Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14  No 28 (Issue #698)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

QUICKIE QUIZ: Which of these 3-year-olds posted the highest Beyer speed figure of the year? (a) Hidden Scroll (b) Maximum Security (c) Covfefe (d) Serengeti Empress. See answer at bottom of column.


Manitoba mare to be sold on Monday, Nov. 4

Will she be the highlight of the Fasig-Tipton auction?

You have just over three months to continue to enjoy the exploits of Manitoba’s mighty mare, Escape Clause, while she is still in the hands of Manitobans. Owner/trainer Don Schnell has told The Insider the 5-year-old will go on the auction block Monday, Nov. 4 in Lexington, Ky at Fasig-Tipton’s “Night of the Stars” sale as perhaps the sale headliner. Twenty horses sold for at least $1 million last year, Schnell noted.

“The November Sale offers an atmosphere of electricity found nowhere else in the Thoroughbred auction world, as the sport’s leading buyers bid on the sport’s finest Thoroughbred offerings,”
reads Fasig-Tipton’s website.

In the meantime, Schnell is taking aim at races that could send her earnings over the US$1 million mark while avoiding tangling with America’s two top mares: Elate and Midnight Bisou. Her earnings are currently at US$836,000. For her next race, Schnell said he will choose from one of these, depending on whom she’ll have to face. Note one is a turf race, the other two are on dirt:
  • Ellis Park, Kentucky: Two possibilities -- the $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf on the turf, Sunday, Aug. 4 or the $125,000 Groupie Doll on the main track on Sunday, Aug. 11. Both races are one mile.
  • Thistledown, Ohio: The $200,000 Lady Jacqueline at 1 1/8-miles on Saturday, Aug. 17
Plans to race on Arlington Park turf were shelved when it became apparent a trio of Chad Brown turf toughies will be heading there. Racing on Woodbine turf later in the season is still a possibility, Schnell said. “I think turf is her best surface.”

What about a farewell visit to Assiniboia Downs? ”We’re kind of keeping it open but it’s less likely than it was before.”

He said the mare continues to improve off her Belmont race on June 8 in which she posted her first sub-100 Equibase speed figure in 11 starts (96) after her two-day bumpy-road trip from Minnesota. He said she was at 85 per cent when she raced in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap two weeks ago (where she posted 104 in finishing second to Elate) and expects her to be 100 per cent in her next start. “I know her like the back of my hand.”

AN ESCAPE CLAUSE STATUE AT ASD? Delaware track announcer John Curran told a TV audience that he will visit Assiniboia Downs “when they have a statue of Escape Clause.” He made the comment before the Manitoba mare ran in the $750,000 Delaware Handicap two weeks ago and finished second.

What a great idea, don’t you agree? No Manitoba-bred in the 61-year history of the Downs has done what this mare has done and she has fans across North America. Ideas?

She has two fans blowing in her stall at Delaware Park 24 hours a day, Schnell said. “And ice cubes added to her water.” And what’s Schnell’s heat-beater? “AriZona ice tea -- lemon.”

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Super Bonus Week starts next Thursday! Earn higher bonuses and win a trip!
  • Deep Explorer wins Manitoba Mile, following in the hoofprints of the late great Witt Six
  • Bigg says $24 ticket can hit tonight's $10,000 guaranteed pick-4. Will it?
  • Your profit would be 220% if you bet all of this trainer's horses! Who's the trainer?
  • Will Tadaa be caught in tonight's Winnipeg Sun Stakes?
AUG. 1 TO 7 IS SUPER BONUS WEEK: MORE BONUS CASH AND A TRIP TO WOODBINE! Assiniboia Downs is boosting the bonus cash you receive for your bets between next Thursday, Aug. 1 and Wednesday, Aug. 7 and your bonus will include one to five chances to win a trip for two to the Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine in October, the race made famous by Secretariat. You must bet a minimum of $1,000 during that week to receive 2 per cent cash back and one contest entry. That can increase to 5 per cent bonus cash and five contest entries. Click on the attached image to view bonus levels.

Is this your week to get drawn to psyche out the ace of diamonds in the Chase the Ace game to win the jackpot that starts with $14,992.50? Each $5 ticket helps the non-profit Final Furlong organization find good homes for retired race horses.

Remembering what you read in Bob’s “On the Hoof” columns below could win you (1) framed racing photo(s) from your birth year (2) $50 in wagering vouchers (3) $50 in ASD gift merchandise and (4) presentation by Bob and bragging rights forever. The quiz--which will be held at the Downs on the Saturday following the end of live racing--will start with his blog on May 8, 2019. Download those blogs at

If you’re at Rookies Sports Bar or either of the casinos during live racing, you will receive 5x the usual Player Rewards points. Continues to the end of the live season. Also note that a draw for $50 in wagering vouchers will take place Saturdays at these OTB locations: Pembina Hotel, Quest Inn, Canad Inns Windsor Park and Green Brier. Enter each time you’re at your favourite OTB.
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 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.

GREEDY CORNER: $245K in Gulfstream's rainbow pick-6 and Sacramento's regular pick-6. See carryovers at other tracks here.

Will Tadaa wire tonight's Winnipeg Sun Stakes?

Oddsmaker thinks you'll like Settle Down Eileen better

Tadaa and Settle Down Eileen have tangled four times this season with two wins apiece. Which pretty much makes tonight’s $30,000 Winnipeg Sun Stakes a coin flip between the two but oddsmaker Dustin Davis thinks you’ll give the edge to Settle Down Eileen even though she couldn’t catch Tadaa in the Canada Day Stakes. He’s posted odds of 4-5 on Eileen and 6-5 on Tadaa.

Where will your money be? Barry Arnason’s mare, Vidira, has shipped in from Canterbury Park in Minnesota as the 15-1 “dark” horse ridden by the Downs’ leading rider, Alex Cruz. Can she upset the top pair? What about Dandy Deen? Will she move forward in this one-mile test in her fourth start of the year? Hmm. Should be a good one.

*      *      *

Steve Keplin, Jr. on a roll
Trainer wins at 47% clip; betting all horses results in 220% profit

Ignore trainer Steve Keplin, Jr.’s horses at your peril. His horses are winning at a 47 per cent clip. He has eight wins in 17 starts. If you had wagered $2 on all his starts at a cost of $34, you would have collected more than $75. He was two for two this past week, both last Wednesday:
  • McQ ridden by Kayla Pizzaro ($7,500 claimer) -- $3.40
  • Mister Henry Lee ridden by Richard Mairs ($2,500 claimer) -- $19.50

*      *      *

MY $24 TICKET FOR TONIGHT’S $10,000 GUARANTEED PICK-4: My comment in last week’s Insider was: “Tonight’s pick-4 is very tricky and should pay big” which it was and a $1 ticket paid $2,851. My suggested $16 ticket actually was reduced to $8 because of a scratch so little was lost so my favourable balance is $112.05.

Tonight’s pick-4 appears to be more gettable. My suggested $24 ticket goes beyond the two likely favourites in the Winnipeg Sun Stakes and adds a 25-1 bomber in the last leg.
Race 4:
 3, 5. (#5 at 8-1 offers value) 
Race 5:
 1, 2, 4, 6. (#4 Settle Down Eileen and #6 Tadaa are the horses to catch)
Race 6:
 1. (#1 drops from open $5,000 claimers to $1,500. Nuff said.) 
Race 7:
 1, 3, 9. ($5,000 maiden claimers with no strong contenders. Can 25-1 #1 wire them all?)


*      *      *

Hottest jockeys: Richard Mairs, Shavon Belle, Stanley Chadee, Jr., Antonio Whitehall
(3 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Jerry Gourneau (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: Double Time $50.80 (Wednesday race 4) 
Stakes champion(s): Deep Explorer (Manitoba Mile)
Stakes this week:
Winnipeg Sun (tonight)

Pick-4: None. ($10K guarantee)
Jackpot Pick-5 (starts race 3): no carryover (paid $5,231 on Saturday)
Jackpot Hi 5 (last race): $1,289

A BIG SHOUT OUT to trainer Jerry Gourneau and his team for keeping their one-two finishers in the R.J. Speers Stakes three weeks ago--Deep Explorer and Mr. N--razor sharp so they came right back to finish first and third in the Manitoba Mile Saturday. Murray Duncan’s Plentiful split them in the Mile.

Deep Explorer, claimed for $20,000 by Henry Witt, Jr. last November at Remington Park in Oklahoma, is following in the hoofprints of Witt’s beloved Witt Six who won the R. J. Speers and Manitoba Mile in 2016 on his way to winning the Gold Cup. Witt Six, unfortunately, died the following spring after an operation and there hasn’t been an older Witt horse to take his place until Deep Explorer came along. The third-place finisher in the Mile, Mr. N, was also a $20,000 Witt claim -- from Lone Star Park in Texas two years ago. Witt seems to have a handle on what claims to make to have a shot at $30,000 stakes races.

SMALL FIELD, BIG BANG: A race doesn’t have to have a lot of horses to be exciting, demonstrated by the four-horse field (because of a scratch) in the first race Saturday night at ASD. Screaming filled the grandstand as three of the horses were neck and neck yards from the wire, with the longest shot, Cats West ridden by Shavon Belle, prevailing ($20.70), giving trainer William Fitzgerald his first win of the season. The co-equal 4-5 favourites, Astartobe and Beentospain, deadheated for second. That set up a $1 pick-3 that paid a juicy $350 when race 2 was won by the second choice, Cash Reward, and race 3 was won by the third choice, Zack Ridge Road.

STRANGE DAY OF RACING: You had to feel for Monmouth management when their inaugural Haskell Invitational race card on a Saturday--their biggest race day of the year--took a hit from the excessive heat. The track cancelled six non-stakes races after the first two races had been run and moved the remaining six stakes races to the evening when comparatively few people were around. It reportedly cost the track $12 million in wagering plus food sales, etc. It was remindful of the bad luck experienced by the New Jersey track in 2007 when they won the right to hold the Breeders’ Cup. It rained for those two days and George Washington broke down in the Classic slop. Maximum Security, the colt who was disqualified in the Kentucky Derby, survived an enquiry to win the six-horse $1 million Haskell ($3.60).

WILL “BIGGER” BETTING GROUP BREAK THROUGH TONIGHT? Wednesday night’s “I won bigger” betting group plays are due to break through (playing the pick-4 at ASD and Woodbine) following last Wednesday’s plays in which the group caught the Woodbine pick-4 but not ASD’s for a payoff of $8.50 for each $20 share. Newbies attending the workshops, though, are appearing to find the sessions valuable, offering over-the-top favourable comments. That’s what the sessions are meant for! See you tonight at 6 p.m. in the Boots N Saddles lounge on the main level to discuss the ASD and Woodbine pick-4.

FORT ERIE FOILS CANADIAN TRIPLE CROWN HOPES: Fort Erie’s dirt track once again foiled a Queen’s Plate winner from Woodbine’s synthetic track in yesterday’s $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes. Predictably, Queen’s Plate winner One Bad Boy was the even-money favourite in the five-horse field but the horse he had beaten by five lengths in the Queen’s Plate, Tone Broke, prevailed at odds of 5-1, meaning there will be no Canadian Triple Crown winner for the 16th year in a row.  One Bad Boy was third.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: Recalling moon and mane 50 years later

Heading into the 21st running of the Manitoba Derby in 1969, Fire N Desire was on a roll with four wins and a third-place finish in the Queen’s Plate. Fifty years later, Bob juxtaposes that horse’s subsequent feat and his rider with a space traveller who left his mark on the moon. Read about it here.

READ BOB AND WIN (see Fun & Games above).
REFRESHER COLUMN: Read his third column of the race season here.
  • Tonight: Live racing/ace chase 7:15. “I won bigger” betting group workshop 6 p.m., $10,000 guaranteed pick-4, Winnipeg Sun Stakes
  • Friday, July 26: Live racing/ace chase 7:15. Nominations close for the Manitoba Derby.
  • Saturday, July 27: Major stakes at Saratoga (Jim Dandy) and Del Mar (Bing Crosby, a Grade 1 $300K sprint named for Del Mar’s founder). Live racing/ace chase 7:15. Ladies Night: drink specials, prize draws
  • Thursday, Aug. 1: Super Bonus day 1 (see Fun & Games). Manitoba Derby press conference with post position draw for the Derby
  • Friday, Aug. 2: Super Bonus day 2. Live racing/ace chase 7:15. Manitoba Oaks & Debutante
  • Saturday, Aug. 3: Super Bonus day 3. Live racing/ace chase 7:15. Graduation stakes
  • Sunday, Aug. 4: Super Bonus day 4.
  • Holiday Monday, Aug. 5: Super Bonus day 5. Manitoba Derby day: hat contest, win $100 bet on Derby horses, family fun.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 6: Super Bonus day 6.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 7: Final Super Bonus day.
ANSWER TO QUICKIE QUIZ: (c) Covfefe. This 3-year-old daughter of Into Mischief--who got that nonsensical name from an errant Trump tweet--posted a 107 Beyer speed figure in the Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in May, a higher Beyer than any other 3-year-old this year. Fox News should love this bit of trivia.  

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