Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 22 (Issue #590)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

  • NO LIVE RACING THIS FRIDAY (because there’s racing on Father’s Day Sunday). So there’s racing tonight and Saturday at 7:15 p.m. and Sunday at 1:15 p.m.

  • AVOID PORTAGE AVENUE CONGESTION DURING THE RED RIVER EX by accessing the Downs the back way, from Saskatchewan Avenue. The Ex runs from this Friday to Sunday, June 25. (Directions: As you drive west down Portage Avenue, turn right at Cavalier or Buchanan and go to the end of those streets to Saskatchewan. Turn left. After you drive under the Perimeter overpass, turn left at the second gravel road.)

  • “NAME THE FILLY” DEADLINE IS FRIDAY AT NOON in the Canstar contest to mark the 250th anniversary of horse racing in Canada. Send name suggestions (one or two) to More.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • What are tonight's best bets? ASD's trusty trio has them below
  • $900,000 carryover in tomorrow's Gulfstream Rainbow 6
  • What two fillies are creating the biggest buzz?
  • Have you signed up for Saturday's "summer school" workshop?
  • Maurice Gregoire hasn't slowed down. Wins go-to-Vegas tourney for fifth time
  • ASD's first employee had a colourful past. Who was he? See Bob's blog.

Uh-oh! Bonnie bets horse suggested by others

BETTING SPREE: WHO’S HAPPY? WHO’S NOT? The happiest betting spree player so far this month, of course, is Ed Slemkoski with $512 in winnings. But the least happy has to be retired bank employee Bonnie Simmonds who rather famously won more than $10,000 in the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas by finishing seventh. But she was kicking herself after winning a chance to play in the 60-second betting spree last Wednesday. She said she was talked out of betting a horse she had played on her tournament qualifying entry form and instead played a horse that those around her said was a better bet to finish at least “show,” which is what she was planning on doing. Wrong. Her horse won the race and the suggested horse finished out of the money and you got the feeling that she might have been thinking of using the cane in her hand for more than aiding in her walking.

QX104 � Today's Country

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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.

AFTER LIVE RACING: Free VLT tournaments after live. 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. Plus Crazy Hour. Beer, shots and wine only $2.95 plus half-price appetizers (nachos, chicken fingers, chicken wings and gyoza.)

EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker. Registration 10 p.m. Game starts at 10:30 p.m. New Royal Flush progressive jackpot is at $1,470! Entry fee to play the jackpot is an additional $5. Click here for new features!

SIGN UP FOR SATURDAY'S "SUMMER SCHOOL" HANDICAPPING WORKSHOP: Marshall's and Glen's popular workshops continue this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the Clubhouse with these wide-ranging topics:

  • Recap of what has transpired during the live meet and looking ahead
  • What are key betting angles?
  • When should you bet the favourite?  When should you bet longshots?
  • Understanding how pool size and probable payouts help you play better
  • What are some decent plays in Saturday night's and Sunday afternoon's race cards?

Sign up by calling Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0. Participants will receive free ASD programs for Saturday and Sunday, 2,500 Player Rewards points and $10 added to their HPI accounts after they've bet $50 within a week. Bring your laptops.

  • Stevie Mac, trainer Shelley Brown
    "She's special:" Antonio Whitehall

    A BIG SHOUT-OUT TO SHELLEY BROWN who has everybody buzzing about the 4-year-old filly, Stevie Mac, she brought with her from Gulfstream and is owned by her, Larry Falloon and Scott Anderson. The 4-year-old sizzled the 6f La Verendrye Stakes Saturday in 1:11.60 and just may be the classiest horse on the grounds. “She’s a special filly,” jockey Antonio Hall said after the race. “I really love her.”

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to last year’s leading trainer, Tom Gardipy, Jr., who is hitting his stride early this season again, chalking up five victories last week. Jockeys Tyrone Nelson and Adolfo Morales had an exemplary week, too, with four wins apiece.

  • A “MONSTER” SHOUT-OUT to owners Barry Arnason, True North and trainer Don Schnell of another classy filly, Escape Clause, who won the 6f Hazel Wright Sire Stakes in 1:12.20.

    Escape Clause cruises

    “She looks like a monster and runs like a monster,” said Schnell in the Winner’s Circle after the race. “She’s part of a one-two punch you like to have in your barn,” added Arnason, referring to 3-year-old Paint My Ride who won the male edition of this race, the Frank Arnason Sire Stakes.

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Sarah Fordham who called $216 in $2 tickets during the 60-second betting spree Saturday. Will that be a record? I would think so unless perhaps a professional auctioneer wins a chance at the spree. She bet every horse in the field many times and wound up with $153 in winnings when longshot Zingara ($25.50) won the fifth race.

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Trinidadian jockey Kerran Khelawan who broke his maiden last Wednesday at the Downs on his 17th try with C J’s Flair, a Murray Duncan filly from Oaklawn Park ($8.20). It should be a particularly memorable win because he beat the Downs’ top percentage jockey, Adolfo Morales, who was riding 1-2 favourite Desert Summer.

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to trainer Marion Johnston who’s been plugging along at the Downs since 1984 simply because she loves the game though wins are few and far between. So after just two wins from 161 starts in the past six years, her victory with Peakaboo Bride ($17) in the last race Saturday was significant. And it came on her third try of the meet! Although an infrequent visitor to the Winner’s Circle, her horses have finished in the money a creditable 37 per cent of the time.



Kirt Contois, Rob MacLennan and Marshall Posner: How will they do in Week 2 of their picks?

ASD's trusty trio pick tonight's best bets

Kirt, Rob and Marshall lay it on the line

  • Kirt’s best: Race 8 – Victory ‘n Rouge (9-5)
  • Rob’s best: Same as Kirt’s
  • Marshall’s best: Race 6 -- #5 Mumbles (7-2)

Kirt: War Hero won ($3.40)
Rob: Papa Smitty won but was disqualified and placed second
Marshall : Desert Summer finished second

*        *        *

Ganas won't face Diodoro on Father's Day

Ganas' Media Melee could have been facing the horse claimed from him

Restaurant and horse owner John Ganas can rest easy. It appeared his Media Melee was going to face a horse in the $25,000 Free Press Stakes on Father’s Day, Alpine Luck, that was claimed from him last November by Robertino Diodoro for $12,500. Ganas watched as Diodoro raised his horse to the $20,000 to $30,000 claiming range and won almost $45,000 U.S. in purse money since then.

So he’s likely happy to hear that Diodoro’s assistant, Rob Atras, has told The Insider that “it doesn’t look like” Diodoro will send either Alpine Luck or another nominated horse, Half Dome Dude, to run in the Free Press and against his Media Melee.

So the predicted fireworks have been averted but it’s still shaping up to be a competitive prep race on the road to the Gold Cup. Entries will be taken tomorrow.

Draws for Blue Bomber merchandise


  • The Great Mascot Race – Bet it to raise money for the Manitoba Riding for the Disabled Association!
  • Father’s Day draws for Blue Bombers merchandise and a $500 Travelodge package
  • $17.70 barbeque rib special (get tickets at Guest Services tonight and Saturday night)
  • Family fun

SEASON 60 TRIVIA TEASER: What band played at the Downs on Manitoba Derby Day, 1970, when the Queen visited to celebrate Manitoba’s centenary? (a) Sha Na Na (b) Charlie Daniels (c) The Eagles (d) Ray St. Germain. See answer at bottom of column.

Tough days at the office earn Tyrone four wins

Hottest jockey(s): Tyrone Nelson, Adolfo Morales (4 wins)
Hottest trainer(s): Tom Gardipy Jr. (5 wins)
Biggest longshot: Gibson’s Bullet $73.20 (race 5 Saturday)  
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $192 (race 5 Friday)
Stakes champion(s): Escape Clause (Hazel Wright Sire Stakes); Stevie Mac (La Verendrye Stakes)



Former Handicapper of the Year strikes again

Maurice Gregoire earns Las Vegas trip for a fifth time

Tourney winner Maurice Gregoire (right) is congratulated by runners up Cristen Parks and Roger Bamburak

Retired railwayman Maurice Gregoire hasn’t lost his touch. Named co-Handicapper of the Year three years ago, Gregoire showed his handicapping smarts again Saturday in the first of four tournaments to earn a trip to Las Vegas to compete in a $1 million tournament in March.

This is the fifth time he’s earned the trip – although he’s likely to opt to take $2,000 cash instead as he did in his previous wins. Interestingly, he played 7-1 Peakaboo Bride in the last race despite the fact the trainer, Marion Johnston, has just two wins over the past six years. His analysis showed Peakaboo was the best horse and jockey Rohan Singh proved him right.

His bankroll was $71.20. Runners up were Cristen Parks ($68.70) and Roger Bamburak ($58.70). They received prize money of $250 and $100 respectively. There were 54 participants in the tournament that required players to place $2 win/place wagers on each race.

Most correct qualifying entries
(picking three winners on cards leading up to the tournament) shared $100. They were Larry Liebrecht, Alan Hampton and Dennis Lloyd. See full list here.

The next tournament is Saturday, July 8. Be sure to pick up qualifying entry forms each live race day for a discount on the $50 entry fee. There is also a separate $100 in prize money for those with most qualifying entries (see above).

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Phuket. Players were snickering Saturday evening over this name of a horse racing (and winning) in Australia until they discovered Phuket is a province in Thailand that is pronounced poo-ket. Move along.


Trainer Emile Corbel
Full time in 2018?

LOOK WHO'S BACK: That familiar face under a white cowboy hat watching the Ray St. Germain band on the tarmac Sunday was a trainer we haven’t seen around the Downs lately, Emile Corbel, but he plans to get his feet wet again with Miss Pasco County, a 9-year-old mare with nine wins in 40 starts. She should start in about two weeks, he said. And, he told The Insider, “I’ll make a decision during the winter” whether he’ll return to training full time. Son Derek Corbel, of course, is assistant director of racing and the race starter. Emile has a decent record through 32 years of training, averaging almost $1,000 in earnings for every horse he sent to the gate. (He’s sent 5,877 horses to the gate and earned more than $5.7 million in purses.) Wouldn’t it be nice to round off that figure at $6 million, Emile?

"Meet and greet" was especially popular

ANOTHER DROP-IN TRAINER: Former ASD trainer Blair Miller, now training at Woodbine, visited the Downs on the weekend. “This is still my home,” he said of Manitoba, but the big purses—and his success in sharing in them—has made him a Woodbine stalwart. His record this year is 13-2-2-3.

SOME AFTERNOON! What a beautiful laid-back good time at the Downs Sunday afternoon for about 2,000 who attended the RCMP Musical Ride and Ray St. Germain in concert. The crowd enjoyed the “meet and greet” portion of the program where they shouted questions to the Mounties on their horses. What horses are the easiest to train for the exacting routines? “Geldings,” came the answer. What is one of the most-asked questions of the riders? “Names of the horses.”

Ray St. Germain gets Charley Horse groovin'

“It isn’t often that your opening act is the RCMP Musical Ride,” said Germain as his six-piece band tuned up on a stage erected in the Winner’s Circle. In fact, probably never. The country artist has been doing gigs seemingly forever (he turns 77 next month) but his voice is as strong as ever and all his musicians—especially his fiddler—sent his audience home in a great mood. Even Charley Horse showed some good moves.

OVERLAY OF THE CENTURY? $300 HORSE WINS AT PENN NATIONAL: The longest shot seen anywhere for some time, Jump Street Hero at odds of 149-1 easily overpowered his rivals in a turf route race at Penn National Wednesday, paying gigantic prices of $300.60, $69.80 and $23 across the board. Yet, on his previous route race on the dirt his odds were 9-2. Obviously no respect whatsoever for his turf potential. The overlay of the century?

DANELSON WATCH: All-time leading trainer Gary Danelson needs eight more wins to reach 1,200 career wins at the Downs, something he wants to do before his 80th birthday on Aug. 25. He won five races in the first 12 days of the meet so he certainly seems on-track to reach his goal.


HISTORY ON THE HOOF: Who was ASD's very first employee?

Who was Assiniboia Downs’ very first employee? Hint: He had been a jockey who competed against the likes of Red Pollard and George Woolf of Seabiscuit fame. An even better hint: There’s an ASD stakes race that honours his memory. Give up? Bob’s got the fascinating details here.

ANSWER TO TRIVIA TEASER: (a) Sha Na Na. There were 13,762 fans in attendance.

Look who was at the mall!

Mutuel supervisor Travis Cummings spotted hockey great Teemu Selanne at Polo Park a few weeks ago after Teemu had signed a secret contract with the Jets to come out of retirement. Don’t we wish!

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

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