Thursday, April 20, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 15 (Issue #582)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

SEE THE EQUIPMENT CHANGE? Removing blinkers he wore in the Manitoba Derby turned Inside Straight from a super horse into the super-duper winner of the grade 2 $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap. See story below.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • ASD's own Kayla Pizarro named top apprentice rider in Canada
  • Manitoba Derby winner Inside Straight soars to new heights at Oaklawn
  • Saturday betting group wins again, now boasts $2,500 a week for eight weeks!
  • ASD trainer Gourneau goes on a tear at Fonner Park; now is leading trainer
  • Former 19-year-old trainer at ASD wins on opening day at Woodbine
  • RCMP Musical Ride returns for a special event day at ASD

Len Charney
King of the Prep Races

CHARNEY WINS $100 WIN/PLACE ON KENTUCKY DERBY: Len Charney has earned the right to call himself king of the prep races. He predicted the winners of more Kentucky Derby prep races than any other entrant to the Countdown to the Derby contest meaning he wins a $100 win/place wager on his choice in the Kentucky Derby. Congrats, Len, and thanks to everyone who entered the weekly contest. The final winner of the Derby travel mug and pint glass was Zaldy Bauto. See final standings here.

Got a big show parlay in your system? You have four days—two Fridays and two Saturdays—to get it out. Parlay $6 in five races in a row after 7 p.m. and, of course, the Downs will match the highest amount and you win a prime rib buffet for two if it’s highest of the month. Some deal for a $6 investment!

: A “first and worst” contest. Stay tuned!
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? NHL playoffs

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.

Enjoy Mounties and Ray St. Germain Sunday, June 11

SPECIAL EVENT DAY SUNDAY, JUNE 11; GET TICKETS MAY 8: Since this year is Canada’s 150th birthday, the RCMP Musical Ride will return for a special appearance at the Downs on Sunday, June 11, a non-live race day and their only appearance in Manitoba this year. And their show will be followed by country music star Ray St. Germain on a stage erected in the Winner's Circle. Meanwhile, there will be kids fun south of the grandstand: pony rides, giant inflatables and petting zoo. Third floor grandstand rush seats are only $14.95. Box seats for four: $80. Available starting May 8. Go to for more info.


Best in Canada!

ASD's Kayla Pizarro is honoured as top apprentice jockey

Kalya Pizarro (left) exercises a horse with outrider Laura McIvor accompanying her

Assiniboia Downs’ own Kayla Pizarro is Canada’s leading apprentice jockey. She received the prestigious honour at the annual Sovereign Awards banquet in Toronto a week ago.

Pizarro, 25, a native Winnipegger whose brother, Tyler, has been racing primarily at Woodbine in Toronto for 11 years, edged out three other apprentice jockeys to win the award which is based on their riding last year. She won 40 out of 279 races, most of them at Assiniboia Downs, for a win percentage of 14.3 per cent.

A highlight of her season was winning a stakes race, the Miss Royal Gold, with a horse named About a Girl. She also finished third in the Gold Cup Stakes with C.C. Ride.

Voters included media and racing officials. She received more votes than:

  • Jose Mariano Asensio of Hastings Park in Vancouver who won 14 of 180 starts (win rate 7.7 per cent)
  • Aimee D. Auger of Woodbine in Toronto who won 32 of 303 starts (win rate 10.5 per cent)
  • Daniel Gopie of Marquis Downs in Saskatoon who won 28 of 121 starts (win rate 23 per cent)

Congrats, Kayla and good luck in your third season of riding!

Inside Straight win creates bigger buzz than Derby

With blinkers off, Manitoba Derby winner triumphs at 19-1 in grade 2 stakes

Inside Straight wins Oaklawn Handicap at 19-1

Creating a bigger buzz in the Race Book Saturday afternoon than the Arkansas Derby was the victory by Manitoba Derby winner Inside Straight of the grade 2 $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

At boxcar odds of 19-1, the 4-year-old gelding ridden by Geovanni Franco and owned by Alberta sugar beet farmer Randy Howg put away a quality field that included the second-place finisher in the Santa Anita Derby, 1-2 favourite Midnight Storm. Howg had bought Inside Straight privately a year ago after the horse won a $40,000 claiming race at Belmont.

Celebrating his biggest win since giving up on a hockey career in Calgary 22 years ago, trainer Robertino Diodoro gave credit to his assistant, Manitoba native Rob Atras, for improving the horse’s performance two starts ago by removing blinkers.

And how was Atras feeling about his biggest day in training? “Really amazing,” he told The Insider. Horse has such a big heart. I'm so happy for him. He goes over there every time and gives it his life.  I'm very fortunate to be a part of the best racing team in the game! All of our horses are treated like stakes winners no matter what level they may be competing or what track they are at.”

Inside Straight’s win was the icing on the cake for a season that put Diodoro second in the trainer standings with 31 wins or 25 per cent of his starts. Diodoro is 14th overall in North America.

What will Team Diodoro have in store for THIS year’s Manitoba Derby?

SEASON 60 TRIVIA TEASER: The Kentucky Derby is the “Run for the Roses.” What was the 1965 Manitoba Derby dubbed? (a) The Run for the Crocus (b) The Run for the Tartan (c) The Run for the Daisies (d) The Run for the Shillelagh? See answer at bottom of column.




"I won big" group goes wild as key horse re-rallies; wins $3,243 in pick-4 & pick-5

It was a wild scene in the Race Book Saturday as participants in the weekly “I won big” betting group screamed for Scorpion Aly, to fight back after she was passed in the lane – which she did to post a head victory.

The mare’s win gave the group a payday of $3,243 as she was the key in the last leg of its pick-4 and pick-5 at Tampa Bay Downs. It also means players will crunch on a bacon treat at this Saturday’s workshop and the win brings to almost $20,000 the amount the group has cashed over the past eight Saturdays, averaging $2,500 a week.

“See how good Tampa has been for us?”
exclaimed John Whitehill, last month’s top handicapper, who had argued against a suggestion to switch to Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 instead. Yes, John, you merit hugs and kisses from all!

But good things DO come to an end. Group play at Tampa will continue at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday and next Saturday but ends with a final Tampa session at 9:30 a.m. on Kentucky Derby Day, May 6. That day will include group play on the Derby, too. Everyone is welcome, of course. Remember, too, that each $20 share gets generously bumped up to $25 by the Downs.

*       *       *

Would you key this kind of horse?

Mare had been beaten by another horse in race and didn't look good in replay

Key Scorpion Aly beats Loon River by a head

Would you key a horse on your pick-4 or pick-5 tickets that (1) had been beaten by four lengths by another horse in the race, (2) had been dismissed by three DRF analysts as not worthy of a finish better than third and (3) had an unflattering replay?

Last Saturday, that’s exactly the kind of horse the “I won big” betting group keyed in the last race at Tampa Bay Downs -- and won $3,243.

So why was this mare, #7 Scorpion Aly, keyed on tickets costing hundreds of dollars? Simply because of her high pace number of 106 in her last race. If you look at the program page here the high pace number shows she was pressing the pace in her previous race. That’s why she had nothing left for the drive and finished sixth while #3, Loon River, was biding her time at the back of the pack and came charging late to pass Scorpion by four lengths.

It was logical to assume jockey Edwin Gonzalez, second in the jockey standings at Tampa, would change his tactics and not press the pace this time. And that’s exactly what he did, settling in fifth and moving on the leaders at the top of the stretch to get the lead and re-rally when passed by the horse that had beaten her last time.

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Stable Eyes. Obviously a play on the word “stabilize,” Stable Eyes is a pacer at Hoosier Downs in Indiana. Don’t you think that some people buy unnamed youngsters so they can give them unique names that amuse, titillate, impress or bewilder – or are tongue-twisters that challenge race callers? It seems some really enjoy the opportunity.


Prevents horses from thrashing while anaesthesia wears off

HOW TO KEEP HORSES FROM THRASHING AFTER SURGERY? The death last week of ASD Gold Cup winner Witt Six, who broke a leg thrashing about as he came out of anaesthesia following bone-chip removal surgery, reminded players that something similar happened to one of the greatest fillies of all time, Ruffian, in 1975. So what is the solution to this not-uncommon occurrence? The New Bolton Centre equine clinic in Pennsylvania suspends horses coming out of surgery in a raft floating in warm water with the horse’s legs inserted into long sleeves in the water. Water restricts movement that could cause injuries. A horse’s instinct is to flee as he comes out of anaesthesia because he is a prey animal who escapes from potential danger by running.

FORMER ASD TRAINER WINS ON WOODBINE'S OPENING DAY: Former ASD trainer Cole Bennett, likely the youngest trainer on the continent at 19 years old, was off to a flying start on Woodbine’s opening day Saturday. His Concorso, owned by Irish You Well Racing and Wanda Hicks, won race 5 ($6.10)--a $10,000 claimer with a $20,000 purse--as dad, Glen, a participant in Saturday’s “I won big” group, channelled good vibes from the Race Book. Glen says his son has seven or eight horses under his care. Cole had good numbers last year at the Downs, his second year of training (104-15-15-8). How will he do in the big leagues? Racing continues at Woodbine tomorrow through Sunday at noon CDT.

Jerry Gourneau
First at Fonner

GOURNEAU WINS FOUR OF FIVE AT FONNER TO SEIZE TRAINER LEAD: ASD trainer Jerry Gourneau has catapulted to the top of the trainer standings at Fonner Park in Nebraska after winning four of his last five races. With three weekends of racing remaining, he has 16 wins, four more than David C. Anderson. He won recently with Built by Ben ($9.20), Flashingformorluc ($11.60) and two wins by Rain On Me ($5 and $8.20). It has been a bittersweet two weeks for Gourneau as he lost the star of his barn, Witt Six, after a leg operation two weeks ago. ASD’s 12-time leading trainer Ardell Sayler has also been racing at Fonner. He has four wins and 11 seconds from 42 starts. Fonner’s meet ends on Kentucky Derby Day May 6.


HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

How many grandsons of the mighty Secretariat raced at the Downs? This historian isn’t sure but this week’s blog tells the story of one of them. Bob explains how this horse raced at the Downs for only two short years and yet left his hoofprint on our hearts. Read who that horse was here.

Official Manitoba tartan

SEASON 60 TRIVIA ANSWER: b) The 1965 Manitoba Derby was dubbed “The Run for the Tartan.” The owner of the winning horse received a tartan jacket made from official Manitoba Tartan approved by the Manitoba Legislature in 1962 and registered in Scotland. The intersecting blue lines in the tartan represent the forks and dark green represents the province’s rich multi-racial culture. What do other colours represent and who created the tartan? Find out here.

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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