Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 35 (Issue #653)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Who's happiest to be returning to Belmont?

QUICKIE QUIZ: WHO’S HAPPIEST? What horses are happiest to be returning to the Belmont Park dirt track on Friday because Saratoga didn’t offer races at TWO distances they preferred? (a) Horses that like 5 1/2 furlong sprints (b) Horses that like six furlong races (c) Horses that like 7 furlong races (d) Horses that like mile races (e) Horses that like 1 1/16-mile races (f) Horses that like 1 1/8-mile races. See answer under HANDICAPPING.


You big baby!

Winnipeg Futurity caps off three days of stakes action and fan appreciation perks

After tonight’s live race card at 7:15, the 61st season of live racing at Assiniboia Downs comes to a climactic finish Friday and Saturday at 7:15 and Sunday at 1:15 with fan appreciation perks and $110,000 in stakes action including the 89th running of the Winnipeg Futurity, the penultimate race for 2-year-olds. Perks on those three days include:
  • 5X Player Rewards points on all ASD wagers
  • DOUBLE the free spins in VLT tournaments after the races. (Ten draws for $40 in spins each day.)
  • Food, drink and bar specials
  • $2 race program, 50-cent tip sheet
  • 25% - 50% selected gift shop merchandise
  • Double Crazy Hour after Sunday’s final race card
How do you like your stakes?
  • Friday is ladies night! The best female horses will tangle in the Manitoba Matron including 2017 Horse of the Year Escape Clause
  • Saturday: Let’s call this Derby Day #2, sort of. Derby means 3-year-olds but this stakes, the J.W. Sifton, is strictly for 3-year-old colts and geldings bred in Manitoba.
  • Sunday is baby day! The historic Winnipeg Futurity and the Buffalo Stakes for Manitoba-breds
Also Sunday afternoon: Free pony rides and bouncy castles for kids and trophy presentations to the 2018 leading jockey and trainer.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Jockey race narrows. Who wants it more?
  • Media Melee survives objection to win Gold Cup
  • Injured groom makes surprise visit to ASD
  • What should you look for to pick winners in final ASD races?
  • Manitoba-bred horse wins at Del Mar
  • Does ASD have the winningest horse on the continent?
NEW “3 FOR THE MONEY” GAME LAUNCHES SATURDAY, SEPT. 15: A bit of extra fun will be added to Saturday afternoons in the Race Book through the fall and winter starting next week. In a game dubbed “3 for the money” you’ll be invited to pick a winner in three designated races at the Feature Track of the Day to win up to $150 in wagering vouchers. The player who wins the most often will also get invited with a guest to next spring’s kick-off press conference and gourmet luncheon for the 2019 live race season, the hottest media event in town.
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
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94.3 The Drive

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Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in September? 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 tonight and 10 chances to win $40 in free VLT spins on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. 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. Please note that there is no poker this Friday or Saturday. Poker resumes Friday, September 14 in the clubhouse and the Royal Flush progressive jackpot is $13,425.


Media Melee survives objection to win Gold Cup

Head-on replay of race shows Media Melee drifting over onto Plentiful

Media Melee won the coveted Gold Cup Stakes Monday but not without controversy surrounding his drifting into favourite Plentiful in late stretch. Plentiful’s rider, Tyrone Nelson lodged an objection but the stewards upheld the original result.

Tyrone Nelson checks Plentiful (#6) as Media Melee drifts

Said one fan: “Media Melee came over five paths and definitely interfered.” “Absolutely,” echoed another. But another fan who is normally a Plentiful supporter disagrees. “Plentiful was pooped from running the whole race wide and wasn't strong enough to overcome (Media Melee) today,” he said.

The Equibase chart on the race says: “Plentiful was bothered by the winner drifting out into his path from the sixteenth pole home, steadied late.”

Fan education specialist Glen Sirkis said he is “50/50” after stewards gave him their reasons for a non-disqualification—which you can read here.

What do you think? Watch the replay here and keep watching the video for the head-on view showing Media Melee drifting over. (Click on Sept. 3, race 6.)

Should the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission follow the lead of New York tracks and post steward inquiry decisions online? See what NYRA tracks do here.

This is the second time in five tries that Media Melee has beaten Plentiful, setting up a likely debate for Horse of the Year if you don’t include Escape Clause. Who’s your preference?

*       *       *

Race to the wire

Can anyone close the gap on Whitehall?

Three jockeys who have never won the jockey title at the Downs are within reach of that milestone with four days of racing remaining. The gap has narrowed since last week: Antonio Whitehall is now only three wins ahead of Prayven Badrie and four ahead of Renaldo Cumberbatch. Anything can happen in 28 races. Who wants it more?

Tonight’s mounts: Whitehall 6, Badrie 5 and Cumberbatch 4.

*       *       *

My $24 pick-4 ticket for tonight

Two rule legs; two opinion legs

The “rule” in race 4 is to take the two horses dropping into a maiden claiming race from maiden allowance. That’s the easiest leg. Race 5 is 7 ½ furlongs so one of the horses has to be a horse who does best at that distance or 7 furlongs (#4). This race is in desperate need of a speed horse and it appears #2 with blinkers added is that horse with juicy 15-1 odds.

Race 6
simply requires going deep and crossing one’s fingers. Race 7 has a possible key: A horse that was racing tougher, has shown speed and now has an aggressive rider (#6 Shiloh’s Phil with Prayven Badrie up).

See my $24 ticket here.

Wins: Aug. 6 ($30 ticket) Paid $431.
Losses: July 25 ($1 ticket); Aug. 3 ($8 ticket); Aug. 15 ($18 ticket); Aug. 22 ($9 ticket); Aug. 29 ($7 ticket)
Total amount bet $73. Total won: $431.

*       *       *

HOTTIES OF THE WEEK (Wed, Sat, Mon):  
Hottest jockeys: Prayven Badrie, Renaldo Cumberbatch
(4 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Tom Gardipy Jr. (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: Rock Concert  $24.90 (Saturday race 5) 
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $119 (Saturday race 7) 

Stakes champion(s): Media Melee (Gold Cup)



How to pick winners in ASD's final races

Gameness is more important than class

As ASD trainers empty their stalls for a final race before the meet closes Sunday, what matters most is the gameness of horses, not so much their class.

Horses that have had a recent win or SHOWN CLOSING ABILITY are your main contenders. Look for these words in the “trouble line” of past performance lines: “advanced widest, outside try, advanced between horses, belated rally, etc.” You get the drift.

For example, in race 5 Saturday, Rock Concert with a “belated rally” comment beat highly favoured Red N Black Attack who had won two races in a row.

*       *       *

Happy to be back

What horses at what distances should you be looking for at Belmont Friday?

Horses return to favoured distances

ANSWER TO QUICKIE QUIZ AT TOP OF COLUMN: Happy to be back at Belmont Park when the fall meet begins this Friday are horses who prefer distances of one mile or 1 1/16-mile on the main track. That’s because those distances were unavailable at Saratoga because of the configuration of the main track. That meant some horses had to race outside their comfort zone, either in 7-furlong or 1 1/8-mile races. Which means you can get a handicapping edge by watching for those distance specialists as they return to their preferred distances.

HBPA Director Ken Pawluk (left) presents groom awards to Katie MacLennan and Garry Gamble
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to grooms in general and two ASD grooms in particular, Katie MacLennan and Garry Gamble who won 2018 HBPA groom awards. “Unsung heroes,” said presenter Ken Pawluk in the Winner’s Circle Monday. MacLennan who happens to be the sister of paddock host Rob MacLennan was cited for “always being there, focused on tasks getting done” for trainer Elton Dickey. And Gamble’s strength is in “horse care, dedication to the animals, being organized and thoughtful” in his duties for trainer Tom Gardipy, Jr. After working at Marquis Downs in Saskatchewan for 15 years, he told The Insider, he finds Manitobans particularly friendly.

to all the ASD fans who showed on Monday how much they care about finding a good home for retired race horses. Patrons purchased a whopping 50 coffee mugs at $10 apiece at the horseshoe kiosk on the main level in support of Final Furlong, the non-profit group that places race horses in caring homes. They get to sip coffee with a smile on their faces knowing they did their little bit to help.

The Great Benjamins Circus
Eight performances on ASD grounds

A BIG SHOUT-OUT, even though they haven’t performed at the Downs yet, to the Great Benjamins Circus stars who will be performing under the big top set up in the Downs’ parking lot from Friday to Sunday, Sept. 19-21. The reason for the shout-out now? Their commitment to their craft. Get a load of their schedule: 56 shows in 20 different towns/cities from Saskatoon to Red Lake, Ont. in the 30 days of September. All this travelling, all these performances and just three days off all month! At least you know they’re polished! And who doesn’t love a circus, right? Get tickets at


Rebecca Fentum-Jones leaning on walker with supporters in Winner's Circle
WINNINGEST HORSE ON THE CONTINENT? With Hot Rodin’s victory in race 2 at the Downs Monday, the 5-year-old gelding appears to be the winningest horse on the continent with eight victories this year, two at Turf Paradise, six at the Downs. Will former trainer Juan Pablo Silva and owner Tijuana Racing Stables, who claimed him back out of Monday's race for $10,000, race him one more time before likely heading down to Arizona to continue his winning ways?

INJURED GROOM SURPRISES ONLOOKERS WITH ASD APPEARANCE: A fall from a horse, a swelling brain that required removing parts of her skull—and there she was on Monday, in the Winner’s Circle after a race named for her, wearing a helmet, leaning on a walker and whispering to The Insider that she should be released from the hospital by the end of the month. A truly incredible story of recovery for groom Rebecca Fentum Jones who has a GoFundMe page set up by K 5 Stable manager Leona Stahl that has raised $15,070.

“Edna is running fantastic,” K 5 Stables manager Leona Stahl told The Insider Monday night. Indeed. Edna, a filly bred by K 5 Stables and born shortly before owner Phil Kives’ death in April, 2016, has shown her heels to 2-year-olds in back-to-back races in California. She broke her maiden in a $40,000 claimer at Los Alamitos Race Course ($3.60) then, this past Sunday, won an allowance optional $50,000 claimer at Del Mar ($5.40). She’s a chestnut filly by Street Boss, out of Got Smarts. Nice to see “MB” after their names.
Blair Miller
Filly brightens day

At least one filly is coming through for former ASD trainer Blair Miller in a tough year at Woodbine since he left Assiniboia Downs to train primarily at Woodbine in 2016. His 3-year-old Blu Collar Romance won race 1 at Woodbine Sunday ($31.50) after breaking her maiden just eight days before that ($22.90) to give him a record of 33-2-1-3 on the season and horse earnings of $48,267 with three months remaining in the Woodbine meet.

Last year was his second-best season in training ever with his horses earning $276,000. The year before that, they earned $214,000. His best year ever came in 2012 when his horses earned $323,000 while racing at Assiniboia Downs and Turf Paradise in Arizona.

Saratoga reports it had the second-biggest season of wagering ever at this year’s meet. Betting from all sources at the 40-day meet was $659.1 million, second only to last year’s $676.7 million despite heavy rains that forced 50 races to be taken off the turf—double that of last year. And on the west coast, Del Mar reported wagering was up 6.8 per cent per race over last year as field sizes grew.

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q: How does the new HPIbet mobile screen layout effect functionality

If you’ve been placing bets on HPIbet using your smartphone over the past week or so, you’ve likely noticed a relatively big change to the overall screen layout. They’ve relocated several key buttons to the lower half of the screen including: Access Available Tracks, Make a Deposit, View Transactions and Place a Bet. Until now, these functions were all menu items along the top part of the mobile window (view image here).

Other than moving the location of these items, none of their actual functionality has changed. So, it just means that you have to get used to clicking the green PLACE BET button at the bottom right of the screen instead of the previous top right corner. And, to access your favourite track, just click the blue TRACKS button along the bottom left to get a list of all of the current available tracks (view image here).

Usually, this type of transition is intended to make it easier to access these items with only one hand by having them closer to the bottom of the phone and within reach of your thumb.

Got a question for Marshall? Email
HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: Season-ending trivia teasers

Who is the only horse in Downs history to win the final race of the meet on two occasions?  Which 20-year-old jockey won four races on the final day of the season in 1963 en route to his first and only riding title at the Downs?  For Bob’s answers to these questions and other season-ending trivia, click here.


  • Tonight: 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
  • Thursday, Sept. 27: First Thursday night certified Angus prime rib buffet. Reserve now by calling Samantha at 204-885-3330 (ext. 0)
NEXT INSIDER: Thursday, the regular day for The Insider through the fall and winter


Almost no room for the horse
Monday as Ebadan wins race 5 ($6.90) for Assiniboia Racing Club members and groupies (Jason Halstead photo)

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