Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 34 (Issue #652)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Bragging rights forever?

Ten months of unwavering support for Catholic Boy produces proudest moment

Catholic Boy wins Travers Stakes "with authority," vindicating my 10 months of support (Adam Coglianese/NYRA photo)

No false modesty today. As regular readers of The Insider know, I’ve extolled the virtues of Catholic Boy since last year’s Breeders’ Cup, even betting $180 on him in future pools to win the Kentucky Derby, only to have serious bleeding in the Florida Derby end his Triple Crown run.

But my support continued unabated despite almost universal pooh-poohing of my choice right to the end (“He won’t win; he’s only a grass horse” was the last such shouted comment to me in the Race Book before the Travers Stakes Saturday.) Despite touting him as “my choice” to win the Travers again in a piece about a contest in last week’s Insider, only one of 30 contest entrants (electrician Larry Liebrecht) picked him to win.

Which made his vanquishing a salty field of nine other 3-year-olds by four lengths at juicy odds of 7-1 my proudest moment ever—which is saying a lot. It transgresses big scores. Even half-hearted handshakes (because players generally would rather diss than praise) were welcome that day. In this tough game how often does one get to say: “I’ve never been so high on a horse for so long and been so right.” My main regret was Catholic Boy not getting to knock heads with Justify because you know where my money was.

Watch the Travers here.
See what happens to Queen’s Plate winner Wonder Gadot (#2)

*       *       *

SUDDENLY EVERYONE JUMPS ON THE “CATHOLIC” BANDWAGON: Listed at 50-1 to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic in this past weekend’s future pool, there was a stampede to put money on Catholic Boy, sending those morning line odds plummeting to 7-1. Only one horse was lower and that was Accelerate at 3-1. Players bet a surprising $86,670 into the pool. See full results here.

On the female side, the BC Distaff future pool, Abel Tasman and Monomoy Girl are both 3-1. Only $17,732 was bet into this pool. See the full results here. The second pool is this weekend: Predict the Juvenile winner and/or the Juvenile sire. A list of the available horses is available free at the track on the mutuel ticket seller counter.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Here's a suggested $14 ticket to win tonight's pick-4
  • Can anyone catch Whitehall in the jockey race?
  • The great Escape (Clause) haunts Alberta horsemen
  • Pregnant 10-year-old mare wins eight races in 28 days! What? (See Bob's blog)
  • I'll never look at a horse in the same way again. Why? See Shout-Outs of the Week
  • Foal's remains found intact 40,000 years after his death

On Fan Appeciation days Sept. 7 to 9

CONGRATS TO DAVE JANAWAY IN CROSS-BORDER CONTEST: Dave Janaway’s prediction of a Sky Promise/Day Raider finish in the Canadian Derby in Saturday’s $200 cross-border stakes contest won him $50 in wagering vouchers. His entry was drawn from among six correct entries. No one had predicted both the one-two finish in the Derby and the Travers (Catholic Boy/Mendelssohn) and thus no winner of $200.

Live racing comes to an end a week from this Sunday which means—ta-dah!—Fan Appreciation days on the final weekend: food, program and merchandise specials and, get this, DOUBLE the free spins in the VLT tournaments following live racing on those final three days. That will mean 10 draws for $40 in free spins on each of those days. You can get drawn more than once, too! Spread the word.
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? Bombers

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS AFTER LIVE RACING: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge following live racing. 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.

EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker in the trackview gallery on the third level. Registration from 7:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Game starts at 8:00 p.m. No late registration. The Royal Flush progressive jackpot for Friday, August 31 is $12,880 and note that the Friday game will be played in the Clubhouse since there is no live racing.


Is jockey/trainer title pretty much settled?

Will anyone catch Antonio Whitehall or Jerry Gourneau?

Antonio Whitehall
Next closest is 30 wins
Jerry Gourneau
Next closest is 23 wins
With seven days of live racing remaining, Jerry Gourneau appears to have a stranglehold on the 2018 trainer title with 31 wins, eight more than Don Schnell. Schnell appears primed, though, to be the top win-percentage trainer. He has won 31.5 per cent of his starts.

The jockey race is closer. Although Antonio Whitehall is leading with 36 wins, Prayven Badrie has been on a roll and is six wins away from that. Behind him are Renaldo Cumberbatch with 29 and Tyrone Nelson with 28. Will a hat trick or two from one of the runners-up turn the race into a nail-biter?


*       *       *

My $14 pick-4 ticket for tonight

Two legs are keyable

Two legs of tonight’s pick-4 at the Downs look pretty straight-forward so I’ve come up with a $14 ticket.

Is jockey Antonio Whitehall telling us something by leaving a horse he easily won on last time, #4 Soul Shaker, for a horse that finished second in a classier field, #2 Fried Pickles? Early pace has been a strong factor at the track lately but it appears #1 Baby Brynn Alyssa just doesn’t have staying power.

I actually like a 15-1 longshot, #7 Peguis Pride, quite a bit even though she hasn’t raced since last year: Note she dueled with Simply Fablus last year, a determined front-runner, and female horses with speed generally do well off lengthy layoffs. Four equally spaced workouts are a good sign, too. Aside from her, the race is pretty much a crapshoot.

RACE 6: Ardell Sayler
has two horses in this race who have been racing in a tougher condition, one ridden by the leading rider and the other by Kayla Pizarro. Will one of the other speedballs be able to hang on?

RACE 7: The drop from maiden allowance to maiden claimers is huge. That would make #2 Manitoba Dancer a stand-out.

See my $14 ticket here.

*       *       *

Gold Cup headlines Labour Day Monday

Plentiful looking to gain Horse of the Year credentials

Entries have yet to be taken for Monday’s $30,000 Gold Cup Stakes but barring an unexpected invader into the race it’s expected Plentiful, last year’s Manitoba Derby winner, will be the horse to beat. And, if he wins, that will give him huge credentials to be voted Horse of the Year.

The race is obviously the highlight of the long weekend of racing. Note racing goes tonight and Saturday at 7:15 and holiday Monday at 1:15. There is no racing Friday because of holiday racing on Monday.

*       *       *

HOTTIES OF THE WEEK (Wed, Fri, Sat):  
Hottest jockeys: Prayven Badrie, Renaldo Cumberbatch
(4 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Ardell Sayler (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: Me First $32.30 (Wednesday race 6)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $1,911 (Wednesday race 7)
Stakes champion(s): Eye Catching (Osiris)


YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Phinalywyn. This mare who raced Saturday at Northlands Park reflects someone who went through a lot of contortions to create a weird-looking name that the announcer will simply see and say as “Finally Win.” But, hey, that’s the beauty—and fun?—of breeding or owning a horse. Names you would never give your kids are perfectly legitimate for horses.

Judy Wardrope points out the stifle that indicates distance a horse is best at
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to the local branch of the CTHS for sponsoring the appearance of a horse-conformation specialist Judy Wardrope at a seminar Sunday that has given me, ASD trainers and others brand-new insights into ways to tell many things about a horse just by focusing on certain parts of the anatomy such as the stifle (see picture). A high stifle is the sign of a good sprinter; a lower stifle indicates a route preference.

Unusual muscle masses under the neck or over the “elbow” indicates a horse is compensating for conformation problems. Horsemen hire her to point out yearlings with the best chances of becoming winners. Really interesting—and valuable—stuff. Google her name to add to your horse knowledge.


Fearsome filly

Manitoba-bred Escape Clause haunts Alberta horsemen - again

Escape Clause pulls away in $75,000 City of Edmonton Distaff
If there were a border-crossing guard post between Saskatchewan and Alberta, Alberta horsemen would probably be lobbying the government to bar entry to Manitoba’s Escape Clause. And maybe Hidden Grace as well.

That’s because the Manitoba-bred super filly and Horse of the Year Escape Clause has once again invaded their province to capture the $75,000 City of Edmonton Distaff at Northlands Park last Saturday ($6.10) and is pointed to a race she crushed Alberta rivals in last year—the $50,000 sales stakes at Century Downs, a race for which she is still eligible at 4-years-old.

Trainer Don Schnell talked about “glaring looks” he got from horsemen there last year. He might avoid eye contact entirely this year as it’s even worse with Escape Clause coming to the province even earlier to grab the lion’s share of Saturday’s Distaff purse.

What’s more, Schnell has another talented up-and-coming 2-year-old that could give Alberta horsemen fits as well: Hidden Grace. After racing in the Buffalo Stakes on the final day of racing at the Downs, Sunday, Sept. 9, Schnell will consider competing against Alberta and B.C. bred horses in a $50,000 race for 2-year-olds—to do what Escape Clause has done in a higher age bracket.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Catholic Boy was so impressive today, others didn’t have a prayer.” – Saratoga track announcer Larry Collmus calling the Travers Stakes Saturday. Cute! Was that a suddenly inspired line or had he prepared it for a possible Catholic Boy victory?


QUEEN’S PLATE WINNER FINISHES LAST; SECOND-GUESSING? It was logical to conclude that the lone filly in the Travers Stakes Saturday, Queen’s Plate winner Wonder Gadot, would finish in the top three because Canada’s 10-times leading trainer, Mark Casse, bypassed the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown and the Alabama Stakes for fillies at Saratoga to run her in a race that a filly hadn’t won in 103 years. So it came as a shock that she finished last in the 10-horse field after a good start.

Ancient foal dug out of Siberian permafrost
Was there a lot of second-guessing in the Casse camp after the race? Of course, the race favourite, Good Magic, and second-choice, Gronkowski, didn’t do much better, finishing second-last and third-last. Perplexing performances all around.

40,000-YEAR-OLD FOAL FOUND INTACT IN SIBERIAN CRATER: Now you know why frozen food lasts so long. The well-preserved frozen remains of a brown foal estimated to be between 30,000 and 40,000 years old was discovered recently in permafrost at the bottom of a crater in Siberia where scientists are working on the remains of woolly mammoths to restore the creatures through its DNA. The foal is believed to be two months old from a now-extinct horse that could withstand temperatures as low as -60C. It is believed he fell into a freezing pool of water.

Readers write . . .

"You did it!"

“Hi Ivan: You did it, Ivan! You picked the right horse (Catholic Boy). It was just the "late Summer Derby,” instead. What a nice race to put on his resume for stallion duty. Now he is fit to go to stud with a good following of mares to come.”W.G. Wind, Florida

Hi W.G.:
Hold on! Don’t send him to the breeding barn yet. He needs to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic first so I can collect on my future pool bet.



It’s a true story. And it happened at a Manitoba race track. Who, what and where? Track historian Bob Gates has the details here in his current blog on track records.


  • Fan Appreciation all next weekend!
    Tonight: Live racing 7:15. 
  • Saturday, Sept. 1: Live racing 7:15.
  • Holiday Monday, Sept. 3: Live racing 1:15. Gold Cup Stakes Pony rides, bouncy castles.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 5: Live racing 7:15
  • Friday, Sept. 7: Live racing 7:15. Manitoba Matron Stakes. Beginning of Fan Appreciation weekend: Discounts on programs, food and merchandise and DOUBLE the free spins ($40 in spins to 10 entrants) in the VLT tournament after the races
  • Saturday, Sept. 8: Live racing 7:15. J.W. Sifton Stakes. Final Las Vegas Challenge tournament. Fan Appreciation (see above)
  • Sunday, Sept. 9: Final day of live racing 1:15. Buffalo Stakes, Winnipeg Futurity. Fan Appreciation (see above). Pony rides and bouncy castles.

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