Thursday, May 12, 2016

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 11 No. 16 (Issue #535)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

If there appears to be too much space between lines or the pictures are askew, click here for an online version. Some email systems don’t display items as intended.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Win a million bucks at Golden Gate today for 20-cents
  • Wagering doubles at the Downs (more bonus cash for you?)
  • At last! Colour codes make ASD stakes races make sense
  • Look at you! Downs players were very smart bettors in April!
  • Why it’s been a weird Kentucky Derby year
  • Day One of live racing: What I did and why
Bob Gates congratulates Chris Husbands

Track historian Bob Gates congratulates Chris Husbands on his four wins

Mother’s Day wagering doubles

Which opens the way for your bigger bets on prime plays

Many of you came to me on Sunday to comment on the wagering pools compared to last Mother’s Day – more than $18,000 in the win pool in one race, for example.

Yes, night racing meant wagering doubled to $355,000 from last year’s afternoon card but, more importantly, higher pools means you’re able to bet more on your prime plays. I got scolded when I bet $5 pick-3 wheels (see below) but I think the critic didn’t realize that larger pools allow for it.

It was a big night for 2014 leading jockey, Chris Husbands, too. He scored four wins on the eight-race card. And last year’s co-leading trainer, Tom Gardipy, Jr., was off to a blazing start with a hat trick. Assiniboia Downs all time leading trainer Gary Danelson had to be happy winning the first and last race, too!

A $5 PARLAY CAN FLY YOU AND A GUEST TO MEXICO! You get so much in return for doing so little. You can earn a Place in the Sun both figuratively and literally by playing $5 place parlays—note: on three consecutive ASD races. Not only are there daily and monthly prizes, but the biggest parlay of the season earns an all-inclusive trip for two to Mexico in January courtesy of Charleswood Travel and WestJet Vacations plus $500 cash. Note: You may start a new three-race parlay in any race (up to the third-last race). Just be sure to keep your cashed tickets to prove your amount.

SPIN TO WIN DAILY: Who doesn’t like to spin a wheel of fortune? Doing so at Guest Services during live racing could put $10 to $50 of wagers into your pocket. Just fill out the entry form in the program. You may be drawn after race 3, 4 or 5.

BET THE FASTEST HORSES IN THE WORLD FREE: Double feature Fridays and Saturdays continue this season with quarter horse racing from Los Alamitos after live racing. Ten $5 wagering vouchers will be given away free in draws.

FREE VLT SPINS AFTER THE RACES: The Downs has given away more than $100,000 in Unleash Your Luck VLT spins and monthly prizes – not to mention all the money won by players who were drawn to spin. Ten draws will be made, each worth $20 in free spins, after every live race card! Enjoy Crazy Hour (beer, wine, shots $2.95 plus half-price appetizers) at the same time!


What are the highlights for the next 10 days? See calendar here.
What’s the simulcast schedule for May? See it here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers at all tracks? See them here.

SPECIAL OFFER: BOTTLE OF WINE INCLUDED! Book a table for four at tomorrow’s or Saturday’s race night buffet—in fact, any race night in May—and a bottle of house wine will be included! Mention this Insider offer when you call 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

QX104 – Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive

Sports schedules:  Blue Jays  Blue Bombers


Weirdest Derby season

Waited for another shoe to drop, but it never did

Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby

Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby: A yawner?

This Kentucky Derby season has been – what word fits best? – weird. The two most logical horses finished first and second—Nyquist and Exaggerator—in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby but few of the best handicappers I talked to had seen that happening.

All prep season, race veterans have been waiting for the other shoe to drop—some horse that would suddenly emerge as a serious world-beater—but that never happened. The 3-year-old colts this year are a sub-par group and they stayed that way. The unbeaten horse with unspectacular speed numbers stayed unbeaten. Ho-hum.

It was telling that ASD handicapper Rob MacLennan in last week’s Insider said he “hated” this Derby, he had “no clue” on who would win and his pick was “all.” The same thing happened at the “I won big” workshop Saturday morning. One participant said it was a waste of money trying to figure out what would happen.

Curiously, though, when questioned individually, participants said Nyquist was their best horse and Mohaymen was their second-best horse but they voted against wheeling those horses in superfecta tickets (which paid $542 for $1 when Nyquist won and Mohaymen finished fourth). In the end, the group wanted seven horses in that fourth leg of their pick-4s.

So, has our thinking evolved? Do we all now agree that Nyquist will be a boring winner of the Triple Crown? (Did I really say that?) Or are we still holding on to a bit of skepticism that says another shoe WILL drop? Weird, just weird.


Day One

Having a strategy gets the live meet off to a good start

Out of Mischief wins first race at 7/1

Out of Mischief wins first race at 7/1

Did you have a strategy going into Sunday night’s kick-off of live racing? I did and it paid off – and maybe there are elements here you might wish to adopt or think about.

Two things were uppermost in my mind:

  1. Pools would be fattened by “dumb” money – bets from casual players who come to the races only on special occasions and by players throughout North America who may be playing Assiniboia Downs for the first time.
  2. Players, even experienced ones, would likely be tentative in their first few wagers.

So, against this backdrop, I decided to be aggressive, especially since the first two races had solid plays—horses with the highest pace numbers who had raced recently. And we all know that high pace numbers are a strong factor in sprints.

In race 1, Out of Mischief who had logged a 99 pace fig in his last start—at least 10 ahead of other horses’ recent starts–won and paid $17.90. And in race 2, Blackburn with a pace figure of 87 paid $4.

But I was mainly interested in a $5 pick-3 wheel for which, oddly, I was highly criticized. That wager earned me $272 for a $40 outlay. And, in race 2, $54 in superfecta wagers brought a return of $259.50. (A veteran player scolded me for “betting against myself” by playing too big a pick-3. But if I had bet a $1 wheel, I would have gotten back $64. Love my critics!)

And what do I have planned for tomorrow and Saturday? More of the same. With one addition: I’m going to follow the horses trained by Tom Gardipy Jr., Gary Danelson and Cole Bennett more closely. Gardipy had a hat trick Sunday, Danelson had two wins and Bennett’s About a Girl at 4/1 almost beat the 3/5 favourite, Ellie’s the Boss, in race 6.


See this on the 1st & 2nd levels


New “Champions” board puts you in the know

Confused by Assiniboia Downs stakes races and how they fit into some coherent pattern? Be confused no more. When you’re at the Downs tomorrow or Saturday, take a look at the CHAMPIONS stand-up board in the Clubhouse or on the main level. Colour codes tell you what the stakes races are leading to.

Example: Races in red are prep races for 3-year-olds leading to the Manitoba Derby. Those in green are races for 3-year-old fillies prepping for the Manitoba Oaks. Races restricted to Manitoba-breds have a provincial emblem beside them. Etc. Take a sheet near the sign and you will have the nuts for the entire stakes season. Doesn’t that make you feel wiser? There will be a test.

STAKES RACES BEGIN TOMORROW: Two stakes races—named for past champions at ASD—are on tap for tomorrow’s race card: the De Cat is a prep race for the Free Press Stakes on the trail to the Gold Cup at the end of the season. This race is huge, featuring Horse of the Year Magic d’ Oro, Sprinter of the Year Zdeno and top 3-year-old colt Witt Six. The Hi Lord is a prep race for the Golden Boy Stakes, ultimately leading to the Manitoba Derby on the August holiday.

Wayne King, vice-president of the HBPA, hatched the idea for these overnight stakes races a year ago, just in time to celebrate nine champion horses who raced through the years for Phil Kives who died two weeks ago.

Here’s what Wayne says about the two horses being honoured with stakes races tomorrow:

Hi Lord wins J. W. Sifton in 1986

Hi Lord wins J. W. Sifton in 1986 (trainer Gary Danelson with jockey Anthony Desilva)

HI LORD STAKES: “Hi Lord was bred and owned by the MacKenzie family of Pipestone, MB and conditioned by all-time Downs leading trainer Gary Danelson. He enjoyed a wonderful 3-year-old campaign in 1986 when he won the Golden Boy, the Norway House and J. W. Sifton.” (Note the red colour denotes this is a prep race for the Manitoba Derby.)

DE CAT STAKES: “Owned by the powerful stable of Marcel Chartier and trained by the legendary Glen Ball, De Cat won an astonishing 10 of his first 12 lifetime starts in 1981 and 1982 including the St. James-Assiniboia Stakes, Osiris Plate, Golden Boy, Sophomore Handicap and the Marquis Downs Derby. He was also victorious in four allowance races while earning over $56,000 in those two seasons.” (Note the blue colour denotes this is a prep race for the Gold Cup.)

NEXT WEEK: Prep races enroute to the Manitoba Oaks for 3-year-old fillies and the Manitoba Matron for older fillies and mares.

Ralph Eichler

Ralph Eichler

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “We want to heal those wounds!” – new Tory minister of agriculture Ralph Eichler speaking at last Thursday’s ASD luncheon press conference, alluding to the testy relationship the track had with the previous NDP government.


DOWNS BETTORS WERE VERY SMART IN APRIL: Look at you! Stats show bettors at the Downs were very sharp players in April, making positive gains at 25 tracks. Yup, a resounding 25. Your best tracks were Indiana, Delta, Mountaineer, Penn National, Santa Anita, Laurel and Rideau harness. And what tracks did players find most challenging? Woodbine by far, then Gulfstream and Keeneland.

Musical ride announcement draws applause

Musical ride announcement draws applause

THE “BIG REVEAL:” Some 300 media reps and guests at last Thursday’s press conference at the Downs broke into spontaneous applause when ASD CEO Darren Dunn announced the return of the RCMP Musical Ride on the Festival of Racing long weekend from July 30 to Aug. 1. Also revealed: B.C. country recording star Aaron Pritchett will be featured in concert that weekend. Both events are sponsored by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries. So you can look forward to the Mounties on that Saturday, the Mounties and Pritchett on Sunday and the Manitoba Derby on holiday Monday.

MAGIC D’ ORO NAMED HORSE OF THE YEAR: It came as no surprise that last year’s Gold Cup winner, Magic d’ Oro was named 2015 Horse of the Year at Friday’s horsemen’s annual awards banquet in the Finish Line at the Downs. But the most touching moments of the evening were the wife and adult children of the late Phil Kives accepting awards that Kives’ K5 Stable won. “He’s looking down wishing he were here,” his wife, Ellie, said.

Darren Dunn starts press conference with Kives tribute

Darren Dunn starts press conference with Kives tribute

Kives’ 3-year-old filly, Supreme Rush, winner of the Jack Hardy and Chantilly Stakes, was named Manitoba-bred Horse of the Year. The press conference, awards banquet and the first day of live racing all began with a tribute to Kives’ extraordinary contribution to racing and breeding in the province. See full HBPA Awards here.

DOWNS’ RACES NOW SHOWN AT NEW YORK OTBs: Big Apple Baby. Last year, we were saying that about a horse but this year we’re saying that about the city, New York, because its five big OTBs are now televising races from the Downs. Mexico, too, is now carrying ASD races.

FONNER LOCKDOWN ENDS; HORSES COMING TO ASD: Derek Corbel, ASD’s assistant director of racing, says about 60 horses can be expected to be arriving from Fonner Park this week after a quarantine for equine herpes virus ended Tuesday at the Nebraska track. Those horses are being trained by Ardell Sayler and Jerry Gourneau.

HPIBET Marshall Posner

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. How do I check scratches and changes and carryovers?

A. To check the scratches and changes for any track, simply select the track you’re playing from the TRACKS menu in the top left hand corner of the screen. Then click on the purple arrows icon that says CHANGES and you’ll get a pop-up window with a list of the scratches and changes for the entire card (view image here). Usually the changes are posted about 30 minutes to the first post but each track is different. Also, make sure to check them a 2nd or 3rd time because several tracks post early changes and others later.

To check the tracks that have carryover pools for the entire day of racing, click on the green CARRYOVERS icon just below the name of the track (view image here). This will open a pop-up window with a list of all carryovers available for that day at all tracks that are racing. Unfortunately, you can’t view a list of carryovers from tracks that are racing on future dates. To view a list of all carryovers for the entire week, visit the following Equibase link -

Got a question for Marshall? Email


This week Bob leaves the world of miracle brushes and patty stackers and remembers Philip Kives – the horseman. Read his blog here.


Prep race colours to remember:

RED: Manitoba Derby
GREEN: Manitoba Oaks
BLUE: Gold Cup
PURPLE: Manitoba Matron

(Now you can tell the significance of stakes races on the Champions board!)


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