Friday, September 3, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 28 (Issue #805)

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

Your passport to ASD fun

You must be fully immunized to enjoy ASD fun

Under new provincial COVID-19 restrictions, racing, dining and VLT fun at ASD are open to you only after you’ve proved you have been fully immunized (by showing your QR code--on your phone or printed out--or provincial vax card) and ID. Sorry, them’s the rules but, hey, you may still play the races off-track in your HPIbet account.

The consensus is Firenza Fire could have beaten Yaupon in the Forego Stakes at Saratoga Saturday if he just dug in his heels instead of his teeth. Watch race here.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • It's must-pay Monday at Del Mar and Saratoga as meets end
  • You're invited Monday morning to share in group play of must-pay pools
  • This gelding won the Manitoba Derby; will he cap career with Gold Cup win?
  • Can winning $363 be this easy? Yes it can.
  • Second Manitoba Night Market goes this Sunday 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.
JUST ONE MORE CHANCE TO EARN VEGAS TRIP: You have one more tourney chance to fly to Las Vegas on the Downs’ dime. The final Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament goes a week from Monday. After that, the final trip will be awarded to the Handicapper of the Year in December. See current HOTY standings here.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in September? 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.

Canadian country star Dean Brody entertains next Friday
MANITOBA NIGHT MARKET THIS SUNDAY: The second night market of the summer goes this Sunday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the ASD grounds featuring exhibitors and artisans galore, a dozen food trucks, 10 bands, a beer garden and more. Admission at the gate $7; parking $5. (Full immunization required.)

Captain Morgan presents Dean Brody next Friday in a two-day concert event at the Downs. Friday also features Petric. Saturday’s entertainment will include the James Barker Band, Jess Moskaluke and Tyler Joe Miller. See poster here. Get tickets here. (Full immunization required.)

Gulfstream’s 20-cent Jackpot pick-6 is more than $400K and the 20-cent Jackpot pick-5 at Del Mar is more than $300K. Note the mandatory payouts at Saratoga and Del Mar on Monday. (Join in group play!) See list of carryovers here.


Pools at Saratoga and Del Mar must go on Monday as their meets end

Two pick-6 pools must go on Monday as the meets come to an end at Saratoga and Del Mar.
The 20-cent Jackpot pick-6 at Del Mar should be close to $2 million while the $1 pick-6 at Saratoga will be whatever it has grown to after having been won on Wednesday.

You're invited to join in group play Monday morning

Interested in joining group play at the Downs Monday morning to shoot for a share of the mandatory pools? Then come to the Clubhouse plaza at 10:30 a.m.

Larry Liebrecht
and I will host a discussion centering around the Saratoga and Del Mar pick-6 -- and also consider the early pick-5 at Woodbine which is a 20-cent bet.

Which pool(s) seem most winnable? That will be the guiding factor. Take a look at all three and bring your opinions. Note you must be fully immunized to enter ASD. Note also that group play now WILL NOT INVOLVE Assiniboia Downs. The group will simply pool its money at the meeting.

After “I won bigger” group play ended in the spring, Larry and I continued to play as partners and have been very successful at it, even winning a $10,000 pick-5 at Santa Anita for an outlay of $100, and we hope to bring those winning ways to group play.

Will Plentiful cap his career with Gold Cup on Monday?
Winner of Manitoba Derby four years ago should enjoy 1 1/8-mile Gold Cup

Plentiful, winner of the Manitoba Derby four years ago, should love the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Gold Cup Stakes on Monday as he seeks to make amends for his previous race in which he lost by a head to Real Grace who got the jump on him in the 1 1/16-mile Far Flung Overnight Stakes.

The pair will be featured in the Labour Day stakes along with St. Louie Guy who trainer Jerry Gourneau is hoping will recapture his earlier season form in which he won three stakes races in a row for the top horse on the grounds. Plentiful, trained and co-owned by can-do-little-wrong Murray Duncan, is expected to be favoured.

The second stakes highlight Monday night will be the Buffalo Stakes for Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds, the first race in which the babies stretch out to a mile. Will anyone be able to run down Dr. Betty Hughes’ Bankin On Betty who’s been a veritable win machine, even turning up her heels to Kentucky-breds?

*       *       *
J.W. Sifton goes Tuesday; Winnipeg Futurity Wednesday
Expected to be another walk in the park for Diamond Digger in Futurity

The $2,000 U.S. yearling purchase in Kentucky last fall, Diamond Digger, is expected to add to his $42,000 U.S. in earnings Wednesday in the $35,000 Winnipeg Futurity. The 2-year-old gelding is three-for-three including the Graduation Stakes and the Osiris Stakes which he won with ease for trainer Michael Nault and the best-named stable on the grounds, The Young and the Rest of Us.

Meanwhile, the top 3-year-old Manitoba-bred colts and geldings will line up Tuesday for the J. W. Sifton Stakes.

*       *       *
Hottest jockey: Sheldon Chickeness (8 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Jared Brown (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: Warrensdirtydancer $17.20 (Race 5 Monday)
Upcoming stakes: Gold Cup, Buffalo (Labour Day Monday), J.W. Sifton (Tuesday), Winnipeg Futurity (Wednesday)
$201,620 in the Jackpot pick-5;  $12,440 in the Jackpot Hi-5
Guarantees: $250,000 Jackpot pick-5 single winner;  $25,000 Pick 4

Sheldon Chickeness, aboard Funny Flowers, holds up five fingers for his five wins on Wednesday’s card. Impressive!
(Jason Halstead photo)
A BIG, BIG SHOUT-OUT to Sheldon Chickeness who bagged five wins Wednesday night, the only jockey this meet to do so and his first five-bagger in two decades of riding. The all-Chickeness pick-4 paid $126.55 for $1. “Chicky” won with:
  • Race 2 -- Witt’s Tenny Ten trained by Jerry Gourneau $9.10
  • Race 4 -- Wolowitz trained by Lee Delaronde $12.20
  • Race 5 -- Double Time trained by Steve Thompson $3.50
  • Race 6 -- Cimpl Man trained by Steve Keplin, Jr. $5,00
  • Race 7 -- Funny Flowers trained by Steve Keplin, Jr. $4.00
*       *       *
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Miss Imperial and Mongolian Wind, both of whom were named 2020 Horse of the Year by the HBPA of Manitoba when voters couldn’t decide whether a locally-raced multiple stakes-winning mare or the interloper winner of the Manitoba Derby should get the honour.

Owing to these COVID times, the awards were handed out in the paddock Saturday in presentations meant for the camera and not for people. Shout-outs to the other award-winners as well!
  • The Murray Duncan gang get honoured for Miss Imperial who was named 2020’s top Older Mare, Champion Sprinter and Horse of the Year in a tie (Jason Halstead photo)
    3-Year Old Colt/Gelding of 2020 and Horse of the Year (tie)
    MONGOLIAN WIND -- Trainer: Wade Eno. Owners: Mongolian Stable & Andrew Stronach
  • Older Mare of 2020, Sprinter of 2020 & Horse of the Year (tie)
    MISS IMPERIAL -- Trainer: Murray Duncan. Owners: Murray Duncan & the Estate of Garylle B. Stewart
  • 2-Year Old Colt/Gelding of 2020
    FREEZING JIMMY -- Trainer: Marvin Buffalo. Owners: Marvin & Deb Buffalo
  • Most Astute Claim of 2020
    PROUD AND LOUD -- Trainer: Wendy Anderson. Owner: Wind Dancer Stables
  • Retired Thoroughbred of 2020
    ABUGAH -- Owner: Megan McClarty
  • Leading Percentage Trainer of 2020
  • 2-Year old Filly of 2020
    MELISANDRE -- Trainer: Michael Nault. Owners: Barry Arnason, True North Thoroughbreds & Charles Fouillard
  • 3-year-old Filly of 2020
    KICKALITTLEBOOTY -- Trainer: Brent Hrymak. Owners: Brent & Heather Hrymak
Readers write . . .
"Thank you"

“Thank you, Ivan, for your newsletter on the track every week. I worked there for 41 years, retired and moved to Vancouver Island in 2014. Your newsletter kept me up-to-date on a place I called home for sooo many years. Enjoy your retirement come November. THANK YOU!!!!!!!” -- Dave McDonald

Thanks for the note, Dave. No real retirement for this guy. I have my sites set on unleashing a stable of newly-minted handicappers I’ll be coaching.
WIN A TON IN '21: Can it really be this easy to cash $363? Yes it can.

You add up the in-the-money finishes for all horses in a race and play the top four in a $1 superfecta box for $24. You collect $363.

Yes, it was that simple in the last live race Monday night and, yes, that’s how I played it: The race was a motley crew of maidens and non-winners of two races.

#1 Elsie’s Wish was three for five in the money
#2 Sizzle N Susie was five for 10 in the money
#3 No More Secrets was seven for 12 in the money
#6 Sophie McTrophy was six for nine in the money

No other horse in the nine-horse field was close to those so you box 1-2-3-6. The order of finish was 2-3-6-1. Duh! See program page here. (This is lesson #17 in “quit your job and play the races” teaching I will be doing after I move on from The Insider in November.)
Norman Williams (1934-2021)

GOLF COURSE DEVELOPER, LONGTIME ASD PLAYER DIES: Assiniboia Downs will miss the mild-mannered Norman Williams, a regular at the Downs until his death at 86 on Aug. 12. He left an impressive legacy: As greenskeeper at Transcona Golf Course, he helped design nine additional holes, he saved Wildwood Golf Course from numerous floods by getting a dike built, he supervised Winnipeg’s forestry department and helped save elm trees by developing a Dutch Elm Disease Program. “He loved people and never allowed their flaws to overshadow the good in them,” reads his obituary you may read here.

This week’s history blog features an up-close look at one of the premier events on the Downs stakes calendar – the Gold Cup.  Click here to learn more about some of the special horses that have won Manitoba’s championship race for 3-year-olds and up and a few more nuggets of Gold Cup trivia! 
$1 million pool guarantee for Jackpot Pick 5 on final race night
  • Sunday, Sept. 5: Manitoba Night Market 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. $7 admission, $5 parking. Must be fully immunized.
  • Labour Day Monday, Sept. 6: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m. Gold Cup Stakes, Buffalo Stakes
  • Tuesday, Sept. 7: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m. J.W. Sifton Stakes
  • Wednesday, Sept. 8: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m. Winnipeg Futurity
  • Friday, Sept. 10: Country Summer Concert at ASD
  • Saturday, Sept. 11: Canadian Derby at Century Mile; North America Cup (harness racing) at Mohawk. Country Summer Concert at ASD
  • Monday, Sept. 13: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m. Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament
  • Tuesday, Sept. 14: Race night at the Downs 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 15: FINAL NIGHT OF LIVE RACING 7:30 p.m. Million dollar pool guarantee in the Jackpot Pick 5 (if not won by this date)
  • Sunday, Sept. 19: Manitoba Night Market 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. $7 admission, $5 parking. Must be fully immunized.
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 Proof of full immunization is required to watch the races from the main floor or outside tarmac. Full immunization is now required to watch live racing from the dining room. Reservations are a must. 204-885-3330.

 Just six more days to get your fix of live racing this year!

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