Wednesday, May 30 , 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 21 (Issue #639)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Don't you love Wednesdays already?
During live racing tonight, half rack of ribs, coleslaw and fries for $10. Starts at 5 p.m.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Has live racing been "horseplayer heaven?"
  • Name the yearling
  • "Big" group alive to $63,000 payoffs in Woodbine pick-5. How much did they make?
  • "At the wrong place at the wrong time," a crow plunges Downs into darkness
  • Jockey was so tiny, 50 pounds had to be added to his saddle. See Bob's blog here.
  • Motorists endured a rough ride to the track to watch the first Manitoba Derby

Name him in Canstar contest

NAME THE YEARLING! CHECK OUT YOUR CANSTAR PAPER: Canstar is sponsoring a new “Name the Yearling” contest to mark the 70th year of the Manitoba Derby. There are some nice prizes, a donation to; Final Furlong by the Downs on behalf of the contest winner and bragging rights forever. Check out your Canstar community paper for contest rules, information on the yearling and where to send your suggested names. It’s delivered with the Winnipeg Free Press on Wednesdays and is included with flyers delivered throughout Winnipeg today and tomorrow.

QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

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

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS AFTER LIVE RACING: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge following 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.

EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker in the trackview gallery on the third level. Registration from 7:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Game starts at 8:00 p.m. No late registration. The Royal Flush progressive jackpot for Friday, June 1 is $7,185.


Horseplayer heaven?

Highly competitive races; one in five races won by longshots paying more than $24

Kirt Contois
Breathless finishes

Has live racing been “horseplayer heaven?” If you define “horseplayer heaven” as highly competitive exciting races and frequent big payoffs then the answer is a decided “yes.”

Heated duels, horses surging from the back of the pack, photo finishes: that’s been the stuff of the first six days of racing. Take last Saturday: announcer Kirt Contois couldn’t separate the top two horses at the wire in the first two races and the separation between first and second in all seven races was a total of 4 ¾ lengths. That’s tight!

And payouts? They’ve been lighting up the board. Eight of the 42 races in the six first days of racing have seen payouts of more than $24. That’s 19 per cent of the races with winners at odds of 11-1 to 36-1: That’s way above average. In the same time period of six race days,, Northlands Park in Edmonton has had THREE horses of odds of 11-1 or higher compared to eight for the Downs.

  • Day 1 (Sunday, May 13): Candy Giant $27.10
  • Day 2 (Friday, May 18): Albert Flasher $75.10; Patron $24.60
  • Day 3 (Saturday, May 19): Magnitude $38.50; Truly N Terrific $30.90; Joint Tenant $26.70
  • Day 4 (Monday, May 21): Secret Appeal $60.60
  • Day 5 (Friday, May 25): Aikman Joe $39.70

And what about 20-cent superfectas? Saturday, May 19, saw a super that paid $3,500 for two thin dimes and Victoria Day had one paying $1,754 for 20-cents.

Pick-4s have been sizable, too: with Saturday, May 19 having the largest so far: $6,036 for $1.

Hope you’ve bagged a biggie or two!

*       *       *

Former MB Derby winners ship in colt for Balooga Bull stakes

Are they hoping Shane Doan is a horse who could win this year's Manitoba Derby?

Shane Doan wins Lost in the Fog Juvenile Stakes at Turf Paradise
The connections of 2016 Manitoba Derby winner Inside Straight have shipped in a colt for the $18,000 Balooga Bull Stakes for 3-year-olds this Friday, giving rise to the speculation that this is a horse they may want to point to this year’s 70th Manitoba Derby in August.

Trainer Robertino Diodoro and Alberta sugar beet grower Randy Howg have entered Shane Doan, a horse who won a $30,000 stakes at Turf Paradise and recently finished third in a $50,000 stakes at Prairie Meadows. He will take on four others, one of which is Zack Ridge Road, a 3-year-old claimed for $20,000 at Woodbine by Nick’s Inn owner John Ganas. He won a $20,000 race on Oaklawn Park dirt and on Woodbine’s Tapeta surface.

The three others in the field had finished first, second and sixth in an allowance optional $15,000 claimer at the Downs recently: Candy Giant, Vermilion Sky and Bonita Boss.

Friday’s Balooga Bull Stakes was named to recognize one of the best horses to have ever raced at the Downs. Trained by Ardell Sayler and owned by Paul Brandt, Balooga Bull won the Winnipeg Futurity, the 2012 Manitoba Derby and an unheard-of three Gold Cups and many other stakes. He was named Horse of the Year twice.

FILLY FAV TO BE HONOURED SATURDAY: Saturday’s Miss Missile Stakes will honour filly fan favourite Miss Missile. Owned by Terry Propps and Texas lawyer Charlie Smith who also trained her and ridden by Rohan Singh, Miss Missile won the Debutante in 2007 but it was her sophomore year in which she excelled, winning four stakes in a row: the Chantilly, the Canada Day, the Assiniboia Oaks and the Jack Hardy. She earned $442,000 in her career which included races elsewhere. The Frank Arnason Sire Stakes is also being contested on Saturday.

*       *       *

Hottest jockeys:
Chavion Chow (3 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Jerry Gourneau (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: Aikman Joe  $39.70 (Friday race 6)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $682 (Friday race 6)
Stakes champion(s): nil



Pins and needles

"Big" group was alive to tickets paying $63,000

This Saturday's treat
Heading into the final leg of Saturday’s pick-5 at Woodbine, it was “hold your breath” time for the “I won big” betting group. Their ticket was alive to three horses paying $63,000.

The obvious horse, #6 Chill, had a payoff of $4,000 but the group thought he was vulnerable because his regular trainer, former ASD trainer Martin Drexler, was no longer in charge because he is serving a suspension for a positive drug test on one of his horses.

As it turned out, jockey Enrico Da Silva put him on the lead and rated him perfectly to win by a head from a late closing #1 Red Fever who would have given the group a $17,500 pay day.

So the group settled for $102 per $20 share which was still kind of nice and also means Chris P. Bacon will join the group this Saturday.

The most important longshot on the group’s ticket, #4 J M R Silent Sam at odds of 16-1 came in a maiden race where a horse who hadn’t raced since last year—but had flashed early speed in that race--had consistent weekly workouts. That showed readiness for a big effort. He tracked the leader in second and took over late.

We’ll play Woodbine again this Saturday, races 2 to 7, at 10:30 a.m. with greasy fingers. The following week it will be the Belmont Stakes and the pick-4 and pick-5 leading up to it.


Jerry Gourneau
On a roll

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to just about anyone named “Gourneau” at the track Saturday. Trainer Jerry Gourneau made it to the Winner’s Circle four out of the seven races, with Gourneaus connected to three of the horses:

  • Race 3: Eyes Have It $11.40. Antonio Whitehill up. Owners: Bill Gourneau, Curtis Rohweder
  • Race 4: Dehaven $7. Chavion Chow up. Owner: Leland Cavanaugh
  • Race 5: Tsunami Girl $5.30. Dario Dalrymple up. Owner: Gourneau Brothers
  • Race 7: Zar’s Star $15.40. Chavion Chow up. Owner: Gourneau Brothers

Can you say “on a roll?” Total purse money $38,436. It helped to have started the year at Fonner Park in Nebraska. All of his winners had raced at Fonner.

A BIG SHOUT OUT to ASD players betting Keeneland, Aqueduct and Santa Anita last month. Those are challenging tracks and betting stats for April show that ASD players were better bettors there, making a positive gain on their wagers. Even Churchill was a money-maker. And, on the harness side, Monticello produced a significant return on players’ wagers. Eighteen tracks in all made the better bettor list. Pat yourselves on the back for helping the economy grow!


"At the wrong place at the wrong time"
CROW KNOCKS OUT POWER AT THE DOWNS: It was, according to a Manitoba Hydro tweet: “A crow at the wrong place at the wrong time” that caused a muffled explosion and power outage at a hydro substation north of Assiniboia Downs at about 5:15 p.m. Saturday—an odd sound that puzzled property services manager Shawn Hayden and I as we walked down the steps behind the Downs--that led to almost two hours without power at the Downs and at other businesses and residences in the area. Thankfully, power was restored in time for live racing and for about half of those booked for the race night buffet that was to have begun at 6 p.m. The substation is located just north of Saskatchewan Avenue.

The 54-member Assiniboia Racing Club should be encouraged with the performance of its $6,250 U.S. claim from Turf Paradise, Ebadan. The 5-year-old gelding closed well in an allowance optional $10,000 claimer Friday to finish second, the kind of move that heralds well for a horse that, if it doesn’t win, will likely pick up the pieces and get a share of future purses. The club’s other horse is 4-year-old Californium who has a fourth-place finish. The members have $29,000 in shares.

The Belmont Stakes is 10 days away as is the first Las Vegas Challenge tournament during live racing. The early line: Justify (4-5), Hofburg (4-1) , Bravazo (8-1), Vino Rosso (9-1), Tenfold (10-1), Blended Citizen (14-1), Noble Indy (33-1), Free Drop Billy (50-1), Gronkowski (69-1)

MANITOBA DERBY FLASHBACK leading to #70 on Aug. 6

1930: The first Manitoba Derby

Thirteen horses in first Manitoba Derby . . .

. . . that was run at Polo Park in 1930

The first derby in Manitoba racing, actually called the Manitoba Stakes, was at Polo Park in 1930 when a horse by the name of Jack Whittier prevailed over a field of 13 that included eight other “Whittier” horses because they were bred on the Whittier Park Stock Farm in St. Boniface by track owner R. J. Speers.

And if you’re thinking “what a nice big field,” you would have been disappointed later in the 1930s when two Derby fields contained only four horses and were non-betting races. Read Bob Gates’ fascinating history of those “forgotten years” here.

Rough-riding 1930 Plymouth heralds a smoother ride the following year
Those who might have taken a car to the 1930 Manitoba Stakes would have had a rough ride because the engine vibration was carried through the entire chassis. But a breakthrough by the Chrysler Corporation—in which the engine was attached at just two points—made the following year’s Plymouth, for example, a smoother ride. The engineering advance was dubbed “floating power."

On the musical side, Kate Smith’s God Bless America, Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow and Bing Crosby’s Silent Night originated in 1930.


HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: 70-pound jockey goes on to win Preakness

Who was the jockey who broke his maiden at Assiniboia Downs in 1980 and won the Preakness two years later?  Did you know that in his first-ever race at a bush track he weighed only 70 pounds so race officials had to add 50 pounds of lead to his saddle to make the 120-pound weight requirement? Bob has the story here.


  • Friday, June 1:  Live racing 7:15. Balooga Bull Stakes.
  • Saturday, June 2:  Live racing 7:15. Miss Missile Stakes, Frank Arnason Sire Stakes.
  • Wednesday, June 6: Live racing 7:15.
  • Friday, June 8: Live racing 7:15. La Verendrye Stakes.
  • Saturday, June 9: Belmont Stakes (will Justify win the Triple Crown?) Live racing 7:15. First of four Las Vegas Challenge tournaments to earn a trip for two to Las Vegas.  Free Press Stakes, Hazel Wright Sire Stakes.
  • Sunday, June 10: Manitoba Night Market and Festival with food trucks, artisans, beer garden, micro-brewery, entertainment, kids’ fun and fireworks. 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission $5 (kids 5 & under free).

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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