Thursday, May 18, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 19 (Issue #586)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Antonio Whitehall's neck victory with Outlandis (#4) in race 1 sets competitive tone for card

Here's one for historian Bob

4 1/2 lengths is TOTAL margin of victory for all races on Day 1. What?

This is almost unheard of – especially for the season opener. Just over four lengths was the TOTAL margin of victory for the winners in the seven races as Season 60 blasted off Sunday. Compare that with the typical total margin of 12 ½ lengths for ASD opening days in the past. Look at how the card started:

Race 1: Outlandis won by a neck
Race 2: Secret Wishes won by a neck
Race 3: Tough Emblem won by a nose
Race 4: Joint Tenant won by a head

Then Jilly Juice’s two length victory in race 5 was the longest margin, followed by 1 1/4 lengths by Deadly Black Eagle in race 6 and 3/4 of a length by Malibu Colony in race 7.

Compare that with Woodbine’s opener on April 15 when the total margin of victory in seven races was 20 lengths!

Track historian Bob Gates will be hard-pressed to come up with a season opener with a lower total margin than 4 1/2. I’ll bet there’s never been one. I’ll give $20 to the first person who proves me wrong! And how fitting was it–since it came on the milestone Season 60 and with a crowd that many told me reminded them of the 1970s heyday of racing!

So what are typical total margins of victory for seven races on season opening cards? These were the margins in seven races in season openers going back to 2010:
2016 – 13 lengths
2015 – 12 3/4 lengths
2014 – 12 lengths
2013 – 7 1/4 lengths
2012 – 16 lengths
2011 – 12 1/4 lengths
2010 – 14 1/4 lengths

Will the extreme competitiveness continue this long weekend—Friday, Saturday and Monday? Better do some meditating before the races to keep the heart rate under control.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Tomorrow's live card features three 10-horse fields
  • Champion Paint My Ride takes on salty rivals in tomorrow's Northern Spike stakes
  • ASD players in March Vegas tourney get unexpected additions to prize money
  • Now play "First & Worst" on the Preakness Stakes. Will it be won with logic or luck?
  • Remember Northern Spike & Remiewaterbluz? They're honoured this weekend
  • Witt Six named Horse of the Year in "bittersweet" awards presentation

Lorie Porier makes $82 in $2 wagers in 60-seconds

NEW “FIRST & WORST” CONTEST ON PREAKNESS STAKES: Who will win Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, who will come last? As you did for the Kentucky Derby, predict the first and worst to win $100 in wagering vouchers.

The new 60-second betting spree contest that will be held every day during live racing got off to a spirited start with gardener Lorie Poirier, describing her demeanour as “nervous but focussed,” got a rapid stride going calling out mainly $2 straight triactor tickets. She managed to bet $82 in $2 tickets but, although coming close to fairly big money, collected just $5 and change. “I’d do it differently next time,” she said such as betting $2 win, place or show tickets continuously. What would YOU do? Enter tomorrow, Saturday and Monday and you may get a chance!

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.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? NHL playoffs

AFTER LIVE RACING: Free VLT tournaments after live. 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. Plus Crazy Hour. Beer, shots and wine only $2.95 plus half-price appetizers (nachos, chicken fingers, chicken wings and gyoza)

EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker. Registration 10 p.m. Game starts at 10:30 p.m. New Royal Flush progressive jackpot starting at $500! Entry fee to play the jackpot is an additional $5.

LONG WEEKEND INCLUDES STAKES AND FAMILY FUN: Big 10-horse fields mark this Victorian long weekend of racing and there are stakes races honouring famous horses from the past Friday and Monday (see below). Parade to post tomorrow and Saturday at 7:15 and 1:15 p.m. on holiday Monday when free family fun is again on the menu as it is for every afternoon card.



Champion colt makes 2017 debut tomorrow

Manitoba-bred Paint My Ride is ambitiously spotted in Northern Spike stakes

Paint My Ride with jockey Antonio Whitehall and groom (and former jockey) Clint Magera after winning Osiris Stakes last year

The big buzz around the track these days has centred around Paint My Ride, last year’s champion 2-year-old colt who begins his 2017 campaign tomorrow in the Northern Spike stakes for 3-year-olds.

Bred by Cam Ziprick in Russell, Man. and owned by Barry Arnason and trainer Don Schnell, the gelding has been burning up the track in recent workouts (fastest out of 11 horses on May 4 and quickest of 16 last Thursday) but he faces five horses who have raced this year including three Kentucky-breds.

That’s an ambitious debut for the Going Commando sophomore but Arnason has been very high on him since, as a 2-year-old, he won the Osiris and Buffalo stakes.

Oddsmaker Dustin Davis has made Henry Witt, Jr.’s Kentucky-bred Heavy Roller the even-money favourite. Witt had claimed him for $30,000 at Keeneland and ran him for $50,000 at Churchill Downs. He finished 2nd and 3rd respectively and sports an 85 Equibase speed figure compared to Paint My Ride’s 72 last year.

Witt also has the second choice in the race, Witt Stamp, who won a $10,000 stakes at Fonner Park. Paint My Ride has been assigned the third-best morning line at 5-1.

This stakes is race 4, the first leg of the $1 pick-4 with a 15 per cent takeout.

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Horse of the Year presentation "bittersweet"

Owner chokes up as the late Witt Six is honoured

Henry Witt Jr. (right) receives "Leading Regional Owner" award from Harvey Warner, president of the Manitoba Jockey Club

In what CEO Darren Dunn described as a “bittersweet” presentation at Friday’s HBPA/CTHS awards banquet, the 2016 Horse of the Year title went to a horse that is no longer with us – Witt Six.

Owner Henry Witt Jr. had flown in from his Texas home and understandably choked up as he said last year’s winner of the Gold Cup, R.J. Speers and the Manitoba Mile “was my favourite horse” among several dozen he owns. Trainer Jerry Gourneau said it was Witt Six’s heart that made him such a fierce competitor but it was the same determined heart that had him stand up while coming out of anaesthesia from bone-chip removal, breaking a leg in the process.

Henry also won the Jockey Club of Canada award as the leading regional owner and his Electric Cowgirl was named the champion 3-year-old filly.

Langara was named Manitoba Horse of the Year, owned by Barry Arnason and True North.


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"I want to reach 1,200 before I turn 80!"

All-time leading trainer Gary Danelson wins two Sunday to sit at 1189

Gary Danelson (left) receives award along with Tom Dodds (centre) and Ardell Sayler

Assiniboia Downs’ all-time leading trainer with 1,189 lifetime wins is on a mission. “I want to reach 1,200 before I turn 80,” he told The Insider even before he notched two wins in the season opening card on Sunday.

His two wins actually came as no surprise. He did the same thing last year on Mother’s Day, too. His victories came four days after he and two other trainers received a surprise award at the Season 60 press conference luncheon Thursday afternoon at the Downs.

Danelson received a plaque created by track historian Bob Gates which honours him, Ardell Sayler, who has chalked up an incredible 12 training titles and Tom Dodds, a former trainer who had the most wins in any race season (78). Three top jocks are also part of the champions plaque.

So when does Gary turn 80? August 25. To reach his goal, he needs to win a race every three or four race days. Sounds like a very reasonable objective! His horses won 18 races last year.

SEASON 60 TRIVIA TEASER: What jockey riding today at the Downs is the son of jockey Joe Kanhai who debuted at the Downs in July, 1978? (a) Rohan Singh (b) Tyrone Nelson (c) Stanley Chadee Jr. (d) Adolfo Morales

Trainer Rick Wise and Adolfo Morales have two wins each including Kalfaari Stakes

Hottest jockey(s): Christopher Husbands, Adolfo Morales (2 wins)
Hottest trainer(s): Gary Danelson, Rick Wise (2 wins)
Biggest longshot: Joint Tenant   $19.60 (4th)  
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $214 (4th)
Stakes champion(s): Deadly Black Eagle
(Kalfaari Stakes)


Tomorrow’s Northern Spike Stakes honours famous speedball

Spike's record listed here

THE ROAD TO THE MANITOBA DERBY begins tomorrow with the Northern Spike Stakes for 3-year-olds (see entrants in EYE ON LIVE above) that celebrates a horse that was so fast, his 4f time of :44.2 on April 23, 1982 was cited in the Guinness Book of Records. Bred in Manitoba by owner/trainer Ivan Dowler, the colt won 18 of 41 races at the Downs and earned $168,000 in a career that spanned 1979 to 1983. His 56.2 in 1983 is a track record for 5f that still stands today.

Victories began at 2 starting with the Fleur de Lis, Winnipeg Futurity Trial and the Buffalo Stakes. At 3 he captured the Fort Garry, Manitoba Stakes and the J.W. Sifton (3rd in the Manitoba Derby). As an older horse, he won the Inaugural twice, the Polo Park handicap, the Free Press, the Agassiz and the Manitoba Maturity.

*       *       *

Monday’s Remiewaterbluz Stakes celebrates trainer Clayton Gray

Clayton Gray with son Allan and Remiewaterbluz after winning the 2004 La Verendrye Stakes

THE ROAD TO THE MANITOBA MATRON begins holiday Monday with the Remiewaterbluz Stakes for fillies and mares in a tribute to one of the most enduring and successful trainers at the Downs, Clayton Gray, who also had success in Ontario, Alberta, Minneapolis, Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio, Chicago, Oklahoma, Iowa, Florida and Arkansas. From 1976 when his Manitoba-bred Merry’s Jay won the Manitoba Derby through 2015 Clayton saddled 636 winners throughout the continent and his horses earned more than $4.3 million.

Clayton brought Remiewaterbluz to ASD in 2003 on behalf of the Well Being Stable and she dominated the older mare stakes division for the next four years. In 32 career starts at ASD she won eight races (five stakes) had five seconds and 11 thirds. She won both the La Verendrye and the Canada Day twice and the Manitoba Matron in 2004. Remiewaterbluz was Clayton's highest earning mare, banking over $273,000. Three more stakes races will honour the trainer.

Queen Victoria

Did you know? that Queen Victoria, whose birthday we celebrate Monday, was an accomplished rider who had up to 100 horses on the royal grounds and whose favourite was a mare by the name of Jessie whom she rode for 25 years? She loved animals in general and would likely appreciate the fact kids can mingle with animals at the petting farm at the Downs Monday to mark her birthday which officially falls on Wednesday, May 24.



Is Always Dreaming vulnerable on a fast track?

Will a dry track (hopefully) boost chances of Classic Empire & Gunnevera?

This Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico race course in Baltimore, Maryland is shaping up to be as anticipated an encounter as the Kentucky Derby – with many questions to be answered.

  • Will Always Dreaming be as dominating on a dry track as he was in the slop?
  • With a field of 10—instead of 20—will 2-year-old champion Classic Empire get a trip that will put him right there?
  • Will a dry track give Gunnevera a better chance of mowing them down late?
  • Will any of the new entrants who weren’t in the Kentucky Derby be a spoiler?
  • Will either Always Dreaming (who needed draw reins to keep his head down during workouts before the Derby) or Classic Empire (who can sulk in surroundings he doesn’t like) become erratic?

Still, it seems the superfecta is likely to be a wheel of the two likely favourites with one other “new” horse finishing first or second – wheeled to Gunnevera in the third and fourth positions. Good luck in your selections. Remember to enter the First & Worst contest and remember there’s a Saturday morning “I won big” workshop in the Clubhouse at 9:30 a.m. to discuss and play the Preakness.


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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I’m running him because we feel he’s the best horse and we want to prove it.” -- Mark Casse, trainer of Classic Empire, who’s entered to beat Always Dreaming in the Preakness Stakes Saturday after a troubled-trip fourth in the Kentucky Derby.


Bonnie Simmonds
Gets an unexpected $925 U.S.

"REMINDS ME OF THE 1970s!" With more than 7,000 attending the Mother’s Day Season 60 opener, numerous players said the crowd reminded them of the 1970s, the heyday of racing. Some $264,000 was wagered on a card that appears to have been the most competitive of all time (see top of column).

"BANK ERROR IN YOUR FAVOUR, COLLECT $925" Well, not exactly a bank error (as Monopoly players well remember) but a computing error by organizers of the Horse Player World Series at the Orleans Hotel Casino in March which resulted in Bonnie Simmonds getting an unexpected cheque for $925 U.S. more for finishing seventh (in addition to the $9,063 Cdn. she already had won). And David Blake and Wayne Misko who had collected $1,360 Cdn. getting $138 U.S. more. Needless to say they were delighted to have their winnings topped up and even more taken aback that tournament organizer Debbie Flagg called them to apologize for the miscalculation and inform them of their good fortune. Now THAT’S great business relations! Airlines in the news, take note!

David Blake and Cristen Park with treasured plaque

LISTENED TO THE RIGHT STATION AT THE RIGHT TIME: While Kenora restaurant owner David Blake and his partner, Cristen Park, were driving to Assiniboia Downs last weekend, they happened to tune in to 99.9 Bob FM where they heard Kris Jay saying he had won a historical ASD montage in a draw at last Thursday’s ASD press conference and that he wanted to give it to a person who had the best story for wanting to win it. “I phoned the station immediately,” Dave told The Insider. His story about how he first came to the Downs as a youngster with his father—which blossomed into owning horses today—landed Dave the beautiful collage (created by track historian Bob Gates and CEO Darren Dunn) that he’s been gushing over ever since picking it up at the station. Interesting how things work out, eh?

"BIG" GROUP LOOKS TO GO OUT WITH A BANG: The final “I won big” workshop is this Saturday before taking a hiatus during live racing will concentrate on the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico and Woodbine’s pick-5 (races 2 to 6) and pick-4 (races 4 to 7). Last week’s tickets came up empty when a key horse lost by a head. Let’s end on a positive note! A fast track at Pimlico should give us a good chance. Note the special time: 9:30 a.m.

GREAT PREAKNESS LOGO: Don’t you love the Preakness logo above? Remove the helmet and you have no idea what it represents. Add the helmet and suddenly there’s a furiously ridden horse. Nice!


HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The track record that wasn't

When is a track record not a record?  Bob’s blog this week tells of a Downs’ track record for a mile that stood for eight years despite being bettered by several horses. What was the “catch?” Bob has the details here.

SEASON 60 TRIVIA TEASER ANSWER: (a) Rohan Singh (who has his mother’s last name)

PONY UP! Pony rides and other family fun return Monday afternoon

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