Wednesday, July 25 , 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 29 (Issue #647)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


The grittiest performance of the meet?

Media Melee duels early, seems done, then rallies to win Manitoba Mile

Media Melee digs in fiercely to beat Plentiful
(Jason Halstead photo)

You had to pinch yourself Saturday night to see if you were really seeing what you were seeing.

Owner John Ganas
A deserved smile
Media Melee flies out of the gate in the Manitoba Mile Stakes and gets into a heated duel with Langara. In the turn for home, Melee falls back, seemingly done. But what’s this? He comes on again. Just when track announcer Kirt Contois sounds ready to concede the race to race favourite Plentiful who is kicking home in his usual way, Melee digs in even more determinedly and edges Plentiful at the wire. Whew!

Tell me that wasn’t a memorable effort. If owner John Ganas, trainer Steven Gaskin and jockey Stanley Chadee Jr. don’t have a bounce in their step today, they ought to. That effort had “Gold Cup” written all over it. Media Melee paid $14.70; Plentiful was the 3-5 favourite.

Relive that exciting race here. (Click on Replays: July 21, race 5.)

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Win tonight's pick-4 for $2. You're welcome!
  • $180,000 pick-6 carryover today at Saratoga. First post 12:00
  • In what famous race track town (currently racing) were potato chips invented?
  • Is Horse of the Year Escape Clause as formidable as ever? Find out tonight.
  • Overlay of the year? Logical contender pays $150 at Del Mar
  • 97-year-old trainer wins at Gulfstream
Entry deadline is Sunday
DEADLINE LOOMS FOR YOUR “FONDEST DERBY MEMORY” ENTRY: You have until midnight Sunday to recount your fondest Manitoba Derby memory. You and a guest will be invited to the hottest media event in town, the Derby Press Conference with a lavish buffet, if your entry is judged best. And you’ll receive $50 in wagers. Email your entry to
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

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 27 is $10,360.


Is Escape Clause as formidable as ever?

Find out tonight when the filly meets last year's Sun Stakes winner, C J's Flair

For only the second time this race meet, ASD fans will have a chance tonight to see last year’s Horse of the Year, Manitoba-bred super filly Escape Clause, in the $27,500 Winnipeg Sun Stakes.

Three of four of the 4-year-old’s previous races this year have been at Canterbury Park in Minnesota because of the lack of entries to her races at her home track.

She’ll face three challengers in tonight’s race including 5-year-old mare C J’s Flair who won the Winnipeg Sun last year and 4-year-old filly Tadaa who finished second to Escape Clause three times last year and won the 2017 Manitoba Oaks without Escape Clause in the field.

Is Escape Clause as formidable as ever? Find out tonight.

*       *       *

How high will pick-4 pool get tonight?

Will it exceed last Wednesday's $14,375? Here's my $2 ticket pick

Will my toonie ticket win it?
Wednesday pick-4 pools just keep getting bigger. Last Wednesday, $14,375 was wagered and two $1 tickets paid $6,101 each. What will the pool be tonight? In case you haven’t noticed, track announcer Kirt Contois and paddock host Rob MacLennan discuss the pick-4 and give their picks at the top of the Downs’ televised racing show about a half-hour before the first live race.

Here are my recommended tickets, depending on what you wish to spend:

  • 7/3,7/1/7 = $2
  • 7/3,7/1,6,8/5,7,9 = $18
  • 7/3,7/1,5,6,7,8/1,3,4,5,7,9 = $60
Race 4:
#7 dropping from stakes to allowance
Race 5:
#3 and #7 are RULE horses (lowest added up numbers in a maiden race: add the finish position in last race to the first-call position in the race before that)
Race 6:
#1 is making a HUGE maiden drop, from MSW to $5,000 claimer. Hard to see him losing. But if he does, it will likely be #6 or #8 which are RULE maiden horses.
Race 7:
#7 is making a huge class drop. If he doesn’t fire, #9 could wire the field or the game #5 could nail them.

EYE ON LIVE (cont'd)

Watch for E E Legal soon (Derek Corbel photo)

THE “PAINT” WILL BE RACING SOON: The necessary paperwork has been finished on the paint horse, E E Legal, trainer Shelley Brown told The Insider so you’re likely to see the fancy 4-year-old colt entered soon, she said. He’s likely to be entered in a $5,000 maiden claiming race, she said.

The administrative error that had kept Manitoba Dancer out of the original R. C. Anderson Stakes race that was cancelled on Saturday, July 14 and re-drawn to be run last Wednesday—with Manitoba Dancer in it—worked out well for his owner/trainer, Guy Kling. Manitoba Dancer (24-1) finished third, which was worth purse money of $2,550. The longshot finishing in the Jackpot Hi 5 also helped a lone ticket-holder in New York pocket the pool of $7,231 U.S. and helped this columnist become a hero to a player who played the horse to show ($13.30) after asking for a longshot suggestion.

Forty-seven years ago Assiniboia Downs paid out its biggest-ever daily double, according to track historian Bob Gates. On Friday, July 23, 1971, #6 Royal Jerry combined with #10 Seek the Glory to pay $4,235.50 for a $2 ticket. There were five winning tickets. In today’s dollars the payoff would be $26,503.

*       *       *

HOTTIES OF THE WEEK (Wed, Fri, Sat):  
Hottest jockeys: Prayven Badrie
(4 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Shelley Brown, Ardell Sayler (3 wins)
Biggest longshot: Queen Jean $32.80 (Wednesday race 8)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $4,390 U.S. (Wednesday race 8)
Stakes champion(s): Queen Jean (R.C. Anderson), Media Melee (Manitoba Mile)

The first potato chips were meant to be an insult

Did you know . . .
that Saratoga is generally known as the place where the potato chip was born? As the story goes, a restaurant patron in 1853 complained that his French fries were too thick so the irritated chef shaved them as thinly as he could and deep-fried them to a crisp as an insult to the complaining patron—but the patron loved them instead.

Prayven Badrie holds Outlandos together (inside) to the wire in race 5 Friday (Jason Halstead photo)
Prayven Badrie sweeps the field on #1 Good Impression in race 6 Friday (Jason Halstead photo)
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to jockey Prayven Badrie for producing back-to-back exciting finishes at the Downs last Friday. In race 5, it appeared either the horse on the inside of his #8 Outlandos or on his outside would pass him in the stretch after he led to that point but Badrie held his horse together to the wire ($9.60). And in the following race, he timed an explosive finish by #1 Good Impression just right to prevail by a head in a three-horse photo. Both were scintillating efforts that made Friday’s race card especially memorable. Capping off the thrilling weekend of racing was Media Melee’s gritty effort in the Manitoba Mile the following night. Watch replays of those two races here. (Click on July 20, races 5 and 6.)

to the New York player who showed spectacular handicapping ability—and the courage to back it up with strong wagering--to scoop Assiniboia Downs’ entire Jackpot Hi 5 pool last Wednesday ($7,231 U.S.;$9,496 Cdn.) despite a very tricky 11-horse field in which the top five finishers had odds of 15-1, 7-1, 24-1, 7-1 and 17-1. On one of his tickets-- which cost $67.20 in 20-cent combinations--he wheeled the winner, #12 Queen Jean, to second-place finisher, #8 Vallentay, to every horse underneath except #10 She’s a Smarty (74-1). On his second ticket for $58.80 he keyed #8 in the third position. The winning result was 12-8-9-5-11. I’ll bet no other player anywhere came even close. See program page here.

to Northlands Park trainer Tim Rycroft whose horses won six of the eight races on Saturday’s Northlands card including a $50,000 stakes with Trooper John. His previous high was five wins on the first day of the meet.


What were players thinking?

Logical contender pays $150 at Del Mar Sunday

What were Del Mar players thinking Sunday when betting the fourth race, a 5f dash? They let #13 Kentan Road go off at 74-1 despite the 4-year-old filly’s ability to clear the field in dashes.

In fact, her 113 pace number in a 5 1/2f race at Golden Gate (a near-turf synthetic track) was the best at a short distance. Also, in a similar 5f turf dash last year at Del Mar—her first lifetime start--she had finished third. And just two weeks ago she was favoured to win a starter allowance race at Los Alamitos Race Course.

From favourite to 74-1? She paid $150 when apprentice jockey Asa Espinoza cleared the field and didn’t look back.


*       *       *

What are the early trends at Saratoga and Del Mar?

Speed is carrying on the turf; trainer Hollendorfer is hitting at 41 per cent

As usual Chad Brown (left) and Todd Pletcher dominate trainer standings at Saratoga
So what have we learned in the first few days of racing at Saratoga and Del Mar? The most obvious thing is that speed seems to be carrying on the turf, especially at Del Mar where horses on the lead or just off the lead have been winning more than closers.

On the dirt, closers are key at Del Mar; Saratoga has been playing fair to both front-runners and closers. Gate-to-wire victories are rare at Del Mar.

Nothing unusual at Saratoga. Chad Brown’s 7 wins from 20 starts represents a 35 per cent win clip; Todd Pletcher’s 4 for 13 is 31 per cent wins. Noteworthy is Brad Cox’s 2 wins out of 3 starts. At Del Mar, John Sadler and Jerry Hollendorfer are ruling the roost. Sadler has 4 wins from 11 starts (36 per cent) and Hollendorfer 7 of 17 (41 per cent). Doug O’Neill is 7 for 30 (23 per cent). Bob Baffert has just one win from seven starts.

At Saratoga, Javier Castellano leads with 8 wins out of 29 starts (28 per cent); Joe Bravo 2 for 5 and Florent Geroux 3 for 9. At Del Mar, Drayden Van Dyke rules at 6 wins from 19 mounts (32 per cent) and Mario Gutierrez is 4 for 14 (29 per cent). Gary Stevens is just 1 for 16 and Kent Desormeaux 1 for 21.


STEVIE MAC FINISHES FIFTH AT CANTERBURY: Trainer Shelley Brown’s Stevie Mac, who was shipped to Canterbury Park in Minnesota rather than face Escape Clause at the Downs, finished fifth in a 5f allowance race on the turf Saturday, which was worth $450 U.S. in purse money. She dueled three-wide before giving way. Gary Danelson’s Tadaa, who initially was going to race at Canterbury, returned to the Downs instead and will face Escape Clause in the $27,500 Winnipeg Sun Stakes tonight.
Oldest trainer Jerry Bozzo's horse wins at Gulfstream

97-YEAR-OLD WINS RACE AT GULFSTREAM: If a 100-year-old man can run a complete marathon race as Fauja Singh did in Toronto in 2011, it is not a stretch to be seeing a 97-year-old trainer, Jerry Bozzo, the oldest in the business, win a race. His Gusty Wind won race 5 at Gulfstream Saturday ($14.80). Bozzo was an aeronautical engineer and owned and operated a bottle manufacturing plant which he sold to enter horse breeding and training in the 1970s. Has this got you thinking of a new career at 80?

With no key horses and tricky maiden races with first-time starters in Woodbine’s pick-5 races Saturday, the “I won big” betting group players guessed there would likely be a big payoff—which turned out to be correct, with a payoff of $10,443 for a 20-cent ticket—and they consequently bought a $784 ticket but, unfortunately, an 8-1 horse in the second leg killed the ticket. It didn’t help that their ticket DID have a 25-1 winner in a later leg. C’est la vie. Something different this Saturday: The group will play both the pick-5 at Woodbine (races 2 to 6) and also the early pick-5 at Saratoga (races 1 to 5) where the pool could be astronomical. See you at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza to produce positive results.

Readers write . . .

A Manitoba connection to The Green Monkey

“Dear Ivan: You may be interested to know there was a Manitoba connection although distant to The Green Monkey. His 4th dam (great, great, grand-dam) was Madame Defage who raced for June Sifton in California and Ontario through much of the 1970s.  The mare made 102 starts over seven years, won around $45,000 and finished third in Woodbine’s Fury Stakes.”Tom Morris, Vancouver

Hi Tom:
The Sifton legacy runs deeply through ASD’s history. Thank you for connecting June’s horse to the most famously expensive horse in history.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: A turnaround for the ages?

What was one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of the Manitoba Derby? A veteran trainer wins only one race in an entire season and bounces back the following year to win 14, earn $178,494 in purses and the Manitoba Derby.  Bob has the inside scoop on this storybook tale here.
  • Enjoy Cher tribute at Unreal festival
    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.
NEXT INSIDER: Thursday, the day of the Manitoba Derby press conference. (No live racing next Wednesday.)

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