Thursday, April 18, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14 No. 14 (Issue #684)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Pointed to Breeders' Cup then being sold (say it ain't so!)
Loses Grade 1 stakes by a nose; will she be named top Canadian mare tonight?

Click to watch $750,000 Apple Blossom Handicap

After a heart-stopping nose loss in a Grade 1 stakes at Oaklawn Park on Sunday--and the prospect of being named Canada’s 2018 Champion Older Female at tonight’s Sovereign Awards banquet in Woodbridge, Ontario--Manitoba’s Escape Clause is being pointed to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in the fall and then being sold.

Being sold? “She’s the soundest horse on the track but that can change,” co-owner/trainer Don Schnell told The Insider from Oaklawn Park after Escape Clause (8-1) finished second to Midnight Bisou (4-5) in the $750,000 Apple Blossom Handicap for fillies and mares. “There’s a lot of luck involved in this business.” And, of course, she’s extremely valuable as a broodmare. She’ll fetch a big buck.

But first things first. The morning after the big Sunday effort, the 5-year-old was “happy and bouncing and listening to the birds,” Schnell said. “She’s intrigued by all the different birds out here,”

“She ran too good to be beaten,”
he said, noting that Queen’s Plate winner Wonder Gadot veered into her in the first turn, causing jockey Tyler Baze to steady her and not being able to regain her full stride for an eighth of a mile.

Still, $150,000US for her second-place finish is more than she’s ever won in any race, bringing her lifetime earnings to $645,000, within striking distance of the Manitoba-bred record of $670,000 set by gelding Fancy As in 2000-2003.

Schnell said he’ll give Escape Clause a rest before a likely start at Santa Anita in the Grade 1 $500,000 Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares on U.S. Memorial Day, Monday, May 27 on the turf at 1 1/8-miles. He believes she likes turf better than dirt. And it’s a “win and you’re in” race for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Nov. 1 and 2. There’s a “better than 50 per cent chance” she’ll be entered in a Breeders’ Cup race, he said.

And what about a visit to the place where it all started, Assiniboia Downs? “We’re planning to rest her in the summer so there’s a possibility she’ll be there,” Schnell said. Which is exactly what so many of her fans will be happy to hear. Could it turn into a farewell visit akin to Zenyatta’s farewell visit to Hollywood Park?

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Will 2018 stats help you pick winners this Saturday on Day 1 at Woodbine?
  • ASD main track opens. Why was Gaskin awarded Insider's "early-bird hat trick?"
  • Why were ASD bettors so glad to see March go?
  • Who deserves the shout-out of a lifetime?
  • Davidowitz dies
CONGRATULATIONS to retired real estate appraiser George Moehring who has won a $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby because he accumulated more points than other entrants in the Derby Countdown Contest. It was an exciting finish with Moehring getting 15 points for picking Omaha Beach to win the Arkansas Derby while runners-up Keith Fox and Ken Stewin went with Improbable. Thanks to all who entered. Hope your prep race picks made you money! See final leaderboard here.

Saturday, April 27, will be the final day in the “3 for the money” contest. Win $75 this Saturday for predicting the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Charles Town where the $1 million Charles Town Classic is being run. The winner also has a chance of being invited to the live racing press conference and gourmet luncheon on Thursday, May 8.

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

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.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? NHL playoffs.

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. NOTE: No poker this Easter weekend, $10 buy-in poker will resume next Friday and Saturday. Royal Flush progressive jackpot for Friday, April 26 is $5,362.50.

REGULAR VLT HOURS THIS EASTER WEEKEND: 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. including Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

for pick-4s bet on your HPIIbet account. Remember to "opt-in" when prompted. No account? Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 for quick sign-up.

GREEDY CORNER: ALMOST $300,000 at stake in 20-cent pick-6 pools at Gulfstream today and Golden Gate tomorrow.


Main track opens; 20 jockeys get ready

Trainer Gaskin scores The Insider's "early-bird hat trick" by logging the fastest workout

Trainer Steven Gaskin
Earns Insider's "early-bird hat trick"

With ASD’s main track now open and 20 jockeys indicating their intention to ride, let’s award trainer Steven GaskinThe Insider’s “early-bird hat trick.” He was first to bring horses to the track this winter, had the first horse on the training track the day it opened and, when clocker Sheldon Riskin began timing workouts this past weekend, produced the fastest workout of any horse.

His Rocky Barbados, a 4-year-old Manitoba-bred maiden, tied with a shipper from Fort Erie, Hoochiekoochie Sam, with a clocking of :35.2 for three furlongs.

Will he now score The Insider “quad?” He’d achieve that by saddling a winner on Day 1 of the meet, Mother’s Day Sunday, May 12. The pressure’s on!

Among about 20 jockeys expected to ride at the Downs is last year’s co-leader, Antonio Whitehall, and eight new jockeys. More on them in next week’s Insider.

Prayven Badrie,
who was tied for leading jockey last year, is expected to ride at the new Century Mile track in Edmonton which opens a week from this Sunday. He recovered in his native Trinidad from serious hip injuries suffered at Century Downs near Calgary last fall and has been riding in Trinidad in preparation for his return to Canada.

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Facethepuckout. This 3-year-old colt racing in Lingfield, England, caught the eye of HPIbet player Tony Tweed, who submitted it to The Insider. Looks like a hockey reference but England is hardly a hotbed of hockey. Hmm.

Better bettors take a hit in March

Woodbine Mohawk Park the only major track on the plus side

Glad to see March go? It was the most challenging month for ASD bettors since The Insider started reporting betting stats about four years ago.

Only nine tracks--half the usual number--showed positive gains with seven of them being harness tracks (Woodbine Mohawk Park, Hoosier, Yonkers, Freehold, Rideau Carleton, Fraser and Western Fair). The only two thoroughbred tracks were Turfway and Sunland.

And what tracks were most challenging? Parx, Mahoning Valley, Los Alamitos and Will Rogers on the thoroughbred side and Pocono and Saratoga for standardbreds.

Playing to your strengths, of course, not only pads your pocket but makes you a good citizen by drawing money into the province. Let’s hope April is a bounce-back month. It certainly will be for Tampa because of the “I won bigger” betting group’s $17,000 win two Saturdays ago. Good luck in your play!

*         *       *

“BUMPED AND STEADIED” KILLS GROUP’S BID AT ANOTHER BIG WIN: “Bumped and steadied at the start” is not what you want to see for a horse Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group expected to wire the field for a pick-4 pick-up of $7,000--especially after the group nailed a $53 winner in a 7-furlong race before that (note: the longshot winner had the second-highest speed figure at that specialist distance).

So the last leg was won instead by another speedster, setting up a $1 pick-4 that paid $23,000. The group DID have that horse on another ticket but an earlier key on that ticket let the group down. Nobody anywhere had the pick-5. The group (to which you’re invited) will be looking for a bounce back to its winning ways at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday on the Clubhouse plaza with a tasty surprise in store to extend the celebration of the group’s $17,000 win the previous week. Peruse the last five races at Tampa.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Sometimes I give my head a shake.” -- Escape Clause co-owner/trainer Don Schnell, talking about living the dream of conditioning a Manitoba-bred mare who has risen to rival the best female horses on the continent.

Trainer Norman McKnight
Big start on Day One last year

Will McKnight do what he did on Day 1 last year?
Most races won by horses lying first or second at the first call

Woodbine’s 133-day thoroughbred season begins Saturday at noon. What can we learn from Day 1 last year? Will history repeat? Here are the stats:
  • Of 10 races, trainer Norman McKnight saddled three winners.
  • Eight of 10 winning horses were positioned first or second at the first call. One winner came from third, another closed from fifth.
  • Only one longshot won, paying $38.20. All other races were won by horses paying $3.10 to $13.30. Average win price: $8.60.

THE SHOUT-OUT OF A LIFETIME goes to Tiger Woods who is an inspiration to anyone trying to accomplish any goal including being a better horseplayer or winning a horseplayer tournament. How many people thought he would ever win another Masters green jacket again after everything he went through for years with multiple back surgeries and personal issues? He epitomizes what is so great about the human spirit at a time when so much around us is pulling us in the opposite direction. Tiger, Tiger burning bright!
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Fat N Bitter. Just writing the name of this 3-year-old New York-bred filly racing at Tampa Bay makes me chuckle as it did others in the Race Book Saturday. How and why did someone come up with that name? Maybe it has a serious side but only the hilarity comes through. Love it!


“GIVES YOU CHILLS TO WATCH HER:” That YouTube comment by Patricia Diers pretty much sums up the way many feel about Winx, Australia’s super mare, who was attempting this past weekend to win her farewell race--which would be her 33rd win in a row. What happened? Watch that race here.

SADLY, HANDICAPPER/AUTHOR EXTRAORDINAIRE DIES: I cut my teeth on his book, Betting Thoroughbreds, as have countless horseplayers around the world and now he is gone at the age of 77: Steven Davidowitz. He died on the weekend at his Nevada home. His insights and discussion of such aspects of handicapping as key races, track biases and trainer patterns are staples in the world of race playing. His articles appeared in newspapers across the U.S., in the Daily Racing Form and, most recently, on the website, Horse Racing Nation. Betting Thoroughbreds was originally published in 1977 and was updated in 2009. He is survived by his son, two grandchildren, two sisters and a brother.

THE BEST OF BOB: The passing of a friend on Derby Day

Did you know that Garylle Bruce Stewart passed away on Derby Day 2016? The Downs lost a good friend and loyal supporter so it only seems fitting that on Derby Day one year later the horse owned by Garylle’s estate in partnership with Murray Duncan, Plentiful, should win the Derby. Bob has the heart-warming story here. (First published Aug. 1, 2016)


  • Tonight: $250-a-plate Sovereign Awards banquet in Woodbridge, Ont. Will Escape Clause be honoured?
  • This Saturday:  Woodbine thoroughbreds return at noon
  • This Sunday: Happy Easter! (Brunch sold out) Simulcast racing begins with Gulfstream at 11:45 a.m.
  • Saturday, April 27:  Player's Choice Handicapper of the Month tourney at noon. Churchill’s Kentucky Derby meet begins.
  • 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.
  • Friday, May 3: Kentucky Oaks at Churchill
  • Saturday, May 4: Kentucky Derby at Churchill
  • Sunday, May 12: Happy Mother’s Day! 50-day live racing season begins at ASD 1:15 p.m. Dinner tickets now available from Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

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