Thursday, April 28, 2016

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 11 No. 14 (Issue #533)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

Welcome to the NEW-LOOK INSIDER – designed to be more mobile-friendly!

A racing icon passes

A year after his champions were honoured, Phil Kives dies

As horse owner and breeder for more than four decades, Phil Kives, the “as-seen-on-TV” marketing genius, became almost synonymous with Assiniboia Downs. Sadly, yesterday morning, after a lengthy hospital stay, he passed away at 87, leaving an unparalleled legacy. Said ASD CEO Darren Dunn: “We lost a giant in the racing world and an icon in the Manitoba breeding industry. His contributions to this sport will never be forgotten. The list of stakes winners and champions he owned or produced will never be matched.”

Thankfully, the Downs honoured nine of his champion horses in overnight stakes races last year (including Island Fling, Proven Reserve, Plenty Chilly, Coral Prospect and Corporate Shuffle) and he delighted in seeing Goldencents, the grandson of his famed Body Works, win two Breeders’ Cups. Since 2000, his K5 Stables produced 253 wins from 1,377 starts and his horses earned $3.76 million. Burial was tentatively set for this Sunday at Shaarey Zedek Cemetery across from Kildonan Park.


• Guess how much money ASD paid out last year

Bonus cash continues thru May. Getting your share?

• Jones earns berth in $2 million championship tourney

• Dickey dazzles in morning works

• Lucky’s new Jamaican rider set to impress

• Crossing fingers, Fonner lockdown to end May 10

Brian Norris

Brian Norris


Let’s inaugurate the new-look Insider with a new contest: Guess how much money Assiniboia Downs paid out in total last year to horseplayers and VLT players when they cashed their bets or cashed out at the VLT windows. Entrant who comes closest to the correct amount (without going over) gets $50 in wagers on May 7 and 8 (Kentucky Derby Day and live racing kick-off day). Email your guess to by tomorrow (Friday) at midnight. One guess per person and per email address please.


Brian Norris, the retired school teacher who won a $100 win/place bet in The Insider’s predict-prep-race winners contest, said at the age of 12 he worked at Polo Park race track as a hot walker. Later he moved to Brandon where he said he helped late legendary trainer Bert Blake and enjoyed riding bareback jumping snow fences. He went on to become a Winnipeg high school maths teacher for more than 40 years. He’ll tell us on Kentucky Derby afternoon where he’ll put his free wager.


See 14-day calendar with main events here.
See simulcast schedule here.
See latest carryovers here.

LAST THURSDAY BUFFET TONIGHT: Tonight’s your last chance to enjoy a certified Angus prime rib buffet with pasta station before the Thursday night buffets end during live racing. Hurry, almost sold out. (Why not enjoy the buffet while playing the horses at your carrel?) Reserve at 204-885-3330.

QX104 – Today’s Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive

Big shout-out to Roger Jones

Earns a berth in $2 million National Championship

Roger Jones Gets invited to big tourney

Roger Jones Gets invited to big tourney

You already know that Winnipeg bus driver Roger Jones has won multiple tournaments at the Downs and earned trips to the Horse Player World Series in Vegas on the Downs’ dime.

Now know him as an online competitor who, this past Sunday, earned a berth in the invitation-only $2 million National Handicapping Championship next January by finishing fourth in an online tournament. Only the top four out of 290 entrants in that tourney earned berths. Top prize will be $800,000.

It was “hard to do,” Jones said, giving a lot of credit to his friend Marshall Posner who answers your HPIbet questions below. (The versatile Posner actually has designed this column and a new ASD website that will be launched soon.)

About three years ago, he said, Posner obtained a list of “hidden turf sires” from a player in a Las Vegas tournament. And it was a “hidden turf sire” (City Zip) that resulted in Jones playing a 7/1 first-time turf horse, Aragonite, at Aqueduct—who won. (Players were required to make $2 win/place wagers on 12 mandatory contest races.)

Jones also got decent odds on a Michael Maker claimed horse (5/1) who beat a vulnerable favourite in a turf route race at Keeneland and got 6/1 on a Linda Rice-trained class standout at Aqueduct.

The NHC organizers have already deposited $1,000 U.S. in a tournament account for his trip to Vegas in January, Jones said.

Dickey dazzles

His horses post sizzling morning workouts

Elton Dickey

Elton Dickey

In his second year as a thoroughbred horse trainer, Elton Dickey owns some of the fastest workouts since clocking began on April 18.

His Hollysindependent, claimed at Fort Erie last fall, logged the quickest 3-furlong workout at 35.60 and Major Sugarattack did it in 36. Major Sugarattack subsequently worked 4-furlongs in 48:80 as did his Gibson’s Bullet.

Only Tom Gardipy’s Heavenless Lioness beat that time at 48.40 while Lise Pruitt’s Twice the Magic equalled his 48.80.

These are obvious horses to watch as the 50-day live season kicks off on Mother’s Day. A former harness trainer, Dickey had an impressive record of 79-20-16-14 in his thoroughbred debut year, with 25 per cent wins. His barn will have 25 to 30 horses.

A new hot-shot jock?

Will Paul Francis be another Dane Nelson?

Paul Francis

Paul Francis

The jockey agent nicknamed “Lucky” appears to be have latched on to another hot-shot Jamaican jockey: Paul Francis.

Francis was third-best in percentage wins at Caymanas Park in Jamaica last year at 15.7 per cent, behind Dane Nelson who had 18.5 per cent wins. You may recall Nelson, whose book was handled by the same Mark “Lucky” Drabing, was one of the Downs’ hottest jockeys last season, winning at a 28 per cent clip until heading to Northlands Park late in the season to wow players with longshot winners.

If Francis is anything like Nelson, watch out!

Tournament Tigers

Will you be the Tournament Tiger for this Saturday, April 30? You can't be unless you enter Saturday's Player's Choice tournament. Share in $850 in prize money, enjoy a complementary buffet and accumulate points to earn the title of Handicapper of the Year. Sign up by 9 p.m. tomorrow for $25 and by noon Saturday for $35. View previous Tournament Tigers here.

A day to forget

Talented players lay a “Big” egg

It wasn’t easy to do. Two Handicappers of the Year and a recent top-14 player in Las Vegas helped construct a $518 “I won big” pick-5 ticket at Tampa that got exactly one leg correct. One. And that leg was an “all” leg.

Do I hear copious laughter? “It happens and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourselves,” said outside observer Roger Jones who earned a berth at the National Handicapping Championship (see above) but noted the only winner he had in the last four horseplayer tournaments at the Downs was a horse he accidently played.

Three of the group’s missed legs were won by horses that had shown a bit of early speed on the dirt or grass but appeared to be inferior. They weren’t. (The pick-5 paid $7,666 for $1 and the pick-4 $1,052 for $1.)

So, knowing it can’t possibly get worse, the group will return to the scene of the crime—the Tampa pick-5 this Saturday—the second-last “I won big” session of the season. It will wind up on Kentucky Derby Day with play at Churchill Downs.



If there aren’t any more reports of equine herpes virus in horses at Fonner Park, the quarantine will end Tuesday, May10, allowing horses to leave the stables for other tracks. Fonner’s meet ends Saturday, May 7. The Nebraska track has been in lockdown mode since three horses contracted the virus in mid April. One horse was euthanized.

Horses in that barn have been unable to race but other horses have – but no horses have been permitted to leave the track. Among them are horses trained by Jerry Gourneau and Ardell Sayler who are expected to have sizable stables at the Downs.


You already know that this fall’s Breeders’ Cup will be at Santa Anita and next year’s will be at a brand new venue, Del Mar. Now know that the following season, 2018, it will return to its Churchill Downs roots.


Fort Erie has announced a 40-day live meet the goes Tuesdays and Sundays starting Tuesday, May 31. The final day is Tuesday, Oct. 26. Its major day is Tuesday, July 26—the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown that begins with the Queen’s Plate.

Where are they now?

by Rob MacLennan

ASD horses leave the desert for the prairies

The main group of Turf Paradise horses should be on its way to ASD. The Don Schnell barn capped off a good Phoenix meet (109-17-25-18; earnings $220,600 U.S.) with some close defeats. The 11-year-old I Am Awesome ran another game third on the grass this past Tuesday while on Arizona breeders day the 3-year-old Heber lost a tight photo in the $50,000 Gene Fleming Breeders Derby. The 4-year-old filly Dance Affair was third in the Ann Owens Distaff, just a nose away for all the money.

The Jared Brown barn (114-15-16-20; earnings $132,300 U.S.) wrapped up its Turf Paradise meet with a second by the 6-year-old mare Elle’s the Boss.

At Fonner Park trainer Ardell Sayler this past weekend had a win with the 5-year-old Show Em Up ($7.20) and a second with the now 6-year-old Zaccheus. Look for the barn to continue to win a race or two per weekend until Fonner ends May 7.


Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. Are there any new features that have recently been added to HPIbet?

A. Yes, there are a couple of new features that have recently been added to the HPIbet system. First, you can now check payouts for Pick 5 and Pick 6 wagers. Up until recently, the system only displayed payouts for doubles, pick 3’s and pick 4’s but this new functionality has recently been added. You can check your pick 5 and pick 6 payouts in the PROBABLES AND WILL PAYS section (view image here).

The second feature that was added a short while ago is the Pop-Out Odds Window. Simply click on the TRACKS tab and when the pop-up window opens you can click on the arrow in the top corner (view image here). This will generate a pop-up window with all of the tracks currently running, the current race number for every track, the MTP and the odds for every runner in that race. You can filter it to only display your favourite tracks by clicking on the favourites button along the top. If you have multiple screens on your computer, you can keep this window open alongside your HPI betting window to monitor all of the tracks that you’re playing simultaneously (view image here).

Got a question for Marshall? Email
Review previous questions and answers here.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

Did you know… that a Manitoba-bred horse made it into the Guinness Book of Records when he covered a half-mile in :44 2/5? Who was the horse and when did he do it? Read “Spring, sprints and a Spike with record-setting speed” here.

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