Friday, July 31, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 30 (Issue #749)

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


Here comes Derby Day with mandatory payout

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries presents $60,000 Manitoba Derby on holiday Monday
  • Eight-race card begins at 7:30 p.m. (It will be spectator-free except for Terrace Dining Room with advance reservations)
  • Mandatory payout of the Super Hi-5 on the last race -- pool is estimated to exceed $500,000
  • $50,000 guaranteed pick-4 pool
  • Watch and wager online at
  • Download race program here.


Will Robertino Diodoro 4-peat?

Trainer Robertino Diodoro loves the Downs and so do his horses, with three of them winning the Manitoba Derby in the past four years (Inside Straight, Sky Promise and Oil Money). By that accounting alone, his Something Natural, claimed for $20,000 at Churchill Downs in June, will be the colt to beat.

Will local horse owners knock off the invaders?
Rosser horse owner Jean Ewen hopes Real Grace fulfills a dream (Free Press photo)

Perhaps the loudest cheering--although most of it unheard--will be for the second choice in the race, Real Grace because of the colt’s local connections. Bought for $38,000 U.S. at a Florida sale by trainer and part owner, Shelley Brown, her main owner, Jean McEwen, is a through-and-through horse lover, caring for two dozen horses at her Rosser farm. Her daughter, Bette Holtman, is also a partner along with U.S. trainer Bernell Rhone. Wouldn’t it be heart-warming to see McEwen realize a dream?

Will win-machine trainer Jerry Gourneau add to his glory?

Ignore trainer Jerry Gourneau’s horses at your peril, after you saw his 40-1 Labhay  beat the top 4-year-old fillies, Hidden Grace and Miss Imperial in the Escape Clause Stakes last week. He brings two to Tango: Gambler who was beaten by Real Grace in the Derby Trial and Mr. Unusual, claimed for $10,000 at Churchill Downs, a race in which the horse finished second. Gourneau horses just finished one-two-three in the Manitoba Mile; why not one-two in the Manitoba Derby as a kicker? 

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Is this a first? Gourneau sweeps top three positions in Manitoba Mile Stakes
  • Breath-holding time: My longshot Derby hopeful, Thousand Words, races tomorrow
  • Will Stretch be "stupid" again? He challenges viewers of ASD Live to catch him
  • First Night Market in July was such a hit--and safe--that another happens in nine days
  • Bob marks two anniversaries, one not so good
WHO HAS QUALIFIED FOR A DISCOUNT IN THE NEXT VEGAS CHALLENGE TOURNEY? See the list here. The person who qualifies the most number of times for the Aug. 17 tourney gets (or shares) $100. You qualify for a discount on the $50 entry fee by picking three winners on live race cards leading to the tournament. Last month’s $100 winner was Brittany Jonatanson.
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.

GET A LUCKY STREAK GOING (such as this) on 60 VLTs 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: open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Canad Inns Windsor Park: open daily at 9 a.m.
  • McPhillips Station Casino: open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.
  • Club Regent Casino: open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.
  • 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.

THE BIGGEST SHOUT-OUT OF THE SEASON has to go to trainer Jerry Gourneau who exceeded himself Wednesday by saddling the top three winners in the Manitoba Mile Stakes. THE TOP THREE! When did that last happen in a stakes race? I don’t recall and neither does track historian Bob Gates. Not satisfied with just one superior horse, Deep Explorer--who won the previous stakes for the best horses on the grounds--Gourneau added two horses who last raced in Texas: Mas Mischief owned by Henry S.Witt Jr. and Gold Buyer owned by Mike Powers (who won the race, Deep Explorer finished second)

The former school administrator began dabbling in horse conditioning in 1995 but really hit his stride in 2011 when his horses earned $413,000. He’s already at $465,000 this year.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If I ever pick a horse like that again, you can email me to tell me how stupid I am.”-- Stretch on the ASD Live show before live racing on Tuesday, following his picking a horse the previous night to win a mile race (Zach Ridge Road) despite the trainer’s zero-for-27 stat in route races. The horse finished second. Stretch, who has a reputation for being a stats man, put Opinion over Stat.
EYE ON LIVE (cont'd)

Stakes for babies follow Derby Day

Debutante and Graduation follow on Tuesday and Wednesday

After the sophomores (the 3-year-olds) have their day in the Manitoba Derby on Monday, the babies (2-year-olds) get to show their best stuff in the Debutante Stakes Tuesday and the Graduation on Wednesday.

The Graduation is for 2-year-olds and the Debutante showcases 2-year-old fillies. That makes it three days of great stakes races.

*       *      *   

Hottest jockey: Kayla Pizarro (5 wins)
Hottest trainer: Jerry Gourneau (5 wins)
Biggest longshot: Stealthestretch $42.40 (Race 6 Wednesday)
Stakes champions: Gold Buyer (Manitoba Mile), Kickalittlebooty (Manitoba Oaks)
Upcoming stakes:
Manitoba Derby (Monday), Debutante (Tuesday), Graduation (Wednesday)
$311,986 in the Jackpot pick-5; $188,268 in the Super Hi-5 (NOTE: Mandatory payout of the Super Hi-5 will happen on Derby Day Monday, Aug. 3.)

Please throw me a few crumbs

My Thousand Words faces Uncle Chuck and Honor A.P. at Del Mar tomorrow

Thousand Words
Will he give me hope?
It’s breath-holding time in this corner at about 4:30 p.m. central time tomorrow.

That’s when my Derby hopeful, Thousand Words, faces the kind of stiff competition he would likely face in the Kentucky Derby: Uncle Chuck and Honor A. P. They’re among six very talented foes in the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar, a Kentucky Derby prep race with Derby-qualifying points available to the top four finishers.

Uncle Chuck beat Thousand Words last time they met--but Thousand Words was returning from a lengthy layoff. And Honor A. P. won the Santa Anita Derby, beating another very talented colt, Authentic.

I have about $200 in Kentucky Derby future wagers on Thousand Words at odds of up to 65-1 so I’d at least like to see some gameness. The colt doesn’t need to win but only that he’s taken a step forward since his second-place finish to Uncle Chuck in the Los Alamitos Derby.

I can live with a few crumbs of hope.

Kickalittlebooty wins Manitoba Oaks (Jason Halstead photo)
KICKALITTLEBOOTY DOES EXACTLY THAT IN MANITOBA OAKS: The filly equivalent of the Manitoba Derby, the Manitoba Oaks, turned into a real thriller when Brent Hrymak’s Kickalittlebooty had to stage a determined rally to catch Dazzling Gold in the fifth race Tuesday. It turned out not to matter anyway because Dazzling Gold was disqualified and placed fifth for interfering with Belle Strike in the turn. It was an exciting race nonetheless and gives Kickalittlebooty a record of 5-3-2-0 including the Chantilly Stakes. Originally a horse in the stable of Ardell Sayler who passed last year, she’s one to watch.

Comparing racing in Toronto to racing in Edmonton, trainer Tim Rycroft made this interesting comment in a recent interview: “I think the air's a little cleaner and we have a few less breathing issues (at Century Mile in Edmonton) than Woodbine. I could be totally wrong, but I know we get lots of horses out of Toronto that were notorious bleeders in Toronto and they didn't bleed here working in the morning.” Something to keep in mind if you’re handicapping horses who ship to Edmonton from Toronto. Read more in the Paulick Report here.

Sensing a very tricky pick-5 at Woodbine last Saturday, the “I won bigger” betting group had taken “all” with “all” in the last two legs and needed the favourite in Leg 3 to win -- but he was scratched and another horse was substituted. The group DID have the winning 20-1 horse in that leg on another ticket but couldn’t complete the pick-5 with its selected horses. The pick-5 paid $8,443 for 20-cents. The group got a $250 superfecta refund because of the scratch. What will tomorrow’s Woodbine races bring? See you on the Clubhouse plaza at 10:30 a.m. to get it right.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: Two anniversaries, one not so good

This week Bob reflects on the 50th anniversary of the Manitoba Centennial Derby (this is, after all, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Manitoba) and the sad 40th anniversary of the final issue of the Winnipeg Tribune. Trivia question of the week: what do the following horses have in common?  Hari’s Song, Zorf, Tallyho Joe, Wise Glance, Chicle’s Jaco, Fall Session and Inti-Raymi?  Click here for Bob’s remembrance of the July 15, 1970 Derby.
July night market was safe and fun so ASD will do it again Sunday, Aug. 9 (Unique Opitz photo)
  • Tomorrow: “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. Spectator-free (except in the Terrace Dining Room with advance reservations).
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4: Live racing at 7:30 p.m. Debutante Stakes
  • Wednesday, Aug. 5: Live racing at 7:30 p.m. Graduation Stakes
  • Saturday, Aug. 8: “I won bigger” workshop 10:30 a.m. Kentucky Derby prep race Travers Stakes at Saratoga
  • Sunday, Aug. 9: Manitoba Night Market & Festival from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. featuring exhibitors, food trucks and entertainment galore. This follows a safe, well-attended night market last month. Admission and parking are both $5.
Celebrate the Manitoba Derby with the official Derby drink, the Razderby. Order it in the Clubhouse or mix one while watching/wagering at home (raspberry vodka and lemonade)

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

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