Wednesday, July 18 , 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 28 (Issue #646)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Your fondest Derby memory could win you a VIP invitation!
Send your memory to

Win a VIP invitation to Derby press conference
For some fun heading to the 70th Manitoba Derby on Monday, Aug. 6, send me details on your fondest Manitoba Derby memory. Submissions may be published in The Insider or on the ASD website and the person whose submission is judged best will receive:
  • A VIP invitation for two to the Manitoba Derby press conference at which post positions will be drawn. Includes a lavish gourmet buffet that makes this the hottest press conference in town
  • $50 in wagering vouchers.
Is your fondest memory a particularly exciting race, a particularly good time, cashing a big payoff? Fill me in. Deadline is midnight Sunday, July 29.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Eight races tonight at the Downs. What 12-horse field caps the card?
  • Del Mar meet begins today at 4 p.m. What happened last year on opening day?
  • What favourites win half the time at Saratoga? (Be ready to win when the meet opens Friday!)
  • What post positions at Saratoga are bankroll bleeders?
  • Manitoba Derby countdown: Can anyone lick Candy?
  • Most expensive horse in the world dies
SO WHAT’S YOUR FONDEST DERBY MEMORY? Send entries to by midnight Sunday July 29. Getting to experience the Derby press conference replete with delicious delicacies at the luncheon will become your next best memory should your entry win a VIP invitation.
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 20 is $9,910.


Eight-race card tonight

12 horses in R.C. Anderson Stakes that was a hold-over from Saturday

An administrative error on the eligibility of a horse to race in the R.C. Anderson Stakes on Saturday prompted the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission to cancel the race and hold it over to tonight with the correction in place. Guy Kling’s Manitoba Dancer and Jamie Hartmann's Honour Class are now in the race.

The race for Manitoba-bred 3-year-old fillies is a full field of 12 and is the eighth race on tonight’s card. The likely favourite will be Don Schnell’s Amaretto, the most experienced filly in the race who won her last two starts: the Hazel Wright Sire Stakes and a $5,000 maiden race.

The large field raises the possibility that the 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 will be won tonight—by you? The carryover is $7,276.

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Can anyone lick Candy?

Eurico Martens' Candy Giant will likely be the horse to beat in Manitoba Derby

Candy Giant sweeps to victory in Harry Jeffrey. Inset: owner/trainer Eurico Martens
Eurico Martens, the former Northlands owner/trainer who prefers his treatment at the Downs, laid down the gauntlet for the Manitoba Derby on Saturday when his Candy Giant posted an impressive five-length victory in the Derby prep race, the Harry Jeffrey ($9.90).

The even-money favourite, Primo Touch, a Don McFarlane invader who had won the Turf Paradise Derby and had recently raced in a $200,000 stakes race at Canterbury Park, finished third.

Martens’ goal when he came to the track full-time this year, he told The Insider, was to win the $75,000 Manitoba Derby on Aug. 6 then the $150,000 Canadian Derby in Edmonton. He’ll get to reach his first goal two weeks from this Monday.

Candy Giant has been getting better and better each Derby prep. The 3-year-old colt was third in the Balooga Bull, second in the Golden Boy and now first where it counts the most. He was second in last year’s Graduation Stakes at the Downs before being taken to Turf Paradise where he broke his maiden in February.

HERE COME HIS BABIES: Watch out, now, for Martens' babies. Seven of his 18 horses are 2-year-olds readying to make their debut. Martens’ record at the Downs is 32-8-6-2. His horses win at a rate of 25 per cent.

*       *       *

HOTTIES OF THE WEEK (Wed, Fri, Sat):  
Hottest jockeys: Tyrone Nelson, Kayla Pizarro
(4 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Jerry Gourneau, Steven Gaskin, Jared Brown (3 wins)
Biggest longshot: Estherfourfourteen $38.40 (Friday race 6)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $308 (Wednesday race 6)
Stakes champion(s): Estherfourfourteen (Jack Hardy), Candy Giant (Harry Jeffrey)

Longshot Estherfourfourteen holds off 1-5 True Confession. Inset: winning trainer Steven Gaskin
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to trainer Steven Gaskin for his blinkers-on/blinkers-off move on Estherfourfourteen, settling the 18-1 longshot filly down and, under jockey Kayla Pizarro, producing considerably slower fractions on the lead in the Jack Hardy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Friday, holding 1-5 favourite True Confession at bay. Check out the difference in the filly’s early fractions in the Jack Hardy compared to her tiring fractions in her previous start, the Chantilly Stakes, in which she faded to last.
  • Chantilly with blinkers: Early fractions of :22.4 and :45.6
  • Jack Hardy without blinkers: Early fractions of 24.8 and :48.6. That’s 15 lengths slower than in the Chantilly!
The clue to her possibly winning the Jack Hardy was the giant 111 pace figure in the Chantilly. Cut back on the suicidal speed and she could win. As she did.


Where the surf meets the turf

Del Mar begins today at 4 p.m.

What happened on opening day last year?

A year ago on opening day at Del Mar, trainer Vladimir Cerin won the first two races, a Bob Baffert first-time starter won, horses of odds of about 3-1 won most of the races, the highest-priced horse was 11-1 the pick-6 paid $48,000 and a $1 pick-4 on the last four races paid about $600.

*       *       *

Winning at Saratoga starts here (Meet begins Friday 12:00 p.m.)

When should you bet the favourite? What post positions are bankroll bleeders?

  • The favourite in two-turn route races win 47% of the time
    Love favourites? Then bet two-turn route races on the main track. Last year, 47 per cent of those races were won by the favourite.
  • What post positions should you avoid playing—and at what distance? Eighteen horses started from post #1 in 5 1/2f sprint races on the main track and not one horse won.
  • By the same token, only two of 58 horses in the last three years won from post #8 and higher in ROUTE races.
  • What post position wins most often in 6f and 6 1/2f races on the main track? Post position #1 won about 20 per cent of those races last year
  • Looking for an upset? That is more likely from a middle post position in a one-mile turf race

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Five keys to beating Saratoga this summer
By Marshall Posner, fan education specialist

There used to be a debate about whether Saratoga or Del Mar offered the best racing in the U.S., but now it’s clear that Saratoga takes the crown. Here are the keys to beating ‘Toga:
  1. Pick Your Spots  - While this holds true for every day of racing at every track you play, it’s especially relevant when playing Saratoga. The best of the best come to run which means extremely deep and competitive fields in most races. Often, there are a handful of horses that have a legitimate shot to win. Pass the races where you don’t have an angle or a rule or where you feel the race is too wide open.

  2. Identify the Track Tendencies – Like the other NYRA tracks the main track at Saratoga favours speed horses and stalkers, putting deep closers at a disadvantage. Loose speed is always a good bet. The two turf courses can be tricky to understand as they tend to start off favouring one type of runner and favour other runners as the meet goes on. Review race results and charts to see how the turf is playing from one day to the next.

  3. Irad Ortiz, Jose Ortiz Jr. and two other jocks won half the races
    Trainers and Jockeys – There are basically two trainers and four jockeys that dominate the Saratoga meet year after year: Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher. They’ve won a combined 215 races over the past three years. Chad dominates the turf, Pletcher the dirt. Four jockeys – Jose Ortiz, Irad Ortiz Jr., John Velazquez and Javier Castellano have accounted for 597 victories over the last three years, 48 per cent of all 1,227 races run at the Spa. Toss one of these guys at your peril.

  4. Listen to Saratoga Paddock Analyst Maggie Wolfendale – This is an absolute must especially in races filled with first-time starters. Maggie is the absolute best when it comes to analyzing the pedigree, conformation and current form of a horse and predicts winner after winner. She has been watching horses train and/or race at other NYRA tracks so she has helpful notes from previous years that help you determine who to include on your pick-4 tickets.

  5. Always Check Scratches and Track Changes – Weather plays a significant role where the turf is off and the track is sloppy. Check for scratches and stay on top of changes throughout the card. Don’t forget to handicap the “Also Eligible” horses if they’re in the race as they are often overlooked but are usually contenders in off-the-turf races in particular.


STEVIE MAC AND TADAA NOW LIKELY TO RACE SATURDAY AT CANTERBURY: So ASD’s speedy 4-year-old fillies, Stevie Mac and Tadaa, who originally had been nominated to race in the Canada Day Stakes but were to race at Canterbury last Thursday instead, are now scheduled to race this Saturday at Canterbury because last Thursday’s race was cancelled because of inclement weather conditions.

Veteran ASD fan Earl Grantham couldn’t help notice a series of coincidental 7s for him that started with the Las Vegas Challenge horseplayer tournament on June 7: “On the 7th day of the 7th month, the tournament is held and I finish 7th and am ranked 7th in the Handicapper of the Year standings,” he said. “And I was among 7 who had picked the highest payoff horse in the tournament and each of us got $7.” Seems to me I would have immediately headed to the 7s Wild VLT game.

Saturday’s “I won big” betting group has its foot on the gas but can’t seem to accelerate beyond second gear as its pick-5 and pick-4 plays at Woodbine this past Saturday just netted a $25.50 return for each $20 share. Do we need a mechanic or maybe some fresh views – supplied by you? The usual: 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza, races 2 to 7 at Woodbine.

The Green Monkey
MOST EXPENSIVE HORSE IN THE WORLD DIES: The $16 million horse, The Green Monkey, is dead at 14. A painful hoof condition, laminitis, prompted his owners to euthanize the horse who had fetched $16 million as a 2-year-old in 2006–the most ever paid for a horse—but who never lived up to his billing and earned $10,440 in three races in which his best finish was third. His sire was Forestry, his mother Magical Masquerade. The Green Monkey lives on as a golf course in Barbados.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: Derby flashbacks #3

Did you know that the Downs grandstand and the old Speers box cars caused more grief for 1978 Derby winner Overskate than any of the 4-legged challengers who only got to see the business end of Jack Stafford’s little colt and from quite a distance at that! Bob expands on those details here.
  • A Bon Jovi tribute band will be one of nine on Aug. 5
    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.
  • Friday, July 27: Live racing 7:15.
  • Saturday, July 28: Live racing 7:15


  • Friday, Aug. 3: Live racing 7:15. Debutante Stakes, Manitoba Oaks Stakes.
  • Saturday, Aug. 4: Live racing 7:15. Graduation Stakes
  • Sunday, Aug. 5: Unreal festival of nine tribute bands from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets at Tribute to the Beatles, the Stones, Elvis, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Kiss, Keith Urban, the Hip and Cher.
  • Holiday Monday, Aug. 6: Derby Day 1:15. $75,000 Manitoba Derby presented by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries.


Follow the rainbow to fun, fame and fortune (ASD). (Thanks Theresa, for this great photo)

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