Thursday, May 16, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14 No. 18 (Issue #688)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


The sex barrier in race riding was broken at ASD exactly 50 years ago today. Who broke the barrier?
Track historian Bob Gates has the details here.

SPECIAL OFFER ON TOMORROW’S RACE NIGHT BUFFET: $10 off when you mention the code word “prime” when making reservations at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

NOT AGAIN! WAR OF WILL DRAWS POST #1 IN SATURDAY’S PREAKNESS: What are the racing gods telling us? The horse who was interfered with in the Kentucky Derby as part of the disqualification debate, War of Will, drew post #1 again in last night’s Preakness Stakes draw. He’s the second choice in the 13-horse field with a morning line of 4-1;. Improbable, the favourite at 5-2, drew #4. Will War of Will get redemption after his troubled Derby trip? Or?

See Preakness entrants and post positions here.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • The Bull is back! Yes, THAT Bull. Will he actually be racing?
  • What two ASD trainers were two-for-two on Day 1 of live racing? Not the usual suspects
  • Bad luck in Alberta brings top jock back to Manitoba
  • Love fest for Escape Clause breaks out at Manitoba awards banquet
  • Lawsuit filed to overturn Derby DQ; photo shows near-catastrophe
  • Live racing continues Friday, Saturday 7:15 p.m. and holiday Monday 1:15 p.m.

SECRETARY GETS FIRST CHANCE TO “CHASE THE ACE:” Chase the Ace is on! ASD’s new promotion to raise money for Final Furlong, an organization that helps find a good home for retired race horses, had its first draw Sunday in which secretary Monique Lavallee had a chance to select the Ace of Diamonds worth $1,000 from a deck of cards displayed on a board in the lobby.

Selecting another ace would have rewarded her with $250 and either joker, $500. She ended up with the 10 of diamonds but that still gave her $100--which is what all the other cards are worth. That card is discarded as the pot continues to grow. A $5 ticket, available in the lobby every live race day will give you a chance to psyche out the Ace of Diamonds or one of the other valuable cards.

Look for an entry form in the Race Book that gives you a shot at predicting the winner and last place finisher in the Preakness to win $100 in wagering vouchers.

NEW! DRAWS FOR RIBS ‘N’ REWARDS AND ENHANCED “FAN OF THE DAY:” Three draws will be made each live race day, two draws for  Ribs ‘n’ Rewards (free rib dinner on a Wednesday for winner and a guest plus a $20 share in group tickets at a pre-racing  workshop) and one draw for Fan of the Day (watch race in Winner’s Circle with three guests, meet horse and receive framed photo keepsake). The three winners will also receive a $10 betting voucher for immediate play.  
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
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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.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? NHL playoffs.

Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge after live racing. 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 Trackview Gallery on the third level. Registration starts at 7:30 p.m and the game starts at 8:00 p.m. Maximum of 60 players. No late registration. Please note that there is no poker Friday, May 17 or Saturday, May 18.

GREEDY CORNER: $1,000,000 & $500,000 at stake for 20-cent tickets in the Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream and Santa Anita respectively.


Preakness goes Saturday . . .

. . . while Maximum Security owners file lawsuit and photo reveals near-catastrophe

Not since 1951 has the Preakness Stakes--which goes Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland--not included at least one horse from the top four finishers in the Kentucky Derby.

Which makes the race more wide-open than it has been in years. So, although the Triple Crown isn’t on the line, it’s still a mega-day of racing fun with giant pools to attack. Charge! 

At the same time, the debate continues over whether  Maximum Security should have been disqualified from the Kentucky Derby. His owners, Gary and Mary West, have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking to have the DQ overturned and be awarded the purse money. 

Meanwhile, a picture circulating on the web passed along by ASD horseplayer  Trevor Phelps--shown at right--shows just how scary the incident could have been. Maximum Security and #1  War of Will are in as close a proximity as horses could get without one or two horses going down, which would have resulted in a major pile up. Whew on that! 

Maximum Security’s jockey, Luis Saez, was suspended for 15 days for “failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course.” Whatever side anyone takes, let us all just be thankful that much worse didn’t happen.

And let’s move on to take advantage of the Pimlico pools fattened this Saturday by casual players. Join the “I won bigger” betting group at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza to discuss group tickets on the pick-5 leading to the Preakness and the Preakness itself. First post at Pimlico is 9:30 a.m.
Weather gods smile on ASD
Right on cue, weeks of miserable weather gave way to sunshine and warmth on Day 1 of live racing Sunday as a packed grandstand helped produce $240,000 in betting, 25 per cent more than last year.

Look who's back!

Balooga Bull among 45 horses Ardell Sayler has shipped in; sixth fastest in workout

The word quickly made the rounds in the backstretch last week: Balooga Bull is back! The Manitoba Derby winner and three-time Gold Cup winner who seemingly had been retired is among 45 horses 12-time leading trainer Ardell Sayler has shipped in from his South Dakota ranch.

And he had a workout on Saturday, posting the sixth fastest time of 55 horses for four furlongs (:48.60).

“We’ll see what happens,”
said Sayler in response to a question on whether Balooga Bull would race again. That would be a first. No horse who has had a stakes race named for him has returned to race. (The Balooga Bull stakes was run last year.)

At 10 years old, the Bull is not over the hill but a comeback win would be a jaw-dropper--and certainly a topic of discussion.

One thing we CAN expect from the big man is lots of baby action. Fifteen of his horses are 2-year-olds.

*       *       *

Sizzler set for Saturday
Media Melee, Plentiful, Hot Rodin to tangle in Magic D' Oro stakes

It will only be the third day of live racing Saturday but what a sizzler the Magic D’ Oro stakes should be. It will feature last year’s Gold Cup winner Media Melee, Manitoba Derby winner Plentiful and Claimer of the Year Hot Rodin in a field of seven. It will go as the fourth race, the first leg of the pick-4.

Friday’s feature, the Preservata Stakes for mares, will see the return of Gary Danelson’s Tadaa who tangled with Escape Clause last year. She’s listed as the second choice behind the Juan Pablo Silva-trained Tuscany Beauty who has been winning allowance optional claimers at Turf Paradise after being claimed in California.  That goes as race 3, the first leg of the new Jackpot Pick-5.

*       *       *

Look who's returning
Bad luck at Alberta tracks pulls jockey Prayven Badrie back to ASD

With bad memories at both major thoroughbred tracks in Alberta, Prayven Badrie is returning to ride at Assiniboia Downs after his collar bone heals after having broken it at Edmonton’s new track, Century Mile, on the first day of its inaugural meet April 28.

Last fall, he had suffered a fractured hip after being trampled when he went down on the final day of the Century Downs meet near Calgary. His two seasons at the Downs--where he won the leading jockey title with Antonio Whitehall last year--were accident-free.

*       *       *

Numbers 4 & 6 win all races on Mother's Day
Pick-4 of 6-6-4-6 pays $1,135 for $1

If numbers 4 and/or 6 are your lucky numbers, you might have had a very good betting day on Mother’s Day, the first day of the 50-day live meet. Those two saddle-cloth numbers won all seven races: number 6 won four races, number 4 won three--and there some nice prices among them:

In race 2, #6 Miss Dilly Dally, a 4-year-old filly, paid $24.60 for a $2 win bet; in race 6, #4 Mr. Matlock, a 6-year-old gelding, paid $14.70 and in the last race, #6 Complete Circle, another 6-year-old gelding, paid $15.20. A $1 pick-4 ticket combining the winners of races 4 to 7 (6-6-4-6) paid $1,135.

It was the first day, too, of the new Jackpot Pick-5 which will be won by a bettor holding the only correct 20-cent ticket on the last five races. The best anyone could do Sunday was four of five and those who did collected $345. That means the carryover to tomorrow’s pool is $5,610.

*       *       *

Hottest jockeys: 
Kayla Pizarro, Renaldo Cumberbatch (2 wins) 
Hottest trainers:
Bill Mooney, Steve Keplin Jr., Tom Gardipy Jr. (2 wins)
Biggest longshot: Miss Dilly Dally $24.80 (race 2)

Stakes champion(s): None.
Upcoming stakes: Tomorrow--The Preservata (mare won seven races in a row in 2009-10, four of them stakes). Saturday--The Magic D’ Oro (Gold Cup stallion with many stakes wins and near-wins)

Pick-4: None.
Jackpot Pick-5: $5,610 (4 of 5 paid $346)
Jackpot Hi 5: None. (Jackpot of $454 was won Sunday)


Escape Clause love fest

Mare wins both Horse of the Year awards; Hot Rodin named Claimer of the Year
Darren Dunn (centre) awards Horse of the Year to Escape Clause owners (from left) Phil Allard, Barry Arnason, Pat Beavis and Grant Sissons

Was there any doubt? Escape Clause, the mare bred in Russell, Man. by Cam Ziprick and Arnason Farms, won both Horse of the Year awards at the 35th annual Manitoba Thoroughbred Awards Saturday at the Downs: one for top Manitoba-bred and the other for overall top horse. Ziprick and Arnason Farms were named Breeders of the Year as well.

Although these were awards for last year, on the minds of banquet attendees was the mare’s recent nose miss in the Grade 1 $US750,000 Apple Blossom stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. No Manitoba horse has reached those heights and she is now being pointed toward the Breeders’ Cup in the fall.

“I’d need a blood transfusion to get out of the breeding business,”
Ziprick, co-winner in eight categories, said in an emotional description of “going into the stalls each morning to comfort my 16 yearlings and 11 weanlings. I’ve been retiring for 10 or 15 years,” he said, but what do you do when “it’s in my blood.”

Now that Escape Clause’s father, Going Commando--who was named Stallion of the Year--is fading into retirement, Ziprick said, he is now putting his faith in Kentucky Bear to give him another bear of a foal. Kentucky Bear, 14, was lightly raced and was runner-up in the Blue Grass Stakes but HIS father, Mr. Greeley, brings multiple stakes wins and a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint to the gene pool.

The Claimer of the Year was also no surprise: Hot Rodin. The now 6-year-old gelding won six races at the Downs and was tops in North America last year with 10 wins. He was also named Sprinter of the Year and Most Astute Claim of the Year. “A good horse makes everyone look good,” trainer Larry Cizik said in an understatement.

See other award recipients here.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to two normally below-the-radar trainers, Steve Keplin, Jr. and Bill Mooney who were a perfect two-for-two wins in Sunday’s live season opener--and whose horses produced the biggest payoffs of the day. (Is that because of their low profile?)
  • Mooney’s Miss Dilly Dally in race 2 paid $24.80 and his Mr. Matlock paid $14.90 in race 6.
  • Keplin’s Complete Circle paid $15.20 in race 7 and his Holdmegold paid $8.30 in race 4.
Each have just seven horses in their barn--which makes their accomplishment that much more impressive. Mooney has been training since 1994 and Keplin since 2013, Surely there was a tad of celebration in their barns at the end of the race card.

2019 debut Saturday

Catholic Boy enters famous Dixie Stakes--the race won by Preakness--at Pimlico

Catholic Boy, the ridgling whom I thought could have won last year’s Kentucky Derby before being sidelined with bleeding issues, is making his much-anticipated 2019 debut this Saturday on the turf at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland in the famed Grade 2 Dixie Stakes.

His trainer, Jonathan Thomas, says the 4-year-old has improved even more since last year. “He seems to have grown up a lot mentally. He’s very relaxed and just kind of waiting for his cues,” Thomas has been quoted as saying.

Catholic Boy has had six workouts in preparation for his 1 1/8-miles turf debut, the most recent being last Friday when he was quickest of five working 5-furlongs on Belmont’s inner turf course.

He was taken off the Derby trail last spring after excessive bleeding in the Florida Derby but returned in the fall to win three graded stakes races including the Grade 1 Belmont Derby on the grass and the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga on the dirt before being “bumped around” at the start of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, finishing 13th.

Players continue to guffaw at my Catholic Boy support. In fact, last year’s Handicapper of the Year, Brian McKeller, has bet me $10 Catholic Boy will never win another race. Even naysayers, though, should applaud the fact that at least Catholic Boy’s connections haven’t retired him to the breeding shed as happens to most talented stallions.

*       *       *

FIRST WINNER OF DIXIE STAKES WAS PREAKNESS: The Dixie Stakes is on Saturday’s undercard at Pimlico but it has a direct relationship with Saturday’s feature race, the Preakness, because the race was named after Preakness the horse who was the inaugural winner of the Dixie Stakes in 1870. There will be a test.


ALL FAVES AT WOODBINE LEAVES “BIGGER” GROUP CHILLY: What are you going to do when all five races in a pick-5 are won by the favourite or near-favourite as happened at Woodbine last Saturday for the “I won bigger” betting group? You collect your $6.90 for each $20 share and move on to play Pimlico this Saturday where loads of loot should have everyone salivating. Group play will be similar to Kentucky Derby Day, hopefully with nothing untoward happening. That’s the pick-5 leading to the Preakness Stakes on the Clubhouse plaza at 10:30 a.m. Note: The session after that will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 29--the first Wednesday night of live racing--in Boots N Saddles on the main level to tackle the pick-5 at the Downs and the pick-4 at Woodbine.

One would have thought Edmonton’s new Century Mile track would be an immediate major player on the Canadian racing scene but Mother’s Day wagering of $105,000 (compared to ASD’s $240,000 for a similar seven-race card) appears to show the only one-mile track in Western Canada faces challenging times. At the best of times, it is not easy going head-to-head on Saturday and Sunday afternoons against major U.S. tracks. But, hold on, says assistant race secretary Rob MacLennan, formerly at ASD: “One year until we get lights for night racing. Thursday nights kicking off at the end of the month (under natural light). Things will get better (with more options for night racing when lights are installed).”

HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: Exactly 50 years ago today . . .

Who was the first female jockey to receive a licence on the North American continent, to score a victory on a recognized track in the U.S. and to win a race at a recognized pari-mutuel track in Canada?  Hint: On May 16th, 50 years ago today, she rode in the first race season-opener in 1969 at the Downs.  Bonus question: does anyone remember the name of her horse? Check your answers here.
  • Tomorrow: Live racing continues at 7:15 with Chase the Ace and the Preservata Stakes
  • This Saturday: Preakness Stakes from Pimlico in Maryland. First post 9:30 a.m. Live racing at 7:15 p.m. with Chase the Ace and the Magic D’ Oro Stakes
  • Holiday Monday, May 20: Victoria Day. Salutes ASD horse owners with a Horse Owners Breakfast. Live racing at 1:15 p.m. with Chase the Ace and family fun
  • Friday, May 24: Live racing 7:15 with Chase the Ace. $10 buy-in poker (registration 7:30 p.m. and game at 8 p.m.)
  • Saturday, May 25: Live racing 7:15 with Chase the Ace. $10 buy-in poker (registration 7:30 p.m. and game at 8 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, May 29: First Wednesday night of live racing at 7:15 with Chase the Ace. “I won bigger” workshop 6 p.m. in Boots N Saddles. Everyone welcome.

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