Friday, July 30, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 29 (Issue #800)

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


Tarmac comes alive; spectators continue to be welcomed

It was a lovely scene on the tarmac this week as spectators were allowed there for the first time since 2019. And that will continue, of course, but you must show proof of full immunization to gain access. (QR code on your phone or printed copy or a vaccination card provided by the province). Crowd limitations will be in place. Masks are optional on the outside tarmac but are required when going indoors to wager, purchase food or use washrooms.

Of course, you can also watch the races while dining in the Clubhouse. Reservations are required.

Programs for live racing are available at program kiosks at the track and at off-track betting venues including Rookies (Central Hotel), Pembina Hotel, Green Brier, Canad Inns Windsor Park, the McPhillips Station Casino and Club Regent Casino. You may play the races at those OTBs, too, except for Windsor Park. Quest Inn remains closed at this time.

MANITOBA DERBY: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

Derby Belle Francine Fournier inserts Derby entrants into post positions in the virtual news conference and Derby draw yesterday at ASD

12 horses entered in Derby; biggest field in three decades

Wow! We haven’t seen a 12-horse field for the Manitoba Derby since 1992 when Jan Artic from Alberta wired the field from post 12 at 49-1. But that’s the size of the exciting field for Monday’s 73rd renewal of the most important race for 3-year-olds carrying a purse of $100,000. The Manitoba Derby is presented by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries.

Trainer Robertino Diodoro has owned this race in recent years, winning the Queen’s Cup three of the last five years (Inside Straight, Sky Promise, Oil Money). Will he do it again? There are many more horses than usual who will argue the point.


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If your ticket on the Jackpot Pick 5 is the only correct one you win $1 million. If there are other correct tickets, you share in a mandatory payout pool that is expected to exceed $1 million.

Note there will be a similar guarantee of $250,000 for a lone correct ticket in the Jackpot Pick 5 in race cards beginning Tuesday, Aug. 3 to the end of the race meet on Sept. 15 or until won.


Next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday aren’t just important stakes days at ASD, you will also get 5% cash back (deposited into your HPIbet account) from your ASD wagers of at least $40 on each of those days! That’s Manitoba Derby Day Monday, Debutante Stakes Day Tuesday and Graduation/R.C. Anderson Stakes Day Wednesday!


Bullet briefs . . .

  • Trainer from Oakbank, Man. earns Breeders' Cup entry by defeating mighty Malathaat
  • 20-cent superfecta in chaotic race pays $2,438; was boxing the field the way to go?
  • Manitoba Derby not the only biggie; there's baby drama in stakes races Tues-Wed
  • On the fringes forever, Rob Solmundson breaks through with Vegas tourney win
  • Will Melisandre remain unbeaten in R.C. Anderson Stakes on Wednesday?
FOURTH LAS VEGAS TRIP WILL BE GIVEN AWAY JUST TWO WEEKS FROM MONDAY: There will be just a short break until your fourth chance to earn a trip to the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas by playing in ASD’s Las Vegas Challenge tournament. The next tournament is Monday, Aug. 16. See rules 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.
Download 2021 LIVE RACING SCHEDULE here.

Do you have your new HPIbet account card that replaces the previous HPI card and the ASD Player Rewards card? Assiniboia Downs has joined the HPI rewards and bonus program and the new program began Monday, Feb. 1. See details here. If you haven't received your new card in the mail call 204-885-3330 (ext. 225) to check on the status.

with daily specials. Fridays feature a Top Sirloin Steak dinner for $24.95 and Saturdays it’s Certified Angus Prime Rib dinner also for $24.95. Dinners are served from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

GREEDY CORNER: Mandatory payout Saturday of Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6. Likely pool $3 million. Del Mar’s jackpot pick-6 is at $325,000. . See all carryovers here.

20-cent superfecta pays $2,438 in chaotic nw2L race
You could have boxed the seven horses for $168

Chaotic race produced juicy payoffs
You shouldn’t have to be reminded that the race condition--non-winners of two races lifetime--is often likely to produce a chaotic result. So it should have come as no surprise in Tuesday’s live race card when a mere seven-horse field in race 3 produced a 20-cent superfecta that paid $2,438. The first four finishers had odds of 14-1, 6-1, 34-1, 15-1.

You could have boxed the field for $168. Seeing the race condition, that could have been a logical move. When faced with a nw2L condition in a pick-4, pick-5, pick-6, etc. I take “all” horses most of the time. I don’t even think about it because I’ve been beaten too many times by an illogical horse in that kind of race. Chaos reigns supreme in this condition.

Another way to have played that race in the superfecta is by wheeling the obvious front-runner in the race (#2 who had the highest pace number) to finish first or second. Then, for only $48, you would have padded your wallet with $2,438. Something to think about for next time, eh? See race page here.

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Baby stakes in the spotlight next Tuesday, Wednesday
Diodoro nominates Canterbury winner for Debutante, Rycroft in Graduation

The Manitoba Derby isn’t the only significant stakes race next week. The two stakes races for the babies next Tuesday and Wednesday--the Debutante and Graduation--should carry a lot of interest as well with heavy-weight trainers Robertino Diodoro (Canterbury) and Tom Rycroft (Alberta).

Also, the unbeaten 3-year-old filly Melisandre is pointed to the R.C. Anderson Stakes for 3-year-old Manitoba-breds on Wednesday.
  • How good is Manitoba-bred Bankin On Betty? The filly bred by Dr. Betty Hughes won with “something left” in her debut and could be any kind if she runs in the Debutante on Tuesday. But Diodoro has nominated a Shackleford filly, Viva El Capitan, who debuted with a victory at Canterbury.
  • Diamond Digger crushed his ASD field in his debut but Tom Rycroft’s Shorty the Swede, a winner at Century Mile in Edmonton, could be Digger’s main rival in the Graduation Stakes on Wednesday if he goes.

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Hottest jockey: Jorge Carreno (4 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Jared Brown (5 wins)
Biggest longshot: Zoey Ria $64.10 (Race 5 Wednesday)
Stakes champions:
Xtrema (Manitoba Oaks), Plentiful (Manitoba Mile)
Upcoming stakes: Manitoba Derby (Monday), Debutante (Tuesday), Graduation and R.C. Anderson (Wednesday)
$327,526 in the Jackpot pick-5. Mandatory payout on Monday, Aug. 2$74,759 in the Jackpot Hi-5

*       *       *
Hail, Murray Duncan
With Plentiful's win, his barn now holds both top male and top female on grounds

Trainer Murray Duncan should deservedly be walking around on Cloud 9. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Last week his Miss Imperial captured the Escape Clause Stakes for the best female on the grounds and this past Wednesday his Plentiful put away two strong rivals to reign supreme in the Manitoba Mile, the precursor to the Gold Cup for the best horse on the grounds.

What’s so impressive is that after two years of multiple stakes success in 2017 and 2018 including the Manitoba Derby, Plentiful seemed to have lost a step -- but then, this year at 7-years-old, he set a lifetime best 104 Equibase speed figure finishing second in the R. J. Speers and then, of course, beat St. Louie Guy--unbeaten in all three ASD races--and Robertino Diodoro’s 3-5 ship-in Pioneer Spirit on Wednesday. He’s not getting older, he’s getting better.

Happy horse, happy trainer, happy players including track announcer Kirt Contois who told viewers of ASD Live that Plentiful was The One and he was right. Plentiful paid a juicy $15.10.

Any time a local horseman beats a horse shipped in by Robertino Diodoro--winner of three Manitoba Derbies--it has to be a pretty special achievement. And so it was for trainer Jared Brown and jockey Antonio Whitehall whose Xtrema overtook Diodoro’s 3-5 favourite, Alberta Sun who had shipped in from Canterbury Park, to win the Manitoba Oaks this past Monday and pay $4.80.

Solmundson finally breaks through
Close so many times, high school teacher earns trip to Las Vegas to play for mega-riches

After many years on the fringes, Rob Solmundson finally broke through in Monday’s Las Vegas Challenge tournament to win a trip for two to Las Vegas and entry into the Horse Player World Series where hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake. Chalking up four wins and two seconds, the high school teacher built up his bankroll to $70.40, almost $7 more than runner-up Alan Twerdochlib.

Electrician Larry Liebrecht finished third with $52.70.

“I’ve been playing in these tournaments since they started,”
Solmundson told The Insider on his cellphone on the ninth hole of Elmhurst Golf Course. “I’ve been coming close--I finished second once and third a couple times--but a $25 horse always seemed to beat me. This time there fortunately wasn’t a $25 horse.”  

There were 74 tournament entrants. Click here for tournament results. Your next chance to play is Monday, Aug. 16.

Rob Atras’ Maracuja nails unbeaten Malathaat to earn berth in Breeders’ Cup
That’s Rob Atras in the sunglasses on the right next to his wife Brittney
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Oakbank, Man. native Rob Atras whose training career took a giant step forward Saturday at Saratoga when his 3-year-old filly, Maracuja ran down the best filly on the continent, the unbeaten Malathaat, in the exciting $600K Coaching Club American Oaks Stakes at Saratoga guaranteeing his horse a berth in the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in the fall.

Atras, whose career began at Assiniboia Downs in 2009 has never won a race of this stature and has never had a horse in a Breeders’ Cup race. Now Manitobans have a “homer” to watch and cheer for in the world championships at Del Mar on Nov. 5 and 6.

With only four horses in the race because of Malathaat’s intimidation factor (she was five-for-five lifetime), Maracuja went off at hefty odds of 14-1 as the longest shot in the compact four-horse field. In what turned out to be a perfect ride, Ricardo Santana, Jr. used the “Z” racing strategy: he put pressure on the front-running Malathaat early in the race, then pulled his horse to the back, allowing the other two horses to challenge the 1-5 favourite, then he went after Malathaat down the stretch, to win by a head.

“Absolute brilliant ride by Ricardo,”
Atras said in an email to The Insider. “He’s one of the best in the world.  

“She’s always been special to me,”
he said of Maracuja. “I was very proud of her determination, She really laid it down in the stretch.”


to trainer Jared Brown and Jorge Carreno who scored a hat trick on Tuesday with these wins:
  • Race 2: Kate’s Princess $5.20
  • Race 3: Just Call Me Candy $31
  • Race 7: Harrykeepthechange $4.40

WIN A TON IN '21: Did you notice the perfect "Z" trip by Atras' upset filly?

Handicapping books tell you to look for horses who ran a “Z” trip last time because that race could set the horse up to win this time.

Well, there was no better “Z” example than the winning ride Ricardo Santana, Jr. gave 14-1 Maracuja in beating the 1-5 favourite Malathaat in the $600K Coaching Club American Oaks Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday. A “Z” trip means a horse is close to the pace early, then pulls back, then comes on again in the stretch.

That kind of effort usually foreshadows a big effort in the horse’s next race but Santana made it a winning move in that race. As a result, Maracuja and his trainer, Oakbank, Man. native Rob Atras, have earned themselves a berth in the Breeders’ Cup in the fall.


This year’s Derby, the 73rd running, goes Monday in front of a COVID-limited crowd but who won the milestone 50th edition of the race in 1998? Click  here to reveal all you need to know about the 50th Manitoba Derby but were afraid to ask.
Will Melisandre (seen here with trainer Lise Pruitt) remain unbeaten on Wednesday?
  • Tomorrow: $600K Jim Dandy Stakes for top 3-year-olds at Saratoga
  • This Sunday: $500K Woodbine Oaks; Plate Trial at Woodbine
  • Monday, Aug. 2: Manitoba Derby Night at 7:30 p.m.; guaranteed $1 million for a single-ticket winner of the Jackpot Pick 5; mandatory payout of the Jackpot Pick 5, $50,000 Guaranteed Pick 4.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 3: Race night at ASD 7:30 p.m. $250K guarantee payout for single-ticket Jackpot Pick 5 winner. Debutante Stakes
  • Wednesday, Aug. 4: Race night at ASD 7:30 p.m. $250K for single-ticket Jackpot Pick 5; Graduation Stakes, R.C. Anderson Stakes
  • Friday, Aug. 6: $50K Canadian Juvenile Stakes at Century Mile
RACE NIGHT AT THE DOWNS includes “ASD Live” show online at 6:45 p.m. with racing analysts Kirt and Stretch followed by live racing at 7:30 p.m. To watch ASD Live, go to and click on the ASD Live icon at the top of the home page, tune into MTS channels 179 & 180 or watch on YouTube at You can dine and watch live racing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Remember, reservations are a must - call 204-885-3330. View the race night menu at The main floor and outdoor tarmac are available to spectators who are fully immunized with capacity restrictions.


Manitoba Derby - Monday, August 2 - 7:30 p.m.

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