Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14  No 24 (Issue #694)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


10-year-old gelding wins five races in a week

Shows just how much sturdier and resilient thoroughbreds were in days of yore

Yes, there WAS a time when thoroughbreds weren’t fragile creatures creating all of the handwringing that’s going on these days in California. The gelding above won five races in seven days at two now-defunct Winnipeg-area tracks, Whittier Park and Polo Park, in September, 1935. At the age of 10. Yes, 10.

He faced fields of eight to 12 horses and raced as many times in one week as many horses do in one entire race meet. Did I mention he did it at age 10?

I could also say “and he did it without stimulants” but he would have raced again on Sept. 13 after winning races on Sept. 11 and 12 if it were not for a saliva test done on the Sept. 9 race that came up positive for caffeine so he was scratched from the Sept. 13 race.

A nine-month penalty handed his trainer, Robert Ramsay, gave the Iron Horse a rest but he came back the following June at Polo Park to post another--likely “clean”--victory. Hail to the racing stock of “the good old days,” eh Belinda?

Read historian Bob’s great piece on this amazing horse here.

  • SATURDAY AFTERNOON: Queen’s Plate at Woodbine, first post 11 a.m., special “I won bigger” workshop (with a bacon reward) at 10:00 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza analyzing the pick-5 and Queen’s Plate. This is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown with a new $500,000 bonus for the horse who can win all three legs.
  • SATURDAY NIGHT: 60th running of the R. J. Speers Stakes at ASD. Live racing and Chase the Ace begin at 7:15.
  • SUNDAY AFTERNOON: Must-pay Gulfstream Rainbow pick-6 with likely $12 million or more to be won. There will be an ad hoc “I won bigger” betting group discussion of the Rainbow around a table at 11 a.m. Sunday, similar to Santa Anita when almost $3,000 was won.
  • MONDAY NIGHT: Happy Birthday, Canada! Live racing begins 7:15 with the Canada Day Stakes, the “big reveal” in Canstar’s Name the Yearling contest and a knock-your-socks off fireworks display. Don’t forget to breathe.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Is Hidden Grace the next Escape Clause?
  • Badrie drops in after riding at Century Mile. What track does he prefer?
  • Is Diodoro on-track to win a second-consecutive Manitoba Derby at track he loves?
  • Who's the latest member of Club Four-Bagger?
  • Holldendorfer gets the hook at three Cal tracks but he's welcome in New York
“CHASE THE ACE” GAME IS DOWN TO FOUR ROWS OF CARDS FROM SIX: Which means that picking the ace of diamonds--or the other aces worth $250 or the joker worth $500--are getting closer. Buy your tickets by 9 p.m. so the draw can be made at 9:30. You’re supporting Final Furlong and retired race horses, of course, with your $5 ticket purchases.

“UNREAL” DRAWS THIS WEEKEND: Be sure to fill out your Fan of the Day/Ribs N Rewards ballot during this weekend’s live race cards to be entered for draws for free tickets to the $35 Unreal tribute band festival a week from this Sunday. The outdoor event, that starts at 3 p.m., includes tributes to Elvis, Cher, Johnny Cash, Guns N Roses, Styx, Beatles, Kiss  and British Icons.
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 tonight and 10 chances to win $40 in free VLT spins on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. 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 is now on summer break. Poker will resume on Friday, Sept. 13 with a royal flush progressive jackpot of $5,111.25.
GREEDY CORNER: $2.87M at Gulfstream in its Rainbow pick-6. Mandatory payout day is Sunday.


Is Hidden Grace the next Escape Clause?

She crushes rivals in Chantilly Stakes

Hidden Grace leaves her rivals far behind (and out of the picture) in the Chantilly, giving trainer Michael Nault his first stakes victory
Are we watching another Escape Clause in the making? Last year Hidden Grace was the “big buzz” baby; this year she’s the “sock-it-to-‘em” sophomore.

Hidden Grace and Escape Clause are by the same sire, Going Commando. She simply crushed her rivals in the Chantilly Stakes just as Escape Clause did two years ago.

And how do Hidden Grace’s Equibase speed ratings compare with those of Escape Clause at the same point in their careers?
  • CTHS Sales Stakes (2-year-olds): Escape Clause (69), Hidden Grace (68)
  • Hazel Wright Sire Stakes at 3: Escape Clause (79), Hidden Grace (76)
  • Chantilly Stakes: Escape Clause (96), Hidden Grace (86).
So Hidden Grace keeps getting better just as Escape Clause did. If Hidden Grace follows in Escape Clause’s hoofprints the next three starts will come in the R. C. Anderson, the Jack Hardy and the Manitoba Derby. Escape Clause won the first two and finished second in the Derby.

Both horses had Don Schnell as trainer. Since Schnell remained in the U.S. with Escape Clause, Hidden Grace is now trained by Michael Nault who trained at ASD from 2000 to 2006 and then in Alberta in 2007 and 2017 before coming to the Downs this year. He had a 19 per cent win percentage in Alberta in 2017. The Chantilly is his first stakes victory. Is it the first of a bunch?

*       *       *

Badrie makes a cameo appearance

"I hope Diodoro keeps sending me here"

Does Prayven Badrie, last year’s co-leading rider at the Downs, miss the place? “Yes, it’s family,” he told The Insider after winning the Golden Boy Stakes for trainer Robertino Diodoro Saturday.

But he continues to ride at Century Mile in Edmonton, he said, “for the purses.” He won two $50,000 races there. “I hope Diodoro keeps sending me here,” he said.

It looks like he may get his way--in the Manitoba Derby. The Golden Boy is one of the prep races for the Derby and Badrie’s horse, Oil Money, aired, paying $3.80 which was an overlay. Diodoro enjoyed being at the Downs last year--with nothing but good things to say--when his Sky Promise won the Derby so he’s making the right moves to make it happen again.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Guitarzan. He’s a 3-year-old gelding racing at Evangeline. At first blush, you see “guitar” and then the “zan” and, suddenly it strikes you: “Tarzan.” Whoa! Very creative. His sire is Star Guitar and he was bred in Louisiana.

EYE ON LIVE (cont'd)

My $24 ticket last Wednesday hit for $136.85. Let’s see if today’s $24 ticket can do as well or better.

Race 4: 1, 2, 3, 4.
They’re the best fit at this specialist 7-furlong distance.
Race 5: 3, 4.
They have the lowest added-up numbers in this maiden race (add where the horse finished last time with his position at the first call two races ago)
Race 6: 7.
Makes the big drop from maiden allowance to maiden claiming. Lowest added-up numbers, too.
Race 7: 1, 3, 5.
#3 looks best but maybe #1 will get brave on the lead; #5 was well-bet last time but had a troubled break.

+$84.85. (My first two Wednesday pick-4s resulted in losses of $10 and $18, last week’s $24 ticket paid $136.85 so the resulting bankroll is $84.85. Last week’s pick-4 was a neck away from paying more than $500.)

*       *       *

Hottest jockeys: Alex Cruz
(5 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Jerry Gourneau, Juan Pablo Silva (3 wins)
Biggest longshot: Ready for Luck   $18.90 (Saturday race 7) 

Stakes champion(s): Hidden Grace ($3.20--Chantilly); Oil Money ($3.80--Golden Boy)
Stakes this week:
R.J. Speers (Saturday); Canada Day (Monday)

Pick-4: None. 
Jackpot Pick-5 (starts race 3): $28,559
Jackpot Hi 5 (last race):  $6,229

*       *       *

CRUZ JOINS GARDIPY & MAIRS IN THE FOUR-BAGGER CLUB: Congrats to jockey Alex Cruz who did the four-bagger boogie Friday with his victories aboard Sindy’s Luck ($7.30), Talent Risk ($3.20), Bynumson ($3.50) and Coastal Eddy ($4.50). That makes him the third member of Club Four-Bagger, joining jockey Richard Mairs and trainer Tom Gardipy, Jr. who each won four races on a single card the previous week.

HANDICAPPING: Betting group play tonight and Saturday

Who wants to go mountain climbing Saturday morning? Napkins are the only gear required.
TONIGHT: Tonight’s “I won bigger” workshop at 6 p.m. in Boots N Saddles lounge on the main level will consist of the ASD pick-4 but--take note--since Woodbine is not racing, the other play will be the late pick-4 at Evangeline Downs in Louisiana. This will test everyone’s speed handicapping. There are three dashes and a maiden sprint, our favourite. As usual, everyone is invited.

Last Wednesday:
The group had a $3 pick-4 at ASD for a total of $410.55 but Woodbine was a bust so participants collected $13 for each $20 share.

Queen’s Plate, Queen’s Plate, Queen’s Plate. What more is there to say? Oh yeah, A CRISPY CRUNCHY BACON TREAT will be served as a group reward for having won nearly $3,000 in Santa’s Rainbow pick-6 two Sundays ago. Discussion will centre on Woodbine’s pick-5 and the Queen’s Plate. Note the earlier start: 10 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza (because Woodbine begins at 11 a.m.).


CURB-JUMPER’S LOSS SETS UP JUICY SHOW PRICES: Great trainer, Robertino Diodoro, great rider, Prayven Badrie, but the horse, Cumulative, couldn’t get it done for the apparent curb-jumper who bet about $1,500 to show on the 5-year-old gelding in Saturday’s first race. Cumulative stalked the pace in the five-horse field and faded to fourth, producing juicy show prices of $7.50, $11.70 and $12.60 for those who bet the other horses. Of $2,665 bet to show in the race, $2,009 was bet on Cumulative.

HOLLENDORFER GETS THE HOOK: If you’re going to race at Stronach tracks in California, your horses better be sound. That’s the message The Stronach Group is sending to horsemen by banning Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, 73, and his 100 horses from racing at Santa Anita and Golden Gate after a sixth Hollendorfer horse broke down during a morning workout at Santa on Saturday. He’s had four breakdowns at Santa and two at Golden Gate through the winter and spring, more than any other trainer. Del Mar has announced it will honour the ban but Los Alamitos and New York tracks say they will welcome his horses. Hollendorfer has reportedly called Santa’s actions “extreme” but adds “I will be willing to step away from racing for awhile.”

In a CNN report, Jim Cassidy, president of California Thoroughbred Trainers, said “Jerry is tunnel vision. He does what he wants to do and that's it. If you don't like it, too bad.” In a Globe and Mail story, Belinda Stronach, president and chairman of The Stronach Group, says: “The goal is to make California racing the best and safest in the world.” Unexpected praise has come from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “They have made more significant changes in racing than anybody in two generations,” a PETA executive is quoted in the Globe report.

MANITOBA TRAINER WEATHERS SECONDITIS AT BELMONT: The high-flying trainer from Oakbank, Man., Rob Atras, who is now training at New York tracks, has hit a bout of seconditis in his last 10 starts, finishing second in four of those races, the last being on Sunday with Take Charge Tina who was the overwhelming 1-2 choice. He’s had one win out of those 10. That came Friday in a $32,000 claimer with Moondance Joy ($4.80). His Belmont stats are 34-6-8-6 for a winning rate of 18 per cent, lower than he’s accustomed to. A series of near-misses can do that. Brad Cox is the leading percentage trainer at 40 per cent.

, actually. Not me, the horse. Winx, the Australian mare who won 33 races in a row before retiring in the spring will now be baby-making with her first suitor, I Am Invincible, who has already sired a record 33 stakes winners. He has a Canadian connection: His lineage traces back to Northern Dancer’s son, Danzig.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: Shedding light on the early "Speers"

This Saturday features the 60th running of the R. J. Speers Stakes.  Did you know that there was another 31 years of “The Speers” that took place before the Downs opened its doors in 1958? Super-sleuth Bob Gates tracks down the fascinating details here.
A fireworks display that leaves you speechless is the aim of the Downs on Canada Day Monday


  • Today: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15; “Bigger” betting group workshop at 6 p.m. on the main level
  • This Friday: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15
  • This Saturday: Queen’s Plate Day at Woodbine 11 a.m. Special “Bigger” workshop with a bacon reward at 10 a.m. Live racing/ace-chase 7:15. R J Speers Stakes for the best horses on the grounds
  • Sunday, June 30: Mandatory payout of Gulfstream’s Rainbow pick-6
  • Monday, July 1: Happy birthday, Canada! Live racing/ace-chase 7:15. Canstar Night at the Races includes the Canada Day Stakes, the big reveal in Canstar’s “name the yearling” contest and a gigantic fireworks display
  • Friday, July 5: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15
  • Saturday, July 6: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15
  • Sunday, July 7: Unreal tribute band festival featuring Elvis, Cher, Johnny Cash, Guns N Roses, Styx, Beatles, Kiss and British Icons. Hosted by Howard Mandshein. Includes food trucks and meet and greet. Tickets $35 at
NEXT INSIDER: Next Thursday because there’s no Wednesday live racing because of holiday racing on Canada Day
Prepping the mountain for Saturday morning

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