUNT TO BEAT TO BE INVITED TO LAVISH BRUNCH: With the $50 he received for self-serve bets in a draw Saturday, Brian McKellar came within $6 of the $120 he needed to beat Bill Latta to be invited with a guest to the news conference and lavish brunch for the opening of the live race season. Will you get drawn and have a chance this Saturday?
QX104 � Today's Country

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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 13, is $4,575.

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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Bring newbies to Green Brier Sunday for workshop and pick up beer for a "friend"

NEXT OTB SEMINAR IS THIS 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 this Sunday for “Betting horses for fun and profit.” Complimentary 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


Escape Clause working up a storm for 2018 debut

Star filly is pointed to $50,000 stakes at Canterbury on Kentucky Derby Day

Walking ring at Canterbury where Escape Clause is expected May 5

You have another reason to look forward to Kentucky Derby Day three weeks from this Saturday. Escape Clause, widely expected to be named ASD’s 2017 Horse of the Year, should be making her 2018 debut that afternoon.

Buoyed by the star filly’s recent sizzling workouts at Turf Paradise, ASD owner/trainer Don Schnell told The Insider in a telephone interview he is pointing the 4-year-old to a $50,000 six-furlong stakes race, the L’Etoile du Nord for fillies and mares, at Canterbury Park in Minnesota before she is shipped to the Downs.

“She’s fitter now than she was last spring,”
Schnell said from the desert track. “I’m not scared of going straight into a stakes race with her.” Her last two workouts screamed fitness:
  • On March 24, her 5f workout was quickest of 16 at :58.60
  • On March 31, she worked 6f faster than four at 1:12.20.
Schnell said he plans to race five other horses on that Canterbury weekend, too. He noted the track is guaranteeing $750 U.S. for each horse he enters, regardless where the horse finishes. “That would be $4,500. It pays for shipping,” Schnell said. The track is offering this bonus for all horses entered in its first two weekends of racing to attract horses to the track.

Don Schnell
Sends six to Canterbury

In other news from Turf Paradise, his Vidira, winner of last year’s Debutante at ASD, won her 2018 debut race, a six-furlong allowance sprint, at juicy odds of 8-1. Despite a wide trip throughout, the 3-year-old still closed smartly to show she will be a force to be reckoned with in ASD stakes, likely eyeing the Assiniboia Oaks. Schnell’s other horses include
  • Muhaawer – 6-year-old horse who won a recent allowance race at Turf Paradise
  • Par Play – 4-year-old gelding whose last race was a maiden win
  • Make It Quick – an unraced Manitoba-bred 3-year-old gelding by True Sense
  • Langara – 5-year-old gelding with a recent third and fifth at Turf Paradise in optional claimers
  • Sidasta – an unraced 3-year-old Minnesota filly by Going Commando
Schnell said he will be back to his home grounds of ASD for the season opener on May 13, a week after racing at Canterbury.


New wrinkle in "I won big" workshops

Each table invited to make independent plays

"Hmm. I wonder what bets to make."

After a Saturday “I won big” betting group workshop bogged down in widespread disagreement in almost every leg of a pick-5 at Tampa (resulting in an ultimate loss) here is something for “Big” group attendees to consider:

Each of the five tables this Saturday will have a chance to make independent plays with up to $60 in group funds. Group members at each table will have the option of betting a 60-cent pick-5, 60-cent pick-4 or $3 pick-3 wheel. Or $10 exactors/doubles or $5 triactors or $1 superfectas with their money. The balance of the share money (about $700) will be spent in the usual way.

Preliminary discussions with players have been positive. If there is general agreement this Saturday at the usual 10:30 a.m. workshop, that’s what the groups will pursue in the LAST FIVE RACES at Tampa. Each table will have an opportunity to become pack heroes. Like the idea? C’mon out and join in! Every $20 share will be matched with a free $5 bonus.


Raise your hand if . . .

. . . you think $8.40 was good value for a $2 wager on Justify to win the Kentucky Derby

Justify wins Santa Anita Derby but not particularly happily (ears pinned)

I’m guessing your hand is remaining on your mouse or around your mobile device. But if YOU didn’t bet Justify last weekend in Kentucky Derby future pool #4, where DID the $66,000 in future wagers come from?

Good question. It’s hard to believe that that much money is being risked on a horse that will be asked to do something that hasn’t been done in 135 years and that is, winning the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old. Race fans are fickle. Just like golf fans who thought Tiger Woods would conquer the Masters field after a long layoff.

I’ve been around this game too long to jump on his bandwagon. I’ll be surprised if he finishes in the money. But I’ll be happy to hear from you if you think Justify is a superstar. Email me at and give me your reasons.

Here are the odds of the top six horses in that final Derby future pool: Justify (3-1), Mendelssohn (5-1), Audible (7-1), Magnum Moon (8-1), Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic at 9-1.

See full win odds and will-pays here. See exactor will-pays here .

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The OTHER horse that could break "the curse"

The unbeaten Magnum Moon races Saturday in the final prep, the Arkansas Derby

Magnum Moon
is the other horse that has a chance of doing what hasn’t been done in 135 years and he’ll be showing his stuff in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.

The colt will be facing California invader Solomini and Tampa Bay Derby winner Quip. Magnum Moon has already shown he doesn’t mind the Oaklawn surface, having won the Rebel Stakes there. Before that, he broke his maiden at Gulfstream and won an allowance race at Tampa. That shows versatility.

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DID YOU KNOW . . . that 59 horses since 1937 have tried to do what Justify and Magnum Moon want to do (win the Derby without having raced at 2). The two most recent examples include the mighty Curlin (he finished third in 2007) and the favoured Bodemeister (he finished second in 2012). You may recall Bodemeister seemed home-free in the 2012 Derby when I’ll Have Another emerged from the pack to nail him – to keep the curse intact.

Is curse-breaking a slam dunk?

IS BASKETBALL SHOCKER AN OMEN FOR BREAKING ANCIENT CURSE? Basketball fans who watched a #16 seed (University of Maryland Retrievers) knock off a #1 seed (Virginia Cavaliers) FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 136 TRIES last month might consider it a slam-dunk omen that Justify or Magnum Moon will therefore break the never-a-horse-that-hadn’t-raced-at-2 curse because this is the 136th year of the curse being in place. Seems perfectly reasonable to those in the Twilight Zone.

33 DOWN, 2 TO GO:
So the long, pot-holed road to the Kentucky Derby—35 races on the major circuit--finally comes to an end Saturday with the Arkansas Derby. There’s actually a second prep race called a “wild card,” the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, but it’s only worth 20 points to the winner (compared to 100 in the Arkansas Derby) and hardly anyone pays attention to it. For the record, there’s also a Japanese Road to the Derby (with three qualifying races to represent Japan in the Derby) and a European one (with seven qualifying races) but only the European qualifier, Gronkowski, has accepted the invitation to run in the Derby.


CANADIAN HALL OF FAME: KIVES LOSES OUT TO KENTUCKY BREEDER: The late Phil Kives, a major influence in racing and breeding in Manitoba for four decades, lost out in being inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame to a Kentucky breeder who once lived in Ontario. A committee of 20 in the racing world in Canada, most of them in Ontario, voted for John G. Sikura to be honoured in the “builder” category. Sikura, the son of another inductee, John Sikura, Jr. has been operating Hill ‘n’ Dale breeding farms in Lexington, Kentucky, since 1994. This year’s inductions also include former Woodbine announcer Dan Loiselle (“communicator” category) and Reade Baker, trainer. See other inductees here. Nominees outside of Ontario appear to face an uphill challenge.

In what was a challenging month for bettors, Parx in Philadelphia, Fonner Park in Nebraska and Miami Valley (harness) in Ohio were three of the more successful better bettor tracks for ASD players, according to ASD wagering stats for March. Just 11 tracks made the list, about half of the typical number. Six were harness tracks, five were thoroughbred. Los Alamitos, Will Rogers and Monticello (harness) were also three of the better bettor ones. At the opposite end were Remington Park in Oklahoma (quarter horses), Rosecroft (harness) in Maryland and Turf Paradise in Arizona. As you’ve read here before, playing to your strengths not only fattens your wallet, it stimulates the economy and makes you a better citizen.


Did you know . . . that in addition to being an exceptional rider, Mike Rowland was a public relations dream, the kind of positive face you want associated with horse racing, always laughing and joking? Read about his life and tragic end here.


  • Prime rib Thursdays are running out. Dine tonight!

    Tonight: Third-last Thursday night prime rib buffet of the season. Entrée extras include roasted onion garlic chicken, lemon garlic pickerel, honey mustard pork loin. Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0
  • 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, RVs, 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.
  • Saturday, April 21: Woodbine thoroughbred season begins at noon.


Look. Drool. Win a pick-6. Buy.
Maseratis will be on display Saturday and Sunday at ASD's Indulgence Expo, the "live the good life" show. Spread the word!

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