Thursday, May 3, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 17 (Issue #635)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

QUICKIE DERBY QUIZ: Which Kentucky Derby winner in the last 10 years had the highest Equibase speed figure? (a) California Chrome (b) American Pharoah (c) I’ll Have Another (d) Big Brown. See answer under “Is this your year to cash a biggie?”


Get 4X Player Rewards on all bets
today and on Kentucky Derby Day

Because the Winnipeg Jets play the Nashville Predators in the NHL playoffs today and Saturday, you earn a generous 4X the usual Player Rewards points on all bets you make today and Saturday, Kentucky Derby Day.

Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 will be well over $800,000. First post 12:10 p.m. And Belmont’s pick 6 carryover is $147,000. First post: 12:30 p.m.

on Monday and Thursday if games 6 and 7 are required.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Ready for a major Derby Day score? See 2007 comparison and Marshall's picks
  • What $2 Kentucky Derby bet paid an average of $119,000 over the past 10 years?
  • "Black cats shouldn't be allowed on the backside!" Who said that and why?
  • Kentucky Derby isn't the only big race Saturday. ASD's super filly also makes 2018 debut
  • What ASD jockey won two races at Woodbine last Saturday, including a 28-1 longshot?
SATURDAY IS YOUR FINAL CHANCE TO GET “HOT TICKET” INVITE: Saturday is your final opportunity to get into the draw for $50 in self-serve bets and, if you’re drawn, have the extreme challenge of trying to beat Mel Peddle to be invited to the ASD press conference and gourmet brunch next week to kick off live racing. Peddle turned his $50 last Saturday into $718! (See Shout-Outs of the Week below.)

Get a free Kentucky Derby souvenir glass and enter the draw for classy merchandise and Triple Crown glass set! Also enter “First & Worst” for $100 in wagering vouchers by picking the horse who will finish first and last in the Derby.
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive

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Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in May? 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, May 4, is $5,730. Note that effective Friday, May 18 poker will change to registration 7:30 p.m. Game at 8:00 p.m. Poker will be played in the Trackview Gallery on the 3rd level during live racing.


Note the Equibase speed figures in parenthesis next to each horse. Whose is highest?

"Most competitive Derby in years"

Can we learn, then, from the last really competitive Derby in 2007?

There’s general agreement that Saturday’s Kentucky Derby is the most competitive in years. Is there anything we can learn, then, by comparing this year’s Derby with that of 2007 which ASD handicapper Rob MacLennan says was the last really competitive Derby, won by Street Sense? What happened in that race? Three of the four most-bet horses finished in the top three positions:
  1. Street Sense (the favourite at 9-2)
  2. Hard Spun (the fourth choice at 10-1)
  3. Curlin (the second choice at 5-1).

That would extrapolate this year into this finish:

  1. Justify
  2. Magnum Moon
  3. Mendelssohn
With three of the top four horses finishing in the money, a $2 triactor paid just $440 but a 28-1 horse finished fourth (press the “ALL” button?), resulting in an improbable payout of $29,000. That’s 66 times the triactor payout and shows you where the real money lies.

Watch the 2007 Derby here. Substitute Justify or Flameaway for the speed of Hard Spun. I’ve been surprised at how many players have told me they like Flameaway to hit the board because the horse has so much heart.

*        *        *

Is this your year to cash a biggie? (Here's hoping!)

Average payout for a $2 superfecta ticket over the past 10 years was $119,000

Giant pools fattened by lots of “dumb” money has resulted in monster payoffs in the past 10 Kentucky Derbies, especially in superfectas and in the pick-4 and pick-5 which end in the Kentucky Derby. Here are those years (which also includes the Equibase speed figure of the race winner).

The highest $2 superfecta payout was in 2009 ($557,000), the highest $2 pick-4 was in 2010 ($73,700) and the highest $2 pick-5, introduced in 2011, was in 2011 ($856,000).
  • 2008 – Big Brown (2-1 followed by horses with odds of 13-1, 27-1 and 37-1). $2 superfecta paid $58,700, $2 pick-4 paid $14,675. Equibase speed figure of winner: 114.
  • 2009 – Mine That Bird (50-1 followed by horses with odds of 16-1, 19-1, 12-1). $2 superfecta paid $557,000, $2 pick-4 paid $40,800. Equibase speed: 103.
  • 2010 – Super Saver (8-1 followed by horses with odds of 11-1, 2-1 and 30-1). $2 superfecta paid $202,000, $2 pick-4 paid $73,700. Equibase speed: 107.
  • 2011 – Animal Kingdom (20-1 followed by horses with 8-1-, 9-1 and 23-1). $2 superfecta paid $48,000, $2 pick-4 paid $24,600, $2 pick-5 paid $856,000. Equibase speed: 105.
  • 2012 – I’ll Have Another (15-1 followed by horses with odds of 4-1, 12-1 and 30-1). $2 superfecta paid $96,000, $2 pick-4 paid $31,000 and $2 pick-5 paid $96,000. Equibase speed: 109.
  • 2013 – Orb (5-1 followed by horses with odds of 34-1, 6-1, 9-1). $2 superfecta paid $57,000, $2 pick-4 paid $358 and a $2 pick-5 paid $1,300. Equibase speed: 109.
  • 2014 – California Chrome (5-2 followed by horses with odds of 37-1, 8-1 and 6-1). $2 superfecta paid $15,400, $2 pick-4 paid $1,577 and $2 pick-5 paid $2,800. Equibase speed: 109.
  • 2015 – American Pharoah (5-2 followed by horses with odds of 9-1, 4-1 and 10-1). $2 superfecta $1,268, $2 pick-4 $2,000 and $2 pick-5 $9,600. Equibase speed: 109.
  • 2016 – Nyquist (2-1 followed by horses with odds of 5-1, 10-1 and 11-1). $2 superfecta $1,084, $2 pick-4 $22,800 and $2 pick-5 $96,000. Equibase speed: 108.
  • 2017 – Always Dreaming (9-2 followed by horses with odds of 33-1, 40-1 and 6-1). $2 superfecta $152,000, $2 pick-4 $13,800 and $2 pick-5 $200,000. Equibase speed: 106.

*        *        *

Derby Day schwag and thoughts

Remember, Derby Day--and Kentucky Oaks tomorrow--go to post at 9:30 a.m.

Get one free Saturday

A Churchill Downs commentator said during the post-position draw Tuesday morning that this Derby has all the makings of a Derby that will still be talked about even 20 years from now. Which means that schwag (Derby glass and merchandise) will be in demand long after this Derby is in the history books.

So be sure to get your free Derby glass at the track or at an OTB (while quantities last) and enter the draw for Derby merchandise including four Triple Crown glasses and Kentucky Derby cap, T-shirt and tote bag.

The day is extra-special, too, because the Winnipeg Jets are playing Saturday night – which means all wagers you make on Saturday earn you 4X the Player Rewards points. That’s huge!

Remember, too, the usual Saturday morning “I won big” workshop at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza will be concentrating on the Kentucky Derby (for superfecta play) and the four races before that (to play the pick-5 and pick-4). You’re invited, of course, and all participants receive a generous $5 top-up to their $20 shares in group tickets.

Following Mike Welsch’s workout reports at will also give you insight into the “now” horse. He’s been especially high on Good Magic.

Interestingly, the exact three horses Marshall selects in his HPI segment below. And I’d add Flameaway to hang around to be part of the superfecta.

WHAT'S IN A NAME? Want something done fast? Then trainer Don Schnell is your man, if you take his last name literally. "Schnell" is German for "fast."


Super filly Escape Clause is GUARANTEED a cheque . . .

. . . in her 2018 debut race, a $50,000 stakes race at Canterbury Park

Manitoba-bred super filly Escape Clause, who finished second in last year’s Manitoba Derby, is guaranteed a cheque Saturday in a $50,000 stakes race at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. That’s because there are only five entries in the race, race 2, including her.

Her task in the L’Etoile du Nord Stakes for fillies and mares will not be easy: She will be facing three horses who finished second in classy races at Oaklawn Park and one who won at Gulfstream Park. If she wins, it would be like the Las Vegas Golden Knights knocking off the L.A. Kings in four straight playoff games. Hmm, that happened, didn’t it?

Trainer Don Schnell also has entered ASD Debutante winner Vidira in a $20,000 optional claimer (race 10) and has these starters as well:
  • Whining – race 1
  • Sidasta – race 5
  • Mookie’s Wish – race 9
Obviously, ASD players will want to follow all of them and wish Schnell well. The first race at Canterbury Park--with his Whining--goes off at 12:45 p.m.

Mel Peddle
Turns $50 into $718

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to bookbinder Mel Peddle who turned $50 in self-serve wagers Saturday into a huge $718 by playing a $58 horse, Fuhr Love, in Woodbine’s sixth race. He cashed his mandatory $5 win/place wager and mandatory pick-3 wheel (2 X 2 X 2) which earned him $528. His compulsory exactor box and 20-cent superfecta wheel blanked. What did he like about Fuhr Love? “The trainer is 50 per cent with first-time Lasix and ‘Fuhr’ is the name of someone I ride with (on motorcycles).” Whatever it takes! Unless someone can beat that amount in the final draw next Saturday, Peddle will be invited with a guest to the “hottest press conference in town” (because it includes a gourmet brunch) next Thursday where details of the live-race season will be announced.

to jockey Christopher Husbands, a leading jockey at the Downs who won two of 10 races at Woodbine Saturday including Fuhr Love, a first-time starter in race 6, who paid $58.10, and Miss Savvy in race 9, who paid $17.30. That gives him a record of 12-2-0-1 in the races he has ridden at Woodbine. He’s not expected to return to the Downs when racing begins on Mother’s Day May 13.

to the super professionalism of the folks at Churchill Downs in the post position draw for the Kentucky Derby streamed online Tuesday at 10 a.m. CDT. It was very smooth with quick, incisive commentary about each entrant, ladies placing the horse name and jockey silks in the “starting gate,” oddsmaker Mike Battaglia assigning odds to each horse and interviews with major trainers. Couldn’t have been better. A real credit to the industry.

TOP 5 TOURNEY TIGERS (from left): Brad Kinnear (2nd), winner Greg Earl, tourney director Dawn Forbes, Mel Peddle (3rd), Robert Mann (5th), Geoffrey Metcalf (4th)

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to retired police dispatcher Greg Earl who, for the second time in six months, won a monthly Player’s Choice handicapping tournament Saturday, using a preference for speed horses and a “hunch” horse to do so. He won $1,000. The top five players and their bankrolls after betting $2 win, place and show on 10 horses of their choice:
  • Greg Earl $111.20 ($1,000 prize money)
  • Brad Kinnear $96.50 ($400 prize money)
  • Mel Peddle $94.10 ($200 prize money)
  • Geoffrey Metcalf $93.80 ($100 prize money)
  • Robert Mann $77.60 ($50 prize money)
There were 36 entrants. Among his plays, Earl said Conquest Sandman’s “early speed” in Gulfstream’s ninth race is what attracted him to the horse and he collected about $23 when the horse wired the field. Early speed and the fact that she had won at the same 1 ½-miles distance at Del Mar is the reason Earl bet Queen Blossom—and she won at 9-1—in Santa Anita’s second race. And a “hunch” play in the second race at Turf Paradise, She Will, added about $23 more to his bankroll.

The next four tournaments are Las Vegas Challenge events in which the winner will earn a trip to Las Vegas with a guest to participate in the Horse Player World Series. Those tourneys will take place on these Saturdays: June 9, July 7, Aug. 11 and Sept. 8. So mark your calendar!


PROVINCIAL STUDY ON RACING TO BE CONCLUDED AUGUST 13: The sustainability and future growth of racing in Manitoba is the subject of a $150,000 study that is being undertaken by the Manitoba government to be completed Aug. 13. A consulting firm will talk with the Manitoba Jockey Club, proponents of harness racing and others. Said Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler in a release: “Horse racing is a well-established industry in Manitoba that provides province-wide economic benefit and entertainment opportunities. While the industry has faced financial challenges, our government wants to find a sustainable future for horse racing in Manitoba. It is our hope that this external review will reveal new opportunities for growth and long-term sustainability.”

“BIG” GROUP READY FOR BEAR, UH, BACON? Again last week, the “I won big” betting group left out ALL in the tricky last leg of the Tampa pick-5 while playing ALL in two other easier legs and collected a mere $135 for a couple small plays by individual tables. Sheesh!  But a Derby score would soon make that a distant memory. So the deal is: Come prepared for the Derby superfecta (average $2 payoff for the past 10 years was $119,000) as well as the pick-4 and pick-5 ending in the Derby. 10:30 a.m. Clubhouse plaza. Not for the faint of heart.

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q: Who is going to win the Kentucky Derby?

If you’re a Beyers fan, then Justify is your horse. With three triple-digit Beyers in his first three races Justify joins only 18 horses in the past 25 years that had started their careers this way including Lost in the Fog, Pulpit, Lite the Fuse and Discreet Cat. However, it appears no winner has ever only raced at one track—as Justify has at just Santa Anita--and then shipped to the Derby. At 3-1, I’m willing to look elsewhere and use Justify only defensively in my horizontal wagers.

My stand-outs are these three:

  • Bolt d'Oro
    "I'm using him aggressively"

    Bolt d’Oro. A first-class animal with an experience edge. He had little chance to run down Justify in the Santa Anita Derby because Justify was loose on the lead. At 9-1, I’m definitely using him aggressively.
  • Mendelssohn was so impressive in the UAE Derby although questions remain about the strength of that field and concerns that the track was speed biased and sloppy so you likely have to temper the enthusiasm. UAE Derby wins are a combined 0/13 in the Kentucky Derby. A big plus, though, is his excellent dirt breeding: he’s a brother to Beholder and Into Mischief and has proven he can ship to the U.S. and win, which he did last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. His trainer, Aiden O’Brien, is arguably the best overall trainer on the planet.
  • Good Magic. This will be his third start for Chad Brown and the colt appears to be improving. His third start last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was incredible and from how he’s been working, it sounds like he’s ready to produce another big one.
What about Todd Pletcher’s four entries, you may be asking. Well, since 2000 he’s had 48 runners in the Derby and won twice – in 2010 with Super Saver and last year with Always Dreaming. That makes him either 2/48 or 2/17 and although his Magnum Moon is undefeated, I’m going to pass.

Whoever you land on, remember to demand value and best of luck in crushing in the Derby!

Got a question for Marshall? Email


Did you know . . . that in 2016 the Downs lost some dear members of our racetrack family: Bill Grohn, Harry Gumprich, Philip Kives, Roma Konyk, June Sifton and Garylle Stewart. But the track also had its first million-dollar betting day! Read Bob’s “wrap-up” here.

This is the final instalment in the "Best of Bob" series. Watch next week's Insider for Bob’s new weekly series of blogs he’s been burning the midnight oil on.

Monomoy Girl is likely favourite in Kentucky Oaks tomorrow (BloodHorse photo)


  • Today: 4X Player Rewards (because the Jets play) and  tonight’s prime rib buffet is the final Thursday buffet of the season. Entrees include: garlic and rosemary chicken, meatballs marinara and tortilla tilapia. Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • Tomorrow: Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. First post 9:30 a.m.
  • This Saturday: Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs. First post 9:30 a.m. 4X Player Rewards (because the Jets play). Free souvenir Derby glasses and merchandise giveaways at the track and at OTBs; Escape Clause makes 2018 debut at Canterbury Park.
  • Friday, May 11:  Who will be named ASD 2017 Horse of the Year? Manitoba horsemen’s 2017 awards night in the Finish Line Banquet Hall. See list of nominees in various categories here .
  • Sunday, May 13:  Assiniboia Downs live race season kicks off at 1:15 p.m.


Trainer Bob Baffert’s fear of black cats—mentioned at Tuesday’s Derby draw—was the result of a black cat crossing in front of him prior to his Real Quiet’s 1998 nose loss to Victory Gallop in the Belmont Stakes. And in 2001 a black cat apparently appeared in front of him as his heavy Kentucky Derby favourite Point Given was being led to the track. Point Given finished fifth, losing by more than 11 lengths. “They shouldn’t allow black cats on the backside,” Baffert has been quoted as saying. In the middle ages black cats were associated with witchcraft which would justify (no, not Justify!) Baffert’s superstitious concerns.

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