Friday, August 6, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 20 (Issue #801)

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


Provincial mask mandate ends tomorrow; masks will be optional

Masks will be optional starting tomorrow

Starting tomorrow, you can decide for yourself whether you wish to wear a mask while watching races, playing VLTs or dining at Assiniboia Downs. That’s because the province has ended its mask mandate because 80 per cent of Manitobans have received their first COVID-19 vaccination and almost 75 per cent have received their second. Assiniboia Downs staff, however, will continue wearing masks.

Watching the races from the main level on the outdoor tarmac will still require proof of full immunization which will require you to show your QR code (on your phone or printed) or the provincial vax card. Full immunization is not required for enjoying activities in the Clubhouse including watching races, dining or playing VLTs. The Downs is open every day from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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. Quest Inn remains closed at thi s time.


Bullet briefs . . .

  • "Thank you, we needed this" -- the Manitoba Derby was more than a horse race
  • Thrills continue with $250,000 guarantee for single Jackpot Pick 5 winning ticket
  • How chaotic was this? A $1 exactor pays more than $1,000 in turf sprint
  • Why do Kirt and Stretch deserve a big shout-out?
  • What colt is likely to be in demand at CTHS Manitoba yearling sale in two weeks?
FOURTH LAS VEGAS TRIP WILL BE GIVEN AWAY JUST ONE WEEK FROM MONDAY: You’re 10 days away from your next opportunity to earn a trip for two to the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas. Monday, Aug. 16 is the next Las Vegas Challenge tournament. Sign up a week from this Saturday by 1 p.m. 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: Del Mar’s jackpot pick-6 is at $700,000 and Louisiana’s jackpot pick-5 is in the $300,000 range. See all carryovers here.

Fans (yay!) watch in the background as BC Jockey Alexander Marti and trainer Robert VanOverschot collect Manitoba Derby trophies for Uncharacteristic’s win (Ivan Bigg photo)

"Thank you, Assiniboia Downs. We needed this."
Manitoba Derby brings an end to more than a year of COVID repression

Uncharacteristic pulls away from favoured Myopic in Manitoba Derby (Donna Maxwell photo)
The Manitoba Derby was more than a horse race. The 73rd running of the $100,000 race presented by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries will likely come to be known as the race that lifted race fans out of more than a year of COVID repression, allowing them to watch and cheer again.

And cheer they did. Lots of them on benches on the tarmac and at tables in the Clubhouse. It was, in short, a wonderful night at the races. You had to know just about everybody was thinking: “Thank you, Assiniboia Downs. We needed this.”

“It was fantastic to hear the roar of the crowd,”
said CEO Darren Dunn who has seen too many quiet lonely nights in which he was presenting a stakes trophy in the Winner’s Circle with not a peep of fanfare. “We are so thankful to horseplayers, horsepeople and staff who all came together to pull off an outstanding event.”

It was a big night for other reasons:
  • Thanks to a mandatory payout of the Jackpot Pick 5, the track saw its wagering hit unprecedented heights for a Derby Night. Last year’s $2.16 million was eclipsed by this year’s $2.54 million, an increase of 17.6 per cent. (The pick-5 pool reached almost $1.5 million and paid $600 for a 20-cent ticket.)
  • With a large contingent of trainer Robertino Diodoro celebrants standing by to mark the trainer’s record-setting fourth Derby win with overwhelmingly favoured Myopic, a trainer from the Canadian west coast, Robert VanOverschot had other ideas. His Uncharacteristic wore down Myopic in a thrilling stretch duel.

“I’ve trained lots of horses through the years,” VanOverschot told The Insider in the Winner’s Circle after the race. “Uncharacteristic has more heart than any of them.” Robertino’s bid for a fourth Derby win will have to wait. Excellent try, though. Actually, this was VanOverschot’s second Derby win. He won with Lord Shogun in 2002.

  • It was my most exciting Derby in years because of the 12-horse field and the fact I called the race result bang-on: For anyone who cared to listen I predicted an Uncharacteristic victory and a third-place finish by Warriors Hero because he was bringing a lot of route experience into this taxing 1 1/8-mile race and I thought last year’s leading jockey, Antonio Whitehall, would rate him just right. Yes, I was well-rewarded in my superfecta play when the result was 5-3-9-7 – Uncharacteristic (5-1), Myopic (1-5), Warrior’s Hero (17-1),  Major Shepard (35-1).

The good thing, now, is that the Downs has seen to it that there won’t be a sudden letdown into more solemn times. The track is guaranteeing a $250,000 payout to the first player who has the single correct ticket in the Jackpot Pick 5. That will have all of us perusing programs to find vulnerable favourites that could lead to longshot victories and a quarter-million payday.


*       *       *
Hottest jockey: Jorge Carreno (6 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Elton Dickey, Jerry Gourneau (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: Courageous $24.90 (Race 3 Monday)
Stakes champions:
Uncharacteristic (Manitoba Derby), Bankin On Betty (Debutante), Diamond Digger (Graduation) and Melisandre (R.C. Anderson)
Upcoming stakes: Polynesian Kitty (Wednesday)
$11,506 in the Jackpot pick-5; $90,693 in the Jackpot Hi-5

*       *       *
Jockey Stanley Chadee, Jr., coasts home on Melisandre in the R.C. Anderson
BANKIN ON BETTY CRUISES TO DEBUTANTE WIN; WHAT WILL HER BRO FETCH? Manitoba-bred Bankin On Betty, bred by Dr. Betty Hughes, is the real deal. The 2-year-old filly won the Debutante Stakes with authority on Tuesday, even defeating a high-quality filly who raced at Churchill Downs. One assumes this could result in lots of interest in her full brother who will be Hip 21 at the annual CTHS Manitoba yearling sale in two Sundays on the Red River Ex grounds behind the ASD grandstand.

Likewise, Diamond Digger was the impressive winner of the Graduation Stakes for 2-year-olds and Melisandre coasted the last sixteenth mile of the R.C. Anderson for Manitoba-bred 3-year-olds. Bridge-jumpers who had bet $141,000 to place on her to collect $2.10 never had a nervous moment.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “We work with a lot of passionate, hardworking people who love their jobs but I don’t think I know anybody who loves their job more than you do -- the passion you bring. I salute you, sir.” -- CJOB’s Brett McGarry to ASD CEO Darren Dunn after a radio interview about the Manitoba Derby.

$1 exactor pays $1,025
(In 5-furlong turf sprint at Del Mar)

As many of you know, turf sprints can be chaotic races just as races are for horses that haven’t won two races. There’s often a cavalry charge at the end from which just about any horse can emerge.

Take race 7 at Del Mar on Saturday, a 5-furlong turf dash. #10 After Midnight took the lead from the outside post at odds of 27-1 and appeared to be home-free when 78-1 Miss Carousel suddenly found the gas to emerge from following horses to overtake him.

A $1 exactor paid $1,025, a $1 triactor paid almost $10,000 and a 20-cent superfecta paid almost $12,000.

Good luck in handicapping those races; it’s a good idea to take “all” in your horizontal sequence wagers.

Their picks produced handsome rewards on Derby Night
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Kirt and Glen who helped viewers of their ASD Live Derby Night show collect some nice money. They both nailed the $979 pick-4, Kirt with a $60 ticket and Stretch with a $96 ticket. Kirt also picked the 20-cent Jackpot Pick 5 that paid $600 for a $72 outlay. ASD Live begins at 6:45 p.m. before live race cards Monday through Wednesday.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to ASD trainer Jared Brown who hit a career milestone Tuesday--his 500th win when Purely Given owned by Laurie Ferguson and ridden by Andre Martin won the last race ($15.10). For good measure, his Cyclone Dan finished second, producing a $2 exactor that paid $70. And Jared deserves perhaps a bigger shout-out for his stellar 25 per cent win rate, having won 27 races from 106 starts!
Winning filly named for missed field goal
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Double Doink. Horseplayers who also are NFL fans must love the name of this 4-year-old filly. Especially players in Philadelphia (Parx race track) because the “double doink” referred to the Chicago Bears missing a field goal--with the ball hitting the upright and then the crossbar--that won the Eagles a wild card game in January 2019. NFL announcer Chris Collinsworth coined the phrase and it stuck. The filly has been a good bet; she won three of her last four races.
WIN A TON IN '21: Did the work, didn't get rewarded

The mandatory payout of Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 on Saturday--which paid $14,880--was as simple as taking DRF Pro Picks in five legs and taking your own horse in the sixth leg. Did you win it?

You don’t want to know what happened to me. I was probably the only handicapper in North America who went to the trouble of checking the previous five years of two Florida sire stakes races since two of the Rainbow 6 legs were sire stakes events. I noticed two things: Those two races were usually won by less-than-even-money favourites and Michael Yates was a winning trainer.

The detail on the favourites seemed to dominate my thoughts and, wouldn’t you know it, the Yates factor slipped my mind. So you know what happened: A Yates horse won one of the sire stakes and I overlooked him. My ticket only had the Yates horse who finished second in the same race.

That’s why I was cursing myself out loud late Saturday and even Sunday. I did the work and didn’t get rewarded. But at least I get to tell you about a handicapping angle you may wish to tuck away in your brain.

Carl Norman Anderson has been around Assiniboia Downs since it opened in 1958. He got his first trainer’s license in 1964 at the age of 19. By all accounts the man they call CA has had an incredible career. You think you know him? We’re confident this history blog will reveal facts that will surprise you. Click here and prepare yourself to be amazed.
That’s yours if your Jackpot Pick 5 is the only correct one
  • Tonight: $50K Canadian Juvenile Stakes at Century Mile. First post 7:15 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 9: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m. (see below)
  • Tuesday, Aug. 10: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 11: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 16: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m. with Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament (sign up by Saturday at 1 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, Aug. 17: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m. Far Flung Stakes, Phil Kives Stakes
  • Wednesday, Aug. 18: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m. CTHS Sales Stakes
  • Saturday, Aug. 21: $1 million Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar
  • Sunday, Aug. 22: Manitoba CTHS Yearling Sale on the Red River Ex grounds behind the ASD grandstand, Queen’s Plate at Woodbine
RACE NIGHT AT THE DOWNS includes $250,000 guarantee: Race night at 7:30 p.m. includes a $250,000 guarantee to the first person who nails the Jackpot Pick 5 with the only correct ticket. To be ready for the races, watch the “ASD Live” handicapping show online at 6:45 p.m. with racing analysts Kirt and Stretch. (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 Masks are now optional to watch races from the Clubhouse, main floor or outdoor tarmac but you must prove full immunity to watch races on the main level.

Let Andre De Grasse be an inspiration for us all!

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