Friday, July 17, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 28 (Issue #747)

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

YOUR MORNING GASP: Bettors were ready to cash their tickets in race 7 last Thursday at Charles Town until this happened.


You have until 1 p.m. tomorrow to sign up for the next Las Vegas Challenge tournament on live racing that goes Monday. Sign up at the track, at OTBs or call the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225. The prize is a trip for two to Las Vegas next spring for the Horse Player World Series or $2,500 in cash.

The tournament is conducted online. Want to get a jump on handicapping those races? Download program here.

What are the odds of the 24 entries? Go here. Win and exactor wagers are available until Sunday. My Thousand Words is listed at 50-1. Maybe I’ll add another $20 on him to go with my $140.

ASD leading jockey Antonio Whitehall will have a busy night at the Edmonton track, with eight mounts in the nine races.

Need a program? Manitobans may request one from program director Sheri at

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Baffert's Authentic returns tomorrow to race in new Derby prep. Where?
  • Here comes the much-anticipated Hidden Grace vs Miss Imperial rematch. When?
  • Manitoba harness racing begins with "ditchjumper" wager
  • Will Roberts tie Hampton to force a playoff in countdown contest?
  • Historian Bob Gates takes a shot at writing song lyrics. What for?
Will Jim Roberts (right) tie Alan Hampton tomorrow to force a tie-breaker?
THIS IS IT! TWO PLAYERS VIE FOR $200 DERBY BANKROLL TOMORROW: There’s a bit of drama heading into the final prep race tomorrow to win a $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby. Retired accountant and former Handicapper of the Year Alan Hampton leads retired math prof Jim Roberts by 11 points. But if Roberts’ pick in the Haskell Invitational wins and Hampton’s pick finishes second or worse, there would be a tie. That would prompt a tie-breaker in the Travers Stakes. Uh-oh!

Even though you don’t have a chance to win the bankroll, submit your pick to win the Haskell by 1 p.m. tomorrow (only if you’ve previously entered the contest at Assiniboia Downs) to to get into the draw for the final set of unique Kentucky Derby glasses. Congrats to Jeff Blair whose glasses-winning entry was drawn after last week’s Blue Grass Stakes! See leader board here.
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 2 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.

Will Hidden Grace avenge her only lifetime loss?

Rematch with Miss Imperial set for Wednesday

Will Hidden Grace (head at left) catch Miss Imperial who beat her in the Canada Day Stakes? (Jason Halstead photo)
Call it the most anticipated rematch of the season. It’s the Escape Clause Stakes next Wednesday when Hidden Grace will get a chance to get even with Miss Imperial who ruined her perfect nine-for-nine record by beating her in the Canada Day Stakes.

The pair is among 10 horses nominated for the race; entries will be drawn tomorrow.

One thing seems certain: Hidden Grace is better seasoned for this race than she was for the Canada Day Stakes which was her first race since October. By contrast, Miss Imperial had already won five races at three different tracks.

It’s a classic match-up: Miss Imperial, claimed at Oaklawn Park by Murray Duncan to dominate local females, taking on the Manitoba-bred filly whose connections are hoping will follow in the hoofprints of ASD’s greatest horse, Escape Clause.

It seems rather fitting they are meeting in the race named for Escape Clause who now is baby-making in Japan after being sold at auction last fall.

*       *       *

Hottest jockey: Antonio Whitehall, Rafael Zenteno Jr., Shannon Beauregard, Neville Stephenson (3 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Jerry Gourneau (5 wins)
Biggest longshot: Tom Not Shy $17.10 (Race 4 Wednesday)
Stakes champions: Real Grace (Derby Trial), Dazzling Gold (R. C. Anderson)
Upcoming stakes: Escape Clause
$104,368 in the Jackpot pick-5; $127,492 in the Super Hi-5

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to ASD trainer Tiffany Husbands who broke into the stakes ranks in just her third year of training, winning both the Hazel Wright Sire Stakes ($28.40) and R.C. Anderson for Manitoba-bred 3-year-old fillies ($4.60) with Dazzling Gold.

Carl Anderson comes out of retirement to win first race Tuesday
A SHOUT-OUT to ASD trainer Carl Anderson who won his first race Tuesday since returning from a four-year retirement. He won with Marselan ($5.40), a horse bred and owned by longtime breeder Dr. Ross A. McKague. Anderson’s other horse, McKague, interestingly is not connected to Dr. McKague.

Anderson’s two horses have finished in the money in all seven starts. Anderson began training in 1964 and had his best year in 2005 when his horses earned $445,000. His best local horse was Brinello who won the Agassiz Stakes four years in a row.

Haskell Invitational--new Derby prep race--goes tomorrow

Baffert's Authentic favoured after finishing second in Santa Anita Derby

Will Authentic rebound from runner-up finish in Santa Anita Derby? (Benoit photo)
The latest new Kentucky Derby prep race, the Haskell Invitational, goes tomorrow at Monmouth with Bob Baffert’s Authentic the likely favourite. Authentic suffered his only loss in three races to Honor A. P. in the Santa Anita Derby.

Second choice will likely be Dr Post who finished second in the Belmont Stakes which, for the first time, was also a Kentucky Derby prep race. Seven have entered the Haskell which offers a point scale of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers. The top 20 point-gatherers will qualify to run in the Derby.

Four prep races remain after tomorrow’s Haskell: The Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar (Aug. 1), Travers Stakes at Saratoga (Aug. 8), Ellis Park Derby at Ellis (Aug. 9) and the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth (Aug. 15).

*       *       *
No filly likely in this year's Derby
Swiss Skydiver pointed to Kentucky Oaks, not Derby, says trainer

The second-place finish of filly Swiss Skydiver in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last Saturday has prompted her trainer, Kenneth McPeek, to say the 3-year-old is likely to race in the Kentucky Oaks and not the Kentucky Derby as was speculated.

The Kentucky Oaks will be run on Friday, Sept. 4, the day before the Derby.

Manitoba harness racing opens in Miami . . .

. . . with "ditchjumper" show wager

Road to Saturday harness racing
Let’s call it a “ditchjumper” show wager since it happened in rural Manitoba. Weekly harness racing opened in Miami, Man. Saturday with a 10-race card with someone betting $6,000 to show on Trevor Williams’ “sure thing” So Beautiful who won as expected.

Provincial COVID guidelines allowed 200 spectators to be present. A harness racing aficionado said in the ASD Race Book Saturday night that he was happy to discover he could bet Manitoba harness racing online and did so.

It will take awhile to gain traction on HPI, especially with a choppy internet feed and being green to the whole thing,” said Williams, president of the Manitoba Harness Racing Industry. “ASD has been very helpful in getting us off the ground and running and I hope it pays off for us going forward.”

Cole Bennett’s trainees have won 4 of 12 races at Woodbine
FORMER MANITOBAN HITS HIS STRIDE AT WOODBINE: Cole Bennett who, as a teenager, left behind two successful years of training at ASD for the big leagues of Woodbine, is hitting his stride at that Toronto track this season after several trying years. After just four weeks of racing his record is 12-4-3-0 compared to the past three full years of racing in which his record was 47-4-4-10, 9-0-0-0 and 32-3-1-1. His ambition, he had told The Insider when he left his native Manitoba, is to become leading trainer at Woodbine. This year’s numbers are heading in the right direction.

So close yet so far is probably the best way to describe the “I won bigger” betting group’s play. Tens of thousands of dollars were at stake in Belmont’s pick-6 last Sunday if a key horse--the best closer on the turf--won but, inexplicably, the horse just didn’t fire when he was given a clear path in the drive to the wire. If there’s a positive it’s that pick-3s using group plays have been paying in the hundreds--if group players choose to make those plays themselves. At any rate, group play returns to Woodbine this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: Do you like my lyrics?

And now for something completely different. This week our faithful track historian has taken a swing at song-writing and re-worked Tex Ritter’s 1961 hit Hillbilly Heaven.  Click here to listen to the Ritter hit then check out Bob’s lyrics for his version of Racetrack Heaven here.
  • Tomorrow: “I won bigger” play at Woodbine, Kentucky Derby prep race Haskell Invitational at Monmouth. Derby future wager continues. Sign up for Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament by 1 p.m.
  • Monday, July 20: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament.
  • Tuesday, July 21: Live racing 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 22 : Live racing 7:30 p.m. Escape Clause Stakes.
  • Saturday, July 25: “I won bigger” group play 10:30 a.m.

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

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