Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 22 (Issue #640)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Get into the draw for six Triple Crown sets that may suddenly multiply in value

“I was watching history being made. I was watching Justify win the Belmont Stakes to become the first horse in the 144-year history of the Triple Crown to win the Triple Crown without having raced as a 2-year-old. And I was lucky enough to have my name drawn to win a set of four Triple Crown glasses to mark that historic day.”

Will that be your answer to a question you may be asked years from now if Justify wins? Three sleeps will tell the tale.

Whether you have a set of Triple Crown glasses to celebrate the occasion will depend on whether your name is drawn in the Race Book this Saturday. Six sets of four glasses will be given away, glasses that will suddenly multiply in value if Justify wins. Also enter “first and worst” to win $100 in betting vouchers.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Was there a big sigh of relief in the Schnell barn?
  • Was dog-swallows-ball story a "Big" group distraction?
  • What did Inside Straight do for the third time that caused his supporters fits?
  • Record setting ASD jockey dies
  • Happy birthday, ASD! What's happening on that big night?
  • Biggest night market ever set for Sunday--featuring 'bot "fighting" and fireworks

Unnamed yearling with Bear's Princess, his Mom (Sherisse Ziprick photo)

ENTER DRAW FOR TRIPLE CROWN GLASSES AND “FIRST AND WORST” SATURDAY: Six sets of four Triple Crown glasses will be given away Saturday in draws and $100 in betting vouchers will go to an entrant correctly predicting the first place finisher and the trailer in the Belmont Stakes. Enter both!

You have 10 days left to name the yearling described as “king of the castle within the herd but a kind horse to be around,” a colt bred at the Ziprick thoroughbred farm in Russell, MB. Go here to see the contest rules and prizes. It’s sponsored by Canstar community newspapers to mark the 70th year of the Manitoba Derby.
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.
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.

Optimist Prime will be one of the stick-fighting 'bots

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 8 is $7,580.

ASD TO STAGE BIGGEST NIGHT MARKET SUNDAY: Almost 200 exhibitors, two dozen food trucks, more than 20 musicians, microbreweries, beer garden, kids’ fun and a spectacular fireworks display are part of the biggest-ever Manitoba Night Market and Festival this Sunday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Downs. Dancing and stick-fighting robots in a light show should be a big hit, predicts event coordinator Cory O’Grodnik, as will free samples of rhubarb and dill pickle vodka produced by a local distillery. Admission $5, kids under 5 get in free.



Escape Clause escapes tangling with a filly who had beaten her by 11 lengths

Shelley Brown with Stevie Mac
Takes on Escape Clause Friday

Did Escape Clause trainer Don Schnell heave a big sigh of relief when a horse who had beaten his Manitoba-bred filly by 11 lengths in a $50,000 stakes race at Canterbury Park, Fight to Glory, didn’t enter the $27,500 La Verendrye Stakes for fillies and mares this Friday? Fight to Glory, trained by heavyweight trainer Robertino Diodoro, had been nominated to run in the race but remained at Canterbury, likely to run in a stakes race there in two weeks. So Manitoba’s Horse of the Year main rivals will be:

  • Murray Duncan’s C J’s Flair, a 5-year-old mare who last raced at Oaklawn Park, finishing second at 33-1 in a $12,500 starter allowance. She won three stakes in a row at the Downs last summer including the Canada Day and Winnipeg Sun.
  • Shelley Brown’s Stevie Mac, a 5-year-old mare who won last year’s La Verendrye and has shown she’s again at the top of her game, holding off Tadaa in a gate-to-wire victory in an allowance optional claimer.
Should be a good race. Will Escape Clause, brilliant as a 3-year-old, take another step forward at 4? Her last race was at Canterbury where she finished second at 9-2 in an allowance optional claimer.

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A steal of a deal: go to Vegas for $50

First of four horseplayer tourneys for trips to Las Vegas goes Saturday

It’s one of the best deals in town. Probably THE best. An entry fee of $50 into a tournament with about 65 players at the Downs this Saturday will give you a chance to take a guest to Las Vegas to participate in a tournament that could win you $300,000.

Where else will $50 give you such great odds in earning a $4,000 trip—with possible big money as a bonus? Even closing your eyes and pointing to a horse in each of the seven races Saturday gives you a shot. Notably, a woman who couldn’t even read a program earned such a trip some years ago. It CAN be done.

Sign up for the Vegas Challenge tournament by 9 p.m. Friday. Do it just for the challenge and to add intensity to Saturday night at the races! Who knows?

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Happy birthday, Assiniboia Downs!

Cupcakes, Free Press Stakes, food specials mark the Downs' "birth" on June 10, 1958

1958 Chevy convertible, a coveted car in the year the Downs was "born"
Setting the scene: When Gold Ern and Dick Armstrong were honoured in the Winner’s Circle on June 10, 1958 as the first horse and jockey to win a race at Assiniboia Downs, what was playing on the radio? Go here.

Now that you’re in a reflective mood (or not) after listening to that languorous tune—as more than 16 million others have-- fast-forward to a celebration of the Downs’ birthday this Saturday night when the #1 hit, interestingly, is a song that has many similarities to that song 60 years ago. It’s Solena Gomez singing Back to You.

So what’s happening on the Downs’ birthday?
  • The $27,500 Winnipeg Free Press Stakes for the best horses on the grounds
  • The $25,000 Hazel Wright Sire Stakes for Manitoba-bred fillies
  • Food specials. See them here.
  • The Vegas Challenge horseplayer tournament to earn a trip to Las Vegas.
  • Complimentary cupcakes after live racing

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HOTTIES OF THE WEEK (Wed, Fri, Sat):  
Hottest jockeys:
Antonio Whitehall (6 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Shelley Brown (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: Sonyas Got a Gun $16.60 (Friday race 5)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $392 (Saturday race 6)
Stakes champion(s): Zack Ridge (Balooga Bull stakes), Lady Warrior (Miss Missile stakes) and Why So Blue (Frank Arnason Sire Stakes)



Catholic Boy re-rallies to beat 1-5 Analyze It
(BloodHorse photo)
CATHOLIC BOY DEFIES DRF PREDICTION; RE-RALLIES TO BEAT 1-5 FAV: Catholic Boy, the colt I predicted would win the Kentucky Derby—before being sidelined by bleeding issues during the Florida Derby—returned from his convalescence with a vengeance Saturday, re-rallying fiercely in the Grade 3 $200,000 Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont to beat 1-5 Analyze It, a horse the Daily Racing Form predicted in a headline would “go 4 for 4.” Not. The back-and-forth action was so intense that the Equibase chart-caller devotes 12 lines describing it. Catholic Boy rewarded his backers with $10.80 in the 1 1/8-miles turf race, a prep race for the $1.2 million Belmont Derby on the turf four weeks from this Saturday. Expect another heart-stopper if these two tangle again.

INSIDE STRAIGHT REFUSES TO BREAK FOR THE THIRD TIME: For the second race in a row, Inside Straight, the winner of the 2016 Manitoba Derby, refused to break. It came last Sunday at Canterbury Park in Minnesota where he was expected to crush the field at odds of 1-2. He had refused in his previous start at Oaklawn but his three previous races at Turf Paradise were normal and he won two of them. The first time he refused was at Belmont Park in New York in a $100,000 race in June last year before he was shipped to Turf Paradise. His owner, Alberta sugar beet grower Randy Howg, said he had high hopes of winning that Belmont race and is bewildered by the problem. He said it may have something to do with the sounds the horse hears and has suggested he be outfitted with ear plugs.

Robertino Diodoro's Shane Doan loses to John Ganas' Zack Ridge in Balooga Bull Stakes
HOW DID HORSE GET NAME OF HOCKEY’S SHANE DOAN? Hockey fans may have noticed that retired hockey forward Shane Doan has become Shane Doan the 3-year-old colt who finished second in the Balooga Bull Stakes last Friday. So how did the horse get the player’s name? Only by getting written permission from Doan and sending it to The Jockey Club in Kentucky where names are registered, the horse’s owner, Randy Howg, told The Insider. “We hoped to get him more involved in the horse,” Howg said but that hasn’t materialized yet. Will that change with Doan’s retirement after playing 21 years for the original Winnipeg Jets and the Arizona Coyotes?

A distraction?
WAS IT BACON BLISS OR HEARING ABOUT A DOG WHO HAD SWALLOWED A BALL? Was it a swoon caused by an abundance of crunchy bacon? Or was it the distraction of hearing that Larry Liebrecht’s 18-month-old part-Labrador retriever Tucker had swallowed a ball (for the second time) and was coming under a surgeon’s knife that afternoon at a cost of $1,400? Whatever caused the inattention, Saturday’s “I won big” betting group missed two legs of Woodbine’s pick-5—and shouldn’t have--that paid $60,000. The 10-1 horse in the first leg, Funny Funny Riddle, was a horse who did exactly the same thing he had done last year in his first start—he had wired the field. Duh! And the 20-1 in the third leg, Forestella, had come off a claim two races earlier. We all know horses often improve off a claim. Duh!

The good thing is, the group has a chance to make amends in a big way in the Belmont Stakes Saturday and in the pick-4 and/or pick-5 leading to that race: 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. Bring suitably furrowed brows of concentration. Buckley’s cough syrup will be served.

Jimmy Sorenson
RECORD-SETTING JOCK DIES: More than 4 decades ago, he rode seven winners on a nine-race card at the Downs, setting a record that still stands today—and an event witnessed (and wagered on) by track historian Bob Gates who forwarded to The Insider this sad note he received last Thursday from friends of the jockey’s family: “Wanted to let you know that Jimmy Sorenson died. My father called me earlier today to let me know; he received a phone call from Jimmy’s brother. Our family was good friends with the Sorensons back in the day. Jimmy’s father Dinky trained at ASD in the 1960s. Please let people know at the Downs!” -- Trevor Monroe, son of Milo Munroe.

What was Sorenson’s record-setting day at the Downs like? Gates, who cashed big on Sorenson’s final race that day, has the details here.

SECRETARIAT’S JOCKEY SAYS JUSTIFY WILL WIN: Canadian Ron Turcotte who rode the great Secretariat to a Triple Crown victory in 1973 predicts Justify will win the Belmont Stakes Saturday and, hence, the Triple Crown. “He’ll be awfully hard to beat,” he told The Associated Press. Of course, Secretariat won the Belmont by 31 lengths, setting a track record that still stands.

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q: When should I consider the use of front bandages in my handicapping?

Equipment changes can make a big difference on a horse’s performance. One of the most overlooked changes is the use of front bandages. Front bandages or “wraps” help support the tendons in a horse’s foreleg.

Often, a horse sporting front wraps (fronts) for the first time is a negative sign. Pay attention in low-level claiming races, especially when the dropper looks unbeatable on paper but has no recency in terms of a workout or any racing activity and is using “fronts” for the first time. This type of horse is an automatic toss for me.

Watch the post parade to see if your horse is using “fronts” then refer to their past performances to see if they’ve been used in previous races. If it’s a common piece of equipment then don’t bother factoring it into the handicapping equation.

Also worth considering, once you get to know the tendencies of various trainers, is whether they’re using first-time front bandages as a decoy. Some crafty trainers use them to deter claiming suitors when they’re dropping their horses in an attempt to “steal” a purse.

As always, be observant and make notes about everything you witness. This type of knowledge can ensure long-run handicapping success.

Got a question for Marshall? Email

HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: ASD horseman bequeaths $1 million

What ASD owner/trainer bequeathed $1 million to a charity upon his death? And why does historian Bob quote Shakespeare in his blog on that horseman which you can read here?
Better Than Babas one of about 24 food trucks at Sunday's night market


  • This Friday, June 8: Live racing 7:15. La Verendrye Stakes.
  • This 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.
  • This Sunday, June 10: Manitoba Night Market and Festival with food trucks, artisans, beer garden, micro-breweries, entertainment, kids’ fun and fireworks. 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission $5 (kids 5 & under free).
  • Wednesday, June 13: Live racing 7:15.
  • Friday, June 15: Note there is NO LIVE RACING because of the added card on Father’s Day Sunday.
  • Saturday, June 16: Live racing 7:15
  • Sunday, June 17: Father’s Day live racing at 1:15. The Great Mascot Race.


I'm donating $50 to get the ball rolling

Drop off your donations tonight at the VLT cage

Camp Manitou
Here’s a message from John Field, a director with the Manitoba chapter of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA):

“The HBPA is organizing a summer camp at Camp Manitou, operated by the Winnipeg Jets, for backstretch kids between the ages of 6-13, for the week of August 13. It looks like a great program. The HBPA is raising money so that the camp will be free for the kids. Its actual cost is $250 per child. The camp is holding 10 spots for us and they are coming out on Thursday morning to register the kids.”

Sounds great to me and I’m donating $50 to get the ball rolling. Drop off your donations tonight at the VLT cage. Note that camp officials are coming to the track tomorrow to register the kids based on donations.


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

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