Friday, August 4 , 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 29 (Issue #597)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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



Derby Belle Francine Fournier inserts Derby entrants into post positions yesterday

"Chasing a dream"

Manitoba-bred filly Escape Clause entered in the eight-horse Manitoba Derby

Escape Clause connections (from left): owner Phil Allard, owner Grant Sissons, trainer Don Schnell, jockey Adolfo Morales, owner Barry Arnason, owner Pat Beavis and Arnason Farms manager Sharon Campbell. (Missing: owner Ray Bouchard)

They deserved a standing ovation. The most courageous guests at yesterday’s Manitoba Derby press conference in the Terrace Dining Room were the connections (see photo) of the Manitoba-bred filly, Escape Clause, which they’ve entered to race in Monday’s $75,000 Manitoba Derby.

History is decidedly against them. Only one filly has won the Derby since the Downs opened its doors in 1958 and that was Fanfreluche in 1970—and she was bred in eastern Canada. And only two Manitoba-bred boys, Royal Frolic and Merry’s Jay, have done it.

“It’s called chasing a dream,”
said owner Barry Arnason. “The stars are aligned. How often do you get a chance to take a shot? No one wants ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ on their tombstone.”

Besides, said trainer Don Schnell, “she acts and trains like a gelding. She’s strong and eats everything put in front of her. There’s nothing frail or weak about her.”

To be sure, she’ll be the fan favourite on Monday, although not the odds-board favourite. If you love her, you’ve got the experience of track announcer Kirt Contois on your side: He has picked her to win. That would give me goosebumps—and probably a lot of you, too. All we can say to the connections is “good luck” and “glad you’re going for the gusto when you could have done the safe thing and entered the Manitoba Oaks instead.”


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Get a Derby edge

Phone Samantha to sign up for tomorrow's workshop at 5:30 p.m.

Marshall and Glen, ASD’s popular fan education specialists, will be holding a Derby Day workshop at the Downs tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. You get free programs, Player Rewards points and $10 added to your HPI account after betting $50 in the ensuing week. See workshop details and all other Derby Day promotions here.

SIGN UP WITH SAMANTHA AT 204-885-3330 ext. 0

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Get cash back for your bets on Derby Day races!

Use your HPI account for up to 9 per cent cash back!

You already know that ASD will reward you with up to 4 per cent cash back on your bets. (See cash-back levels here.)

In addition, when you bet at least $40 on the Derby Day card Monday, HPI will reward you with 5 per cent cash back! To get that bonus, go here to opt in. That gives you an opportunity to get up to 9 per cent back!

Not an HPI member? Then sign up at the Fan Education Centre tonight or tomorrow night between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Not only will that put you on the receiving end of HPI bonuses, THE DOWNS WILL ALSO ADD $20 FREE TO YOUR ACCOUNT as a new member. See Marshall or Glen at the Fan Education Centre.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Will Danelson get his wish of 1,200 wins by his 80th birthday? He needs three more.
  • Here comes Kentucky Derby of trotting races. $1 million Hambletonian, Saturday.
  • Saturday's Koleanla Stakes celebrates great Manitoba mare
  • Missing cookies leads to thoughtful replacement
  • What's the biggest danger in horse race handicapping?
  • Media Melee falters; race to Gold Cup now wide open

Alan Hampton
Third finalist

BETTING SPREE -- THREE FINALISTS IN THE BOOKS, TWO TO COME: July's 60-second betting sprees came to an end Saturday with the biggest winner of the month, accountant, Alan Hampton $248.80, being rewarded with a $60 bonus, a race night buffet for two and a seat in the grand finale to earn the grand prize of $600 on the final day of live racing, Sunday, Sept. 10. Still two finalists to come!
QX104 � Today's Country

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Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
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What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Jays - Bombers

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Kirt, Rob and Marshall

Manitoba Derby picks

Kirt, Rob and Marshall go out on a limb on the biggest race of the year

  • Kirt's Derby pick --  #6 Escape Clause (7-2)
  • Rob's Derby pick --  #5 Tizfun (7-1)
  • Marshall's Derby pick -- #4 Witt'sdollarnight (3-1)
OTHERS: Derek Corbel, assistant director of racing, picks Tizfun. And mine? Witt'sdollarnight by four lengths but hoping for goosebumps.

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Race to the Gold Cup now wide open

Media Melee falters; Aniar moves 'em down in Manitoba Mile

Aniar (#7) gets 'em late

Last Friday's Manitoba Mile was one of the more thrilling stakes races of the meet as outsider Aniar ($16.90), ridden by Richard Mairs and trained by Tom Gardipy, Jr., mowed down the field late to win the $25,000 race.

Aniar and second-place finisher Galitzianer (8-1) with Christopher Husbands ran an outside stalking trip while Victory Call (3-1) with Sheldon Chickeness was the early pace-setter and finished third. The exactor paid $116.70.

Now the path to the Gold Cup in September is wide open as favourite Media Melee, winner of the other races on the Gold Cup path, finished sixth. Owner John Ganas said the 4-year-old gelding just may not be up to racing longer distances. His previous three stakes wins were at sprint distances.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Porn Star Pete. A 4-year-old gelding racing in Australia owned by a doctor and his wife. Did the gelding get his name from someone who admires Mr. Pete, a 37-year-old award-winning porn actor and director (and family man) in the U.S. who's been making porn since he was 20? Certainly the name didn't derive from the gelding's sire, Masked Assassin, or his mother who is Too Nice.



What's the biggest danger in racing?

Horses who had a terrible first start

They can be killers – horses who have made one start and that start was terrible.

What should a player do? The odds board shows that most of the time, players take that first start as being representative of what the horse is capable of -- unless there's reason to believe there will be a dramatic improvement because the horse had a troubled trip or his odds showed he was capable of better.

Not enough to go on. Often players should put a line through that debut start.

Consider the third race at Los Alamitos last Friday. Two of the 10 horses in the quarter horse race had raced once in April at Weber Downs (Wbr) in Utah – WHERE THERE IS NO BETTING – and where they were “no factor” in their respective races, having finished fifth and seventh. The horses, Speedy Elvis at 42-1 and Pasobility at 40-1, were now racing at the top quarter horse track on the continent.

What happened? They finished one-two. A 10-cent superfecta ticket won the entire pool of more than $20,800 U.S. A $1 triactor paid $15,742 U.S.

If anything was learned, maybe it was to pay attention to horses coming from the non-betting Weber Downs. The other lesson is simply to include one-timers as often as possible on tickets especially if the rest of the field are not world-beaters. The horses had a 15 per cent trainer at Los Al but would that have been enough for you to predict a one-two finish?
  • Races 4 & 5 Saturday night
    A CTHS Sales Graduate double!

    A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Manitoba Jockey Club president Harvey Warner and MJC secretary Barry Anderson whose two horses they bought with others at CTHS yearling sales won back-to-back races Saturday night. Has that ever happened before?

    -- The yearling they bought last year for $13,000, Why So Blue (the sales topper) with other owners Right Attitude, Hillside Farm and Scott Anderson, staged an impressive debut win in race 4, a race for 2-year-olds ($12.30).

    -- And it looked like Warner and Anderson hadn't even moved from their Winner's Circle position (click on the photos to see them at the far left) when the race 5 picture was taken after their Devil's Gold, their purchase the previous year with Right Attitude and Hillside Farm, won what was billed as “Grandma Egg's 75th Birthday Race” ($2.90).

    Stylish Anne Champion
    Thoughtful cookie baker

    Nice to have that happen! Call it the Sales Graduate Double!
  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to someone who already is a champion—literally-- Anne Champion, who thoughtfully baked up a tin of chocolate chip cookies to give to long-time trainer Doug Mustard after she read in George Williams' Free Press racing column last Friday that he was bemoaning the disappearance of a bag of homemade cookies from his tack room in the stables. Anne is one classy lady--in her fashion sense, too--as she and husband, David, go to great lengths to dress stylishly for important days at the track, such as Derby Day. What will they be wearing? They're horse owners, too, regularly investing in yearlings who likely are whinnying their own shout-outs, thankful for carrot treats from their owners.

    Trainer Shaun Morin

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to trainer Shaun Morin for winning four races in a row after conditioning under the radar despite a 25 per cent win rate at ASD last year and this year. (He formerly trained at Marquis Downs in Saskatchewan.) Morin scored in the three races he entered Wednesday and one on Saturday:
    -- Networked $22.60
    -- Cowboy Curlin $2.40
    -- Artie in the Park $6.10
    -- Home Park $7.20

  • Executive chef
    Gerry Tummillo

    A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Gerry Tummillo who has been appointed executive chef at Assiniboia Downs following the departure of Michael Keeler who now is selling restaurant ovens for a major German company. One of the first things Gerry, a former restaurant owner, did was introduce hot bourbon bacon brownies as a dessert staple (and much-talked-about favourite) and aims to create such flavourful entrees that certified Angus prime rib would become almost an after-thought because everything else is so good. Best wishes to Mike, too, in his new pursuits!

Hottest jockey(s): Prayven Badrie (4 wins)
Hottest trainer(s): Shaun Morin (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: String Puppet $45.80 (race 6 Wednesday)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $1,224 (race 7 Saturday)
Stakes champion(s): Aniar (Manitoba Mile)

SEASON 60 TRIVIA TEASER: Which of these is a Manitoba-bred horse who won the Manitoba Derby? (a) Prime Time T.V. (b) L'Enjoleur (c) Royal Frolic (d) Merry's Jay. See answer at bottom of column.



Kentucky Derby of trotting races goes Saturday

$1 million Hambletonian set for Meadowlands; race goes at 4:11 p.m.

Father of American Trotters -- born 1849
Startling fact: His time for a one-mile trot was one minute slower than trotters today

The 96th running of the Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters goes this Saturday at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Muscle Hill holds the record of 1:50.1 which the colt achieved at the Meadowlands in 2009.

Interestingly, the father of American trotters, Hambletonian 10, for whom this race is named had a one-mile best of 2:48.5, almost a full minute slower than today's trotters. He raced in the 1850s.

Nineteen horses entered the race so two elimination races worth $100,000 will be held to determine the finalists. The morning line favourites at 5-2 are International Moni and Devious Man.

The female equivalent, the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old trotting fillies, is also scheduled for Saturday. The first race at Meadowlands goes at 11 a.m.


Tomorrow's Koleanla Stakes honours great Manitoba mare
By Wayne King, vice-president HBPA

Koleanla defeats Boobsplasher (Boobsplasher?) on Canada Day, 1988

The second-last stepping stone for older mares on their way to the Manitoba Matron on Sept. 9 will be this Saturday, the Koleanla Overnight Stakes, one of two stakes on the card (the other is the Graduation for the babies). Bred in Manitoba, Koleanla showed her talent right from the get-go by winning her career debut in 1985. She followed that with nine more wins at ASD, eight of which were stakes races!

Among her victories were the Countess of Dufferin, Muriel Smith, Canada Day (twice), Manitoba Maturity (vs boys), Duchess Stakes and the Winnipeg Sun Stakes. Koleanla definitely had a nose for the finish line as she compiled a career record of 10 wins, three seconds and two thirds in 22 starts. Her most dominant year was 1987 when she won six races and bankrolled $90,000.


Gary Danelson
Looking for three wins

DANELSON WATCH: HE NEEDS THREE WINS IN 10 DAYS: To achieve his goal of 1,200 wins by his 80th birthday Friday, Aug. 25, trainer Gary Danelson needs three more wins. There are 10 race days to make this happen (including Aug. 25). Will he do it? Are you channelling winning vibes his way? He won his very first race at the Downs on Aug. 29, 1959, at the age of 22. Some career!

UNBELIEVABLE HOW "UNBELIEVABLE" IS USED: Have you noticed how the word “unbelievable” is used so differently in the racing world compared to the rest of the sports world? In the rest of the sports world, it describes something good (“What an unbelievable catch!”) whereas in the racing world it's used to describe bad. (“What an unbelievable ride!”). I don't think I've ever heard “unbelievable” in racing being used to describe something positive.


HISTORY ON THE HOOF: Manitoba Derby -- the forgotten years

It's Derby week and that of course is the theme of Bob's blog this week. Who won the first Manitoba Derby?  How many Manitoba-breds have won the race and how many fillies have found their way to the winner's circle? The answers to these questions may not be as easy as they appear.  Historian Bob explains here.

ANSWER TO SEASON 60 TRIVIA TEASER: (c) Royal Frolic and (d) Merry's Jay.

NEXT INSIDER: Friday, Aug. 11. (There is no live racing Wednesday next week)

Will the Manitoba Derby be historic?
Enjoy the day!

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