Friday, July 24, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 29 (Issue #748)

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

GOOD NEWS FOR HORSEMEN: Overnight and stakes purses return to pre-COVID levels

Assiniboia Downs has announced that purses will increase to pre-COVID levels effective August 3 because wagering has been so strong.

“The total daily live wagering continues to exceed our expectations,”
CEO Darren Dunn said yesterday, “and though it is a low net margin retention against the backdrop of millions wagered, that kind of volume adds up to meaningful revenue. That puts us in a position to return the purses to the levels that were originally allocated to the horsemen pre-COVID 19 which has allowed us to further stabilize and support the industry.” See purse and stakes structure here.

YOUR MORNING TRIVIA TEASER: Is a 4-year-old female race horse a filly or a mare? Answer: Both. What? (See why under FUN & GAMES)


There’s a $24,000 pick-4 carryover tonight at ASD’s sister track, Century Mile in Edmonton, on the FIRST four races which are all thoroughbred races. ASD leading jockey Antonio Whitehall has a mount in all of them and three are particularly live. The last four races are all quarter horses races. First post: 8:15 CDT.

Earlier today, the 20-cent pick-6 jackpot at Gulfstream is more than $500K and, at Saratoga, more than $300K. The super hi-5 jackpot in Woodbine’s last race is closing in on $200K.

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

Bullet briefs . . .

  • 40-1 shocker in Escape Clause Stakes
  • What made Marshall wary of favs Hidden Grace and Miss Imperial in Escape Clause Stakes?
  • How did 2019 yearling sales topper perform in her 2020 debut?
  • Why won't Escape Clause's sister debut in a baby race at ASD?
  • If you didn't read Bob's column last week, you missed an emotional moment. See below.
Jim Roberts (right) ties Alan Hampton to force a showdown
DERBY COUNTDOWN: ROBERTS CATCHES HAMPTON TO FORCE TIE-BREAKER: If Alan Hampton had picked the same horse as Jim Roberts did to win the Haskell Stakes Saturday (Authentic), the Derby Countdown contest would be over and Hampton would be awarded $200 to play the Kentucky Derby. But, since Hampton chose the horse he thought would win the race, Dr Post, Roberts made up the 11 points he needed to tie Hampton and force a tie-breaker in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in two weeks.

Roberts’ entry was also drawn to win a set of unique Kentucky Derby glasses. The countdown contest required entrants to select winners of Kentucky Derby prep races. Their 10 highest points out of 15 contest races counted toward winning the bankroll.

(from top of Insider): A 4-year-old female horse is a filly in thoroughbred racing but a mare in harness racing.

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--Club Regent Casino and McPhillips Street Casino opening July 29, Quest Inn 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.


40-1 invader nails the two favourites in Escape Clause Stakes

40-1 Labhay surges past Hidden Grace and Miss Imperial to win Escape Clause Stakes (Jason Halstead photo)
The Escape Clause Stakes was billed as a two-horse race with Hidden Grace trying to get even with Miss imperial for ruining her nine-for-nine perfect record.

But trainer Jerry Gourneau had other ideas. The hotter-than-hot trainer--who has more than twice the wins of his closest rival--dropped a Louisiana invader into the race and when Hidden Grace and Miss Imperial started to give way after dueling for almost a mile, that invader, Labhay, surged past them with Richard Mangalee aboard at boxcar odds of 40-1.

Gourneau had already proven he has the best horse on the grounds--male-wise--with Deep Explorer. Now he’s looking to dominate the best female category, too.

There seems little doubt the Year of Covid will go down as the Year of Gourneau. Will the conditioner ever want to remove his mask again?

*       *       *

Baby proves her worth
$25,000 sales topper wins first 2-year-old race of the season

Melisandre wins first baby race of the season (Jason Halstead photo)
She’s named for the powerful “red priestess” on Game of Thrones and that’s how the 2-year-old Melisandre performed--powerfully--in the first race of her life under reinsman Stanley Chadee Jr. The $25,000 sales topper at last summer’s CTHS yearling sale (Manitoba division) edged away from a couple fierce rivals in the launch of Baby Season at the Downs.

About 50 or 60 will be racing in upcoming races, heading toward the Graduation Stakes and ultimately the Winnipeg Futurity. Handicapper Marshall Posner pointed out on the ASD Live show that she’s a full sister to Hidden Grace (by Going Commando out of High Pioneer) who was nine-for-nine wins until beaten this year as a 4-year-old.

*       *       *

Hard luck filly won't debut at ASD
Escape Clause's baby sister has bucked shins

Escape Clause’s baby sister, Reasonable Cause, is somewhat of a hard luck filly. First she suffered severe injuries when spooked by lightning while awaiting a horse sale in Kentucky last fall. And now, after working impressively for her baby debut, she has bucked shins and won’t make her first start during this ASD meet, Sherisse Ziprick told The Insider from Russell, Man. where she was bred.

But she may debut at another track in the fall or winter, Ziprick said. Bucked shins refers to painful inflammation of the membrane surrounding a leg bone. It’s a not-uncommon affliction of young horses just starting out in racing. Murray Duncan is now the filly’s trainer.

*       *       *

Hottest jockey: Antonio Whitehall (7 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Jerry Gourneau (7 wins)
Biggest longshot: Labhay $85.60 (Race 3 Wednesday)
Stakes champions: Labhay (Escape Clause Stakes)
Upcoming stakes: Manitoba Oaks
(Tuesday), Manitoba Mile (Wednesday)
$194,978 in the Jackpot pick-5; $162,418 in the Super Hi-5 Jackpot (NOTE: Mandatory payout of the Super Hi-5 will happen on Derby Day Monday, Aug. 3)

Larry Liebrecht wins Vegas tourney #2
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to electrician Larry Liebrecht who bet the only two longshots in Monday’s Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament to accumulate a bankroll of $103.30 that easily surpassed the other 74 entrants. His acumen earned him a trip to Las Vegas for the Horse Player World Series next spring or $2,500 in cash.

His reasoning behind his picks: “I chose Eye Catching (longest shot at 18-1) in the 4th because I own her with Hardball Stables.  I figured it would be a wide-open race and anyone could win.  She came flying down the stretch (to get second to pay $14.60, $8.50 to place and show). Another half furlong and she might have had it.  At this point, I had about $38. 

“I played it simple in the 5th and took chalk. In the 6th, I figured I needed something big and that would be a horse coming from off the pace.  I tossed around the 2,4,5, before settling on #2 (Peeper at 10-1) at the last moment.  Now I had $85. At that point, I knew I would be close and again played it simple in the last and took (trainer Jerry) Gourneau and (leading jockey Antonio) Whitehall.”

Nice when it comes together that seemingly simply. Congrats, too, to runners-up Janet Gray (bankroll $76.10) and Mackenzie Stewin ($69.70). The next Vegas trip will be given away on Monday, Aug. 17.

to the “lucky 7” duo of jockey Antonio Whitehall and trainer Jerry Gourneau, each of whom won seven races in the past three live race days, posting daunting 35 per cent and 37 per cent win rates respectively.

The overlay of the year?

Huge odds differential between horses who finished first and second in Los Al Derby

(finished behind Uncle Chuck): 65-1

Can a horse who finishes second after a long layoff improve enough to beat the horse who beat him? Would you accept 65-1 odds on that to possibly happen?

Of course you would: 65-1 was the closing odds on Thousand Words (my choice to win the Kentucky Derby) in the sixth Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool last weekend. The horse who beat him in the Los Alamitos Derby, Uncle Chuck, was a scant 6-1. You tell me where the value was.

Yes, I added a few more bucks to my future wagers on Thousand Words. The odds were just too juicy to pass up. I took flyers on exactors, too. I was encouraged by his workout last week. He was the 9th fastest of 79 who worked out at Del Mar.

Food for thought: Thousand Words’ best Equibase speed figure, 107, is just two points below the mark set by Authentic in the Haskell Stakes Saturday.

There is one more Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool in the second weekend of August.

POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Pay attention to a rule even when in doubt

Before the big upset finish in the Escape Clause Stakes Wednesday, handicapper Marshall Posner waved a caution sign about the two favourites in the race--Hidden Grace and Miss Imperial--on the ASD Live Show. He noted they hadn’t had a workout in 21 days--which is his rule requirement. “I would prefer to have seen a workout,” he told his viewers. He usually eliminates horses who haven’t had the requisite workout.

And he could have put a line through those favourites. They were run down by the 40-1 Louisiana invader, Labhay. A rule is a rule is a rule is a rule. Marshall picked Labhay to finish third, behind the two favourites, but Labhay could obviously have been elevated based on his 21-day rule.

Because Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group didn’t buy one huge “caveman” ticket using everyone’s picks in Woodbine’s pick-5 (which is what many players prefer), players got a return of $12.82 on each $20 share because they cashed 19 correct tickets, each worth $50. They lost some share money in the pick-6 and late pick-4. Group play will centre on Woodbine again tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. Bacon beckons. Seriously. Chaotically.

GREATEST MANITOBA GELDING PASSES: In case you haven’t heard, Manitoba’s greatest horse before Escape Clause, Fancy As, died in May at age 22 in retirement at an Alberta farm. Bred by Ed Pawluk, he had been purchased in Manitoba’s yearling sale in 1999 for $3,200 by Albertans who subsequently won the Canadian Derby, B.C. Derby and other important stakes races for total earnings exceeding $670K. In a foray to California he finished third in two Grade 2 stakes.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: From pig farmer to #2 trainer in N.A.

For this week, Bob has uncovered a gem.  His research took him back 100 years but he found a Rosser pig farmer turned world-class horseman that was the second-leading trainer in all of North America in 1936.  In addition, our mystery man was the father-in-law of Alberta-born jockey Johnny Longden.  Bob is convinced that no one will know this man’s name (no Googling please).  Click here for Bob’s story.”

Did you read last week’s column? It’s a must-read emotional column and a template for every race track everywhere. You’ll see why once you’ve followed Bob’s instructions and words here. Go for it.
Manitoba Derby runs on holiday Monday, Aug. 3
  • Tomorrow: “I won bigger” group play of Woodbine at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza
  • Monday, July 27: Live racing at 7:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 28: Live racing at 7:30 p.m. Manitoba Oaks Stakes
  • Wednesday, July 29: Live racing at 7:30 p.m. Manitoba Mile Stakes
  • Saturday, Aug. 1: “I won bigger” workshop 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza, Kentucky Derby prep race Shared Belief at Del Mar
  • Holiday Monday, Aug. 3: Live racing at 7:30 p.m. $60K Manitoba Derby with mandatory payout of the Super Hi-5 pool. Spectators allowed only in the Terrace Dining Room and Plaza (with advance reservations) and in the Race Book area of the Clubhouse with limitations
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4: Live racing at 7:30 p.m. Debutante Stakes
  • Wednesday, Aug. 5: Live racing at 7:30 p.m. Graduation Stakes

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

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