Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14 No. 21 (Issue #691)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

A DAY TO OBSERVE: Take a moment to consider the unfathomable courage of young Canadian soldiers who, 75 years ago at 11:30 CDT tonight, faced withering gunfire in Normandy to begin the long and bloody campaign with their allies to liberate Eastern Europe from the Germans.

Among Canadians at Juno Beach on that fateful D-Day was A. E. “Bert” Blake who would become ASD’s patriarch owner/trainer and just the second to win the Manitoba Derby with a Manitoba-bred gelding, Royal Frolic, in 1993. He died in 2012 at age 92 and Royal Frolic was honoured in a stakes race last Saturday. About 5,400 Canadians are buried in Normandy.

How historic will Saturday be?
Manitoba mare to race in a Grade 1 race on Belmont Stakes card; just five entrants!

If someone had predicted a few years ago that a Manitoba-bred horse would be racing in a Grade 1 stakes race on the Belmont Stakes card in New York, you’d have been thinking that person was smoking stuff that hadn’t been legalized yet.

But here we are, four days from Escape Clause racing for $700,000 in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap. Do you feel your breathing getting shallow?

It is truly a time for all Manitobans--not just race fans--to feel proud that years of patient breeding in Russell, Man. and four decades of training smarts have produced this moment. And, not only that, but also to realize that this 5-year-old has a great chance of making it to the Winner’s Circle.

The race came up light: there are only five entrants including Escape Clause but there are a couple bears she has to get past.  There’s Midnight Bisou who beat her by a nose in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park six weeks ago and Come Dancing, a mare who’s at the top of her form. Come Dancing wired a Grade 3 stakes at Aqueduct followed by an easy victory in a Grade 2 stakes at Belmont as the 1-5 favourite. The Ogden Phipps goes as race 5 on the 13-race card. Post time 1 p.m. CDT.

See who she will be facing here.

*       *       *

CRAZY HOUR CELEBRATION IF ESCAPE CLAUSE WINS: On an already busy day with the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, it will be Crazy Hour in the Clubhouse if Escape Clause wins the Ogden Phipps Handicap: beer, wine, shots $2.95 and half-price appetizers. This would be the most momentous Crazy Hour ever.

$10,000 PICK-4 POOL GUARANTEE TONIGHT at Assiniboia Downs. Download races 4 to 7 here. See my picks below.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • First trip to Las Vegas is on the line Saturday night; enter tourney to win it
  • Tonight: New Wednesday "I won bigger" betting workshops begin
  • Good-bye Ardell; son to disperse father's horses
  • Who's going to adopt Ardell's babies?
  • Whew! A neck saves bridge-jumpers
  • Duncan does a familiar dance with Oaklawn claimers
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 $2,500 with 45 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 a $50 gift certificate for Assiniboia Downs.

$100 RACE DAY GIVEAWAY AND PRIVATE BOX: ASD’s friends at Dave’s Quick Print have put together a “race day extravaganza” for four that includes programs, $100 in food and beverage credits and a private box in the Clubhouse in which to enjoy it all. Enter the draw online at DQP.CA/CONTEST. Entry deadline is Tuesday, July 2.
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 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 $4,391.25. Poker will be played through until June 15 and then take a summer break. Poker will resume on Friday, Sept. 13.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASD! This Saturday, two days before ASD’s actual birthday (ASD’s first race was run on June 10, 1958), join in a birthday celebration that includes:
  • $2 program and 50-cent tip sheet
  • concession discounts (click here for details)
  • a special display by track historian Bob Gates
  • free cupcakes in the Clubhouse following the races 
GREEDY CORNER: $2M at Gulfstream & 1M at Santa Anita are the fortunes that can be picked up if your 20-cent ticket is the only correct one in the Rainbow pick-6. Remember, quick-picks are available at 5 for $1.



Race 4
-- 2, 4, 7
Race 5
-- 3
Race 6
-- 2, 3, 6
Race 7
-- 3, 8

RACE 4 is a maiden race with a couple rules: #2 Simply Terrific (6-1) has “lowest added-up numbers” of 6 (add where the horse finished last time to his position at the first call in his previous race) and #4 Sko’den (12-1) is “dropping speed” from maiden allowance to maiden claiming.The replay on #7 Purrsibility.(7-5) shows he likely would have won the race had he not broken a step slow.
#3 Aniva Bay (7-5)is “dropping speed”
is another maiden race with rules: #2 Haida (6-1) has “lowest added-up numbers” of 6 (see race 4), #3 Fun in the Sun (9-1) comes out of a “key” race (top three horses came back to win) and she raced “evenly” last time which likely means a bigger effort this time, #6 Lady Got Away (7-2) stumbled last time as the 3-5 choice.
#3 Queen Jean (4-1) was shut off last time and seems to have improved as a 4-year-old, #8 Rocky Barbados (7-2) appears to be the pacesetter who could wire the field.

LAST WEEK: My $10 ticket in last Wednesday’s Insider and other suggested horses would not have resulted in a win because I missed a first-time starter. A $1 pick-4 ticket paid $1,120. A 20-cent superfecta box of the five horses I liked in race 4 at a cost of $24 resulted in an $84 pick-up.

*       *       *

HOTTIES OF THE WEEK (Wed, Fri & Sat):  
Hottest jockeys: 
Alex Cruz (6 wins) 
Hottest trainers:
Juan Pablo Silva (6 wins)
Biggest longshot: Sweet Vengence $17.80 (race 4 Wed)

Stakes champion(s): Storm Stride (Hey Hey Renee Stakes), Lifesbeengoodsofar (Royal Frolic Stakes), Ryder's Quest (Frank Arnason Stakes)
Stakes this week:
Free Press Stakes (Saturday), Hazel Wright Sire Stakes (Saturday)

Pick-4: None.
Jackpot Pick-5 (starts race 3): $6,513
Jackpot Hi 5 (last race): $658


Good-bye, Ardell

Corbels croon "Take Me Home" in a salute to the trainer with an imposing record
“ Country roads, take me home 
To the place I belong 
South Dakota, mountain mama 
Take me home, country roads . . .”

Who knew that former ASD trainer Emile Corbel had the voice of an angel as he and his son, Derek (race starter and assistant director of racing) sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” at a quickly-arranged Celebration of Life for Ardell Sayler at the Downs last Thursday.

The South Dakotan died of a heart attack at age 66 a week ago Sunday, leaving a lofty legacy of 12 trainer titles in almost 30 years of training at the Downs. “South Dakota” was substituted for “West Virginia” by the Corbels in the “Take Me Home” lyrics above.

Hosted by ASD CEO Darren Dunn, with “AS” (Ardell Sayler) silks draped above him, about 200 attendees regaled in memories about an expert horseman with a quick wit and big heart whose demeanor “could change on a dime but was usually followed by a chuckle.”

Printing company executive Randy Premachuk described owning 20 horses in partnership with Ardell over a period of 25 years. “Every one of those horses had a story we lived and relived. I loved his stories, his one-liners, his knowledge and his humbleness.”

Ardell’s philosophy? (As described by Blaine McLaren, president of Manitoba’s HBPA): “Things happen for a reason. Take it as a sign and move on.”

Easier said than done, Ardell. You’ve left a big hole to try to fill.

*       *       *

Babies on the move
Who will emerge as the prime trainer of 2-year-olds?

Ardell Sayler was relentless when it came to training and winning races with babies. He won about a quarter of the races he entered. Here are his stats for the past three years:
  • 2018: 6 wins out of 20 starts
  • 2017: 6 wins out of 24 starts
  • 2016: 5 wins out of 23 starts
So the question is: who will assume the mantle of major baby trainer or will 2-year-olds be spread more widely among trainers? Who’s going to “adopt” the 15 babies Ardell left behind?

Thankfully, Ardell’s son, Aaron, a former jockey and trainer at the Downs, has arrived from his West Virginia home to help sell off his father’s 40 horses including the 2-year-olds and told The Insider “I won’t leave until the last one is gone."

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to jockey Alex Cruz and trainer Juan Pablo Silva for continuing their torrid win pace. They partnered on five victories and each won a race separately for a total of six wins each on the last three race nights. Silva is winning at a 31 per cent clip and Cruz at 32 per cent and both lead the standings. On the trainer side, Silva has four wins more than Tom Gardipy, Jr. and Cruz has three wins more than jockey Renaldo Cumberbatch. Cruz and Silva partnered for these five wins:
  • Race 1 Wednesday: Princess Becky $5.30
  • Race 3 Wednesday: Takahiro’s Dream $3.40
  • Race 2 Friday: C R Bullitt $4.10
  • Race 7 Friday: Palace Paynter $3.40
  • Race 7 Saturday: Princess Becky $5.30

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to trainer Murray Duncan for winning both overnight stakes races on the weekend with his astutely claimed horses from Oaklawn Park. His wins:

  • The $18,000 Hey Hey Renee Stakes with Storm Stride ($5.30) on Friday (claimed at Oaklawn for US$12,500)
  • And the $18,000 Royal Frolic with Lifesbeengoodsofar ($3.10) on Saturday (claimed at Oaklawn for US$16,000)
Haven’t we watched this Duncan dance before? He’s got the right moves. His dance partners are Garth Grieder and Violetta Adamczyk who own both horses and Tyrone Nelson who is the very capable rider.
HANDICAPPING: "Bigger" workshop tonight and Saturday

TONIGHT’S SESSION AT 6 PM (arrive by 5:45 p.m.): Everyone welcome. A discussion on the pick-4s at Woodbine and ASD will start 6 p.m. SHARP because Woodbine’s pick-4 goes off at about 7:15. So arrive by 5:45 p.m. at the Boots N Saddles bar which is the room on the south side of the main level. Those in Group A should handicap race 4 at Woodbine, “B” should do race 5, etc. Then Group E should do race 4 at the Downs, “F” should do race 5 and we’ll add two new groups for the remaining two races in the ASD pick-4.

SPECIAL WORKSHOP SATURDAY 10:30 AM (Belmont Stakes Day):
Discussion at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza will focus on the Belmont pick-5 ending with the Belmont Stakes.


OWNERS OF NEW MANITOBA STALLION CELEBRATE WOODBINE WIN: Manitoba’s newest breeding stallion, Nonios, has his own Facebook page--which shows how serious his owners, Andrew Clarke, Larry Falloon and Denis Huberdeau, take his potential of producing talented offspring. Those owners were given a reason to celebrate on Sunday when Nonios’ Ontario-bred 4-year-old son, Alacritous, won a $40,000 claimer at Woodbine ($10.70). Which could have Manitoba breeders to him dreaming of sweeping stakes races written for Manitoba-breds. Nonios is standing at Dunroven Farm in Rosser, Man.

“Money in the bank” is probably the thought that went through the minds of bridge-jumpers who had bet $37,000 to show on #2 Silquest in Saturday’s four-horse Frank Arnason Sire Stakes at ASD (out of $39,460 in the show pool). That’s because #1 Fonzerella left slowly, spotting the ”sure thing” horse and the other two horses 10 lengths.

But, hold on! #2 tires after dueling and fades to third and is going backwards while #1 is eating up ground like a locomotive. In the end, just a neck saves the mega-show bettor(s) from looking for a bridge to jump from. How long did it take for their heart rate to return to normal? How huge would the show prices have been if #2 had been caught? Watch the replay here (June 1, race 1).

HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: Fleshing out the Sayler saga

This week Bob dusts off the Downs’ record book and reviews Ardell Sayler’s crowning achievements.  Most of us are aware of his 12 leading trainer titles and that he sits in second place behind Gary Danelson in terms of career wins at the Downs but he also figures prominently in two other categories. Can you guess what they are? See if you’re correct here.
  • This Friday, June 7: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15. $30K La Verendrye Stakes --6-furlong race for older fillies and mares
  • This Saturday, June 8: Belmont Stakes and Happy Birthday ASD! (Click here for birthday celebration details.) Escape Clause races in $700,000 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
  • This 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.
  • Friday, June 14: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15
  • Saturday, June 15: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15
  • Sunday, June 16: Happy Father’s Day! BBQ ribs special $20 (see details here). Tickets $20 at Guest Services or the general office. Live racing/ace-chase, family fun 1:15
NEXT INSIDER: Next Thursday, June 13 because there’s no Wednesday live racing next week because of the Father’s Day matinee card on Sunday, June 16.

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

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