Friday, August 11 , 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 30 (Issue #598)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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



Audrey Farol celebrates Plentiful's win as co-owner and trainer Murray Duncan looks on

Plentiful passes Escape Clause

An inspiration for us all

What a difference a year makes: Duncan goes from zero to hero

Cutting the Derby cake (from left) are owner Audrey Farol, owner/trainer Murray Duncan, Derby Belle Francine Fournier and jockey Tyrone Nelson

Anyone experiencing a losing streak—jockeys, trainers, owners, horseplayers—can take heart from the example of owner/trainer Murray Duncan. Last year at this time, his win record at the Downs was a big fat zero (16-0-2-4). In fact, he didn’t register a win until his 39th try on the last day of the meet.

Did he give up and call it a career? Not Murray. And what a turnaround he engineered! He’s a man of few words but his smiles in the Winner’s Circle on Derby Day said it all: he was enjoying the best year in his training life that began in 1961. His Plentiful, a horse he had claimed for $15,000 at Oaklawn Park in April, won the $75,000 Manitoba Derby. And that victory came two days after his C J’s Flair, a $6,250 claimer from Oaklawn, won her third stakes race in a row, the Koleanla.

Lots of emotion was attached to Plentiful’s win, too, because Duncan’s long-time horse-owning partner, Grand Forks lawyer Garylle B. Stewart, had died on Derby Day last year and Stewart’s daughter, Audrey Farol, looked to the heavens with the Derby trophy, saying “This is for you, Dad.”

To get to the Winner’s Circle in the 1 1/8 mile race, Plentiful had to put away invaders who recently had raced in New York, Texas, Minnesota and Ohio.

But the toughest one of all—to the delight of the wildly cheering crowd—was the Manitoba-bred filly Escape Clause. It took a skillful ground-saving ride by Tyrone Nelson for Plentiful to catch her as she opened up in the stretch. She still finished five lengths ahead of the third-place finisher, Diamondmaze from Canterbury Park, the race favourite.

Plentiful paid $23.40 and the $2 exactor with Escape Clause paid $128.20.

We’ll remember this Derby Day for a long, long time!

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Tonight's pick-4 carryover is $11,591. Pool should grow to $25,000 or more.
  • Danelson needs just one more win to reach 1,200. Is tonight the night?
  • Sign up by 9 p.m. tonight for tomorrow's tournament to win Vegas trip.
  • Derby wagering surges
  • What were top players eating after the Derby? Humble pie
  • Downs visitor had almost boarded the Titanic with mom. Who? See Bob's blog

AUGUST BETTING SPREE OFF TO A MODEST START: After three days of 60-second betting sprees in August, you have only a modest sum to beat—Gord Ayott’s $42.50—to reach the September finale where $600 cash is the grand prize. You have nine chances to get into the spree this month.

WHO GOT MATCHED WITH PLENTIFUL TO WIN $500? Congratulations to David Weichel who won $500 when the horse he was matched with in the Derby Sweepstakes, Plentiful, won the Manitoba Derby. Bet he expected nothing like this when he came out for some fun under the Derby Day sun! Second place and $250 went to Chuck Whalen who had been matched with Escape Clause and winning $100 for third was Jerome Bartholomew who had been matched with the race favourite, Diamondmaze.

QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive

Click to expand


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

AFTER LIVE RACING: Free VLT tournaments. Get into the draw for 10 chances to win $20 in free VLT spins. Top winner from each night participates in a month-end finale for more spins and $250 in prize money. Plus Crazy Hour. Beer, shots and wine only $2.95 plus half-price appetizers (nachos, chicken fingers, chicken wings and gyoza.)

EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker. Registration 10 p.m. Game starts at 10:30 p.m. New Royal Flush progressive jackpot is at $80! Entry fee to play the jackpot is an additional $5. Click here for new features!



Duncan made French fries for McDonald's

Wagering increased by 44 per cent (after eliminating Super Hi-5 wagering)

  • Did you know Murray Duncan, who started training in 1961, left racing in 1979 to work at the McCain’s plant in his hometown Carberry making French fries for McDonald’s? Then, with his built-up bankroll he returned to racing with a vengeance in 2010 with his old partner, North Dakota lawyer Garylle Stewart, making headlines with Pleasant Closing who beat two-time Horse of the Year Balooga Bull three times and thrilling fans with fast-closing Go Go Lolo.

  • Wagering was way up on Derby Day. Eliminating the extraordinary money bet last year primarily by European bettors on the carryover Super Hi 5 wager, Derby Day wagering was up 44 per cent over last year, to $590,000.

  • Murray Duncan and a 1965 bet on his horse

    How’s this for a coincidence? At the centre of attention this past weekend was Murray Duncan and how fitting is it that at the very centre of the ASD program cover is a 1965 $20 win ticket on a horse Murray trained 52 years ago! When the stars are aligned, the stars are aligned.

  • Did you know  Plentiful  was an easy $15,000 claim for Duncan—no one else wanted the horse—but it took a lot of luck for Duncan to land the now-stakes-winning filly C J’s Flair ? According to historian Bob, 10 other trainers wanted to claim her out of a $6,250 race but Duncan won the shake. Did the owners of Plentiful say “good riddance” to their gelding after he finished ninth at 20-1 in the race Duncan claimed him from? I wonder if those owners followed his progress since the claim.

  • Spending $21,250 U.S. in claims—Plentiful at $15,000, and C J’s Flair at $6,250—has earned Duncan and Garylle Stewart’s estate a whopping $141,400. Plentiful has earned them $89,100 and C J’s Flair has earned them $52,300. Less 10 per cent which was paid to the riders.

  • Overlooked in the excitement surrounding their Manitoba Derby win is the fact that Duncan  was the the trainer of another winner on Derby Day:  Kenny Do the Math ( $13.70) owned by Brian Smith (handle bar mustache in the picture), Daryl Cary and Royce Finley . So, added to the Derby  and the Koleanla Stakes win with C J's Flair on Saturday Duncan had three wins on Derby weekend, more than any other trainer.

  • Patti Ross sports Koleanla silks from 1980s with Duncan connections (from left) Audrey & Brian Farol, Pat Duncan, Brian Smith and trainer Murray Duncan (George Williams photo)

    Anyone paying attention to the Winner’s Circle after C J’s Flair won the Koleanla Stakes would have seen Patti Ross--who had assisted in training Koleanla with Sandy McPherson in the 1980s—wearing Koleanla silks. Nice touch! Of course Patti went on to train on her own until 2007.

  • Fortunately, jockey Rohan Singh, who had a hat trick on Derby Day, was not seriously injured when he fell from Coors Lute in the stretch and is riding this weekend. But the Robertino Diodoro trained horse had to be euthanized as a result of a broken leg. Breakdowns at the Downs, though, are among the lowest anywhere and have been for many years, a fact that a former Manitoba Horse Racing Commission chair, lawyer David Miles, had said was a highlight of his 11-year tenure.



Just one more!

Will the gods of fate be a tease as Danelson eyes win #1,200 tonight?

Danelson reaches 1,199 with Tadaa on Derby Day

With Rohan Singh’s gate to wire victory with Tadaa in the $25,000 Manitoba Oaks on Derby Day, trainer Gary Danelson has reached a tantalizing 1,199 wins at the Downs. Is this the weekend for the mighty 1,200, a milestone that he wanted to attain before his 80th birthday on Aug. 25?

Will the gods of fate be a tease? Here are the possibilities for Danelson tonight:

Race 1 – Magnetic Jazz with Chris Husbands – 9-2
Race 3 – Tough Emblem with Praven Badrie – 7-2
Race 4 – Out of Mischief with Adolfo Morales – 5-2
Race 7 – Up Your Alley with Badrie – 5-2

Aug. 29, 1959, was his first win. Will Aug. 11, 2017 be his 1,200th? Good luck.

*         *        *

Kirt, Rob and Marshall

Tonight's best bets

Who will pick the most winners in the final six weekly picks?

  • Kirt’s best: Race 7 --  #7 Simply Fablus (8-1)
  • Rob’s best:  Race 2 --  #2 Dixieland Lake (6-5)
  • Marshall ’s best:  Race 2 -- #2 Dixieland Lake (6-5) “Dropping speed should wire the field”

RESULTS OF DERBY PICKS: Kirt’s Escape Clause finished second; Rob’s Tizfun and Marshall’s Witt’sdollarnight finished out of the money.

TRIVIA TEASER: At what track in 1980 did a mare give birth to a foal on her way back to her stall after racing? (a) Northlands (b) Assiniboia Downs (c) Golden Gate Fields (d) Churchill Downs. Answer at bottom of column.



What were the top players eating after the Derby?

Humble pie

There was a big run on humble pie after the Manitoba Derby as not one of 26 participants at Saturday’s ASD workshop on the Derby had picked Plentiful to win. No other players I had talked to had predicted the correct result either. These were the picks of the 26 participants in the Marshall/Glen Derby workshop:
  1. Witt’sdollarnight – 10
  2. Diamondmaze – 7
  3. Tizfun – 5
  4. Escape Clause – 3
  5. Coors Lute -- 1

The top five finishers were: Plentiful, Escape Clause, Diamond Maze, Tizfun and Witt’sdollarnight.

Of five Derby selectors in last week’s Insider ( Rob MacLennan, Marshall Posner, Kirt Contois, Derek Corbel and me), not one got it right but track announcer Kirt was closest: He picked Escape Clause who finished second.

Did the track condition play into the confusion? The track was described as being “tiring” or “cuppy” and unpredictable. A couple horses won on the lead, others closed from well off the pace.

The best clue to the uncertain result of the Derby came from workshop co-host Glen Sirkis who told the group he didn’t have a reliable show bet.

*        *        *

YOUR SECOND LAST CHANCE TO WIN VEGAS TRIP: Tomorrow night, of course, is your second-last chance to play in a tournament that will send you to Las Vegas to participate in the $1 million Horse Player World Series. Sign up by 9 p.m. tonight.

What will it take to get you to try something you may never have thought of doing? How about using Murray Duncan’s “zero to hero” achievement as a motivator? Who knows? If your $2 win/place bets on the seven ASD races gives you more money than about 60 other players, you’re going to Vegas, baby, with the guest of your choice! The entry fee is just $50.

  • THE BIGGEST SHOUT-OUT OF ALL goes, of course, to owner/trainer Murray Duncan. Not so much for reaching the very top with Manitoba Derby winner Plentiful and winning the Koleanla Stakes with 4-year-old filly C J’s Flair on Saturday but for not throwing in the towel last fall after the worst year in his career with just one win in 39 starts. How easy would it have been for him to say, “Hey, I’m 76 and lost my dear horse-owning partner, Garylle Stewart, and have fond memories of accomplishments by Pleasant Closing and Go Go Lolo. Maybe it’s time to close the stable door for the last time and kick back to reminisce over my Winner’s Circle photos.” But he didn’t. And the rest, as we say, is history.
  • Rohan Singh wires Manitoba Oaks field with Tadaa

    A BIG SHOUT-OUT to the connections of Escape Clause—trainer Don Schnell, Barry Arnason and True North--who could have entered the filly in the $25,000 Manitoba Oaks instead of the Derby but didn’t. How nice was it that their Tadaa won it anyway? Schnell said he’s not a “jump up and down” sort of guy but Escape Clause had him doing just that when she pulled away from the field in mid-stretch. It was only a skillful ground-saving rail trip by Tyrone Nelson on Plentiful that cost them a victory. Still, the filly lost by just 2 ¾ lengths and was five lengths in front of third-place Diamondmaze. She did something no other Manitoba-bred filly has done in a Derby at the Downs and she proved her connections right.

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Tyrone Nelson. The stylish jockey had told The Insider at the beginning of the race season that he vowed to work hard at having a good season and his Manitoba Derby win proved it. He saved ground with Plentiful in the 1 1/8-mile race—“painting the rail” as track announcer Kirt Contois put it—then pulled out when the real running started at the top of the stretch to catch and pass Escape Clause. Let me guess that Tyrone was patting himself on the back for following through with his resolve to improve his efforts after a couple of so-so years, especially in 2015 when he posted just six wins in 139 starts.

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to effervescent track historian Bob Gates who outdid himself again on the Derby weekend by begging and borrowing historical ASD artefacts--a lot of which he had to return to their owners--so patrons could revel in more glory as part of Season 60. Memo to Bob: drink lots of green tea and pomegranate juice and eat lots of blueberries to keep free radicals at bay so you’re regaling race fans with a whole new batch of artefacts in Season 75.

Hottest jockey(s): Rohan Singh (5 wins)
Hottest trainer(s): Murray Duncan (3 wins)
Biggest longshot: Killer Fast $68.20 (race 6 Monday)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $669 (race 6 Monday)
Stakes champion(s): C J's Flair (Koleanla), Whatsnottolove (Graduation), Tadaa (Manitoba Oaks), Plentiful (Manitoba Derby)


DOES IT SURPRISE YOU and it does me that nobody had the Jackpot Hi 5 in the Manitoba Derby? It simply required boxing the seemingly five best horses in the race which would have cost $24 to win $4,721.

8-7 finish in Graduation pays $230

FLORIDA-BRED WINS GRADUATION; EXACTOR IS HUGE: Lost in the Derby weekend shuffle was the exciting 38th renewal of the Graduation Stakes Saturday that had Shelley Brown’s Whatsnottolove bred in Florida just eking out a victory over Robbin Martens’ Candy Giant bred in Kentucky. Despite being among the top three best-bred horses in the race, the exactor paid $230, a monster overlay. Whatsnottolove paid $14.20 to win.

TRUMP WINS ON-TRACK: If U.S. President Donald Trump were into horse racing, we might be hearing him bragging that even horses with his name in it are winning – and maybe hunch players are profiting as a result. Two-year-old Trumpi won his debut race at Saratoga last Saturday and paid $47.40. And on Monday, a 3-year-old gelding named Trump Won won at Finger Lakes and paid $6.20.

WOULD-BE BRIDGEJUMPERS SIGH AS BOLT SAVES THIRD: It was a foot race, not a horse race, so there was no betting when the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, was racing one more time Saturday. But, were he a horse, he would have taken millions of dollars in show money – and would have stopped a lot of hearts when he just got third.


HISTORY ON THE HOOF: Who was this legend?

Well, the Derby is done for another year and congrats to my friend Murray Duncan!  This week’s blog tells the story of three legends who have visited the Downs over the years.  Did you know that one of them was set to sail to America with his mother on the Titanic?  What was their story?  Do you know the name of this legend?  Go here for the details.

NEXT INSIDER: Wednesday. A live race night.

ANSWER TO TRIVIA TEASER: (c) Golden Gate Fields. On June 3, 1980, 3-year-old filly Dual Purpose finished 10th in a field of 12 and, on the way back to the barn, gave birth to a colt. Both mom and foal were reported as being just fine. Not to be confused with reports of a woman giving birth to a child behind the rose garden at that track last year in the wee hours of the morning. Golden Gate is across the bay from San Francisco (and a track at which I have fond memories).

Good luck in tonight’s pick-4 and tomorrow night’s tournament!

© Copyright 1996-2017 All Rights Reserved. Assiniboia Downs.
3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Read our Blog  See us on Instagram  Watch us on Youtube
Make Dinner Reservations
Book Your Event
Bet Online