Thursday, July 4 , 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14  No 25 (Issue #695)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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



Bullet briefs . . .

  • Will "strangles" infection at Delaware impact Escape Clause's race?
  • Do extreme longshots cheapen the Queen's Plate?
  • Look who's part of the Catholic Boy love fest!
  • Who won Canstar's "Name the Yearling" contest? With what name?
  • Ready to bite the bullet Saturday and take a shot at earning a trip to Las Vegas?
HEARTS STOP WHEN ACE IS REVEALED: When contestant George picked the third card in the top row in an effort to win the $8,787 jackpot in the Chase the Ace game Monday, hearts stopped for a moment as a red ace was revealed. Breathing resumed when it became apparent it was the ace of hearts, not the jackpot-winning ace of diamonds. Whew! But George still received $250 for that flip.

Winnipeg’s ultimate Chase the Ace game resumes tomorrow with a likely jackpot closing in on $10,000. There are still two aces worth $250 and a $500 joker, too, among the remaining 32 cards.
QX104 � Today's Country

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Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in July? 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.



Two cases of strangles found in horses at Delaware where Escape Clause is stabled

Two cases of “strangles” at Delaware Park race track has Escape Clause’s trainer, Don Schnell, worrying that Escape Clause’s $750,000 race on Saturday, July 13, might not fill.

The concern is that mares will not ship in for that race if trainers fear having to remain at Delaware for 14 days longer than they wanted. When a new case of “strangles” is discovered, all horses at the track remain under quarantine for 14 days, Schnell told The Insider. That means they can’t leave for that period of time.

Schnell said Escape Clause has regained the 200 pounds she lost in her bumpy-road trip from Minnesota to Belmont three weeks ago--where she finished fourth in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes--and is ready to go in the Grade 2 $750,000 Delaware Handicap at a track that, Schnell said, has the most beautiful paddock in North America.

In two workouts over the past two weeks at Delaware, Escape Clause was second-fastest of 70 horses on June 22 and first of seven on July 1.

There is no danger of Escape Clause contracting the readily-transmitted infection, Schnell said. His barn is at the opposite side of the stables where two horses developed the infection, the second case appearing Sunday.

Strangles is a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract of horses, causing enlargement of the lymph nodes in the throat, which may impair breathing. The “impair breathing” part is why the infection is called “strangles.”

Thirteen horses are nominated to the Delaware Handicap including the highly-rated Elate who Escape Clause beat in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn. But the question now is: Will she and other potential ship-ins want to go to Delaware? Fingers are crossed that the infection will be confined to the two horses.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to trainer Jerry Gourneau for his breakthrough weekend in which he saddled four winners on Friday and won his first stakes race since August, 2017, on Saturday by capturing the 60th R. J. Speers Stakes with Deep Explorer. Deep Explorer returned a handsome $25.50 and resulted in a Chicago-area player nailing the Super Hi-5 pool of US$6,553. In a textbook ride, Jockey Chavion Chow saved ground then pulled out to best three others in a thrilling stretch-long drive, the best of the season.

Gourneau, last year’s leading trainer, became the fourth member of Club Four-Bagger by hitting on Friday with:
  • Hillbilly Royalty $9.10 (Shavon Belle)
  • Hotnthirsty $9.40 (Chavion Chow)
  • Empirical Data $11.80 (Dario Dalrymple)
  • Smiley Briley $6.70 (DH--Shavon Belle)
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to mixed-media artist Frances Clearwater of Charleswood whose name for a filly, Foxy Bon Bon, was chosen from among 690 entries to win the “Name the Yearling” contest sponsored by Canstar’s community newspapers and Assiniboia Downs. She won a race night buffet for four, $50 in wagering vouchers, a $300 reclaimed wood horse picture from The Painter’s Café, a $500 donation in her name to Final Furlong, use of a Goldeyes suite for 20 and bragging rights forever.

“She looks like a horse who knows what’s going on.”
Florence said of a picture of the filly with her breeder, Larry Falloon, that caught her eye in the Metro and led to her entry. Hence, “Foxy,” that also refers to Falloon’s breeding farm in Foxwarren and “Bon Bon” which is a sweet reference to the filly’s mom, Nickel Candy. Caught up in sudden celebrity, “I already have a name for next time,” she told The Insider. We all have a name we’d like to see for a horse, don’t we? Mine is Van Doff.

"My favourite horse"

National champion joins Insider's love fest

How about that! The 2019 NTRA National Horseplayer tournament champion, Scott Coles, joins The Insider as a big fan of Catholic Boy. “Catholic Boy is my favourite horse, hands down,” Coles, who won $800,000 in the tournament, said in a podcast that centred on races Saturday at Woodbine on Queen’s Plate Day.

Praise for the 4-year-old ridgling, who missed racing last spring after being sidelined with bleeding issues in the Florida Derby, also came recently from Daily Racing Form columnist David Grening.

His column begins: “Of the close to 400 horses to put in workouts over three tracks at Belmont Park on Sunday, few, if any, were more impressive than dual Grade 1 winner Catholic Boy who blazed five furlongs in 58.82 seconds over the main track.”

Regular readers of The Insider know, of course, that my love affair with the ‘Boy began with the 2017 Breeders’ Cup and extended to betting $180 on him in future pools to win last year’s Kentucky Derby. It’s nice to see noteworthy persons in the racing world similarly smitten.

HOTTIES OF THE WEEK (Wed-Fri-Sat-Mon):  
Hottest jockeys: Alex Cruz, Chavion Chow
(6 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Jerry Gourneau (6 wins)
Biggest longshot: Magic Holiday $40.50 (Saturday race 6) 
Stakes champion(s): Deep Explorer ($25.50--R.J. Speers); Tadaa ($4.40--Canada Day Stakes)
Stakes this week:

Pick-4: None. 
Jackpot Pick-5 (starts race 3): $46,371
Jackpot Hi 5 (last race): $1,013
(Jackpot was won Saturday for US$6,553 by a Chicago-area bettor)

YOUR SECOND CHANCE TO EARN A TRIP TO VEGAS IS SATURDAY: The second of four Las Vegas challenge tournaments goes this Saturday on live racing. Generate a bigger bankroll than other players betting $2 win/place/show and you and a guest are on your way in March to compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Horse Player World Series. Entry fee: $50.

Next Wednesday night at 6 p.m. on the main level will be the next workshop for the “I won bigger” betting group with pick-4 plays at Woodbine and ASD.

In last Wednesday’s play, participants cashed a $4 pick-4 at ASD but lost the last leg of the Evangeline pick-4 when the group’s best horse--a horse who would likely have taken the lead--was scratched, changing the complexion of the race and resulting in a loss. (The $1 pick-4 paid $514.) Each $20 share returned $17.

In Queen’s Plate play on Saturday, the group did have the superfecta that paid $1,776 for $1 but only a 20-cent share. So each $20 group share returned about $8. (In retrospect, should have played a $1 box.) Tickets on two pick-5s and a pick-4 missed a leg.

Monday night’s fireworks display by CanFire Pyrotechnics-- watched by more than 10,000 at the track--was so awesome, it belied description. How can it keep getting better and better? I guess this is what to expect of a company that has a branch office in China where it is keeps learning new techniques from the world’s fireworks experts. Awesome. Simply awesome. “Best I’ve ever seen,” was the standard comment.

After selling one of their two horses for other career possibilities, the 51-member Assiniboia Downs Racing Club finally had reason to cheer--and pack the Winner’s Circle--last Wednesday when their remaining horse, a 4-year-old Manitoba-bred filly by the name of Fun in the Sun trained by Jamie Hartmann and ridden by Stanley Chadee, Jr. won a $5,000 maiden race with authority ($3.90).  Especially happy was owner Louise Townsend who had keyed the group’s horse in her pick-4 ticket, as suggested in this column last Wednesday, and ended up turning her $24 investment into $89.20. “It’s the first pick-4 I ever won,” she said.
Readers write . . .

Did longshots cheapen Queen's Plate?

“Dear Ivan: One big longshot in a race such as the Queen’s Plate is fun; five of them cheapen the race. Here’s where horses longer than 50-1 finished: #6--6th; #3--10th; #9--12th; #2--13th and #12--14th.

I have no problem with one big longshot; # 6 served that purpose. But all those other nags did was just get in the way of actual real Grade 1 stakes horses. I get it, if you're an owner with a big ego and a pile of money and you want to pretend you have a Queen's Plate horse, you have every right to enter.

Qualifying terms for major races should be a lot tougher than Grade 3 or allowance races. Wouldn't you agree?”
-- Scott Taylor, sports writer and commentator

Hi Scott:
I have no problem with longshots; they attract money on big race days from casual bettors, enhancing the payoff of more logical contenders. Besides, last year a 46-1 finished third and in 2017 and 2014 horses at 52-1 and 58-1 finished fifth. So where would you draw the line? Let’s see if this is a debate other readers would like to have.

*       *       *

“Just FYI, Ivan: Guitarzan is a Ray Stevens novelty song from 1969  ‘He’s free as the breeze, He’s always at ease’ Hopefully the horse by that name lives up to the song. LOL.”-- Tanis Trenaman

Thanks for clarifying where the horse name came from. The next line in the song makes the Tarzan reference clear: "He lives in the jungle and hangs by his knees."

HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: Second half of the Speers legacy

The 2019 Speers is in the books and congrats go out to this year’s winner Deep Explorer.  Bob’s blog story this week covers the history of the Speers from 1959 to 2019.  Did you know the race was cancelled once?  And that only one filly/mare has ever won the race?  And that only one 3-year-old was able to get his name on the marble 85-pound trophy that bears the name of R. James Speers?  What are your best guesses?  Bob has the answers here.
  • Friday, July 5: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15
  • Saturday, July 6: Live racing/ace-chase 7:15. Las Vegas Challenge horseplayer tourney
  • 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
  • Wednesday, July 10: Live racing/ace chase 7:15. “I won bigger” betting group workshop 6 p.m. Boots N Saddles, main level. $10,000 guaranteed pick-4
  • Friday, July 12: Live racing/ace chase 7:15. Jack Hardy Stakes, prep race for Manitoba Oaks (3-year-old fillies)
  • Saturday, July 13: Escape Clause scheduled to race in Grade 2 $750,000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park; live racing/ace chase 7:15. R.C. Anderson Stakes for Manitoba-bred 3-year-old fillies, Harry Jeffrey Stakes, prep race for the Manitoba Derby (3-year-olds)
Did it!
Jockey Chavion Chow celebrates winning Saturday’s R. J. Speers Stakes aboard Deep Explorer
(Jason Halstead photo)

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