Thursday, May 9, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14 No. 17 (Issue #687)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

EYE ON LIVE: 50-day meet begins Sunday at 1:15 p.m.

WHAT’S NEW FOR LIVE RACING? THE BIG REVEAL COMES TODAY: What new wrinkles does this year’s live race season hold? ASD CEO Darren Dunn takes to the podium at this afternoon’s press conference/gourmet luncheon on the Downs’ main level to make the big reveal to about 250 invited guests.

Racing kicks off Sunday at 1:15 p.m. with free seeds courtesy of T & T Seeds to the first 1,000 moms (a spectacular flower mix), gift basket draws for moms, family fun for kids (petting farm, bouncy castle, pony rides and face-painting) and surprises emanating from the announcements at today’s press conference.

GREAT NEWS! MORE MONEY TO BE RETURNED TO ASD BETTORS! What The Insider CAN tell you is that Assiniboia Downs has reduced the track take-out for all wagers offered at ASD except for win, place, show and pick-4 which is already at a low 15 per cent. Said CEO Darren Dunn: “We are pleased to take some steps forward to recognize the importance of returning additional funds to our bettors to not only add value to their winning payoffs but to also set up the potential for additional wagering.” See his full statement here.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Escape Clause's trailer "shot" at on freeway
  • Derby DQ costs ASD betting group $5,883 but no one was complaining. What?
  • Entrants to "First & Worst" contest pick Country Horse for worst, not first
  • Q & A: Why didn't Kentucky Derby superfecta pay more?
  • "Bounce" horses win three races on Kentucky Oaks day. Did you play them?
CONTEST ENTRANTS PICK COUNTRY HOUSE TO FINISH LAST, NOT FIRST: What a topsy-turvy result in the “First & Worst” contest in the Race Book on the Kentucky Derby. Of the 150 entrants, 11 picked Country House--the ultimate winner--to finish last; no one picked him for first. This was the mirror image of last year’s contest result in which those who picked UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn for first in the Kentucky Derby saw their choice finish last. Crazy stuff.

No one correctly picked Country House for first and Gray Magician for last to win $100. Will your First & Worst picks do better in the other two legs of the Triple Crown: the Preakness Stakes next Saturday and/or Belmont Stakes on June 8? The Kentucky Derby result is remindful of the shocking first round winners in the NHL playoffs where the top team didn’t even win a game.

To be revealed at today’s press conference.
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Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in May? 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 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. Royal Flush progressive jackpot for tomorrow, Friday, is $3,141.25.

GREEDY CORNER: $800,000 & $400,000 are pools you can claim at Gulfstream and Santa Anita respectively if you have a unique 20-cent ticket on their Rainbow pick-6 jackpots.


"DQ was the correct ruling"

ASD players take DQ in stride despite big losses including $5,883 by betting group

Unlike reports from elsewhere, ASD players in the Race Book Saturday evening were calm and accepting of the disqualification of Maximum Security from winning the Kentucky Derby.

“The decision was correct,”
said a usually argumentative player who often is heard attacking steward decisions. “That’s racing,” said Margaret Birkett who administers the “I won bigger” betting group that had its $5,883 payoff in the pick-5 turn to mush when Maximum Security’s number was taken down.

The Equibase results chart said it all: “Maximum Security veered out sharply, forcing War of Will out into Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress nearing the five-sixteenths pole.”

I've watched the replay over and over and the right decision was made,” writes ASD’s Les “Longshot” Buzzell, in today’s “Readers Write” segment below. “Should not have taken that long.”

Which pretty much sums up why Maximum Security’s camp will get nowhere with their complaints to authorities.

And the ruling takes crow and humble pie off my table. Eating those would have been my month-long punishment after dismissing Maximum Security’s chances at Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group workshop. I really thought the colt would do what Mendelssohn did in last year’s Derby. Many betting group members had picked him to win, coming off his crushing victory in the UAE Derby in Dubai, but he ended up finishing last in the Kentucky Derby.

Watch the head-on video of Maximum Security veering out here.

*       *       *

BAFFERT HAS A DIFFERENT TAKE ON DQ: ASD fan education specialist Marshall Posner says “there are valid arguments on both sides of the DQ leger” which, of course, there are. Here’s what trainer Bob Baffert, who had three entrants in the Kentucky Derby, had to say:

“No one ever calls an objection in the Derby. It’s always a roughly-run race. A 20-horse field. I have been wiped out numerous times but that is the Derby. I can see by the book why they did it. But sometimes you’ve got to take your ass-kickings with dignity.”

Mare's trailer shot at on freeway

Likely paintball bullet strikes trailer window

What spooked Escape Clause as she was hauled in a trailer along a California freeway?

“I felt her jump,”
said trainer/co-owner Don Schnell who was pulling the trailer with his Ford 350 Dually truck.

He said he didn’t know what caused her to jump until later when he discovered a yellow substance on the trailer window that appeared to be yellow paintball paint likely shot by someone passing the trailer on the freeway. This incident happened in late January when the mare was being shipped to Santa Anita for the Robert J Frankel Stakes in which she finished fourth.

Schnell related this unsettling experience as he described anxious moments involved in transporting a horse “worth seven figures” through heavy traffic, “bad drivers” and accidents--while acknowledging she “would rather be on a racetrack than in a trailer.”

Here are the seven trips she and Schnell made from Turf Paradise in Phoenix (total purse money earned US$348,660):
  • Del Mar, Nov. 9: Kathryn Crosby Stakes. Finished first.
  • Del Mar, Nov. 22: Grade 3 Red Carpet Handicap. Finished third.
  • Santa Anita, Dec. 29. Grade 3 Robert J. Frankel. Finished fourth.
  • Santa Anita, Jan. 3. Grade 3 La Canada Stakes. Finished first.
  • Santa Anita, Feb. 16. Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes. Finished fourth.
  • Sunland, March 24. Harry Henson Handicap. Finished first.
  • Oaklawn, April 14. Grade 1 Apple Blossom. Finished second by a nose.
Escape Clause is now stabled at Canterbury Park near Minneapolis, Minn. as Schnell and her other owners contemplate her next starts with a view to having her primed for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in early November.

The Manitoba-bred is being nominated to run in each of these four races, Schnell said: a $700,000 race at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day on Saturday, June 8; a $250,000 race at Churchill Downs at the end of May; a $500,000 race at Santa Anita on the turf at the end of May and a $200,000 race there on the dirt.

Delaware management is also urging him to enter the $750,000 Delaware Handicap on July 13, he said.

*       *       *

SCHNELL INUNDATED WITH SWAG: When you own a valuable horse you’re considering selling, suitors come at you from all sides, hoping to woo you to work through them. To that end, Schnell said he’s getting caps, jackets and an expensive coat is on the way with his stable emblem and/or Escape Clause name emblazoned on the wearing apparel.

The Fasig-Tipton auction folks recently sent him a jacket and Taylor Made Farm sent him particularly well-designed Escape Clause caps (see pic). “I have enough wardrobe to last to the end of my life,” Schnell said.

Biggest ASD triactor in history was won by a rookie player
Q: How did the superfecta on the Kentucky Derby pay only $50K? Something seems fishy.

Big days are not normal days populated by skilled handicappers. Lots of “dumb” money is out there taking stabs at horses for whatever obscure reason. Here are a couple examples:
  • A casual player in the ASD Race Book Saturday picked up almost $1,500 for a mere $1 exactor box on 4-13-20 for whatever reason--and it certainly isn’t because he handicapped the race. Of course, #20 Country House won through disqualification and #13 Code of Honor was moved up to second.
  • And here’s the story behind what track historian Bob Gates tells us is the largest $2 triactor payout in ASD history. It was won on May 18, 1981 and paid $40,026.60. Long-time ticket seller Errol recalls that day. He said a woman he had never seen at the track showed him a triactor ticket she had bought, asking him whether they were good horses. He said he didn’t have the heart to tell her they were longshots with almost no chance of being in the money. But there they were, finishing one-two-three. She collected a fortune and was never seen again, he said.
So that’s how illogical horses get played--and especially on days filled with casual players.

"Bounce" horses pay big at Churchill; did you play them?

Advice in last week's Insider bears out on Oaks and Derby days

You were reminded in last week’s Insider to beware of horses who had big wins two races back and had only so-so efforts in their last race. Four of that type of horse won on the Oaks/Derby cards last weekend, three of them at juicy odds:

Race 1: Gigging paid $9.80
Race 9: Cummings paid $46.60
Race 11 (the Oaks): Serengetti Express paid $28

Race 6: Mia Mischief paid $25

Download Oaks program pages here and Derby program pages here


“BIGGER” GROUP LICKS DQ WOUND AS ATTENTION TURNS TO WOODBINE: With $5,883 in the rear view mirror--which is what Maximum Security’s DQ cost Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group--attention will turn this Saturday to Woodbine’s pick-5 in races 2 to 6. The following Saturday will be another major day: the Preakness Stakes when perhaps the group can recoup its Kentucky Derby losses--and more. See you at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. Yes, a Bigg batch of crispy crunchy bacon awaits your attendance.
Readers write . . .
"It was the correct call"

“Dear Ivan: Man, are all the connections to Maximum Security upset. Yes, he was the best horse but he did interfere with four other horses. I've watched the replay over and over and the right decision was made. Should not have taken that long. -- Leslie Buzzell, ASD horseplayer

“Dear Ivan:
Interesting how the media is making a huge deal about the Derby DQ but most racing people understand that was a pretty clear cut decision. -- Roger Jones, ASD horseplayer

Hi guys:
As you know, it’s rare not to hear a dissenting voice about steward rulings but I didn’t hear a peep in the Race Book Saturday about this one -- so most players, at least at ASD, would agree with you -- even those who lost considerable amounts of money.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: Are you up for this challenge?

This week marks the beginning of Bob’s new blogs for the 2019 season, Can you name the four stakes races on the Downs racing schedule that will reach a special milestone this year?  No peeking!  Bob has the details here. Hint: Two of the races honour men who are no longer with us and the other two were inaugurated prior to the Downs even opening in 1958.


  • Today: Press conference to kick off live racing with gourmet luncheon (invitation only.)
  • Tomorrow: 35th annual Manitoba Thoroughbred Awards banquet in the ASD Finish Line to honour last year’s live racing stars including Horse of the Year
  • This Sunday: Happy Mother’s Day! 50-day live racing season begins at ASD 1:15 p.m. Dinner tickets available from Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0
  • Friday, May 17: Live racing continues at 7:15 with the Preservata Stakes
  • Saturday, May 18: Preakness Stakes from Pimlico in Maryland; live racing at 7:15 p.m. with the Magic D’ Oro Stakes
  • Monday, May 20: Victoria Day. Salutes ASD horse owners with a Horse Owners Breakfast. Live racing at 1:15 p.m. with family fun

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