Friday, September 4, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 35 (Issue #754)

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 WAKE-UP CALL: Watch the fastest-ever Kentucky Derby here.


The $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks Stakes--the filly equivalent of the Kentucky Derby--goes this afternoon at Churchill Downs and, of course, the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby is reason to rise tomorrow. First post both days is 10 a.m. CDT.

Then, on Labour Day Monday, Saratoga and Del Mar conclude their race meets which means mandatory payouts of all their pools including the 20-cent Empire 6. And at Assiniboia Downs Monday night, Manitoba Derby winner Mongolian Wind will be among nine to contest the Gold Cup Stakes to determine the best horse on the grounds.

The Kentucky Derby and the 20-cent pick-6 leading into it will be the subject of tomorrow’s “I won bigger” betting group discussion and plays. Then on Monday, the group will play the mandatory-payout Empire pick-6 at Saratoga and Woodbine’s pick-5. Both workshops are 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. Everyone is invited.

in the ASD Clubhouse if my early Derby choice, Thousand Words, finishes first, second or third in the Kentucky Derby! (He’s fourth in morning line odds.)



Post position drama

Three favs draw outside posts side-by-side, Thousand Words gets post #10

If the Kentucky Derby is half as exciting as the post position draw was on Tuesday morning, it should be a barn burner. The draw felt like it had been scripted for maximum drama.

Everyone was on pins and needles waiting to see where the favourites would land. But there was no sign of them until the very end. All the no-name horses were put into their respective positions, leaving only post #10 and extreme outside posts for the top four horses--Tiz the Law, Authentic, Honor A.P. and Thousand Words.

Thankfully, my Thousand Words (fourth choice in the morning line) got post #10 and the three favs were side-by-side in posts 16, 17 and 18. The overwhelming favourite, Tiz the Law at 3-5, was the last “pea” remaining in the draw container.

Love it! Thousand Words can get the inside jump on the favourites to find a good position where Florent Geroux will hopefully work out a good trip for the colt to give his best.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • ASD horse owners forced to return purse money after pepper-positive tests
  • My head and heart pick different horses to win Kentucky Derby--of course
  • What $5,000 claimer ran two jaw-dropping races at big odds? See SHOUT-OUTS
  • With five live race days left, Gourneau has longshot chance to beat trainer record
  • TravyFootball kicks off today with NFL season preview and Game One picks
WHO DOES $200 DERBY BANKROLL WINNER LIKE IN THE DERBY? Here’s how Alan Hampton plans to bet the $200 he won in the Derby Countdown contest: I will be playing Tiz the Law with #’s 2,3,6,8,13 and 16 underneath for sure. I may try a triactor with Tiz the Law / All / #8 South Bend at 50-1. He is a horse that just seems to come with a run at the end and may find the distance to his liking. I will also look at the late pick 3 and pick 4. Perhaps Newspaperofrecord / All / All/ Tiz the Law in the pick 4.”  

Are you submitting daily race picks to reduce the entry fee to zero and become eligible to win $100? See details here.
Click to enlarge.
DO THE DOWNS for racing and gaming

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.

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.

Tomorrow will see the first use of Churchill’s new 20-stall starting gate

My heart (and wallet) want Thousand Words to win

But my head says "Tiz the Law"

It’s hard to look past Tiz the Law to win tomorrow’s Kentucky Derby, isn’t it? He’s shown himself to be a cut above all other 3-year-olds, having won the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes with ease.

The only way my future wager choice, Thousand Words, has a chance to win the 146th Run for the Roses is for Tiz the Law to get into trouble in the 18-horse field--and I’m certainly not hoping for that. Or am I? Tiz the Law will likely clear the field from his #17 post position and that will be that.

My bets tomorrow will likely be superfecta and Super Hi 5 wheels with Tiz the Law on top and Thousand Words in the fourth and fifth positions. Of course, if Thousand Words has improved a whole bunch since his Shared Belief Stakes victory at Del Mar a month ago, I stand to collect about $8,500 for my $200 in future wagers I made over the past months at odds as high as 65-1.

But I’m also a realist. And let’s just say “may the best horse win.” Tiz the Law will likely just use the Kentucky Derby as a stepping stone to the Preakness Stakes in a month to become the third Triple Crown winner in five years--with an asterisk because of a mixed-up schedule and a shorter Belmont Stakes.

*       *      *  

NOTE IT WILL BE CRAZY HOUR in the ASD Clubhouse if Thousand Words finishes first, second or third in the Kentucky Derby. (Beer, wine, shots $2.95 and half-price appetizers.) So now you have selfish reasons to cheer for my horse to finish in the money!

Pepper-positive horses must forfeit their purses

Three ASD horses are among 38 across Canada to test positive

Finding traces of these in horse urine leads to DQs
Three winning ASD horses have been disqualified from receiving their race purses by the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission because they tested positive for a component of chili peppers, capsaicin, which is banned because it could be used to treat pain.

Dara Johnson
, the province’s senior horse racing policy analyst who works out of the MHRC office at the Downs, told The Insider that the three are among 38 horses at tracks across Canada that have tested positive so far this summer after the federal racing regulatory body, the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, issued advisories in September 2019 and June 2020 that capsaicin is a Class II prohibited substance.

Problem is, no one is sure how the horses came into contact with hot pepper substance that has been used for years on horse bandages and stall walls to discourage horses from chewing those surfaces. And there are tiny amounts in Buckley’s Zev cough syrup for horses--manufactured in Winnipeg--even though the compound is not listed because it is below the threshold required by the Canadian Food and Drug Administration. Capsaicin has also been found in ginger added to horse feed as a digestive aid.

So, with such “inconclusive” results as to where or how horses came into contact with capsaicin, Johnson said, trainers have not been penalized for the positive test results. Trainers are being advised, however, to check with a veterinarian about products they plan to administer to their horses.

The three horses whose purse money had to be returned and redistributed to other horses in the race are:
  • Hilda -- won race 1 on June 16, trained by William Tourangeau
  • Strong Arm -- won race 7 on June 23, trained by Murray Duncan
  • Wally’s Got Class -- won race 6 on July 1, trained by William Tourangeau
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “ I see people taking it lightly and I think that's a mistake, whether you're my age or 20.” -- Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, 85, after returning to Churchill Downs after suffering a three-week bout of COVID-19 in which he struggled to breathe and slipped in and out of consciousness.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to unheralded Saskatchewan trainer Colleen O’Hagan whose $5,000 claimer, Bombillaelgato, created more excitement than you’d expect from a low-level claimer. Three weeks ago the 3-year-old Alberta-bred gelding charged from 10th to first to win his maiden race at odds of 46-1. That win catapulted retired school teacher Carol Barkwell to victory in the Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament. Then Bombillaelgato came right back three days ago to make a wide sweeping move to mow down the competition at odds of 16-1.

"Go, Dork,”
O’Hagan screamed from the paddock as her horse made his thrilling move. Her gelding’s accomplishments finally broke her out of an uncharacteristic two-for-45 slump with her seven-horse stable after she had enjoyed a 23 per cent win rate last year at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon. “I came here knowing it would be tough,” she said. And it obviously was until Dork (the horse’s barn name “because he’s kind of a silly horse”)-gave her reason to smile and giving the horse’s owner back in Saskatoon, Ric Gunther who runs a tire store, reason to celebrate. He had bet $200 on Bombillaelgato when the gelding won his maiden race at odds of 46-1.
EYE ON LIVE: Five days to go

Can Gourneau win 13 races in five nights?

Trainer needs that to tie all-time training record

Will Jerry Gourneau (left) reach or surpass Tom Dodds’ record in five race days?
Trainer Jerry Gourneau has turned trainer-winning stats on their head. Even though ASD has 50 days of racing, he is within longshot reach of setting the all-time training record held by Tom Dodds who set the record in 1990 in 117 days of racing.

Dodds’ record was 78 wins. With five live race nights remaining, Gourneau sits at 65 wins, 13 fewer than Dodds’ record. With a daunting three wins a day Gourneau would break that record. Before Gourneau went on a tear, it was hard to imagine any trainer even chalking up 64 wins in 45 days of racing.

Will Gourneau do it? He’s game to make it happen, he says. He has about four dozen horses and has been receiving ship-ins from Henry S. Witt Jr. in Texas. Wondering about ship-in protocols during the pandemic? Horses are transferred to Canadians at the border so Americans don’t come into Canada and Canadians don’t go south.

*       *      *   


Hottest jockey: Stanley Chadee Jr. (6 wins)
Hottest trainer: Jerry Gourneau (3 wins)
Biggest longshot: Bombillaelgato $35  (Race 6 Tuesday)
Stakes champions:Cypress Point (Matron), Marselan (Phil Kives)
Upcoming stakes:
Gold Cup for top horses (Monday); J.W. Sifton for 3-year-old MB-breds (Wednesday)
$120,561 in the Jackpot pick-5; $50,348 in the Super Hi-5

*       *      * 
TAKE NOTE: DOUBLE MANDATORY PAYOUTS ON ASD’S FINAL LIVE RACE DAY! As happens on the last day of all race meets, there will be a mandatory payout a week from next Tuesday of ASD’s two growing pools: the Jackpot pick-5 and the Super Hi 5. Will they be the biggest pools of the meet?

Finnick the Fierce can only see out of his left eye(Coady photo)
HORSE IN POST #1 WON’T BE ABLE TO SEE OTHER HORSES: When Finnick the Fierce (don’t you love the name?) lines up in post position #1 in the Kentucky Derby he won’t be able to see the other horses. That’s because he lost his right eye as a weanling. Starting from the inside post that other trainers hate may actually give the one-eyed horse an advantage because his best races (third place in the Arkansas Derby and a win in an Oaklawn allowance/optional claimer) have come from post #1.  

How can you have the pick-6 twice and a $5 pick-4 and still lose half your share money? By missing out on a 50-1 bombs-away horse on the Woodbine pick-5 ticket that paid $30,000. Groan. At least last Saturday’s “I won bigger” group was perfect at Gulfstream--with predictable horses and no longshots--which players said they enjoyed being involved in despite the small loss.

The group will have TWO days to score big this long weekend: Tomorrow at Churchill (Kentucky Derby and the 20-cent pick-6 leading up to it) and then Labour Day Monday at Saratoga’s last day of racing in which the Empire pick-6 mandatory payoff pool should grow to a couple million. Both workshops are at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza.
TRAVYFOOTBALL: Season preview by Travers Cummings

Well, considering I won’t be playing football anytime soon (rehabbing from a ruptured achilles tendon), I might as well get back to writing about it. This NFL season will be like no other -- due, of course, to the coronavirus pandemic. The fact that they are having a season with no bubble in place (as the NBA and NHL have) is a risk in itself.

There have been no pre-season games, there will be very limited fans in attendance (most stadiums will begin with no fans) and, if the virus starts to spread among players at a rapid rate, the league could suspend play. Having said all that, let’s be optimistic and look at three teams I believe are looking up and three that will be taking a step back:


1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (signed Tom Brady and traded for Rob Gronkowski)
2. Denver Broncos (drafted Jerry Jeudy and signed Melvin Gordon)
3. Indianapolis Colts (signed Phillip Rivers and traded for DeForest Buckner)


1. Chicago Bears (still have a quarterback problem)
2. Los Angeles Chargers (getting hit with injuries already) 
3. New England Patriots (lost Tom Brady and multiple players sitting out due to COVID-19)

visit defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, a rematch of the AFC divisional playoff in which the Chiefs got the best of the Texans and, since they now have a 100 per cent healthy Patrick Mahomes, I’m picking them to win again, 24-14.

Wearing a bulky achilles rupture rehab boot strapped to his foot and ankle,
Travers is a mutuel ticket seller and supervisor in the ASD Clubhouse.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: An intriguing Alberta connection

Bob thought it time for a story on some out-of-towners--Albertans who raced at Polo Park and ASD, to be exact--and one with a connection to Bob despite the fact the horseman last raced at ASD 60 years ago and won the Canadian Derby 71 years ago. What? Who? Bob’s full of intrigue as usual. Satisfy your curiosity here.
Final Night Market goes Sunday 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Today: Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. First post 10 a.m.
  • Tomorrow: Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill. First post 10 a.m. Terrace Dining Room opens at ASD at 9:30 a.m. for those with reservations. “I won bigger” betting group on Derby card 10:30 a.m.
  • This Sunday: Major stakes at Century Mile and Del Mar. Final Manitoba Night Market & Festival at ASD with COVID-19 protocols in place 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. with exhibitors galore, food trucks, entertainment, beer gardens, much more. $5 admission, $5 parking.
  • Monday, Sept. 7: Labour Day. Major tracks racing with important stakes races. “I won bigger” workshop 10:30 a.m. on mandatory payout Empire 6 at Saratoga--plus Woodbine pick-5. Live racing 7:30 p.m. with biggest race for best horses--the Gold Cup for 3-year-olds & up.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 8: Live racing 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 9: Live racing 7:30 p.m. J.W. Sifton Stakes for 3-year-old Manitoba-breds
  • Saturday, Sept 12: Queen’s Plate Day. “I won bigger” betting group discussion on Queen’s Plate card.
  • Monday, Sept. 14: Second-last night of live racing 7:30 p.m. Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament. Winnipeg Futurity for 2-year-olds.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 15: Final night of ASD’s most unusual season of live racing 7:30 p.m. Buffalo Stakes for Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds. Double mandatory payouts of the Jackpot pick-5 and Super Hi 5.

Go, Thousand Words!

© Copyright 1996-2020 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