Thursday, May 6, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 17 (Issue #788)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

and, remember, if you don’t receive The Insider in the usual way,
you can always find it--and past columns--at


Is there life after the Kentucky Derby?

C’mon! The Kentucky Derby was just the appetizer. Now we look forward to whether Derby winner Medina Spirit can become the 14th winner of the Triple Crown by winning the Preakness stakes a week from this Saturday at Pimlico in Maryland and, three weeks later, the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York.

And, of course, there is nothing like live racing at Assiniboia Downs that begins a week from Monday. Today’s big-money action takes place at Gulfstream and Santa Anita where the jackpot pick-6 pools are closing in on $400,000.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Eye on live: Half the jockey colony is new. Who are they?
  • Really, Ivan? How can you key a horse for fourth in a superfecta?
  • A bad day at the races leads to a "super" discovery
  • Uh-oh! Derby winner must be vanned 900 kms because Air Horse One lease expires
  • At last, a winning strategy for seemingly impossible races
  • Racing at Arlington Park may not die after all
HOW TO PLAY IN VEGAS-CHALLENGE ONLINE TOURNEY FOR FREE: You’ll have four chances during live racing to earn a trip for two to Las Vegas next spring to play in a tournament for hundreds of thousands of dollars. But you’ll also have a chance to play in the tournament FREE if you pick three winners on live race cards leading up to each tourney. The $50 entry fee will be cut in half if you pick three winners on one card; then you get $5 off each additional time you pick three winners. Make your race-day picks and play in the tournaments online.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in May? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Download 2021 LIVE RACING SCHEDULE here.

Do you have your new HPIbet account card that replaces the previous HPI card and the ASD Player Rewards card? Assiniboia Downs has joined the HPI rewards and bonus program and the new program began Monday, Feb. 1. See details here. If you haven't received your new card in the mail call 204-885-3330 (ext. 225) to check on the status.

for VLTs, simulcast racing and dining. Mask-wearing is required.

Pembina 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; Central Hotel (Rookies) 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. except Sunday 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. NOTE: Canad Inns Windsor Park and Green Brier are only open to purchase programs from the kiosks and to make HPI deposits on self-serve terminals. Both casinos and Quest Inn remain closed.

with daily specials. Fridays feature a Top Sirloin Steak dinner for $24.95 and Saturdays its Certified Angus Prime Rib dinner also for $24.95. Dinners are served from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Who are new jockeys?
Tyrone Nelson's cousin is among seven new jocks which is half the colony

Antonio Whitehall, last year’s leading rider, will be looking to earn a third title
Seven familiar jockeys will be part of the jockey colony when the 64th season of live racing gets underway a week from Monday. But seven are new. Who are they?
  • Jorge Carreno -- Riding since 2002, with his best season occurring in 2012 when he was riding primarily for Robertino Diodoro in Arizona, California and Alberta. Won the $200K Canadian Derby that year although under a different trainer. He rode 190 times last year--at Arapahoe Park in Colorado.
  • Shamaree Muir -- Has been riding for five years; won 13 races out of 178 mounts last year at Century Mile in Edmonton. He rode briefly at ASD last year.
  • Dwight Lewis -- Has been riding since 2009 primarily in Lethbridge, Alberta. Record: 690-36-87-88.
  • Ismael Mosqueira -- Has been riding since 2007, primarily at the now-defunct Northlands Park in Edmonton and, for the past five years at Woodbine. He had four wins in 125 starts last year at Woodbine.
  • Leroy Nelson -- Tyrone Nelson’s cousin. Hasn’t ridden since 2016 when he raced only once at Gulfstream Park in Florida and won the race. After that he was sidelined with a shoulder injury that required surgery. He had been riding since 2002, primarily at Florida tracks. His lifetime record is 176 wins from 2,434 starts.
  • Hector Rabbitskin -- Has been riding in a limited way primarily at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon since 2002. His record: 741-49-58-93
  • Apprentice Jamal Mahon -- The only apprentice jockey at ASD.
The returning jockeys include two-time leading rider Antonio Whitehall, Kayla Pizzaro, Nirone Austin, Richard Mangalee, Neville Stephenson, Stanley Chadee, Jr. and Sheldon Chickeness.

Medina Spirit will be hauled 900 kilometres from Churchill Downs to Pimlico

Medina Spirit will have to endure 900-kilometre van trip

Just days before he runs in the Preakness Stakes, Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit will have to endure a 900-kilometre van trip from Churchill Downs to Pimlico race track in Maryland because the usual air-transport company, Tex Sutton, is in a holding pattern in negotiations for a new lease of the horse-carrying plane dubbed Air Horse One, trainer Bob Baffert told media on Sunday.

That can only bring to mind the recently-released study in New Zealand that showed the extreme toll that van trips take on horses as they attempt to remain upright in a swaying trailer. In the nine-hour-plus trip, Medina Spirit could be jostled up and down a total of 2,500 feet and back and forth about 7,000 feet. The New Zealand study group installed measuring devices in a horse trailer to come up with its figures.

Medina Spirit will run in the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, a week from this Saturday.

Medina’s trip will be about half that of Manitoba’s super mare, Escape Clause, who was hauled two summers ago from Canterbury Park in Minnesota to Belmont Park in New York where she finished fourth in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK: “Without Lasix, horses seem to come out of the races with more energy, and they get back to their normal exercise energy quicker.” -- trainer Doug O’Neill

“I was pro-Lasix but having seen (races where Lasix is banned), you know what, maybe it's a good thing. We're creatures of habit, and we have a tendency to do things because that's the way we've always done it, not the way it's meant to be, and not what's best for the horse.”
-- David Carroll, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse

How can you key a horse for fourth in a superfecta?
(But a $405,000 superfecta got away anyway!)

“Superfecta” Bigg in ASD Clubhouse on Derby Day
(Manley Chan photo)
A reader called it “mind-boggling” that last week’s Insider could suggest keying a horse for fourth place in Derby superfectas. To which I, as a superfecta specialist, reply: “I key horses to be third and fourth all the time.”

And, in fact, I did it in the Churchill Stakes, race 10 on the Derby card, when my 31-1 fourth place key, Hog Creek Hustle, helped produce a superfecta that paid the entire pool of $405,000. With 9-2 Flagstaff keyed for first, my $12 superfecta wheel took four horses to finish second or third to Hog Creek Hustle in fourth. I missed #13, Lexitonian, who finished second. An “all” wheel of my first-place key with my fourth-place key would have given me $200,000. I would have done it if the minimum superfecta bet were 20-cents instead of $1.

So how do you pick a horse for fourth? As a consummate superfecta player, I have a feel for the horse who could get up for fourth and I love 7-furlong races. I played #11 for fourth because he had the highest Equibase speed figure for 7-furlongs in the race but had achieved this figure in a non-stakes race compared to other horses. A late-finishing fourth seemed to be the right fit.

Generally speaking, however, my favourite key for third and fourth is a horse cutting back to a sprint after showing speed in route races. A smart jockey will save the horse’s early route speed for a late kick in a sprint. The odds are often generous.

Other angles I use for third/fourth keys are horses who are dropping in class or horses with high early pace numbers who usually fade.

*      *      *
WHY I BECAME A SUPERFECTA SPECIALIST: It was the early 2000’s when superfectas were fairly new and I was down $1,000 on a late Saturday afternoon at Assiniboia Downs. Exasperated, I decided to throw caution to the wind and box five horses in a Stampede Park superfecta at a cost of $120 without analyzing the race or looking at the odds or anything. I just looked at the program, selected the horses with the highest Equibase speed figures in their past performances and boxed them.

Disgruntlement turned to amazement turned to unbridled joy when the superfecta price was posted: about $9,000. My ticket apparently took down the whole pool. How was that possible? Then I saw why. There had been an extreme less-than-even-money horse in the field and he failed to finish in the superfecta. My ticket was the only one that had the first four finishers.

It was like discovering a new toy. That got me playing superfectas at other simulcast tracks in the U.S. and I was doing very well at it. Ultimately, I even felt confident boxing seven horses at a cost of $840 when a race seemed semi-chaotic.

I was probably the only person back then (when the minimum bet was $1) who captured entire superfecta pools in the $20,000 range--three from Woodbine and one from Fort Erie on a Canada Day.

Primarily six horse boxes in maiden races (at a cost of $72 when the minimum bet is 20-cents) and wheels that take three horses in each of the top two positions wheeled to a key in the bottom two positions--with “all”.

Superfectas often pay many more times a triactor price and they offer a player an opportunity to quickly turn a losing day into a winning one. You have much more control of a single race than you do in multiple-race pick-4s, pick-5s, etc.
WIN A TON IN '21: At last, a winning strategy for chaos-type races

Bottom-level claiming races for non-winners of two lifetime races often produce a chaotic result. But there IS consistency in some of those races--and that consistency comes in the third and fourth-place positions. You may not pick a winner but horses that show lots of third place finishes will likely be closing late again and again. So that kind of horse belongs at the bottom of a triactor or third and/or fourth in a superfecta.

So the ticket to play is “all” with “all” in the top two positions with the closer or two closers in bottom positions with the expectation you may collect a big payoff if you catch a bomb’s away horse in either or both of the top two positions.

ARLINGTON PARK MAY NOT DIE AFTER ALL: Churchill Downs Inc., which is selling Arlington Park race track property for commercial development, can’t prevent buyers of the property from continuing to hold racing there. That’s what trustees of the village of Arlington Heights in Illinois decided at a meeting Monday night. A horsemen’s group has been considering buying the property. Churchill doesn’t want racing to continue there because it plans to build a track elsewhere in the state. Churchill could opt to retain the track and add a casino but that would compete with the mainly Churchill-owned casino, Rivers Casino, just 21 minutes away.

The $133 million bet on Churchill’s 14-race Derby Day card Saturday was the second-highest in history, eclipsed only by the $150 million bet in 2019 when Maximum Security was disqualified and longshot Country House was installed the Derby winner. NBC-TV viewership of more than 14 million matched NFL playoff football and eclipsed the audience for any awards show.

Just two Saturdays left to get even
JUST TWO MORE SATURDAYS FOR “I WON BIGGER” BETTING GROUP PLAY: The “I won bigger” betting group is going to take a much-needed break after the Preakness Stakes in two weeks. It will last right through the live race season. A re-evaluation will take place and maybe at that time the group can get back to holding full in-person workshops where everyone gets to present their views. Full discussions have been missing for a year and the impact has been profound.

Most of last weekend’s wagers centred around the Kentucky Derby which unfolded differently than anticipated when Rock Your World got off to a slow start. Multiple group superfecta tickets had Rock Your World finishing first or second and the ultimate winner, Medina Spirit, finishing third or fourth.

If group superfecta play had extended beyond the Derby, there was a “what might have been” moment in race 10. That superfecta paid $405,000 and my mere $12 ticket--keying the winner and fourth-place finisher--had the horses that finished first, third and fourth. (See “How can you pick a horse to finish fourth?” above.) This weekend’s group play, with input from tourney-wise players, will centre on the last six races at Santa Anita.

What? Yes, my penchant for apple cider had me interrupting the writing of this column for a visit to the liquor store where--what’s this?--a new company called Dead Horse Cider Co. is manufacturing a cherry and apple cider. And where is Dead Horse located? In Winkler, Man. How can a racing columnist pass up any product with “horse” on the label and made in his home province? I must report, Dead Horse’s apple and cherry ciders are as good as any from B.C. or even imported from Ireland. Way to go, Winkler! Thankfully, the horse on the label looks very much alive.
OOPS! THIS IS FINAL BEST OF BOB before fresh columns begin next week!

For track historian Bob’s final flashback column, let’s go with his favourite column from last year “I dreamed of a racehorse heaven.” I loved it, too, as I’m sure many of you did, too. Lots of memories for racetrackers who have been following ASD races for decades. Go here to enjoy it again, a week before brand new columns begin for the live race season.
  • This Saturday: $700K Grade 1 Man o’ War stakes at Belmont Park
  • Saturday, May 15: Second leg of the Triple Crown: Preakness Stakes from Pimlico. 2% cash-back bonus for your HPIbet wagers at Pimlico, Belmont and Santa Anita.
  • Monday, May 17: Live racing begins at the Downs. See below.
  • Tuesday, May 18: Race night at the Downs. See below.
  • Monday, May 24: Race night at the Downs. See below.
  • Tuesday, May 25: Race night at the Downs. See below.
  • Wednesday, May 26: Race night at the Downs. See below.
RACE NIGHT AT THE DOWNS includes “ASD Live” show online at 6:45 p.m. with racing analysts Kirt, Marshall and Stretch followed by spectator-free live racing at 7:30 p.m. To watch ASD Live, go to and click on the ASD Live icon at the top of the home page.


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