Friday, July 10, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 27 (Issue #746)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

and, remember, if you don’t receive The Insider in the usual way,
you can always find it--and past columns--at


Betting record set on July 6

The pick-5 pool kept growing and growing
So where were you on the day ASD set a $4.1 million betting record?

Maybe that will be the question you’ll be asked in the future--or maybe that record will soon be superseded by a bigger amount on another mandatory payout day. (That’s my prediction, actually.)

The modest payout on the Jackpot pick-5 ($1,787 for $2 ticket) because favourites won four of the legs didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of management and fans in a year that is short on things to celebrate. Even players who generally are complaining about something offered praise. “Wasn't that a grand day at ASD?“ emailed one. “Amazing wagering records broken.” The pool for the mandatory payout of the Jackpot pick-5 grew to $3.1 million.

As the saying goes, when life serves up lemons, you make lemonade and that’s what ASD did this year by putting the pieces into place to become the first track in Canada to offer racing and one of the diminished few in the world, as well, and, as a result, the world discovered a track they enjoy playing.

Management is obviously extremely pleased but, said CEO Darren Dunn: “We’re not resting on our laurels. We’re laser-focused on keeping the wagering trends going.”


Del Mar’s summer meet begins today near San Diego, Cal. at 4 p.m. with a full 10-race card and, tonight at 8:15 p.m., Century Mile in Edmonton features seven races with a lot of live mounts being ridden by ASD leading rider Antonio Whitehall.

In the afternoon, this is the third-last day for Belmont’s 20-cent Empire pick-6 with a pool of more than $400K. Note that Sunday is the final day of the New York meet which means a mandatory payout of the Empire 6 (and involvement in the wager by the “I won bigger” group).

Friday also means the popular $1 Stronach pick-5 kicks off in mid-afternoon at Laurel.

Need programs? Manitobans may request race programs from Sheri at

NIGHT MARKET, NIGHT MARKET, NIGHT MARKET! The Manitoba Night Market and Festival goes this Sunday at the Downs from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. with lots of exhibitors, food trucks, entertainment by some of the best bands in the city, beer garden and lots more. Distancing protocols will be in place. Admission $5, parking $5.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Will tomorrow's Kentucky Derby prep race be won by a filly?
  • Are you training your brain to catch the "chaos" horse?
  • Longshot trend continues for stakes races
  • "Abusive" horse name raises eyebrows
  • Get ready for Monday's Derby Trial with a primer from historian Bob
ENTER DERBY COUNTDOWN CONTEST FOR TOMORROW’S BLUE GRASS: If you’ve been entering the Countdown to the Kentucky Derby contest, you have two more chances to win points to win a $200 bankroll to play the Derby and to be drawn to win a set of unique Kentucky Derby glasses. Predict the winner of tomorrow’s Blue Grass Stakes by 1 p.m. tomorrow. Email your prediction to The final contest race will be the Haskell Invitational next Saturday at Monmouth.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in July? Find out  here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.

60 VLTs OPEN DAILY: From 9 a.m. - 2 a.m.

WATCH LIVE RACING FROM THE TERRACE DINING ROOM, CLUB WEST LOUNGE AND RACEBOOK: While the grandstand and tarmac are still closed to spectators, you can watch and wager on live racing from the Terrace Dining Room, Club West Lounge and Racebook. Reservations are required for the Terrace Dining Room. Call 204-885-3330. See menu here.

From 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day.

  • Green Brier: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
  • Rookies Sports Bar in the Central Hotel: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day.
  • Pembina Hotel: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day.
  • Canad Inns Windsor Park: open at 9:00 a.m. daily
  • Other OTBs--Quest Inn, Club Regent Casino and McPhillips Street Casino remain closed at this time
  • HARD COPIES OF ALL PROGRAMS FOR ALL TRACKS: Equibase race programs ($2), DRF race programs ($2) and DRF Pro Picks (50-cents) are available at program kiosks in the ASD lobby and at the above OTBs.
  • ASD LIVE PROGRAMS: Can be purchased from the program kiosks and at the VLT cage at ASD.
  • EMAILED PROGRAMS: ASD program director Sheri will email programs without charge to Manitobans who email their request to her at Specify the track and DRF or Equibase program.
HOW TO OPEN AN HPI ACCOUNT FOR BETTING ONLINE: Go to or phone 204-885-3330 ext. 225 for assistance.
EYE ON LIVE (cont'd)

Longshot trend continues for major ASD stakes races . . .

. . . except for the races for top horses

Deep Explorer continues to dominate top horses by winning the R. J. Speers Wednesday night (Jason Halstead photo)
What an unusual stakes season at the Downs. So far this year--except for the races for top horse (won by Deep Explorer) and top female (won by Miss Imperial)--major stakes races are being won by longshots. It happened again on Tuesday. In the Jack Hardy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, the least likely horse, #1 Christmas Dance--a “chaos” horse in my books--won and paid $16.40. Do you remember these earlier upset winners?
  • Honour Rules won the Frank Arnason Sire Stakes and paid $55.10
  • Kickalittlebooty won the Chantilly and paid $34.40
  • Dazzling Gold won the Hazel Wright Sire Stakes and paid $28.40
Will that trend continue?

*       *       *

Hottest jockey: Antonio Whitehall (8 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Jerry Gourneau (6 wins)
Biggest longshot: Double Time $127.60  (Race 4 Tuesday)
Stakes champions: Christmas Dance (Jack Hardy), Deep Explorer (R.J. Speers)
Upcoming stakes: Derby Trial
(Monday), R.C. Anderson (Tuesday)
$38,030 in the Jackpot pick-5; $91,960 in the Super Hi-5

Will filly win Blue Grass Stakes tomorrow?
Hasn't been a filly in the Kentucky Derby since 2008

Filly Swiss Skydiver winning the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn (Coady Photo)
Not since Eight Belles in 2008 has a filly tried to beat the boys in the Kentucky Derby. But that could change this year if Swiss Skydiver does well in tomorrow’s Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

She won her last three races including two grade 2 events, the Gulfstream Oaks and Santa Anita Oaks, and the grade 3 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn which guarantees her entry in the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Kentucky Derby. But she needs qualifying points tomorrow to put her into the 20-horse starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. The points distribution is 100-40-20-10 for the top four finishers.

The Kentucky Oaks purse money is $1.25 million; the Derby is $2 million. Three fillies have won the Kentucky Derby in its 144-year history, the last being Winning Colours 32 years ago. Swiss Skydiver’s 107 Equibase speed figure in the Santa Anita Oaks puts her pretty much on par with talented colts.

Should be a good race. There are 13 entrants. Post time is 4:30 p.m. CDT.

*       *       *
Not ripping up my tickets . . . yet
My Derby choice, Thousand Words, finishes second in Los Alamitos Derby

So Thousand Words finished second to another Bob Baffert trainee, Uncle Chuck, in the Los Alamitos Derby Saturday. Hardly reason to rip up my $140 in future wager tickets that would earn me more than $6,000 if Thousand Words wins the Derby on Sept. 5.

The Derby is won in September, not in July, so the idea is to build up to that race. This was Thousand Words’ first race in almost three months whereas Uncle Chuck won his maiden race just three weeks ago.

Numerically, Thousand Words has yet to reach the 107 Equibase speed figure he attained in the Robert B. Lewis Kentucky Derby prep race on Feb. 1. His E speed on Saturday was 92 so there’s obviously lots of upside as he continues to mature up to the Kentucky Derby.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Abusive Gary. What? The name of this 4-year-old gelding who won last week at Los Alamitos race course raised eyebrows in the ASD Race Book. Is someone getting even with, or revealing details about, a certain Gary? And, if so, is this a name that merited approval? Does this pave the way for, say, Meddling Mary? Crackpot Jack? How about Backstabber Don? One of my favs is the filly, Fat N Bitter, racing at ASD but it doesn’t single out a named person.

Is awareness of the "chaos" horse helping you?

Have you noticed there's been a "chaos" winner a day at ASD?

Once you’ve picked your “logical” horses, are you looking for that potential “chaos” horse? Previous columns have estimated that a “chaos” horse wins 15-20 per cent of the time. Interestingly, chaos horses have been winning at ASD this week at a 15 per cent clip--one each day.

The only horse that didn’t figure in the pick-5 and therefore rated the “chaos” designation was #5 Mark Ye Well at 10-1 in race 6. (I added him to my tickets simply because leading jockey Antonio Whitehall was riding.)

A total outsider, #1 Christmas Dance ($16.40) won the Jack Hardy Stakes. To get her, you would have needed to take “all” in your sequence bets. NOTE: There was a much bigger payoff horse on the card, the $127.60 horse Double Time in race 4, but it was a logical pick because of high pace numbers. Every longshot is not necessarily a chaos horse.

Note “chaos” written next to horse that set up $3,556 pick-5 at Woodbine
WEDNESDAY: Race 3, the first leg of the pick-5, was won by the longest shot in the race, #5 Lucky Benny, but I had to add him simply because he was being ridden by Alberta’s leading rider, Rico Walcott.

My biggest regret of the week was not arguing for my chaos horse, Ima Beast at 38-1, in Woodbine’s pick-5 last Saturday. There were two exceptional horses in the race but I wrote “chaos” next to a horse I thought could possibly get away on the field although she had finished seventh last time. She did, setting up a $3,556 pick-5 payoff. Groan.

But that proves the value of having “chaos” flashing in the back of your brain while handicapping. That should ultimately produce sizable winning tickets. Are you similarly aware?

*       *       *
"Bigger" group to play tomorrow and Sunday
Woodbine tomorrow, Belmont's must-pay Empire-6 on Sunday

So, with the chaos horse figuring firmly in our analysis, the “I won bigger” betting group will play Woodbine tomorrow (early pick-4 and pick-5 and the Power pick-6) and will play the Empire pick-6 at Belmont on Sunday because it’s a must-pay wager on the final day of Belmont’s meet. The pool, with a carryover of more than $400,000, should grow beyond $2 million.

The group will meet as usual on the Clubhouse plaza tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. but there will be no formal gathering on Sunday. Email your picks, especially your chaos selections. If you’re new to group play and would like to join in, please email Sheri at
HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: The history of the Derby Trial

The $25,000 Derby Trial goes Monday, July 13 but the race has not been a part of the Downs stakes race calendar since 2008.  Bob looks back at the Derby Trials that were run from 1979 to 2008, as well as four other “prep” races that previewed the likely talent that fans could expect to see in the Manitoba Derby.  How many of these four “prep” races can you name?  Hint: The Harry Jeffrey is the most recent one and the name “Assiniboia” is a part of the name of two others.  Bob has the history of the Derby Trial here.
Harness racing begins in Miami, Man. Saturday
  • Today: Del Mar begins at 4 p.m.; racing at ASD’s “sister” track, Century Mile, continues at 8:15 p.m.
  • Tomorrow: “I won bigger” group play on the Clubhouse plaza at 10:30 a.m. Track: Woodbine. Kentucky Derby prep race Blue Grass from Keeneland. The Manitoba Standardbred Racing Industry kicks off in Miami, Man. with 200 people allowed in the outdoor setting. First post 1:30 p.m. Get more info on their website here.
  • Sunday: Belmont meet ends with mandatory payout of its Empire 6 with an estimated pool of $2 million or more. “I won bigger” online group betting on the Empire 6. Century Mile racing at 6:15 p.m.
  • Monday, July 13: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Derby Trial
  • Tuesday, July 14: Live racing 7:30 p.m. R. C. Anderson stakes
  • Wednesday, July 15: Live racing 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 16: Saratoga meet begins at noon
  • Saturday, July 18: “I won bigger” play at Woodbine, Kentucky Derby prep race Haskell Invitational at Monmouth

© Copyright 1996-2020 All Rights Reserved. Assiniboia Downs.
3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Read our Blog  See us on Instagram  Watch us on Youtube