Friday, June 11, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 22 (Issue #793)

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.


Mohawk begins tonight, Woodbine tomorrow

Racing starts up again in Ontario tonight and tomorrow! Mohawk harness racing kicks off tonight at 6:20 p.m. and the thoroughbreds make their return to Woodbine at 12:20 p.m. tomorrow. Both meets had been held in abeyance because of COVID-19 restrictions.

More than $1 million at stake today at Pimlico
Today’s 20-cent Jackpot pick-6 at Pimlico will be more than $1 million. The carryover coming into today’s races is $974,564.

Baffert seeks release of Medina Spirit's urine

Trainer Bob Baffert’s lawyers are in court today seeking an injunction to force the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to release a urine sample from Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit. Baffert believes testing the urine will prove that Medina Spirit’s positive corticosteroid test came from an ointment used to treat a skin rash.

States the civil lawsuit: “There currently sits in the KHRC freezer an unopened, untested and hopefully pristine split sample of Medina Spirit's urine. The KHRC has indicated it has no intention of allowing that urine split sample to be tested in any way.”

The Commission has not ruled on whether Medina Spirit will be disqualified from his Derby win.


Get 3% cash back Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

Bet at least $40 on one or all of the ASD cards from Monday to Wednesday next week on your HPIbet account and you’ll get three per cent cash back (up to $100) deposited into your account. Note: You must opt in at Why not play a show parlay on all of those days -- in addition to your usual betting?

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Want to go to Las Vegas on ASD's dime? Enter Monday's Las Vegas Challenge tourney
  • Live racing this week ended with a touch of drama. What happened?
  • Wow! A straight 20-cent ticket takes down entire ASD jackpot. (See Shout-Outs)
  • Ho-hum: Whipping ban proves to be much ado about nothing
  • Not only did ASD jockey win four races on a seven-race card, prices were double digits!
FIRST LAS VEGAS CHALLENGE TOURNAMENT GOES MONDAY: The first of five online tournaments during live racing to earn a trip for two to Las Vegas to play in the Horse Player World Series goes Monday on the live race card. Sign up by Saturday at 1 p.m. The tourney winner will get to take a guest to Las Vegas and play in the Horse Player World Series next spring where the top prize is about $300,000. Assiniboia Downs pays expenses including airfare and hotel. Click here for rules and entry form.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in June? 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.

"Yeah, baby, she is going to do it"

Race caller Kirt Contois reels in 25-1 longshot for dramatic finale to race week

It was the kind of dramatic finish to three days of racing at the Downs that would have had a crowd talking animatedly as they headed home.

But, because of COVID-19, they were already at home so the excitement they witnessed online or on MTS channels 179-180 went pretty much unshared--but it was still memorable. As horses neared the wire in a 6-furlong sprint on a glistening wet track, a horse was making a late charge on the outside.

Who was it? It was #5 West Princess, a horse track announcer Kirt Contois had picked for a $10-$15-$20 across-the-board bet on the ASD Live show before the race was run. And the mare was 25-1!

Jockey Stanley Chadee Jr. points to Miss Imperial, the mare who won her--and him--the La Verendrye Stakes (Jason Halstead photo)
”West Princess is trying to get there on the far outside,” Kirt exclaimed. “Yeah, baby, she is going to do it!” And so the mare did, setting up win-place-show prices of $52.70, $17.30 and $9.40 and anchoring a pick-4 that paid $2,398 for $1.

And why had he liked the longshot? As he told Marshall and Stretch on ASD Live when he was making the selection: “She’s 14 for 19 in the money (at the Downs).” No wonder he bet her across the board. Did some viewers of ASD Live take his comments to the bank, too?

It was a great climax to the third week of racing and a night in which Murray Duncan’s Miss Imperial regained her 2020 form, ripping the 6-furlong La Verendrye Stakes in a sizzling 1:11.20, making her the top mare on the grounds at the moment.

*       *       *

Hottest jockey: Jorge Carreno (7 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Jerry Gourneau (5 wins)
Biggest longshot: West Princess $52.70 (Race 7 Wednesday)
Stakes champions:
Miss Imperial (La Verendrye)
Upcoming stakes:
Chantilly (Tuesday), Free Press (Wednesday)
Top analyst on ASD Live: Kirt -- 8 winners in 21 picks
$65,866 in the Jackpot pick-5; $4,068 in the Jackpot Hi-5


Jorge Carreno reaches 1,500-race milestone
--Congrats to jockey Jorge Carreno who posted his 1,500th lifetime win in Wednesday night’s first race aboard the Lise Pruitt-trained, Arnason Farms-owned mare Amy On Tour.

--Jockey Richard Mangalee scores a four-bagger and all prices are in the double digits! See SHOUT-OUTS below.

--For the second consecutive week, the longest shot of ASD’s three days of racing came in the nightcap of the third night. This week West Princess lit up the board ($52.70) and last Wednesday it was Warren’s Van Gogh ($37.70).  West Princess is the longest-priced horse so far this meet.

--When a racing group thinks enough of its horse to bring him back to the races at six years old to try to win his first lifetime race, you’d have to believe the horse is well meant. And so it was for Eviscerator, the son of Street Boss, who hadn’t raced since Ellis Park, Kentucky, in 2019, but was brought to ASD where, on Tuesday, he broke his maiden under trainer Jerry Gourneau ($13.80). The owner, Queen Bee Racing LLC, had been active primarily in California from 2013-2015 (eight wins in 66 starts) but since then has been dabbling only occasionally.

*       *       *
FEATURE ARTICLE: “How do you follow up your best year ever?” That’s the headline on my At the Races column in this week’s Canstar Community Newspapers. It features Jerry Gourneau. Read it here.

Much ado about nothing

Whip-free riding at Monmouth seems to have made little difference

Two weekends of whip-free racing at Monmouth Park have come and gone without incident. The best horses who have been expected to win have been winning. No jockeys have been complaining.

Jockeys are allowed to carry a whip for safety purposes; some did, some didn’t. It didn’t seem to matter. A jockey striking a horse as encouragement would be subjected to a $500 fine and a five-day suspension. Two jockeys had refused to ride because of the whip rules--Joe Bravo and Antonio Gallardo--and it will be interesting to see if they now return.

It’s expected that California, which has a very vocal PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) movement, will be next to implement a no-whipping policy.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to the frugal player in the U.S. who spent all of 20-cents to buy a straight ticket (7-6-4-2-3) on ASD’s Jackpot Hi-5 and thereby took down the whole pool of $9,387 U.S. ($11,325 CAD) last week. The play was processed through a betting hub. Led by Warren’s Van Gogh at 17-1, the player’s five horses were the longest odds of the eight horses in the field.

Richard Mangalee has a four-bagger
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to jockey Richard Mangalee for winning four of the seven ASD races Tuesday night--with all of them paying in the double digits, a rarity. He won with:
  • Race 1: Soul Obsession (trainer Jared Brown) $11.90
  • Race 3: Eviscerator (trainer Jerry Gourneau) $13.80
  • Race 4: Lil Miss Zak (trainer Jerry Gourneau) $15
  • Race 5: I Am Aine (trainer Devon Gittens) $18.30
And, what's more, he did it on his birthday!
Did you know . . . there’s a 100-year waiting list to park at the track during the annual high-society five-day Royal Ascot meet in England? Featuring some of the best horses in the world, the races--which you can bet on your HPIbet account--go Tuesday to Saturday next week at 8:30 a.m. CT.
WIN A TON IN '21: When a trainer ups a horse in class, what are you thinking?

After an absence of two years, a mare returns to crush her rivals going away. Then, for her next race, her leading trainer raises her to a tougher level. What does logic tell you? Correct. The trainer thinks the mare can handle tougher company.

So you shouldn’t have been surprised--and hopefully you were cashing--on ASD races on Tuesday when trainer Jerry Gourneau’s Little Miss Zak did to a $10,000 optional claiming field what she did two weeks previously to a $5,000 claiming bunch. She aired, paying a juicy $15.00, adding to a four-bagger night for jockey Richard Mangalee. Class-risers should always be given a second look. It simply makes sense.


Lighting up the Downs
Spectacular photo taken early Wednesday morning by Jason McWha, shows Assiniboia Downs grandstand on the skyline

“It was very surreal but it’s still a day at the races,” former ASD paddock host Rob MacLennan told The Insider about the biggest race day of his life as a racing official, the Belmont Stakes last Saturday. That’s where he is working now. “My race didn’t go (alluding to the fact he had responsibilities for entries in a certain race condition if it went ahead) and other than just putting some entries in and checking some weights I didn’t have a ton to do with it.”

He still follows European racing, however, and was asked whether he might have a pick or two for Insider readers on the big Royal Ascot meet in England next week. “Let me check the entries for Ascot and see what I can come up with for you,” he said. Stay tuned. The meet goes Tuesday to Saturday at 8:30 a.m. CT and, of course, you can play the races at HPIbet.

Don’t be. Remember what the Tampa Bay Lightning did? A year after being swept by the eighth-seed Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the NHL playoffs, the team won the Stanley Cup.

Start with $10 and let it ride for five show plays. How much has your $10 grown? Impressed? Was it fun? Will show parlays become part of your race-playing arsenal?

How about a game of Who Am I?  Today’s history blog celebrates the life of a man who played eight seasons in the NHL and all of them for one team. He won the Stanley Cup, an AVCO Cup, harness racing’s Little Brown Jug and he’s in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Oops! Almost forgot! He was also a member of the exalted 1972 Team Canada and he still found time to leave his footprints out at Assiniboia Downs. Who’s your best guess? Click  here for the reveal.
Royal Ascot racing from England goes Tuesday to Saturday (Mark Cuthbert Getty images)
  • Today: Mohawk harness racing resumes at 6:20 p.m.
  • Tomorrow: Woodbine thoroughbred meet opens at 12:20 p.m.
  • Monday, June 14: ASD race night 7:30 p.m. See below. Enter the first of five Las Vegas Challenge tournaments on live racing.
  • Tuesday, June 15: Royal Ascot racing from England 8:30 a.m., ASD race night 7:30 p.m. with the $35K Chantilly Stakes. See below.
  • Wednesday, June 16: Royal Ascot racing from England 8:30 a.m., ASD race night 7:30 p.m. with the $35K Free Press Stakes. See below.
  • Thursday, June 17: Royal Ascot racing from England 8:30 a.m.
  • Friday, June 18: Royal Ascot racing from England 8:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, June 19: Royal Ascot racing from England 8:30 a.m.
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.

Will you earn a trip to Las Vegas with other tourney winners?

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