Wednesday, July 11 , 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 27 (Issue #645)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Goldencents' son debuts in tonight's baby race

He'll do battle with the "name the filly" filly, the sales topper in yearling sale

Goldencents wins Breeders' Cup Mile
His son races at ASD tonight (Benoit Photo)

Who are you going to root for in the first baby race of the season tonight?
  • Will it be K-5 Stable’s Gold Record, the colt fathered by Goldencents, the two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile champion whose mother was bred in Manitoba?
  • Or maybe Modesty’s Tribute, the filly named in a “name the filly” contest last year to mark the 250th anniversary of horse racing in Canada and a sales topper at last year’s ASD yearling sale?
Oddsmaker Dustin Davis has installed Gold Record as the 8-5 morning line favourite in the six-horse field and has made Modesty’s Tribute the 5-2 second choice. But there appear to be four other talented Manitoba-bred horses in the race as well. One of those, Beyond A Shadow, from the Don Schnell barn and bought for $8,000 at last year’s yearling sale, has the best workout of all the babies—four furlongs in :48.3 set on June 30.

It’s race 2 and it should be a thriller. Superfecta play: 3 with 1,2,4 with 1,2,4 with “all.”

And, oh yah, the last race of the card is an 11-horse field, raising the possibility that you could scoop the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool of $5,380 with your 20-cent ticket.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • "Alberta racing is in the toilet," says Diodoro after tribunal DQs his Canadian Derby winner
  • VLT hostess is popular winner of $8,000 ASD pick-4 pool
  • GoFundMe page set up for horse attacked by alligator
  • Catholic Boy's victory in $1.2 million Belmont Derby "as exciting as it gets"
  • New handicapping angle? "Windy weather makes mares frisky."
REMEMBER TO PREDICT WINNERS ON LIVE RACE CARDS to reduce the $50 cost of entering the next Las Vegas Challenge horseplayer tournament in August. Get entry ballots at Guest Services. Three correct predictions on a card cuts entry fee in half. Subsequent winning entries reduce the entry fee by $5 each time—down to zero.
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 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. Top winner from each night participates in a month-end finale for more spins and $250 in prize money.

EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker in the trackview gallery on the third level. Registration from 7:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Game starts at 8:00 p.m. No late registration. The Royal Flush progressive jackpot for Friday, July 13 is $9,405.


"A complete embarrassment to horse racing"

Robertino Diodoro vows to fight tribunal's DQ of Chief Know It All 10 months after Derby

Canadian Derby winner Chief Know It All DQed (BloodHorse photo)
It took an Alberta provincial tribunal 10 months to conclude that trainer Robertino Diodoro’s Chief Know It All interfered with another horse in the $150,000 Canadian Derby last August and therefore the two horses that dead-heated behind Chief, Double Bear and Trooper John, are now the winners. And Chief’s connections apparently don’t get to share in any of the purse.

Predictably, all of this has Diodoro fighting mad and vowing to appeal the tribunal’s ruling to the Court of Queen’s Bench.

“It’s a complete embarrassment to horse racing,”
he told the Edmonton Sun last week. “They wonder why horse racing is in the toilet in Alberta and it’s because of stupid stuff like this. It’s pretty pathetic.”

The Horse Racing Appeal Tribunal ruled Chief Know It All, ridden by Rico Walcott, came over on Double Bear on the rail in the stretch when he wasn’t totally clear of Double Bear.

Diodoro, a native Calgarian who chose horse racing over a possible career in professional hockey, is 17th in North America in trainer earnings.

EYE ON LIVE (cont'd)

Front-runner heaven

All races except one was won Saturday by the horse on the lead

Speed handicappers were in their glory Saturday. It became evident early in the card that horses getting the lead were likely to win – and they did. No race card this season has been so predictable. In only race 3 did a horse in second (Vilify) rally to beat front-runner Awesome Prophecy.

Despite this obvious bias, the pick-4 paid very well: $530 for a $1 ticket.

For those who wondered why paddock host Rob MacLennan wasn’t picking speed horses, it is because he must make his picks in the early afternoon to give to TV producers to turn into graphics for his paddock show between races that night. So he has to stick with his early script although now there may be some wiggle room to adjust his picks based on track bias or scratches. As far as I know, that’s what other track handicappers are required to do, too, but if you know of tracks that appear to wing it from race to race please let me know.

*       *       *

Prep races for Manitoba Oaks & Derby go this weekend

Jack Hardy likely to feature Smith's True Confession; invaders in the Harry Jeffrey?

Charlie Smith's True Confession is the filly to beat in the Jack Hardy
Who will be the horse to beat in the Manitoba Derby three weeks from this Monday? You could get some indication in Saturday’s Harry Jeffrey which is a prep race for the Derby. Several potential invaders are among the nominees for the Jeffrey including a horse trained by Robertino Diodoro and a horse who won the Turf Paradise Derby.

And who will be the horse to beat in the Manitoba Oaks for 3-year-old fillies three days before the Derby? It appears Charlie Smith’s True Confession, winner of the Chantilly, will be the horse to get past. Let’s see how formidable she looks in the Jack Hardy on Friday.

The R.C. Anderson for Manitoba-bred 3-year-old fillies also goes Saturday.

*       *       *

Hottest jockeys: Renaldo Cumberbatch, Rohan Singh, Kayla Pizarro, Antonio Whitehall
(2 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Jerry Gourneau (3 wins)
Biggest longshot: Myrna's Man $35 (Friday race 5)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $1,530 (Friday race 6)
Stakes champion(s): Nil

Margaret Birkett with pick-4 largess
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to VLT hostess Margaret Birkett who scooped the entire ASD pick-4 pool of $7,995.65 Friday with a $16 ticket she played from home that night (2 x 2 x 2 x 2). She attributes her success to listening to handicapping discussions during Saturday morning’s “I won big” sessions where she’s the group’s bookkeeper. Her win was a popular one; “I’m glad she’s the one who won,” many told The Insider.

But ASD player John Whitehill couldn’t resist a poke: “I guess we give you nothing for Christmas now,” he joked at last Saturday’s “Big” group session. Margaret is a real devotee to special days of racing and maybe that has the racing gods looking kindly upon her. Recall the picture of her with each of her finger nails painted with the saddle cloth colour of the 10 horses in the Belmont Stakes? (See here.) Good vibes, good karma. It all helps.

Tourney winner Brian McKellar (seated) with Doug Evans (left) and Chuck Whalen
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Brian McKellar whose love affair with horses included patrolling the famous E.P. Taylor Windfields breeding farm in Toronto as a cop in the early 1960s. He won Saturday’s Las Vegas Challenge horseplayer tournament that will send him and a guest at Las Vegas in March to participate in the Horse Player World Series. This will mark his third visit. In 2014 he was co-leader for Handicapper of the Year with Maurice Gregoire. Of the seven tournament races, he had five winners and a second- and third-place finisher. McKellar has just become a horse owner, too, as a partner in an unraced 2-year-old, Its All Good, by Big Brown. Congrats, too, to the runners up below:
  • Brian McKellar—$61.80 bankroll--All expenses trip for two to Las Vegas
  • Doug Evans —$59.10 bankroll--$250 prize money
  • Chuck Whalen —$57.40 bankroll--$100 prize money


"As exciting as it gets"

Catholic Boy digs in after being headed to win $1.2 million Belmont Derby

Catholic Boy (rail) fights back to beat Analyze It in Belmont Derby (NYRA/Coglianese photo)
Catholic Boy, the colt I had backed with future wagers to win the Kentucky Derby—until he suffered severe bleeding issues in the Florida Derby—has been a virtual bear since returning to race after his convalescence following the Florida Derby.

For the second race in a row—this time in the Grade 1 $1.2 million Belmont Derby on the turf on Saturday--he was headed and appeared beaten but dug in ferociously to come on again and win ($12.20). That’s exactly what he had done in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge on June 3, and he did it against the same horse, Analyze It.

“The last quarter of a mile of that race was as exciting as it gets.”
his trainer Jonathan Thomas, was quoted as saying. Indeed. Watch the race here.

It’s too bad the 3-year-old colt never got to show his stuff in the Triple Crown races. Now the hope is he’ll have an opportunity to face Triple Crown winner Justify in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Unless he decides to stay on the turf instead since he appears to handle both dirt and turf equally well. And, to boot, he has displayed both closing and front-running ability, a versatility few horses show.


Escape Clause, seen here with groom Sherry Gowan, now makes waves at Canterbury (George Williams/Free Press photo)

ESCAPE CLAUSE WINS AT CANTERBURY; TADAA & STEVIE MAC RACE TOMORROW: When the $27,500 Canada Day Stakes didn’t fill at ASD on July 1 (only three horses entered; four were needed), super filly Escape Clause was shipped to Canterbury Park in Minnesota where she promptly beat up on fillies there in an allowance race as the 3-5 favourite, picking up $19,800 U.S. in purse money (nearly $26,000 Cdn). Meanwhile, two other fillies that could have raced against her in the Canada Day, Tadaa and Stevie Mac, will be racing at Canterbury tomorrow night in a $30,000 U.S. allowance race instead. Will the trip have been worthwhile? It’s race 5 at 8:26 p.m., a seven-horse field. The morning line for Don Schnell’s Tadaa is 5-1 and Shelley Brown’s Stevie Mac is 8-1.

Curb-jumping show players at the Downs on Friday watched in dismay as the “sure” show horse, #8 Make It Quick at odds of 1-5, didn’t clear the maiden field as expected and go on to win. There was other speed in the race and the gelding went backwards after dueling with a couple of them and ended up finishing last. So the curb-jumpers (as opposed to bridge-jumpers who wager considerably more money) watched their $9,000 in show money on Make It Quick (out of $10,375 In the pool) get paid out to other show finishers, resulting in some nice payoffs:
Windy weather "makes mares frisky" (Tony Stromberg image)
1st: Myrna’s Man $38.60 (that was $3.60 more than he paid to win)
2nd: Carren’s Quest $21.70
3rd: Dreamoncharlie $25.10

A NEW HANDICAPPING ANGLE? MARES LIKE WIND: In a discussion with horse breeder Sherisse Ziprick in Russell, MB about the use of the word “frisky” to describe those adorable, playful, just-figuring-out-what-racing-is 2-year-olds, Sherisse mentioned something I’d never heard before—nor you, likely. She said older mares tend to get “frisky,” too--in windy weather. Questioned further she said: “Windy days, cooler temperatures seem to get them feeling good, especially after a hot spell.” So there you go. Another tidbit to add to your handicapping arsenal.

So Woodbine pick-5 and pick-4 play by last Saturday morning’s “I won big” betting group resulted in a return of $15 for each $20 share as the group still looks for a breakout with more than one longshot winner. It will happen; we just don’t know when. But the group will still get a bacon treat thanks to the group’s bookkeeper, Margaret Birkett, who, as you read under Shout-Outs of the Week, won almost $8,000 as the sole ticket holder of an ASD pick-4 so she’s buying the group a mountain of extra crispy bacon this Saturday. Mm-mm, celebration bacon. Gotta love it. Same time and place (Clubhouse plaza, 10:30 a.m.) and same track: Woodbine races 2 to 7. Crunch!

CALL THE ALLIGATOR NUISANCE HOTLINE if your horse, trying to cool down in the heat, wades into a pond—in Florida, of course. A GoFundMe page is raising money for a 21-year-old horse, Crown, who was “gatored” from behind in a pond in his pasture in Port Richey, Florida (near Tampa), suffering severe lacerations that could take 10 months of daily therapy to heal properly, according to his owner. The attack brought a cautionary reminder from Florida Fish and Wild Conservation Commission for horse owners to call the alligator nuisance hotline for a search-and-trap operation for lurking ‘gators. Thankfully, mosquitos are the main nuisance up north although so far this year that’s hardly a problem at all. As of writing this, the GoFundMe page had raised more than $3,500 of a $10,000 objective. See that page with a picture of the horse’s horrific wounds here.


Readers write . . .

Another freebie

Hi Ivan: I was surprised to read your list of free things and see that the great display of racing memorabilia in the Racing Through Time area at the front entrance did not make the list.  In my very biased opinion it is the most overlooked treasure at the Downs.  It is on display each and every day of the year and it’s free!”Bob Gates, track historian

Thanks for the reminder, Bob. Yes, it’s a treasure trove of fascinating stuff well worth multiple visits.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: Derby flashbacks #2

What special memories do you have of the Manitoba Derby?  A last-to-first finish, a post-time prairie rainstorm, an insanely euphoric winner’s circle?  This week Bob looks back at some old and not-so-old Derby memories here.
$10 BBQ rib dinner continues every Wednesday
  • This Friday, July 13: Live racing 7:15. Jack Hardy Stakes prep race for Oaks
  • This Saturday, July 14: $750,000 Delaware Handicap, $500,000 Indiana Derby. Live racing 7:15. R. C. Anderson StakesHarry Jeffrey derby prep.
  • Wednesday, July 18: Del Mar begins 4 p.m. Live racing 7:15
  • Friday, July 20: Saratoga thoroughbred meet begins 12 p.m. Live racing 7:15
  • Saturday, July 21: Live racing. Manitoba Mile Stakes
  • Tuesday, July 24: Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie, second leg of Canadian Triple Crown
  • Wednesday, July 25: Live racing 7:15. Winnipeg Sun Stakes.

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