Friday, May 28, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 20 (Issue #791)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

and, remember, if you don’t receive The Insider in the usual way,
you can always find it--and past columns--at


How does COVID lockdown affect you and racing?
  • Assiniboia Downs is closed to patrons.
  • Wagering on all racing on your HPIbet account continues normally. If you don’t have an account, sign up at
  • LIVE RACING EVERY MONDAY, TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY AT 7:30 P.M. No spectators allowed on site.
  • Manitobans with Player Rewards points under the old rewards system NOW HAVE UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR to redeem those points for programs and food and beverage when the track re-opens.
  • FREE RACE PROGRAMS WILL BE EMAILED to Manitobans who request them. Email Sheri at and include your HPIbet account number.
  • FREE RACE PROGRAMS WILL BE DELIVERED to the residences of Winnipeggers who request them. Call the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225.
  • FREE PROGRAMS MAY BE PICKED UP via curbside delivery behind the grandstand. Order programs from the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225. Place your orders in advance.
  • Click here for detailed information on programs, HPI deposits and HPI withdrawals.


Whip-free racing begins at 12:15 p.m.
Whip-free racing kicks off today at Monmouth

What does whip-free racing look like? You’ll find out today and every day Monmouth Park races because the New Jersey Racing Commission has banned whip use except for safety purposes. Strike a horse once and it’s a $500 fine and a five-day suspension. Monmouth races at 12:15 p.m. today, tomorrow, Sunday and Monday.

Fat pool today at Pimlico

There’s a $700K carryover in the 20-cent jackpot pick-6 and a $115K carryover in the 60-cent late pick-5 at Pimlico. First race post 11:40 a.m.

Today's Bigg play

Coming off last week’s win (Santa Anita pick went gate to wire, paying $15.40, the highest price on the card), Bigg takes a flyer today in a superfecta play at Belmont. See FUN N GAMES.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • How strong was the wind that caused live racing to be cancelled on Tuesday?
  • Monday is Memorial Day in the U.S.; mandatory payout of Lone Star pick-6
  • Why ASD's $43 longshot of the week was a logical contender
  • Why does the ASD production team, OnTrack Media, deserve a big shout out?
  • What Manitoba-trained horse has been named Horse of the Year in Alberta?
BIGG’S LONGSHOT PLAY TODAY: Last race at Belmont, could pay thousands. Total cost $7.20 consisting of four 20-cent superfecta wheels: 13-5-8-ALL, 13-5-ALL-8. 13-ALL-5-8, ALL-13-5-8. If #13 doesn’t get in from the also-eligibles, substitute #4. Reasons for taking those horses: #13 (and #4) is a class dropper, #5 likes to finish in the money, #8 is a class dropper cutting back to a sprint race after showing early speed at a mile.

The first of five tournaments during live racing to earn a trip for two to Las Vegas to play in the Horse Player World Series goes two weeks from Monday. You know the drill: Reduce the $50 cost of entering the tourney by picking three winners in live cards leading to the tourney. Email picks to For complete rules and regulations click here.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in May? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Download 2021 LIVE RACING SCHEDULE here.

Do you have your new HPIbet account card that replaces the previous HPI card and the ASD Player Rewards card? Assiniboia Downs has joined the HPI rewards and bonus program and the new program began Monday, Feb. 1. See details here. If you haven't received your new card in the mail call 204-885-3330 (ext. 225) to check on the status.

GREEDY CORNER: Note there are TWO mandatory Jackpot pick-6 payouts this weekend--at Churchill Downs Saturday (with a carryover approaching $100K) and at Lone Star Park on U.S. holiday Monday (with a carryover approaching $200K). Pimlico has the highest pick-6 carryover at $700K heading into today’s card.


Hottest jockey: Leroy Nelson, Neville Stephenson (4 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Wendy Anderson, Jerry Gourneau, Tom Gardipy, Jr.
(3 wins)
Biggest longshot: Funky Justice $43.10
 (Race 6 Wednesday)
Stakes champions:
St. Louie Guy 
(One Night Lover Stakes), Purrsistent (Astral Moon Stakes)
Upcoming stakes:
Sail to France
(Monday) and Proven Reserve (Wednesday)
ASD Live winning picks: Kirt
in the Jackpot pick-5; $2,692 in the Jackpot Hi-5

Trainer Jerry Gourneau (with a Texas Longhorns finger gesture for his Texas client Henry Witt, Jr.) wastes no time winning a stakes race, the One Night Lover, with St. Louie Guy on Wednesday with Jorge Carreno aboard. CEO Darren Dunn distantly presents the trophy. (Jason Halstead photo)


-- How powerful was the wind Tuesday night that prompted jockeys to vote to curtail racing after the first race? The wind was 58 km/h gusting to 74 km/h and was strong enough to damage structures and 15 km/h shy of uprooting trees. The jockey colony met with CEO Darren Dunn prior to race one and requested the opportunity to try a race before ultimately taking a silent confidential vote which resulted in a majority decision to cancel.

-- Jerry Gourneau continued where he left off as last year’s leading trainer, winning the One Night Lover Stakes with St. Louie Guy who was claimed last month in Texas--plus three other races.

--It was no surprise to see former Gulfstream rider Leroy Nelson score a hat trick on Monday and another race on Wednesday. The $2 Nelson double on races 1 and 2 on opening day paid $64.90.

--Pick-3s paid a bundle on Day 1. Races 1 to 3 paid $463 for $1 and races 2 to 4 paid $1,979

--The longest shot of the week, Funky Justice that paid $43.10 in a maiden claimer Wednesday--would surely have been someone’s play if a tournament were being held. The horse had come out of a key race in which the three horses ahead of him all won their next start. Can you say “overlay”?

-- Wagering on Day 1 was $770,000 which was less than last year's $1.06 million but last year's total came at a time when few tracks were operating because of COVID-19. Both amounts were also impacted by foreign exchange; the Canadian dollar was weaker last year, producing a bigger impact on Canadian pools than bets produce this year. Wagering was still three times more than opening day two years ago on Mother's Day Sunday when $240,000 was bet.

*      *       *
Proven Reserve to be remembered in Monday stakes

Phil Kives with Proven Reserve after 1986 Western Express Stakes victory (Gerry Hart photo)
One of the great Manitoba-bred horses from the stables of the late Phil Kives will be honoured Wednesday in the Proven Reserve Stakes for 3-year-olds. Beginning his career with a maiden victory at Woodbine in 1984, Proven Reserve was brought to ASD where he became a stakes machine. Trained by Don Gray, ridden by Ken Hendricks, he won five races in a row as a 2-year-old then, for good measure, picked up another victory in the Stampede Futurity at Stampede Park in Calgary.

Returning to ASD, he won eight stakes including the Gold Cup before ending his career in 1988. His record included 21 wins from 51 races and earnings of $292,000 which is just under $600,000 in today’s money.

NOTE: Sail to France, which was part of the cancelled race card on Tuesday because of the strong winds, will take place on Monday.

Manitoba-owned Real Grace is named Alberta 2020 Horse of the Year after winning Canadian Derby last year (Coady photo)
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to ASD trainer Shelley Brown and the other connections of Real Grace who was named Alberta’s 2020 Horse of the Year at the Alberta horsemen’s virtual awards show last week. Ironically, both Brown and her main partner in the horse, Jean McEwen, had turned off the online program after hearing Real Grace had been named 3-year-old male horse of the year. “It’s only when someone texted me did I find out we had won Horse of the Year, too!” Brown said. And ditto for McEwen. “I was very happy and Jean was thrilled,” she told The Insider.

Receiving the honour is especially poignant because Real Grace’s 18-1 victory in the $100,000 Canadian Derby at Century Mile in Edmonton last fall gave Brown the will to push forward from stage 4 cancer. Now looking after 27 horses, she says “it’s like night and day” how she feels today compared to several months ago. Dog de-wormer recommended by cancer survivors has helped shrink a grapefruit-sized tumor, she says, and Ibrance is acting like chemotherapy to slow cancer growth.

Money used to be the driving force in her life. Now, she says, “Life is all about making memories – not money.” In his first start of the year Wednesday in the One Night Lover Stakes, Real Grace, who likes a longer distance, finished third. Brown picked out Real Grace at a sale in Florida last year where she and her partners paid $38,000 U.S.

ASD graphics are very easy to read
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to ASD management and Mitch Janzen of ONTrack Media for working for months to produce better graphics for live racing than any other track--and that’s not because I’m biased toward ASD. The simple fact is, I hear complaints all the time in the Race Book about tracks, even “A” ones, having difficult-to-read graphics. “What track is that?” I hear from some. “I can’t read the exactor probables because of the colours,” say others. “What race is this?” ask others while squinting at the screen. ASD graphics are simple and very easy-to-read--and yet there’s lots of info on the screen. Way to go, everyone involved in the upgrade! You’re a good example for others!
WIN A TON IN '21: Are speed figures getting better and better?

One of the ways you might have settled on Rombauer to win the Preakness Stakes two weeks ago at juicy odds of 11-1 is by examining the colt’s Equibase speed figures. They kept getting better and better starting with an 87 last fall.

--Blue Grass Stakes 100
--El Camino Real Derby 95
--Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 92
--American Pharoah Stakes 87

So why should it be surprising that the colt wasn’t prepared to take yet another step forward--which he did by winning the Preakness with 103? This is a favourite angle of “Longshot” Les.
BE A "SHOW" OFF: Turn a little into a lot!

Have you played a show parlay lately? Maybe now that I’m reminding you, you’ll add them to your betting regimen because, after all, they’re fun and challenging. Set a goal---say a five-race parlay starting with $10--and stick to it. The fun gets more intense when you have one more play to make and the amount you must wager has become significant. But that’s what you’re aiming for, right?

This week we remember a young man who won his first race at a recognized racetrack right here on July 4, 1984. He raced at the Downs for five full seasons and won the leading jockey title three times before moving east in search of fame and fortune. He won the Manitoba Derby, two Queen’s Plates and was twice named Manitoba’s Male Athlete of the Year. Click  here to learn more about this week’s history blog honouree.
Major racing goes Monday, Memorial Day in the U.S.
  • Today: Monmouth Park meet opens with NO WHIPPING rule in place.
  • Monday, May 31: Memorial Day in the U.S. with three Grade 1 stakes at Santa Anita including the Hollywood Gold Cup. Mandatory payout of the Lone Star jackpot pick-6. ASD race night 7:30 p.m. with the Sail to France Stakes. See below.
  • Tuesday, June 1: ASD race night 7:30 p.m. See below.
  • Wednesday, June 2: ASD race night 7:30 p.m. with the Proven Reserve Stakes. See below.
  • Saturday, June 5: Belmont Stakes, third leg of the Triple Crown, from Belmont Park. 2% cash back on Belmont and Santa Anita races.
  • Monday, June 7: ASD race night 7:30 p.m. See below.
  • Tuesday, June 8: ASD race night 7:30 p.m. See below.
  • Wednesday, June 9: ASD race night 7:30 p.m. with the $35K La Verendrye Stakes. See below.
RACE NIGHT AT THE DOWNS includes “ASD Live” show online at 6:45 p.m. with racing analysts Kirt, Marshall and Stretch followed by spectator-free live racing at 7:30 p.m. To watch ASD Live, go to and click on the ASD Live icon at the top of the home page or tune into MTS channels 179 & 180.

Ready to “show” yourself more money?

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