Friday, August 7, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 31 (Issue #750)

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


Mandatory Jackpot pick-5 payout on Tuesday

More than $2 million pool predicted; special "I won bigger" workshop to be held

More than $2 million at stake
Greedy eyes now turn to Tuesday’s Jackpot pick-5 at the Downs. That will be mandatory payout day for a pool that is anticipated to exceed $2 million.

In the last mandatory payout on July 6, a carryover of $447,000 led to betting of $2.68 million. The carryover into next Tuesday--providing the pool is not won on Monday--is anticipated to be about the same.

There will be a special “I won bigger” group play on the pick-5 (and pick-4) with a workshop on the races at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on the Clubhouse plaza. All are invited to attend.


Bullet briefs . . .

  • Derby win is HUGE for seconditis jockey Galviz; came into Derby with 32-1-10-1 record
  • Thank you, Thousand Words! My 65-1 Derby pick wins Del Mar stakes
  • Why is next Wednesday so special? Features most competitive female stakes race
  • Two more KY Derby prep races go this weekend; Travers tomorrow, Ellis Park Sunday
  • Who are you rooting for to win the Kentucky Derby bankroll? Hampton or Roberts?
Who are you rooting for? Alan Hampton (left) or Jim Roberts?
IT’S CRUNCH TIME! WHO WILL WIN TIE-BREAKER FOR DERBY BANKROLL? So tomorrow is the day the 2018 Handicapper of the Year, Alan Hampton, faces ASD’s most determined contest participant, Jim Roberts, a retired math prof at Red River College, to determine who will win the $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Sept. 5. They had tied each other in points for picking the winners of Kentucky Derby prep races in a countdown contest that started in February.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in August? Find out  here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.

60 VLTs OPEN DAILY: From 9 a.m. - 2 a.m.

HOW TO WATCH LIVE RACING: 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.


  • 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.


Mongolian Wind edges Mr. Unusual after a stirring stretch duel (Jason Halstead photo)
Owner Andy Stronach celebrates (Jason Halstead photo)

Derby Day was weird--and wonderful!


That was pretty obvious, wasn’t it? Never before has the Derby been run at night and never with spectators banned from the outdoor grandstand and tarmac. No people. No benches. No hoopla.

My walk across the empty, dark, eerily-still tarmac to take pictures of the race and post-race activities in the Winner’s Circle was surreal. Were these some of the same emotions felt by Neil Armstrong when he stepped onto the moon in 1969? Only one person was there--sitting quietly on a bench--Free Press reporter Jason Bell (see top of Insider). Stephen King could probably write an entire thriller based on those tarmac vibes alone.


  • Wagering on the eight-race card from bettors around the world soared to a Derby Day record of $2.16 million. The mandatory Super Hi-5 payout was a hefty $16,000 for a 20-cent ticket. (I’m still kicking myself for not boxing the seven horses I predicted could be part of the winning tickets.)

  • The Derby race itself was exciting and unpredictable. A duel down the stretch between 7-1 Mongolian Wind (trained by Wade Eno, owned by Mongolian Stable & Andy Stronach, ridden by Wilmer Galviz) and 15-1 Mr. Unusual (trained by Jerry Gourneau, owned by Henry S. Witt Jr., ridden by Richard Mangalee) was needed to settle the score, with Mongolian getting a head’s edge.

  • ASD will get a reputation boost because the owner of the Derby-winning horse, Andy Stronach, says he plans to enter the colt in the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, in October. Having Assiniboia Downs mentioned in the same breath as the Preakness Stakes? Wow.

  • Winning jockey Wilmer Galviz got a seconditis monkey off his back. Last year, he was third in the jockey standings at Century Mile in Edmonton but this year at ASD he was 32-1-10-1 coming into the Derby. Winning a biggie had to be a morale-booster. He came right back to win the Graduation Stakes on Wednesday with 9-1 Freezing Jimmy.
EYE ON LIVE (cont'd)

Another must-watch stakes upcoming on Wednesday

Will third start off a layoff be the charm for Hidden Grace?

Trainers (left to right) Jerry Gourneau, Brent Hrymak and Murray Duncan face off in Wednesday’s Ericka’s Lass Stakes
Will her third race off a layoff be the charm for 4-year-old filly Hidden Grace who was unbeaten in nine races as a 2-year-old and 3-year-old but has had two second-place finishes this year? If she wants to earn the mantle as a special filly, ready to follow in the hoofprints of Escape Clause, she pretty much needs to win the Ericka’s Lass Stakes on Wednesday.

In her last race, she was beaten by hot-as-a-pistol Jerry Gourneau’s 40-1 Louisiana invader Labhay although she edged out her stablemate, Miss Imperial, who beat her in her first race of the season. Both have been nominated to the race for which entries will be taken tomorrow.

But, as they say in TV infomercials, there’s more! The cagey Gourneau has nominated another 4-year-old filly. Cypress Point, claimed for $20,000 from a Texas race she won. By bringing in a second horse, the ever-dangerous Gourneau (who almost won the Manitoba Derby with 15-1 Mr. Unusual) will likely be looking for a 1-2 finish in the Ericka’s Lass to go along with his 1-2-3 finish by the boys in the Manitoba Mile.

But, hey, there’s still more! Trainer Brent Hrymak has nominated impressive 3-year-old Manitoba Oaks winner, Kickalittlebooty, as well.

Who will the oddsmaker--ASD racing secretary Dustin Davis--make the favourite? That in itself is a head-scratcher. Then the bigger question will be: where will your money settle? Needless to say, the race should be a barn-burner.

In the continuing bid by ASD to honour popular horses from ASD’s past, the Ericka’s Lass celebrates a filly/mare who, from 2003-2006 either won or was close to winning major stakes for female horses. Trained by Emile Corbel and owned by Empire Stables, her wins included the Debutante, Chantilly, Assiniboia Oaks, La Verendrye and Winnipeg Sun. And in a foray to Stampede Park in 2004 she beat her seven Alberta 3-year-old rivals to capture the $40K Mount Royal Handicap

*       *      *   

Hottest jockey: Antonio Whitehall (6 wins)
Hottest trainer: Jerry Gourneau (5 wins)
Biggest longshot: Hellocountrybumkin $27.30  (Race 2 Monday)
Stakes champions: Mongolian Wind (Manitoba Derby), Melisandre (Debutante), Freezing Jimmy (Graduation)
Upcoming stakes:
Ericka’s Lass (Wednesday)
$400,632 in the Jackpot pick-5; $9,816 in the Super Hi-5

Thank you, Thousand Words!

My Derby pick wins Del Mar stakes, beating 1-5 Honor A.P and Cezanne

Happiness is -- Thousand Words beating Honor A. P. in Shared Belief Stakes (Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire photo)
Thank you, Thousand Words, for throwing more than crumbs my way (as I sought in last week’s Insider) by winning the Shared Belief Stakes last Saturday at Del Mar at odds of 9-1--beating 1-5 Honor A. P. and 5-2 Cezanne--to keep my $203 in Future Wagers alive for your entry into the Kentucky Derby. If you go all the way, you could pad my pocket with about $8,500.

What’s more, Thousand Words, it’s great to see you set a personal Equibase speed of 111 in the victory, tying the E speed of 2018 Triple Crown winner, Justify. (Justify’s E speed figures were 112, 111, 112 for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes respectively.)

I had hoped you would set the early pace as you did as a 2-year-old in the Los Alamitos Futurity and that’s exactly what you did, then kicked your speed into another gear at the top of the stretch to hold off your rivals. Your trainer, Bob Baffert, said the “real” you showed up and commented that even your coat looks different. That’s what I was banking on when I bought my Future Wagers on you with odds ranging up to 65-1.

If nothing else, you already gave me a thrill with your effort in the Shared Belief and at least partly silenced naysayers who take pleasure in pooh-poohing Bigg’s opinions. Now please stay sound and enjoy your workouts leading to the first Saturday in September. Then we’ll win that thing together, okay?


*       *      * 
Important summer stakes goes tomorrow
Tiz the Law to face Uncle Chuck in the Travers Stakes

Tiz the Law winning the Belmont Stakes
(Al Bello/Getty Images photo)
Can Tiz the Law continue to look like he is the likely Kentucky Derby winner--and possible Triple Crown victor? We’ll find out tomorrow in the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

The Constitution colt trained by Barclay Tagg will face Bob Baffert’s Uncle Chuck among eight entries in the race.

Of course, with my money on Baffert’s Thousand Words to win the Derby, I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit of regression by both of those powerhouses. Did I just say that?

Tiz the Law, of course, will be shooting for the Triple Crown since he already won the COVID-early Belmont Stakes (113 Equibase speed), the Florida Derby (112) and the Holy Bull (117). He did finish third, however, in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at--note--Churchill Downs, site of the Kentucky Derby. Is that an uh-oh?

Uncle Chuck won the Los Alamitos Derby, defeating Thousand Words who was returning from a lengthy layoff. He’s two for two in his young life.

Who will the Kentucky Derby countdown contestants play in the tie-breaker to see who wins the $200 Kentucky Derby bankroll? (See Fun & Games above.)
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Yourfuturehusband. Really? Is this 3-year-old Elusive Quality/ Beautyandthebeast filly racing at Woodbine another “message” horse? She’s only managed four up-the-track finishes. Is that a relationship omen? You never know. The Jockey Club that registers horse names should require registrants to supply the reason for a horse name so curious players can visit a site to get the background. Would be quite entertaining in some cases, don’t you think?

$25,000 FILLY WINS DEBUTANTE; $2,700 GELDING WINS GRADUATION: The two baby stakes this week were a study in contrasts. Melisandre, the Manitoba-bred purchased by Barry Arnason for $25,000 in last summer’s yearling sale, did what she was expected to do on Tuesday in handily winning the Debutante Stakes ($3.90) since she is, after all, a full sister to Hidden Grace who won nine stakes races.

But Marvin Buffalo had to be more than excited Wednesday when the Kentucky-bred he bought for a mere $2,700 U.S. last fall in Arizona, Freezing Jimmy, won the Graduation Stakes on Wednesday ($20.40). Congrats to the owners of both horses. Of course, the difference is Melisandre has more race opportunities and bonuses because of her Manitoba breeding.

The popular wager to take down big money for a small wager--the Rainbow pick-6 and its offshoots--originated in Puerto Rico, Andy Stronach told The Insider in an interview after his Mongolian Wind won the Manitoba Derby. Asked who at the Stronach-owned Gulfstream started the 20-cent bet, he said management noticed a $43 million pool had built up at Puerto Rico’s race track about 10 years ago and introduced the wager at Gulfstream. Players win the whole pool--which grows daily when not won--when there’s a single correct ticket with all six winners.

Group play will continue Saturday and Tuesday
CHAOS HORSE ONCE AGAIN KILLS “I WON BIGGER” TICKETS: Two weeks in a row, Saturday’s “I won bigger” group played “all” horses in pick-5 legs that had a chaos horse (a 44-1 improbable horse won the fourth leg this past Saturday). The problem has been that the group missed another leg that would have brought home the bacon. Yes, it’s repetitive and frustrating but the racing gods can’t continue to work their mischief, can they?

We’ll be back at the grind this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza to try to get the best of them--finally. And there will be a special workshop Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to handicap and play the mandatory payout Jackpot pick-5 at the Downs with an anticipated pool expected to exceed $2 million if not won on Monday.

While 2-year-olds racing in Maryland cannot now be administered Lasix within 48 hours of a race, veterinarians will take part in a study to determine the incidence of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging (bleeding) in the babies. This kind of data is obviously important as the discussion over Lasix use continues.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: Giving "in-house" credit where credit is due

This week Bob reflects on one of the special “happenings” of 2020 that he says got lost in the pandemic shuffle. The only hint Bob would give is that certain news came in the form of a January 23, 2020 press release from the Jockey Club of Canada involving a certain “in-house” individual. Got any idea what that was about? Check here to find out.
A safe, enjoyable Manitoba Night Market & Festival in July has prompted a second one this Sunday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Unique Opitz photo)
  • Today through Sunday: Final Ky Derby Future Wager. See list of bettable horses and odds here.
  • Tomorrow: “I won bigger” workshop 10:30 a.m. Kentucky Derby prep race Travers Stakes at Saratoga
  • Sunday: Kentucky Derby prep race Ellice Park Derby at Ellis Park in Kentucky; Manitoba Night Market & Festival from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. featuring exhibitors, food trucks and entertainment galore. Admission and parking are each $5.
  • Monday, Aug. 10: Live racing 7:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Mandatory payout of the ASD Jackpot Pick-5 (if not won on Monday)
  • Wednesday, Aug. 12: Live 7:30 p.m. Ericka’s Lass Stakes
  • Saturday: Aug. 15: “I won bigger” workshop 10:30 a.m.; final Kentucky Derby prep race, the Pegasus at Monmouth.
  • Monday, Aug. 17: Live racing 7:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 18: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Uene Stakes
  • Wednesday, Aug. 19: Live racing 7:30 p.m.
CTHS YEARLING SALE (Manitoba Division) goes Sunday, Aug. 23 at 2:30 p.m. in the Red River Ex pavilion behind the ASD grandstand. Everyone is invited. Admission is free. Twenty-nine yearlings are up for sale. Free catalogue available in the General Office and at Guest Services.
Who do you think will win the Kentucky Derby?
Put your money where your mouth is in the final Future Wager Pool from today through Sunday

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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