Friday, August 21, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 33 (Issue #752)

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

TRIVIA TEASER: Do horses enjoy being patted? No, it confuses them, says an article in the Paulick Report. Scratch them instead since that is what horses do among themselves in the wild. See nine other things that confuse horses here.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Saskatchewan horse is tied for third-most winning horse at ASD. What?
  • She played a 45-1 longshot to win Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament
  • Does Thousand Words' workout show he's ready to make me happy in Ky Derby?
  • Are you giving recently-claimed horses their due? See POCKET PLENTY IN '20
  • Bon appetite! New delicious dining opportunities at the Downs start Sept. 24
FINAL VEGAS CHALLENGE TOURNAMENT GOES MONDAY, SEPT. 14: See entry discount qualifiers here. See Monday’s tournament winner below.
Click to enlarge.
DO THE DOWNS for racing and gaming

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 (capacity restrictions are in place.) 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.
DO THE DOWNS for delicious dining


Assiniboia Downs is introducing a brand new way of dining every Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting Sept. 24 in the Terrace Dining Room:
  • All you can eat signature soup, salad and freshly-baked breads
  • New hand-served a la carte menu featuring famous certified Angus prime rib, steak, chicken, pasta, salmon and ribs
  • New appetizers and desserts
Reservations required. Call 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

Say “Insider $5” when you make your reservation and receive $5 off any entrée. This offer is effective until Oct. 31.

TOURNEY “PLAY STATION:” In these COVID times, Barry Mymko makes tournament plays from his Brandon home. He finished tenth in Monday’s tourney but is tied for second in the HOTY race. (Sue Mymko photo)

Betting 45-1 longshot . . .

. . . wins tournament for retired teacher Carol Barkwell

What a squeaker the Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament was this past Monday. Of the 80 players, 10 had bankrolls in the $50 range and 15 had bankrolls in the $40 range. Only two were above the $50’s and they were Kevin Arnst with $63.60 and the winner, retired teacher Carol Barkwell, with $81.10.

She was the only player who bet the 45-1 winner of the last race, Bombillaelgato. Contest capping gave her $42, $22, $12 across the board.. Why did she bet the longshot? “Needless to say luck was on my side,” she said. “Not ignoring Big Rocket Man, my first choice, I knew I needed a longshot and, wow, it worked!”

Actually, Bombillaelgato (el gato is Spanish for “cat”) wasn’t that far-fetched a play because the horse was dropping into a maiden claimer for the first time.

Besides winning a trip to the next Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas (or $2,500), she gets an additional $100 for picking the longest horse in the tournament. This wasn’t her first Vegas tourney win; she said she won a trip some years ago.

Arnst receives $250 for finishing second and Glen Gray, with a bankroll of $58.70, finished third for a $100 prize. All three receive trophies.

The final Vegas tournament goes Monday, Sept. 14, the second-last night of live racing. Tournaments after that, for prize money of $1,750, will begin on simulcast races Saturday, Oct. 3.


*       *      *   
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to retired Manitoba lotteries employee Reg Pluchinske. He wins $100 for submitting more correct entries (nine) picking three winners on live cards leading up to Monday’s tournament. See the qualifiers list here.  

With four more tournaments remaining until the declaration of the Handicapper of the Year, bus driver Roger Jones leading the standings. The top three are:
  • Roger Jones -- 186 points
  • Barry Mymko -- 166 points
  • Trevor Tilston-Jones -- 166 points
Players’ six best scores count toward the HOTY title. Another trip to the Horse Player World Series or $2,500 are on the line. See HOTY standings here.
TRAINER PROFILE: Kevin Sousa from Saskatoon

Who says Sask-breds are a cut below?

Kevin Sousa's Bunchofcash is tied for third among winningest horses at ASD

Kevin Sousa with Bunchofcash foal five years ago in Saskatoon (Kelly Capnerhurst photo)
What? A Saskatchewan-bred horse, Bunchofcash, is tied for third as the most winningest horse at the Downs this season--just behind a Kentucky-bred and an Arizona-bred--and owner/trainer/breeder Kevin Sousa finds that hard to believe. He has three wins from six starts.

“I’d never be here it it weren’t for COVID,”
Sousa told The Insider, “I would never have found out the horse I brought up as a baby in Saskatoon could do as well as he’s doing!” He came to the Downs because racing at  Marquis Downs in Saskatoon was cancelled this season because of the coronavirus.

Only two horses have more than three wins: Kentucky-bred Miss Imperial and Arizona-bred Button Mushroom both have four. When place and show placings are added to the mix of horses tied with three wins, Bunchofcash sits in eighth place with two thirds.

Bunchofclass wins mandatory payout Super Hi-5 race on Manitoba Derby Day (Jason Halstead photo)
“People are so welcoming here,” Sousa said of his ASD experience. “I came here for a month (with Bunchofcash and Sarah’s Prince) which turned into another month which turned into another month which turned into another month.” The 34-year-old’s home is in Saskatoon and he works on the oil rigs in the off season, he said

“I usually bet $50 to win on Bunch but no way did I think he could win from the 12 hole,”
he said of the last race on Manitoba Derby Day. But jockey Stanley Chadee Jr. made it happen pressing the early pace, then drawing away late, at odds of 9-1 to win the mandatory payout Super Hi-5 that paid more than $16,000 for 20-cents.

“Chadee (who rode at Marquis last year) has been a big part of my success,”
Sousa said.

Players may be surprised to hear Bunchofcash’s name has a bittersweet significance. Sousa said he gave the horse that name because he was born on the 10th anniversary of the motorcycle death of his best childhood friend nicknamed “Bunch.”

Bunchofcash is one of only two horses Sousa has bred and they’re both by Unification out of Quality Talks (whose sire was the graded stakes-winning Toccet). Bunch’s sister didn’t turn out to be a race horse so Sousa rides her, he said.


Just 11 live race days remain . . .

. . . but they're filled with stakes action

The amazing Assiniboia Downs racing season has just 11 days left but already wagering is four times what it was all of last year. More than $1 million is bet most days.

Almost every day will have a stakes race, with the three biggest ones--the Matron, the Gold Cup and the Winnipeg Futurity--ending the season. Will Deep Explorer win the Gold Cup for a second season in a row? Will Hidden Grace rebound from her two second-place finishes against top fillies/mares?

What we DO know is that top jockey and trainer are foregone conclusions: Antonio Whitehall and Jerry Gourneau. Has there ever been that big a separation from the runners-up?

HIDDEN GRACE TO RACE MONDAY in the $30K Distaff Stakes for Manitoba-bred fillies and mares. Three will take her on. Download program here.

*       *      *   

Hottest jockey: Rafael Zenteno Jr. (4 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Jerry Gourneau (5 wins)
Biggest longshot: Bombillaelgato $94.30  (Race 7 Monday)
Stakes champions:
Deep Explorer (Uene)
Upcoming stakes: Distaff (Monday), CTHS Sales (Tuesday), Osiris (Wednesday)
$44,886 in the Jackpot pick-5; $21,189 in the Super Hi-5

Is Thousand Words ready to upset Tiz in the Derby?

Sets the fastest six-furlong workout time of his career


Okay, I admit it. I’m getting a bit antsy and am having a harder time uncrossing my fingers to type this column as I follow my Kentucky Derby choice, Thousand Words, to the 20-horse starting gate at Churchill Downs two weeks from tomorrow. Two weeks! Pant, pant.

My $203 in future wagers would translate into about $8,500 if he can overcome the Tiz the Law juggernaut. Tiz is likely to be the biggest favourite in years. But stuff happens in such a big field and Tiz the Law suffered his only loss at Churchill Downs.

So I was obviously thrilled to see my colt drill six furlongs in 1:11.80 on Monday in what was his fastest time in five workouts at the distance. Does that mean he’s taken another step forward since winning the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar where he beat the likely second choice in the Derby, Honor A.P.? The correct answer is: “Yes.”
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Little "c" means "could be there"

What do you do when you see a recently-claimed horse in a race? Think of the little “c” in the horse’s past performance line as “could be there.” That’s because a new trainer may have a fresh new way of getting the best out of a horse.

Look, for example, at the first two days of racing this week. On Monday, Dreamcastle won race 5 at odds of 6-1. On Tuesday, the top three finishers (2-5-1) in race 4 were the only three recently claimed horses in the race. #2 went off at odds of 7-5, #5 was 11-1 and #1 was 7-1. A $1 triactor paid $109.

“BIGGER” BETTING GROUP CONTINUES TO LOOK FOR A BREAKTHROUGH: So why did last Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group hit the pick-4 (for almost $600 or $7.56 per share) at Woodbine but miss the pick-5 for almost $6,000? Again, a player who liked our missed horse in race 3 had to work on Saturday morning when we were putting together our tickets. He later sent a screen capture of a $5 exactor wheel he had played with our missed 11-1 horse on top. Sigh.

“We’re snake-bitten,”
said Larry Liebrecht who helps produce the tickets. But it’s a non-poisonous snake so we’ll be back at Woodbine for the early pick-5 tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. with no reason for excuses and every reason for a big bacon treat the following Saturday.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: What's the old guy on a bench thinking?

This week Bob has the story of a race-loving veteran who is usually found sitting alone on a bench in front of the grandstand--thinking of?  Not this year, though, because of COVID restrictions. But Bob does a Star Trek mind-meld to find out what his thoughts would be. Click here to find out. Will Bob reveal his identify?
Yearling sale goes Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
  • Tomorrow: “I won bigger” workshop 10:30 a.m.
  • This Sunday: CTHS yearling sale online and on the Red River Ex grounds behind the grandstand at 2:30 p.m. See online details here. Last year’s sales topper was $25,000. Who will top this year’s crop?
  • Monday, Aug. 24: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Distaff Stakes
  • Tuesday, Aug. 25: Live racing 7:30 p.m. CTHS Sales Stakes
  • Wednesday, Aug. 26: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Osiris Stakes for 2-year-olds
  • Friday, Aug. 28: $600K Charles Town Classic at Charles Town. First post 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 29: “I won bigger” betting group workshop 10:30 a.m., Grade 1 stakes at Saratoga, $1 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk for the best 3-year-old pacers. Note earlier post time for that special card: 5:30 p.m. CDT.

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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