Thursday, June 13 , 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14 No. 22 (Issue #692)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Access the race track from Saskatchewan Avenue
HOW TO BEAT TRAFFIC DURING THE EX that starts tomorrow

To avoid traffic congestion while the Red River Ex plays next door to the Downs, access the track the back way, from Saskatchewan Avenue. Note the streets at right that feed into Sask. Ave. Then drive west down Sask. Ave. which will take you under the Perimeter Highway overpass. Then turn left at the gravel road with the sign pointing to the track. The Ex runs for 10 days, starting tomorrow and concluding Sunday, June 23.

You have until noon Saturday to get your entries in for Canstar’s “name the yearling” contest at See contest details and prize line up online here. (Just flip through the pages of any Canstar newspaper to see a full-page description of the contest.)

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Bumpity, bumpity, bumpity: Did rough ship-in cost Escape Clause a better placing?
  • Three consecutive days of live racing go Fri & Sat 7:15, Father's Day Sunday 1:15
  • Who wants to be a millionaire? 20-cent bets can do it at Gulfstream and Santa Anita
  • What do horses enjoy more than carrots?
  • Kenora entrant wins Las Vegas Challenge tourney for second time
  • Ont. Lotteries ponies up $500,000 bonus for winner of toughest Triple Crown: Canada's

Here's what tomorrow's Chase the Ace jackpot starts at

CHASE THE ACE JACKPOT GROWS; OTHER VALUABLE CARDS STILL AVAILABLE: So, five of the 42 remaining playing cards in Winnipeg’s ultimate Chase the Ace game at the Downs are particularly valuable: the ace of diamonds, of course, which wins the jackpot, the remaining joker that wins the selector $500 and other three aces that are worth $250. Remember, your ticket purchase(s) help Final Furlong find good homes for retired race horses. The jackpot grows each time someone buys a $5 ticket.

No entrants picked Sir Winston to win the Belmont Stakes so there wasn’t even a consolation prize awarded in the $100 First & Worst contest.

: Enter daily with a ticket seller at an OTB to get into a Saturday afternoon draw for a $50 gift certificate for Assiniboia Downs.
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 June? Find out here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Blue Bombers.

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 $4,746.25. Poker will be played through until this Saturday, June 15 and then take a summer break. Poker will resume on Friday, Sept. 13. The royal flush jackpot will carry over to Friday, Sept. 13 if it is not won this weekend.

FATHER’S DAY FEATURES BBQ RIBS SPECIAL: Get your tickets for $20 at Guest Services for Father’s Day dinner at the races Sunday at 1:15. Includes half-rack BBQ ribs, ranch-style beans, potato salad, dinner roll and beverage.
GREEDY CORNER: $2.3M at Gulfstream & $1.3M at Santa Anita are at stake at Gulfstream and Santa Anita respectively in their 20-cent Rainbow pick-6 pools. Note that Gulfstream’s mandatory payout date is Sunday, June 30.


Will Hot Rodin make amends Friday?
Last year's winningest horse looks to bounce back from second place finish

Hot Rodin
, last year’s winningest horse at ASD, will be back Friday in a $10,000 optional claimer to try to make amends for his second-place finish in a $20,000 optional claimer on May 25. In that race, the 6-year-old gelding who won six races at the Downs last year got into a heated duel and lost by just a head to Pete Marwick who rallied from off the pace.

As the 3-5 morning line choice, Hot Rodin--with hot connections of trainer Juan Pablo Silva and jockey Alex Cruz--will be looking for a less-heated pace in Friday’s sixth race. But will he get it? Speedball Budlitelarry is making his 2019 debut and you know where he wants to be -- in front. Will he steal it or joust with Hot Rodin, setting up the race for a late closer?

*       *       *

HOTTIES OF THE WEEK (Wed, Fri & Sat):  
Hottest jockeys: 
Antonio Whitehall (5 wins) 
Hottest trainers:
Steven Gaskin (5 wins)
Biggest longshot: Louden's Gray $14.40 (race 6 Sat)

Louden's Gray, trained by Steve Keplin, Jr., ridden by Kayla Pizarro, wins Free Press Stakes and helps win David Blake a trip to Las Vegas

Stakes champion(s): Settle Down Eileen ($6.20 -- La Verendrye Stakes), Hidden Grace ($3.10 -- Hazel Wright Sire Stakes), Louden's Gray ($14.40 -- Free Press Stakes)
Stakes this week:

Pick-4: None.
Jackpot Pick-5 (starts race 3): $12,501
Jackpot Hi 5 (last race): $2,258

Roads through two states were "horrendous"

Trainer bumps head, loses two wheel covers shipping Escape Clause to Belmont

Escape Clause (arrow) was in contention until the stretch where she faded to fourth

He doesn’t know whether it cost her a better placing in Saturday’s Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park in which she finished fourth to Midnight Bisou but trainer Don Schnell said the roads Escape Clause had to endure through Indiana and Illinois were “horrendous …. worse than dirt and gravel roads I’ve driven on.”

He bumped his head in his Ford pick-up and lost two wheel covers, he said, and could only imagine the stress on Escape Clause having to brace herself during half of the 2,250-kilometre trip from Shakopee Minn. to Belmont Park in New York. And that’s despite paying “hundreds of dollars” in toll fees to travel on those interstate highways.

Thankfully the roads in Ohio, New Jersey and New York were excellent, he said. Had he known how bad the roads were through two states, he might have flown her to New York instead--but wasn’t certain how she might handle that experience, either.

“When you’re racing with the very best, you have to be your very best,”
he said and she did lose “a lot of weight” during the shipping experience.

However, he said he also realizes Grade 1 mares are a very tough bunch and that he needs to “drop her down a notch or two.” He will now stable Escape Clause at Delaware Park--a three-hour trip from Belmont--to recover from her Belmont experience and prepare for entry into the Grade 2 $750,000 Delaware Handicap on Saturday, July 13. She would not face the same tough foes there.

Her performance on Saturday pretty much eliminates Breeders’ Cup consideration, he said.

The good news is: Her fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps was worth US$51,000 which included $46,000 in purse money and $5,000 shipping fees. That makes her the winningest Manitoba-bred ever with US$691,500. The previous record was held by the gelding, Fancy As, who raced from 2000 to 2007 and earned US$670,092.

Watch Escape Clause in the Ogden Phipps here.

"Seven or eight hours" of study pays off
Kenora's David Blake earns second trip to Las Vegas big-money tourney

David Blake's determination and study pay off

The determined look on the face of horse owner/player Dave Blake before Saturday’s go-to-Vegas tournament said it all. The owner of a food services business in Kenora said he had spent “seven or eight hours” prepping for the tournament with a view to winning it for the second time. And he did, beating 63 others for a $4,000 trip for two to Las Vegas that includes US$1,500 entry into the Horse Player World Series at the Orleans Hotel Casino in March. The top prize there is more than US$300,000.

You still have three chances to earn a trip yourself--in tournaments in July, August and September.

His most important play to build his bankroll to $72.80 (betting $2 win/place/show in each ASD race) came in race six with Louden’s Gray ($14.40, $5.40 and $3.60). Experience showed him “anything coming from Turf Paradise can win--even those racing at a lower level” which led to this play.

Tournament runners-up were Larry Liebrecht with a bankroll of $69.70. He collected $250 cash. And third went to Stan Stewin with a bankroll of $65.60 who pocketed prize money of $100.

Entry into the tournament is $50 but you can knock that down by predicting three winners in race cards leading up to the next tourney which is Saturday, July 6. Pick up an entry form at Guest Services each time you attend live racing.

*       *       *

"Bigger" betting group comes up short at Belmont
Greed now takes over: Will pursue million-dollar pools at Gulfstream and Santa Anita

Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group would have cashed 5 for 6 six times in Belmont’s pick-6 Saturday if race favourite Tacitus had finished first instead of second in the Belmont Stakes. But the favourite couldn’t catch Sir Winston at 10-1 and the group came up empty on its plays that day.

However, greedy eyes now turn to monster Rainbow pick-6 pools growing into the millions at Gulfstream and Santa Anita so there will be a special workshop this Saturday to tackle those two tracks. The idea, of course, is to win the entire pool with a 20-cent ticket nobody else has. Group discussion will start at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. The regular “A” group should focus on TWO races: the first leg of the Gulfstream pick-6 and first leg of the Santa pick-6, group “B” should do the second leg at both tracks, etc.

In the first workshop preceding live racing on Wednesdays, the group got back about 60 per cent of its investment when it won the Woodbine pick-4 but had a sparse payout on ASD’s pick-4 which was the lowest payout of the season at $93.80. The next Woodbine/ASD pick-4 session in the Boots N Saddles lounge on the main level will be next Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Cam Ziprick (left) and Barry Arnason (right) examine 2018 Manitoba Breeders of the Year award presented to them in May by Manitoba CTHS director Charles Fouillard. Now the pair will be honoured as the best in Canada. All three men bred and own Hidden Grace, the impressive winner of the Hazel Wright Sire Stakes Saturday.

A BIG SHOUT OUT to Cam Ziprick and Barry Arnason, breeders of Escape Clause, for being named top breeders in Canada for 2018 by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) in Lexington, Ky and have been invited to accept their award at a TOBA dinner in September. That comes after being cited as Breeders of the Year at the Manitoba Thoroughbred Awards banquet at the Downs in May. It is the second year in a row that Manitobans have been heralded as best breeders in Canada. Last year the title went to Eleanor Kives, the wife of the late Phil Kives, and Leona Stahl, manager of Kives’ K5 Stables.

to special events organizer Cory O’Grodnik and the ASD team for partnering to produce the most successful night market so far in Manitoba that was held at the Downs on Sunday. He’s his harshest critic about such events and when he said everything went “so smoothly” you know it had to be good. There’s just something about a race track that makes it a perfect venue for such events. Tasting a wide variety of foods from a couple dozen food trucks right on the race track feels special. Throw in dozens of exhibitors, lots of live entertainment, a beer garden, mini-brewery and kids’ activities--all for just $5--and you have a sure winner. The good thing is, there are two more: one on Sunday, Aug. 11 and the other on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Here’s a reminder, too, that the Downs will ramp up the July 1 Canada Day fireworks display even more this year--which will follow live racing at 7:15. Tell your friends about the ease of parking at the Downs compared to the congestion around The Forks for their fireworks that night.

Gourmet cupcakes fit for a Queen

A BIG SHOUT OUT to Chef Gerardo for turning complimentary mini-cupcakes into gourmet treats Saturday night for race fans to enjoy in celebration of the Downs’ 61st birthday. There were two kinds: one was red velvet with a delicious sugar icing (see photo) and the other was a rich chocolaty creation. Both were a tasty way to put smiles on patrons’ faces. They certainly changed my perception on what a cupcake can be when a chef goes the extra mile on everything he serves up. Sorry, Queen Elizabeth, he’s ours!

Fenugreek is horses' #1 flavour favourite

FYI: What do horses like more than carrots? According to a University of Glasgow study, here’s the order of flavours horses prefer in their feed: (1) fenugreek (2) banana (3) cherry (4) mint (5) apple (6) carrot. Fenugreek is a particularly healthful herb grown in the Mediterranean with a celery/maple syrup flavour, very popular in India. Online search shows availability at Walmart, Superstore and Vita-Health stores.

Ontario Lotteries offers $500,000 bonus for 3-race win
Getting past Fort Erie will be the rub; it's the graveyard of Queen's Plate winners

Wando was last winner of Canadian Triple Crown in 2003. Will we see another in our lifetimes?

An announcement by Ontario Lotteries and Gaming that it will give a $500,000 bonus to the horse that wins all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown certainly raises the profile of that trio of races. But when you examine the performance of Queen’s Plate winners on the dirt track at Fort Erie since Woodbine installed a synthetic track in 2006, you have to wonder whether we’ll see any horse awarded a bonus in our lifetimes.

Here’s how Queen’s Plate winners on Woodbine’s synthetic tracks fared in the Prince of Wales Stakes on Fort Erie dirt since Woodbine installed a synthetic track in 2006:

2006 Edenwold -- fourth in Prince of Wales at odds of 4-1
2007 Mike Fox -- fourth at 7-2
2008 Not Bourbon -- sixth at even money
2009 Eye of the Leopard -- third at 9-5
2010 Big Red Mike -- third at 4-5
2011 Inglorious -- did not run in Prince of Wales
2012 Strait of Dover -- DNR
2013 Midnight Aria -- DNR
2014 Lexie Lou -- DNR
2015 Shaman Ghost -- second at 3-5
2016 Sir Dudley Digges -- sixth at 4-1
2017 Holy Helena -- DNR
2018 Wonder Gadot -- first at 2-5 ($2.80)

So the filly, Wonder Gadot, was the first 3-year-old to win both the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales in 13 years of an artificial surface at Woodbine. The filly didn’t remain in Canada to try to win the Triple Crown in the Breeders’ Stakes on the turf in August, though, she was shipped to Saratoga to race in the Travers Stakes where she finished last.

Might she have remained in Canada to race in the Breeders’ Stakes if the $500,000 bonus had been in effect last year? Seems likely -- which would have been a good thing. The offer should also tempt every Queen’s Plate winner to give Fort Erie dirt a shot; five of the Queen’s Plate winners above didn’t even try.

Only seven horses have won the Canadian Triple Crown since its inception 60 years ago, the last being Wando in 2003. The “golden age” of winners was from 1989 to 1993 when there were four winners: With Approval (1989), Izvestia (1990), Dance Smartly (1991) and Peteski (1993) but that occurred when Woodbine had a dirt main track.

With a horse having to win over three different surfaces, the Canadian Triple Crown seems even more daunting than the U.S. Triple Crown. Any horse to do so will deserve not only the $500,000 bonus but a statue on Parliament Hill, too.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: 75-year-old newspaper article inspires blog

A newspaper article written 75 years ago was Bob’s inspiration for this week’s blog. Have you heard of Slim Keith or Contributor?  Probably not. But it’s such a good story and Bob has it here.
  • Friday, June 14: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15
  • Saturday, June 15: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15. $1 million North American Cup at Woodbine harness (best 3-year-old pacers on the continent)
  • Sunday, June 16: Happy Father’s Day! Live racing/ace-chase, family fun 1:15. Great Mascot Race after race 3. Make mascot bets to support Manitoba Riding for the Disabled.
  • Tuesday, June 18: Begins five days of early-morning racing from the Royal Ascot in England. Top horses at a top-level race meet. Play and watch those races on your HPI account.
  • Wednesday, June 19: Live racing/ace-chase resumes 7:15 preceded by a “Bigger” betting group workshop at 6 p.m. in the Boots N Saddles lounge on the main level
  • Friday, June 21: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15 featuring the Chantilly Stakes for 3-year-old fillies
  • Saturday, June 22: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15 featuring the Golden Boy, a prep race for the Manitoba Derby.
  • Wednesday, June 25: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15 preceded by a “Bigger” betting group workshop at 6 p.m. in the Boots N Saddles lounge on the main level
NEXT INSIDER: Next Wednesday because Wednesday live racing resumes that day.


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

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