Friday, August 5, 2016

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 11 No. 28 (Issue #547)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Was the Jackpot Hi 5 payoff unreasonably low?

Some of you thought so but this may change your minds

Top four betting favourites finish in top four in Jackpot

The payoff in Monday’s Jackpot Hi 5 produced shock and dismay among some players. They complained that something sinister was going on to produce a payoff of $355 for a 20-cent wager. They thought it should have been a lot more. I was surprised as well.

But a dispassionate examination of the facts shows the payoff was perfectly logical—and even generous! The facts:

Of almost $700,000 bet into the pool on Monday, $535,000 came from sophisticated players from the Isle of Man hubs located off the coast of England. They may be using a computerized betting system. And it worked: Of the total $824,000 available to be won (after the Downs’ takeout was subtracted from the $700,000 bet on Monday and the $260,000 carryover was added), they picked up $736,000. So Isle of Man bettors profited by about $200,000. The remainder of $88,000 was shared by North American players including bettors at the Downs. As a group, they lost about 50 per cent.

It should be noted that Isle of Man bettors are the ones who pumped up the pool in the first place. In the days leading up to mandatory payout, Downs players were betting about $2,800 a day into the Jackpot while outsiders, especially Isle of Man players, were averaging more than $23,000 per race day.

The second thing to look at is the actual race result. Getting the Jackpot was relatively easy if you simply bet according to the odds. THE TOP FOUR HORSES BET finished in the top four positions (4/1, 4/1, 4/1, 2/1). So if a player simply wheeled the four horses with the lowest odds with ALL on the bottom, the cost was $24. Under the circumstances, getting a return of $355 is big.

Consider, too, that a 20-cent superfecta ticket on the first four finishers paid $65. So, by just wheeling all horses on the bottom of that ticket in the Jackpot, the payoff is more than five times that. That’s huge.

It makes total sense to me. I hope it does to you now, too.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Betting record set on Derby Day
  • Prayed for slop -- and that's exactly what Derby winner got
  • Derby Day sacrifice: What Kirt had to do to keep announcing
  • Drone shoots Pritchett concert scene here
  • Who did Bob pick as the best-looking horses to race to ASD?
  • Neat HPI addition: Colour-coded tracks mean freebies or bonuses

GET BUSY! ONLY 17 DAYS TO WIN A JANUARY VACATION:   Time is running out to land that 5-star vacation in Mexico in January with your $5 place parlay. There are only 17 live race days left. Top amount to beat remains $166 but remember that daily and monthly prizes are available, too! Congrats to the biggest parlayer in July, Donn Jenkins, who produced a whopping $160.65 on Sunday, the last day of July. He wins a race night buffet for two and one year of the Winnipeg Sun. Good luck to y’all tonight!

DERBY DAY CONTEST RESULTS: A big shout-out to winners in the Derby Day hat contest and the top three in the $2,000 Derby Sweepstakes (being matched with a Derby horse):

Hat contest:
$100 for each of the following categories: Funniest/Most Outrageous: Sarah McCulloch, Most Glamourous: Lauri Chamaillard, Best Racing Theme: Lisa Anderson. $25 Walmart Gift Cards were awarded in the children’s category to: Talyalynn Greaves, Colby Beaulne and Brock Greaves.

Derby sweepstakes:
Winning $1,000 for being matched with Inside Straight was Laine Robson, Winning $250 for Ruck was Wayne Desiantnyk and winning $100 for Power Driven was Barry Beardy.

QX104 – Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive


Want the highlights for the next 10 days? Go here.
Want to know what tracks are racing in August ? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers at all tracks? See them here.
Want to know live race dates? Click here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Jays - Bombers

Next live race days:
Friday, Saturday and next Wednesday- parade to post 7:15 p.m.

Sign up for final barn tour

After every live race card: Crazy Hour and free VLT tournaments. Beer, wine, shots $2.95 and half-price appetizers.

LAST CHANCE BARN TOUR SUNDAY: Have you ever visited the jockeys’ quarters? Have you seen where the stewards watch the races and Kirt calls the races? Do you have questions you’d like to bounce off a trainer and see his horses? This Sunday is your last chance to make this happen. Sign up for the final barn tour of the season at Guest Services prior to Sunday.

Note that $10 tickets for a fund-raising social for ASD horsemen on Friday, Sept. 2 may be purchased tonight and tomorrow before races 1 and 2 at the HBPA horseshoe opposite the Fan Education Kiosk. Tickets also may be purchased at the HBPA office or at the door.


Inside Straight charges through the slop to win 68th Manitoba Derby

New wagering record

$1.1 million on Derby Day was 55% higher than previous record

The $714,000 wagering record from September, 1988, was obliterated on Derby Day, thanks to widespread interest in the mandatory payout of the Jackpot Hi 5 carryover.

Just over $1.1 million was wagered, with the lion’s share of $535,000 coming from an offshore site, the hub on the Isle of Man, an island plunk in the middle of water equidistant from England, Ireland and Wales.

Despite a downpour that kept many patrons away, on-track handle increased by five per cent over last year’s Derby Day.

Derby winner loved the slop

Next stop: Canadian Derby in two weeks

Rob Atras and Scott Stevens in Winner's Circle after win

“I was praying for rain,” said Inside Straight’s jockey, Scott Stevens, in the Winner’s Circle after he guided the fan favourite to a 1 ¼ length victory over Woodbine’s Ruck in the 68th exciting renewal of the Manitoba Derby ($4.90). The 3-year-old’s record showed he loved the slop.

The rain gods obviously were on his side, and that of Inside Straight’s owner, Alberta farmer Randy Howg, and trainer of record, Robertino Diodoro (who was at Del Mar) and Diodoro’s assistant at the Downs, Rob Atras.

After starting his racing career at the Downs, Atras has been on the road as Diodoro’s assistant the last few years and made his first foray back to his “home” track a triumphant one. He can now cross “Manitoba Derby” off his bucket list as he heads to Northlands Park where, he says both Inside Straight and stablemate, Solve, will be entered into the $150,000 Canadian Derby two weeks from tomorrow.

Let me guess they’ll be doing a rain dance the morning of that Derby.

*      *       *

Texan grabs Oaks

While local trainer forced to eat crow

CEO Darren Dunn holds umbrella over Henry Witt Jr. as Rob MacLennan interviews his trainer, Jerry Gourneau

Last year Henry Witt, Jr., a Texas cattle rancher and former champion race car driver, was in town to watch his Witt Six just miss winning the Manitoba Derby. This year he made amends in the filly equivalent race, the Manitoba Oaks, with a Lonestar import, Electric Cowgirl ($5.50).

Like other participants on Derby Day, Witt was singing the praises of Assiniboia Downs as a place he enjoys coming to because the Downs pulls out all stops to make it a pleasurable experience. CEO Darren Dunn was even there in the Winner’s Circle holding an umbrella over Witt’s head as he waited to be interviewed after his win.

Not as happy after the race was teenaged trainer Cole Bennett who had predicted at the beginning of the season that his horse, About a Girl, would win the Oaks. After challenging Electric Cowgirl for the lead, About a Girl faded to fifth. He had a valid excuse, though: Maybe she didn’t like the off-going. But Bennett kind of made up for it by winning the next two races in a row—Sea of Silence ($17.40) and Bellamy’s Song ($3.20)--a huge feat on Derby Day for a 19-year-old in only his second year of training.


Kirt Contois
Fighting fire with fire

No throat to go on

So race-caller Contois dips into the (hot) sauce

You couldn’t tell by his race-calling and announcements but track announcer Kirt Contois’ voice had had it by the fourth race on Derby Day. It was part of a lingering throat infection and continuing seemed impossible.

But Derby Day demands sacrifice. So he dipped into the sauce. “Barbados hot sauce,” as he put it. Between races and announcements he dipped broccoli florets into the sauce and chewed on them and as the broccoli slipped down his throat, the tiny bits coated his screaming throat lining with numbing hot sauce.

Using throat sprays and other treatments didn’t work, he said, but this did the trick. Resilient or what?

*      *       *

Show must go on

Inside Straight's groom ignores twisted ankle, bone chip

Despite a bone chip, Kirsten Fox tends to Inside Straight -- seen in a selfie

While she washed Inside Stralght’s legs Sunday morning, a playful horse on a walker caused Kirsten Fox to slip and twist her ankle awkwardly. Two days later the physiotherapist and sometime groom would discover she had chipped a bone and will be in a leg cast for five weeks. But, at the time, there was no way she would abandon her responsibilities to look after the ultimate Derby winner for someone she offered to help while he was in town, assistant trainer Rob Atras.

So, according to assistant director of racing Derek Corbel, Kirsten iced the swelling through Derby morning and put on a brave face as she led him to the paddock where she paraded him and, after his winnng race, led him to the Winner’s Circle, walked him to the test barn and cooled him out. Ouch!

Despite the pain “she was completely elated,” said Corbel. “After being around the track and watching winners every year, it's an indescribable feeling when you actually get to be part of it all.” Bone chip or no bone chip.



Witt Six captures Manitoba Mile

IS WITT SIX NOW BEST ON THE GROUNDS? Witt Six , the local horse who almost won the Manitoba Derby last year, showed—exactly a year later—that he’s still one of the classiest horses at the track as he ran down his rivals in the Manitoba Mile Stakes on Saturday, the first day of the Festival of Racing weekend. It seemed appropriate that he should do so on the special weekend in which his Texas owner, Henry Witt Jr., would be in town to watch his 3-year-old filly, Electric Cowgirl, win the Manitoba Oaks.

Some see Mounties, bettors see "a big win"

Both Saturday and Sunday, of course, showcased the RCMP Musical Ride with an even bigger crowd than their last appearance in 2012 jamming the grandstand to watch. The majesty and precision of their performance evokes awe, regardless how many times you’ve seen them.

And, for horseplayers at least, when the Mounties produce their famous “dome” circle of riders, what comes to mind is getting a package of $50 bills in payment for a big win since the “dome” is pictured on the back of the bill.


Longshot Ty Lane (#4) wins Debutante

FOOLED YA! SAYLER'S LONGEST SHOT WINS DEBUTANTE: We all know Ardell Sayler is a great baby trainer. What we don’t know as players, though, is which one is better than the next one. So players were fooled in Sunday’s Debutante Stakes in which four of the six horses were Sayler entrants but the longest shot at 22/1, Ty Lane, won the race with Rohan Singh at the reins.

Two of his other horses, Ruled (4/1) and Mi Hossenda (5/2) finished second and third. And the even-money favourite, Atanygivenmoment, finished last with leading rider Christopher Husbands aboard. Yikes!

And what payoffs! Exactor: $220. Quinella: $64.60. Triactor: $575. Superfecta: $3,026. Okay, be honest, how many of you were kicking yourself for not simply boxing Sayler’s four horses?

DRONE'S VIEW OF SUNDAY CONCERT: As gentle warm winds wafted across the ASD tarmac from the south Sunday night, the very talented Aaron Pritchett put an exclamation point on another great night of racing and RCMP Musical Ride with a free concert. What did it look like? Mitch Janzen, who leads the crew that sends ASD racing around the world, flew his new toy—a drone—into the air to capture the scene. See what the drone saw here.

Hottest jock:
Christopher Husbands, Antonio Whitehall (6 wins)
Hottest trainer: Shelley Brown (3 wins)
Biggest longshot: Ty Lane $47.80 (3rd Sun)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $886 (3rd Sun)

STRETCH DRIVE OF THE WEEK: Watch video here. (Aug. 1 Race 7)

Garylle Stewart (1946-2016)


"GOOD FRIEND OF ASD" PASSES: A one-time jockey at Minnesota state fairs who went on to became a lawyer in Fargo, N.D., and partnered with ASD trainer Murray Duncan to own a modest stable of horses—and especially Pleasant Closing in recent years—died Monday at 76 in a Fargo nursing home. Garylle B. Stewart, described by associates as being a “complete gentleman” with a “quirky, generous sense of humour,” was the brother of Bobby Stewart, a leading jockey in the Downs’ early days.

He helped draft North Dakota liquor laws and a pet phrase was “Let’s make it as simple as possible.” Pleasant Closing’s duels with Ardell Sayler’s two-time Horse of the Year Balooga Bull were classic confrontations that delighted race fans. “He was a great friend of Assiniboia Downs,” lamented track historian Bob Gates.

VLT hostess Corinne rewards Margaret O'Dell for winning VLT month-end finale

UNLEASHES GOOD LUCK: Congratulations to retired social worker Margaret O’Dell who unleashed her good luck on Big City 5’s in the Club West Gaming Lounge Saturday night to capture the monthly VLT tournament and the bonus $250 that goes with the honour. Remember that tonight and tomorrow night 10 draw entrants will win $20 in free spins and 20 entrants on Wicked Wednesday next week. Get into the draw after the races!

HPIBET Marshall Posner

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. What do the colour stripes in TRACKS menu mean?
Last week, HPIbet launched a new colour-coded promo system. Going forward, when there is a promotion available for a given track, there will be a colour-coded band across the track’s name in the Available Tracks Menu (view image here). If there are no promos available then the track name will appear as usual in the menu.

This past Monday August 1st, there were two promotions available to HPIbet players. The first was for Grand River Raceway (harness track). The gold bar indicates that HPIbet was offering 3% cash back on all wagers placed at this track on that day (view image here). The second was for Hastings Park. The red bar indicates that there was a free program being offered for Hastings Park for that day of racing.

Be sure to watch for these promos when you’re wagering and be on the lookout for new colour coded promotions as well.

Got a question for Marshall? Email

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: Best looking horses?

Who have been the best-looking horses through Assiniboia Downs history? Bob decides to tackle that minefield in this week’s blog. He picks four male horses and two females. Can you guess who they are? Find out here.

NEXT INSIDER: Wednesday. Wicked Wednesday. Rib-licious Wicked Wednesday.

Guest photo: "First time around"
Thanks to Hustler (Andrew Paterson) of TSN's Hustler and Lawless show for passing this along "first time past the grandstand" shot of the Manitoba Derby

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