Thursday, May 10, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 18 (Issue #636)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

ASD PRESS CONFERENCE THIS MORNING: What’s being planned for the live race season that starts on Mother’s Day? Details will be revealed at a press conference at the Downs this morning. Stay tuned. Also this morning, Race Secretary Ray Miller is taking entries for Sunday’s race card.

It's "do or die" time for the Jets (and your bonus points)

They must beat Nashville tonight for your Player Rewards bonuses to continue

Last day for rewards? Not if Jets win.

You have another reason to cheer for a Winnipeg Jets victory tonight in the seventh and final game against the Nashville Predators. If they win, you will continue to enjoy enhanced Player Rewards for your bets on days they continue playing on the road to the Stanley Cup.

Your bets today are worth 4X the rewards and that will increase to 5X the rewards if they advance to Round 3 playing against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

What are their chances of winning tonight? Historically, they’re good. A team that loses Game 6 in a best-of-seven series has a 60 per cent chance of winning the final game after a two day break. Which is exactly what the Jets have been experiencing.

Big pools are begging to be won this afternoon:

  • More than $1 million is at stake in Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6
  • More than $700,000 is on the line in the pick-6 at Churchill.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Justify's Derby win was the polar opposite of a certain Belmont Stakes debacle. What horse?
  • Why is electrician Larry treating the whole "Big" group to a bacon feast this Saturday?
  • Was side trip to Minnesota worthwhile for trainer Don Schnell on his way to the Downs?
  • What made the Kentucky Derby card especially enjoyable?
  • Track historian Bob Gates starts a new series of blogs today. What's his first?
“FIRST AND WORST” STUMPS ENTRANTS: Quite a few “First and Worst” Kentucky Derby contest entrants got Justify correct but no one saw Mendelssohn finishing worst—i.e. last-- which means no one won the contest. However, a draw was made from those who selected Justify to win and Jennifer Wiebe was awarded $25 in betting vouchers.

who was invited with a guest to today’s press conference and gourmet brunch as a result of his turning $50 in self-serve bets into $718, the highest amount by far of those drawn to participate in the contest. Thanks to all who participated.
QX104 � Today's Country

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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 11, is $6,095.


Live racing begins Mother's Day: big stables, new promos

12-time leading trainer Ardell Sayler is going big again

Pony rides, bouncy gym and petting farm will be part of Mother's Day family fun

The 50-day live racing season begins Mother’s Day Sunday at 1:15 p.m. with more horses on the grounds than last year, new promotions, family fun and an exciting event on Manitoba Derby weekend that will be announced at today’s press conference.

Twelve-time leading trainer Ardell Sayler who cut back his stable after having the best year of his career in 2015—with 71 wins—has returned to the big time again with 43 horses. That puts him right up there with Jerry Gourneau with 42 horses and Tom Gardipy, Jr., whose stable could grow beyond 50.

Knowing how to make your bets on a self-serve terminal will help you if your entry for free wagers is drawn. There will be three draws daily to make $20 in self-serve bets. Also, a draw will be made from those entries for Fan of the Day. That person can take three others into the Winner’s Circle to watch a race from that exciting vantage point, then visit with a horse and get a framed picture as a keepsake.

One of the Downs’ most popular promotions, Crazy Hour, will continue after live races. Beer, wine and shots will be available for $2.95 as will half-price appetizers.

Also, $10,000 in free VLT spins will be awarded during live racing in free tournaments after the races.

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New on the poker front

Texas hold 'em will be held simultaneously with live racing on the third floor Trackview Gallery

Poker fans will no longer have to wait until after live racing to go “all in.” Ten-dollar buy-in poker will now be held in the Trackview Gallery on the third floor DURING LIVE RACING Friday and Saturday. The first session will be Friday, May 18.

Registration will be at 7:30 p.m.; games begin at 8 p.m. Multi-taskers should love it. Those with Horse Player Interactive (HPI) accounts won’t even have to leave their chairs to wager; they will be able to bet right on their mobile devices from their chairs.

Three re-buys of $10 will be available as currently is the case and poker players will be able to top up their chip stack for $10 during the first break. Poker is presented by the All-In Poker Tour and helps fund the backstretch Winners Foundation.

Poker sign-ups will be limited to 60. Also the popular progressive royal flush jackpot will continue with $5 giving you a chance to collect a big accumulated pot.



His name got it right. "Monster" would suit him, too.

Justify justified all the hype about him; few want to face him in Preakness

Justify: A win for the ages (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

If Big Brown’s spectacular debacle in the Belmont Stakes 10 years ago was the most dumbfounding performance in a Triple Crown race in recent memory (and probably of all time), then Justify’s dominance in the Kentucky Derby last Saturday was the most scintillating in recent times.

No 3-year-old who just started his racing career in mid-February is supposed to do what he did to the most competitive Derby field in years: set quick fractions in the gruelling 1 ¼-mile race and then pull away in the stretch with apparently something still left in the tank. That’s goose bump stuff.

“This horse is an official monster,”
said race player and now jockey agent Dave Brockhill, echoing the sentiments of many in the Race Book.

What was even more surprising is that he seemed alert and frisky the next morning as trainer Bob Baffert paraded him in front of media and fans, suggesting that he was not only a wonder horse, he is an iron horse as well. Baffert had no hesitation in saying Justify will be racing in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Maryland in nine days—which will likely see few Derby entrants wanting to take him on.

If you picked up a free souvenir julep glass at the track Saturday, that glass already is more special than most. Not only because of Justify’s domineering performance but also because he shattered the 136-year-old Curse of Apollo. He’s been only the second horse in the 144-year history of the Kentucky Derby to have won the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old. Only Apollo had accomplished that feat in 1882.

So now the buzz begins. Could we be seeing another Triple Crown winner just three years after American Pharaoh ended a lengthy drought? It’s premature to start comparing him with past greats, given the unpredictability of the sport, but one thing seems clear: excitement in the racing world has just been elevated a notch.

*        *        *

What a great card!

One of the most enjoyable Kentucky Derby days

Hope you had as good a time playing the races on Derby day as I did. Only one horse, Funny Duck at 39-1 in race 10, threw me for a loop—as it did most race players in North America. Otherwise, race winners were pretty much predictable--even those that went off at good odds—because “rules” worked.

Calculating closing fractions in turf races helped pick the winners in three races: Irish Territory in race 4 ($11.60), Maraud in race 9 ($18.80) and Yoshida in race 11 ($21.80). Irish Territory’s Tomlinson turf number of 375 (based on turf breeding) also towered over the other horses in race 4.

The last race, a maiden event, was won by the horse with the lowest added-up numbers, #6 Limation ($8.40). (Add the horse’s finish position in his last race with his position at the quarter pole in the race before that.)

The only surprise was Funny Duck. He was racing on dirt after five consecutive races on turf with low speed figures. The only way to have played that horse was by taking ALL in that leg or including him because the trainer, George Arnold, was making a perplexing move with the horse, entering the $300,000 Pat Day Mile on a surface he was mainly unfamiliar with.

No wonder there were only four winning 50-cent tickets that included him in a mid-card pick-5 and only two winning 50-cent tickets in the late pick-5. Will Churchill races unfold as predictably as they did on Derby day? Will be a track to keep an eye on.


THE BIGGEST SHOUT-OUT, of course, goes to the colt, Justify, and his connections that start with trainer Bob Baffert. Speed guru Andy Beyer had proclaimed him five lengths better than any other horse in the 20-horse field and Justify lived up to expectations. By the same token who would have predicted that Mendelsohn, the 18-length victor in the Golden Shaheen in Dubai on World Cup Day, would finish last? Maybe the sloppy track was not to his liking.

Larry Liebrecht
Mistake pays big

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to “I won big” group player electrician Larry Liebrecht for confusing the odds on a horse with a horse number – and thereby winning $3,000 in a pick-3 and offering to treat this Saturday’s “Big” group with a crunchy bacon feast as a result. He told The Insider he was intending to bet #8 in race 10 in the Derby card at Churchill Downs but somehow the morning line odds on #8, which were 4-1, stuck in his brain when he was writing his pick-3 numbers. So he wrote down #4 which was Funny Duck, the longest shot winner of the day at 39-1. Nice when that happens!

to Safeway cashier Cynthia DeLeon. It wasn’t the Kentucky Derby Saturday that made her day memorable; it was winning $1,499.50 with her 16 free VLT spins when her name was one of 10 drawn to participate in the free Unleash Your Luck tournament that night. “I was going to play Cats,” she told The Insider, “but I chose Wild Pride instead.” Good hunch.

Cynthia Deleon
Hunch wins a bunch

She got into the bonus round that led to her completing the full lion’s head on the screen which maxed out her prize money. DeLeon also won a berth in the month-end finale on Wednesday, May 30 (after live racing) for more potential cash.


Side trip worth $22,000

SIDE TRIP PROVES WORTHWHILE FOR ASD TRAINER: Stopping off at Canterbury Park in Minnesota last Saturday on his way back to Assiniboia Downs from Turf Paradise in Arizona proved to be a lucrative decision by ASD trainer Don Schnell. For starters, he got $750 for each of the four horses he entered in four races because the track had a promotion to attract more horses to the track. But all of Schnell’s horses raced respectably as well:
  • Race 1: His Whining won a $4,000 claimer ($5.40). Purse money $6,000.
  • Race 2: Escape Clause, his star filly, finished third among four classy horses in a $50,000 stakes race at odds of 7-1. The 4-year-old filly went to the lead, was passed, but came on late. Purse money: $5,500.
  • Race 5: His Sidasta at 7-1 finished second in her first lifetime start in a maiden special weight race for Minnesota-breds, losing only to the 4-5 favourite. Purse money: $6,800.
  • Race 9: His Mookie’s Wish at 9-1 finished fourth in a $10,000 maiden claimer for purse money of $575.
Total: $21,875 U.S. Last year’s ASD Debutante winner, Vidira, was a vet scratch out of race 10.

Player's mistake results in bacon for all

“BIG” GROUP’S LOSS WASN’T A BIG HURT: Those who participated in “I won big” group pick-4 and pick-5 tickets on Kentucky Derby Day should feel they achieved a bit of a moral victory even though they didn’t hit a biggie. Their tickets had a couple longshots but missed just one leg, a 39-1 “impossible” horse that resulted in a humungous $620,000 payout to four lucky 50-cent ticket holders. Losing to that kind of horse is no embarrassment. In superfecta play, it cost the group not to have hit the expensive ALL button on the bottom of tickets. And, in the super hi-5, the group just missed the horse in the fourth position.

On reflection it was Mendelssohn who was the fly in the ointment because he was highly favoured despite concerns. In fact, a Florida player told the Insider that betting wheels keying Mendelssohn were scrapped when the track came up sloppy. Good move! At least Saturday’s group will get a bacon treat this Saturday, thanks to group member Larry Liebrecht’s mistake. What? (See Shout Outs of the Week above.) This Saturday’s track is Woodbine, races 2 to 7 (the pick-5 and pick-4) and players should also take a peak at Gulfstream because the Rainbow 6 pool has grown beyond $1 million.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: Bob's inaugural blog recalls opening day records

What two opening day record-setting performances does track historian Bob remember in his first blog for the 2018 racing season?  Hint – one occurred in 2008 and the other in 1984 and both were set by women! Read about them here.


  • Tomorrow: 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 .
  • This Sunday: Assiniboia Downs live race season kicks off at 1:15 p.m. Happy Mother’s Day!
  • Friday, May 18: First Friday night of live racing at 7:15 and first poker tournament taking place in the Trackview Gallery on the third floor.
  • Saturday, May 19: Royal wedding early in the morning, the Preakness Stakes—second jewel in the Triple Crown—in the afternoon and the first Saturday of live racing at 7:15.
  • Monday, May 21: Holiday Monday with racing at 1:15. Free family fun events including pony rides, petting farm and bouncy gyms.

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