Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 23 (Issue #591)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Fireworks will mark not only Canada's birthday but the 250th anniversary of horse racing

It's a no-brainer

ASD is the place to be July 1 when "awesome" fireworks firm returns

Tell your friends. Assiniboia Downs is the place to be on Saturday, July 1 to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday and the 250th anniversary of horse racing in “Canada” because the same people who put on the jaw-dropping fireworks display after snowmobile races in the winter, CanFire Pyrotechnics, will be in charge of the display that night.

Anyone who saw that display—including people who saw it from their homes in Charleswood—will tell you: “Awesome! I can hardly wait!”

But there’s much more happening that night, too:

  • The $25,000 Canstar Canada Day stakes
  • BIG REVEAL in “Name the Filly” contest: The name chosen from 848 submitted names will be revealed in the Winner’s Circle. That person wins $250 cash (for the 250th anniversary of racing) and a Goldeyes suite for 16 for a night of baseball.
  • It’s Canstar Night at the Races which means there are coupons in today’s and next week’s Canstar community newspapers for $1 off a program, free tip sheet and a chance to win a $500 Travelodge package.
  • The usual fun continues: 60-second betting spree, $10 buy-in poker, VLT tournament and Crazy Hour. After the races, grab a Crazy Hour brew for $2.95 and half-price chicken fingers and settle in for a fireworks display that will knock your socks off—promise—unless you tie your shoelaces tightly.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • What are tonight's best bets? The Trusty Trio offers you three
  • What name will win the Name the Filly contest? See synposis of names below
  • What were your better bettor tracks in May?
  • Do advanced horseplayers "overthink" their plays?
  • What were the top shout-outs of the week? (One is an $11,000 winner.)
  • What has HPI tweaked? See Marshall's report

James McMullin (left) calls out bets to Rob & Scott

MORE NERVE-WRACKING THAN THE DELIVERY ROOM? James McMullin, a semi-retired maintenance man, had the best quote of the week as he waited to begin his 60-second betting spree: “This is more nerve-wracking than being in the delivery room.” Yes, calling bets as quickly as one can DOES put a player on his toes. Calling bets is one thing, though; calling bets that WIN is another, as shown in a photo of the sign located next to the betting booth. Will you get a chance to beat the top amount for the month?

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? Jays - Bombers

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 $1,665! Entry fee to play the jackpot is an additional $5. Click here for new features!

Bourbon bacon brownies
Now a staple at race night buffets

HOT BOURBON BACON BROWNIE – A NEW POPULAR ADDITION TO BUFFETS! ASD sous-chef Gerry Tummillo introduced a new specialty dessert, hot bourbon bacon brownie (say that quickly five times), to the Father’s Day brunch that was so popular, he told The Insider, it will become a staple at all race night buffets. “We usually go through two pans of the hot dessert,” he said. “For the bourbon bacon brownie, we went through five!”

  • Prayven Badrie
    Doggedly determined ride

    THE BIGGEST SHOUT-OUT GOES TO JOCKEY PRAYVEN BADRIE for what I considered to be the most doggedly determined stretch drive of the meet. Halfway down the stretch, his Tiz A Cyclone was beaten—everybody was sure #2 Smart Copy was going to blow past. But, somehow, Prayven held Cyclone together for a jaw-dropping sixteenth more to win and pay $4.90. I had to check the tote board to actually see his number up there to know I wasn’t just dreaming it. Do yourself a favour and watch that race here (June 14, Race 6). Prayven will likely get beaten in the replay. You’ll be so sure of it.

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to the player who makes a habit of playing races in the Pacific Northwest (Emerald and Hastings) and recently was the only 20-cent ticket on Hastings’ pick-6 so collected all $11,069 in the pool. Oddly, as he pointed out, there was only one longshot in the sequence. These were the winning prices of the six legs: $3.60, $5.20, $5.30, $26.80, $6.00, $4.30. After winning the superfecta in the Belmont Stakes, he said, he played $144 in 20-cent combinations to reap the windfall. I suspect it was his winnings at Emerald Downs in May that made Emerald a “better bettor” track as noted elsewhere in this column.

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to another sharp ride, this time by jockey Kayla Pizarro who showed why she won the Sovereign Award as the 2016 leading apprentice rider in Canada. At the top of the stretch in Saturday’s fifth race at 7f, she darted to the rail on #5 Baby Brynn Alyssa after racing outside the leader and staved off #8 Yvons Dixie Melody who was moving well on the outside.

  • Media Melee wins Free Press stakes

    A BIG SHOUT-OUT to restaurateur John Ganis and his trainer Steven Gaskin for having Media Melee primed for another top effort, this time in the $25,000 Free Press Stakes on Father’s Day in a quick 1:11.40 for the six-furlong distance. Four of us in the Winner’s Circle during the running of the race hadn’t picked him to win (Rob MacLennan and I thought blinkers on Swiss Idol would have had that horse winning it all the way but he tired to finish second-last). Media Melee paid $7.60 as the second choice. Now the question is: At the age of four, is he able to do what he couldn’t do at 3 – and this is stretch out effectively to a route? If he is able, he could continue winning right until the Gold Cup in September.

  • Rohan Singh
    Bags four on Father's Day

    A BIG SHOUT-OUT to three-time leading jockey Rohan Singh who won four races Sunday, showing he still has what it takes to win another title. He’s second in the jockey standings with 14 wins, three fewer than jockey leader Adolfo Morales. Singh’s wins came on:
    • Race 1 – Stonehart Ridge $2.80
    • Race 4 – Malibu Colony $4.00
    • Race 5 – Joyful Glow $8.30
    • Race 7 – Cats West $8.10

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to the designer of next year’s Kentucky Derby logo. This one is particularly fetching, showing the twin spires of Churchill Downs attached to the 144 of the number of times the race will have been run. Will the catchy design cause a bump in merchandise sales? Speaking of which, don’t you love the changing creativity in ASD apparel? A designer at Carberry International is responsible. It’s gear that has others asking: “Where did you get that?”



Kirt, Rob and Marshall
Will all their best bets win?

Trusty Trio pick tonight's best

Kirt, Rob and Marshall each have a different opinion

  • Kirt’s best (record: 2-2-0-0): Race 1 -- #1 Ruled (3-5)
  • Rob’s best (record 2-1-1-0): Race 3 -- #5 Hard Knocks Rock (7-5)
  • Marshall ’s best (record 2-0-1-0): Race 6 -- #6 Jackson Sundown (5-2)
  • Marshall’s longshot: Race 5 -- #5 Aunt Hilda (8-1)

Last week: Kirt and Rob picked the same horse and it won (Race 8 – Victory ‘n Rouge $3.20)

250th ANNIVERSARY TRIVIA TEASER: What was the name of the horse who won the very first organized horse race in “Canada” on July 1, 1767 and a purse of $40? (a) Conceit (b) Modesty (c) Cold Shoulder (d) Coureurs de Bois. See answer at bottom of column.

Elton Dickey bags six

Hottest jockey(s): Rohan Singh (6 wins)
Hottest trainer(s): Elton Dickey (6 wins)
Biggest longshot: Cruzcat $14.60 (race 4 Saturday)  
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $273 (race 7 Sunday)
Stakes champion(s): Media Melee (Free Press stakes)



At the halfway point, who are the HOTY leaders?

Urbanski, Moehring and Blackmore are ones to beat

TOP THREE: John Urbanski, George Moehring and Dave Blackmore are ones to beat

With six handicapping contests in the bag and six more to go, who are the leaders for the Handicapper of the Year title and a trip to the $1 million Horse Player World Series?

They are:

  • John Urbanski – 176 points
  • George Moehring – 171 points
  • Dave Blackmore – 167 points


UNFINISHED BUSINESS FROM THE JUNE 10 TOURNEY: Who won the $50 for the biggest longshot play in the tournament? Cristen Parks and Gord Little both played Zingara (race 3) $25.50 so they shared the $50.


NEXT “GET SERIOUS LAS VEGAS HORSEPLAYER CHALLENGE:” Saturday, July 8. Never played? You can reduce the $50 entry fee down to zero by picking three wins on live cards leading up to tournament day. Get an entry form at the Guest Services counter before the races start each day; pick three winners in races 2 to 7.

*       *       *

Do you "overthink" your plays?

Is it time to simplify plays just like struggling sports teams do?

Advanced horseplayers often twist themselves into a pretzel looking for horseplayer angles that often aren’t there. Would we be cashing more often if we regarded the game more simplistically?

This thought occurred to me as I was listening to an analysis of Blue Jays’ star right-fielder Jose Bautista who was in a hitting slump. The announcer said Bautista could be overthinking when to swing the bat and when not to swing. “Ball comes over the centre of the plate, swing at it,” was the simple advice.

Same in hockey. What do players say during a losing streak? “We’ve just got to simplify things. Reduce the game down to doing the simple things right.”

So, in horse racing, what would the “simple” things be? Look for horses with biggest Beyers or speed numbers. When two or more horses have all-out early speed, play a closer. Top jockeys and top trainers win more often. A maiden allowance horse dropping into a maiden claimer is one of the best bets in racing. So is “dropping” speed.

As I wallow in a chronic slump, maybe I should be paying attention to my own simplifications. When a U.S. visitor asked for my help in picking a horse in a maiden race—and I steered him to a maiden allowance horse dropping into a claimer at juicy odds of 9/2 (and he put $20 on it)—did I put win money on the horse or did I complicate life by investing heavily in losing exotics? No need to comment on what I did.

What were the better bettor tracks for May?

You were better at 22 tracks including Woodbine/Mohawk

Way to go! Wagering figures showed ASD players were better bettors at 22 tracks in May! The top six:

  • Rosecroft (harness)
  • Sam Houston
  • Emerald
  • Canterbury
  • Laurel
  • Northfield (harness)

All of those tracks owed ASD money. Players who are winning more than they are losing are good citizens because they are importing money into the province, hence helping the economy grow. Two major tracks, Monmouth and Churchill, were also among the top 22.

Even Woodbine Entertainment (which includes Woodbine thoroughbreds and Mohawk harness) were in positive territory in May. That’s no mean feat and players deserve an extra pat on the back for making that happen.

And what tracks were ASD players finding the most challenging? Pocono harness, Belterra, Harrah’s Philly harness, Hoosier harness, Turf Paradise, Parx, Arlington and Lone Star.

Are you playing to your strengths to fatten your wallet and be a good citizen?

Name the Filly contest very popular

Entrants submit 848 names--from A Star is Born to Xylobones (Xylobones?)

Name to be revealed July 1
(Sherisse Ziprick photo)

Naming horses is something people love to do. They did it more than 700 times for the Sochi Olympic filly contest (Gold N Sochi) and over the past five weeks or so they submitted 848 names in Canstar’s contest to name a filly to celebrate the 250th anniversary of racing in Canada.

The “Big Reveal” on the chosen name will come on Canada Day Saturday night, July 1, in the Winner’s Circle at the Downs following a race named for the contest.

In the meantime, as one of three judges in the contest (the other two are Sherisse Ziprick from the filly’s breeding farm in Russell, Man. and Canstar rep Shelley Morgan) I’ll give you a synopsis on the kinds of names we looked at—from the simple to the very imaginative and the bemusing.

  • “Maple” was most popular for 18 names, either as a single word or part of a name
  • “Two Fifty” and “Star” were suggested in names 16 times.
  • “Sweet” was suggested for nine names as was “Lightning” and “Sestertius,” the word for a Roman coin that means “two and one-half.” (Suddenly this oblique word became common!)
  • “CCL,” the Roman numeral for 250, started a handful of names,
  • Ten names contained “Modest” or “Modesty” – for an obvious reason contained in today’s Trivia Teaser.
  • “Prairie” was suggested as part of a name seven times and “Unicorn” and “Exclamation” had supporters.

Among the more imaginative names:

  • “FillyGonnaThrilly” and “Horsie Mchorseface” just made it under the wire with 17 or 18 characters.
  • Then there was “Can Win By a Nose,” “ Canada Races On,” “ Portage and Mane” and “Chase My Tail.”
  • Judges were also bemused with “I Found My Purse,” “Silly Filly,” “Horse with no Name,” “Eat My Dust” and “Xylobones.” (Xylobones?)
  • An entrant named Ron submitted a name with—what else?-- his name in it twice: “Da Doo Ron Ron.”

Obviously a lot of thought went into the process and the judges thank everyone for their creative efforts! It was fun! (Quite a few entrants submitted names with numbers in them—such as 1-5-0—but horse names can’t include numbers.)

So who won? Neither waterboarding nor a thick brown envelope stuffed with cash will cause my tongue to waggle. Or will it? Mum’s the word! You’re just going to have to wait until Canada’s birthday—and the 250th anniversary of racing in Canada—to find out.

The winner gets $250 cash, a suite for 16 at a Goldeyes baseball game and bragging rights forever.

*       *       *

"She's a monster"

That's the latest word on the soon-to-be-named filly

Sherisse Ziprick , a judge in the Name the Filly contest, said she’s very impressed with the development of the soon-to-be-named youngster, calling her a “monster.”

When I asked her to elaborate she said: “She can run. Very nice moving filly!”

Wouldn’t it be nice to have this contest filly go on to big things? That would make the horse’s name winner even more proud!

HPIBET Marshall Posner

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. Have there been any recent updates or upgrades to HPIbet?

A. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any big upgrades to the HPIbet system in a long time. We’re still waiting for a major functionality upgrade to the Horse Notes and Horse Tracking System. There have been a couple of minor updates over the past month that you may or may not have noticed. Here’s a list of the most relevant ones that have improved user functionality:

  1. Scaling Video – At long last, your main video window will scale when you choose the pop-out window option as opposed to when it would only provide a small video window unless you went full screen (view image here).
  2. Making Exotic Bets -  You can now put your horse in all legs of any exacta, super, triactor or hi-5 wager by only making one click. To select the same horse in every leg, simply click to the right of the final leg and every leg will be selected (view image here).

Got a question for Marshall? Email

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: What two rivals heated up racing in 1979-1980?

Bob recounts a rivalry from 1979 and 1980 when a pair of young ones challenged each other to the max.  One was a copper bay gelding and the other was a grey.  They put on a clinic in the Derby Trial where they ran one/two and in the Manitoba Derby they ran second and third. Who were they? Find out here.

ANSWER TO TRIVIA TEASER: (b) Modesty, a mare – on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec where, eight years before that, General Montcalm and General Wolfe, the leaders of the English and French troops both lost their lives in a battle won by the English.

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