Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14 No. 20 (Issue #690)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


The equine wars are over for a brilliant strategist, Ardell Sayler. The big man from South Dakota who racked up a dozen training titles in almost 30 years of training at Assiniboia Downs collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack at age 66 in his backstretch trailer Sunday, not far from the stall of one of the most beloved and talented horses he ever trained, Balooga Bull, whom he was toying with bringing out of retirement five years after the gelding won the Manitoba Derby and three Gold Cup Stakes.

Babies were his weakness--and his great strength. “Just one more,” he would plead to his family. More than one-third of the 40 horses he leaves behind are 2-year-olds. He accumulated impressive numbers in his career: 1,341 wins from 7,549 starts (17.4 per cent) with earnings of $8.4 million.

No decision has been made about the sale of his horses. A memorial for the racing community will be held tomorrow (Thursday) from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the main floor.
LIVE RACING TONIGHT 7:15; it's rib-licious Wednesday!

pick-4 pool guarantee tonight!
Download races here

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Escape Clause heads to Belmont, likely to clash with horse who beat her by a nose
  • See my $10 pick-4 ticket for tonight's $10,000 guaranteed pick-4 below
  • New "Name the Yearling" contest is launched by Canstar papers
  • Gulfstream's Rainbow 6 at $1.56 million; win it before mandatory payout June 30!
  • How a racing failure found glory (see Bob's blog)
JACKPOT GROWS FOR “CHASE THE ACE;” BUY TICKET(S) BY 9 PM: No one has picked the ace of diamonds in the Chase the Ace game so the progressive jackpot keeps growing with tonight’s pot at about $1,700 with 48 playing cards to choose from. A $5 ticket gives you a chance to collect the jackpot or win $500 (the remaining joker) or $250 (the other three aces). Every other card is worth $100. Note the deadline for getting into the draw is 9 p.m. Chase the Ace raises funds for Final Furlong, a non-profit that helps find good homes for retired race horses.

: Enter daily with a ticket seller at an OTB to get into a Saturday afternoon draw for $50 in wagering vouchers.
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/June? Find out here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? NHL playoffs.

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS: 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 7:00 p.m and the game starts at 8:00 p.m. Maximum of 60 players. No late registration. The royal flush progressive jackpot for Friday is $3,916.25.

IT’S LADIES NIGHT SATURDAY: Glam up, ladies, for Ladies Night at the Races Saturday that will feature drink specials, $1,000 in prizes and exhibitor booths oriented to your tastes. Pass it on! Racing begins 7:15.

GREEDY CORNER: $1,564,000 & $785,000 at stake for 20-cent tickets in the Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream and Santa Anita respectively.


Escape Clause will make her New York debut in 10 days on Belmont Park's biggest day. Will she do what this horse is doing?

"She's ready"

Manitoba's super mare heads to New York, likely to face horse who beat her by a nose

Escape Clause, the mare who put Manitoba on the map at Santa Anita and Del Mar in California and Oaklawn Park in Arkansas will be on the road this weekend to try to do the same at Belmont Park in New York--on Belmont Stakes Day, no less.

“She’s ready,”
said her co-owner/trainer Don Schnell to take on top female horses in North America in the US$750,000 Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap a week from this Saturday--a race in which she is likely to face Midnight Bisou again, the horse who beat her by a nose in the Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn a month ago.

She recently worked 6-furlongs in 1:12, Schnell said. She did so in company and it went “very well". The Ogden Phipps, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, is 1 1/16-miles on the dirt.

Schnell said he will be heading out with her from her stall at Canterbury Park--with likely another horse to keep her company--early Saturday morning on a two-day trip that will take them through heavily congested Chicago and then stay overnight in Toledo, Ohio, before resuming the trip to New York with a view to travelling through that city late Sunday when there is the least amount of traffic.

Where she goes after her New York race will depend on how she performs, he said, but he still wants to bring the famous mare back to her roots at Assiniboia Downs in August to possibly parade on the track for her many fans.

*       *       *

"Management in love with her"
Escape Clause is a Canterbury Park celebrity

There’s “so much popularity” surrounding Escape Clause at Canterbury Park where she is stabled and works out, co-owner/trainer Don Schnell told The Insider in an interview from that Minnesota track. “All the jockeys get together to watch her,” he said. “Management is in love with her.”

Her success has changed him, too, Schnell said. “I used to feel like a small fish in a big pond; now I feel the same size as the other fish. She’s given me so much confidence.” After more than four decades of training, he’s certainly earned it.

He’s living the dream as are her breeders Cam Ziprick and Arnason Farm in Russell, Man. and her owners, all of whom Schnell said, will be at Belmont to watch her run (with a pulse rate off the charts?): Barry Arnason and his True North partners that include Phil Allard, Pat Beavis, Ray Bouchard and Grant Sissons.



Race 4
-- 2, 4, 5, 6, 7
Race 5
-- 3, 4
Race 6
-- 6 (others to consider: #1, 4, 7)
Race 7
-- 5 (others to consider: #4 and #7)

  • RACE 4 is a specialist 7-furlong distance with #3 Aniar (12-1) and #6 Ebadan (7-1) the only horses who have won at this distance. #7 Gavin (6-5) made a good move at 7f last time to be second. #5 Maxi’s Taxi (15-1) will be looking to steal the race on the lead and #2 Fort Cady (3-1) brings fitness from Turf Paradise.
  • RACE 5 is a bottom level maiden claimer that #3 Twisted Sensation (2-1) has dropped into; #4 Stormsecondpearl (3-1) showed high early pace in her first start last year and could wire these.
  • RACE 6: #6 Strong Arm (9-2) appears to be another great claim from Oaklawn Park by Murray Duncan.
  • RACE 7: #5 Sindy’s Luck (7-2) cuts back to a sprint after showing good early pace at a mile--a huge angle--and he raced in a tougher condition than others in this race.

*       *       *

Hottest jockeys: 
Richard Mairs, Renaldo Cumberbatch, Chavion Chow (2 wins) 
Hottest trainers:
Gary Danelson (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: Home of the Free $25.40 (race 4 Sat)

Stakes champion(s): none
Stakes this week:
Friday: Hey Hey Renee; Saturday: Royal Frolic Stakes, Frank Arnason Sire Stakes

Pick-4: None.
Jackpot Pick-5 (starts race 3): $2,668
Jackpot Hi 5 (last race): $3,541

*       *       *

HANDICAPPING TIP OF THE WEEK: When there are 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in the same maiden race at this time of year, give extra attention to the 4-year-olds. Three of the seven horses in Saturday’s fourth race were 4-year-olds and they finished first, second and fourth. The winner, Home of the Free, paid $25.40 AND NO ONE HAD THE SUPERFECTA which paid on ALL in the fourth position. See program page here.

"A work in progress"

Patience required as Club's two horses make 2019 debut

Coming off a great season last year, this year’s Assiniboia Racing Club members may have to be more patient than they needed to be last year. This year’s Club is doing something different. Last year it claimed horses with a known history; this year it bought two maidens, one of which made his first start Saturday night.

That 3-year-old colt, Call Me Mister, bred by K5 Stables, broke slowly and was never in the race. The previous week, the Club’s other horse, 4-year-old filly Fun in the Sun, finished fourth in her 2019 debut, racing “evenly.”

“Evenly” is a good word; it means the filly wasn’t all-out and has up-side. Racing Club coordinator John Field, a retired Crown attorney who now is an HBPA director, calls the horses’ starts “a work in progress.” Trainer Jamie Hartmann said she wanted to see how they performed in their debuts and work from there.

Last year’s Club celebrated four wins and three seconds from their two horses claimed at Turf Paradise-- Californium and Ebadan. Both horses won on the same day; it doesn’t get better than that.

The good thing is, 45 of this year’s 51 Club members are “seasoned” by having belonged to last year’s Club and understand the vagaries of racing.

The 51 Club members bought 55 shares at $500 apiece that covers all aspects of horse ownership for the season. If you’re interested in becoming a member next year--or “gifting” someone a membership--contact coordinator John Field at and he’ll send you all the particulars.
Readers write . . .
"Ardell was a true horseman"

“Dear Ivan: Assiniboia Downs has lost one of its all-time greats. Ardell Sayler was a true horseman all the way from his ranch in South Dakota to his 11-hour pilgrimage each summer to train at Assiniboia Downs. A big man with even bigger knowledge of how to develop young thoroughbreds into good race horses. Ardell probably forgot more than most will ever know about the sport. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all of the racing community. Rest in peace, a job well done.” -- Dave Blake and Cristen Parks, horse owners and players


NEW “NAME THE YEARLING” CONTEST IN TODAY’S CANSTAR PAPER (AND ONLINE): Tucked into today’s Winnipeg Free Press is a Canstar community newspaper that details a new “name the yearling” contest with lots of great prizes. The filly was bred by grain farmer Larry Falloon in Foxwarren, Man. To see Canstar papers online (and the full-page ad on the “name the yearling” contest) go here. The contest deadline is Saturday, June 16.

You may recall The Insider’s prediction after a certain political leader first called himself a “stable genius” that a horse would likely emerge with that name because of the word “stable.” In fact, a colt by the name of Stable Genius (by Power Broker out of Primetime Cat) fetched US$57,000 at auction as a 2-year-old a year ago after being sold for US$12,000 as a yearling but we’ve yet to see him race. There’s another Stable Genius in France, a 4-year-old gelding, who also hasn’t started.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: How a racing failure found glory

This week Bob has the heartfelt story of a race horse who was an “ignominious failure” but found new life as an equestrian athlete.  You’ll be moved by this rags-to-riches tale that ends at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Read it here.
  • Friday, May 31: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15. Hey Hey Renee Stakes --5 ½-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies
  • Saturday, June 1: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15. Ladies Night at ASD with drink specials, exhibitors catering to women, $1,000 in prizes. Royal Frolic Stakes --5 ½-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds; $25K Frank Arnason Sire Stakes
  • Wednesday, June 5: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15. Handicapping workshop 6 p.m. in Boots N Saddles main floor for group play of ASD pick-5 and Woodbine pick-4. Everyone welcome.
  • Friday, June 7: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15. $30K La Verendrye Stakes --6-furlong race for older fillies and mares
  • Saturday, June 8: Belmont Stakes and Escape Clause entry in $750,000 Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap. Live racing/ace-chase 7:15. First horseplayer tourney to earn a trip to Las Vegas. Two stakes: $30K Free Press --6-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up, $25K Hazel Wright Sire Stakes --6-furlong race for Manitoba-bred fillies
  • Sunday, June 9: Manitoba Night Market, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. with food trucks, exhibitors, beer garden, entertainment, kids’ fun and lots more. Admission $5.

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

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