Thursday, September 5, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14  No 34 (Issue #704)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

A NEW TWIST IN TODAY’S INSIDER: With the NFL football season kicking off tonight, The Insider has turned to an in-house quarterback and mutuel ticket seller for his predictions. See below.

Ace of diamonds is hit; jackpot goes
Winner plans to take friend to Scotland to play golf at famous St. Andrews

The moment of the card flip
Avid golfers Curtis and friend Mike Mason will now plan a trip to St. Andrews
“Let’s go the Downs tonight to win the Chase the Ace jackpot to be able to go to Scotland to play golf at (legendary) St. Andrews,” Curtis Markusson, an avid golfer, model and actor, said Saturday afternoon in a get-together with a bunch of buddies.


Several hours later, CEO Darren Dunn was presenting Curtis with a cheque for $51,375 and now Curtis and his best bud, realtor Mike Mason--who shot the video below of Curtis’ pick--can start planning the trip.

As hundreds of patrons crowded into the lobby and on the steps leading to the second-floor Clubhouse, Curtis, 39, pointed to card #3 as the card he believed would be the jackpot Ace of Diamonds. When ASD staffer Dawn Contois flipped the card, pandemonium broke out with shrieking, cheering and Curtis hugging just about everyone in sight. He said he had bought four $5 tickets.

The game, which the Downs held to raise money for Final Furlong, a non-profit organization that helps find good homes for retired race horses, had begun on Day 1 of the 50-day live thoroughbred meet with a 54-card deck and Saturday was Day 46. Just nine cards remained. If the game continued to the final day of live racing with four cards remaining, draws would have continued until someone won.

The Downs (and Final Furlong) can feel lucky that the game continued as long as it did. On average, such a game would end by the 21st draw according to a probability expert. Saturday’s win ended the game for this live race season.


Bullet briefs . . .

  • Manitoba's Escape Clause pointed to $200,000 race in 10 days. Where?
  • Get appreciated all weekend!
  • Will Sunday be THE day you earn a trip to big-money tourney in Vegas?
  • Deep Explorer scores powerful victory in Gold Cup; where to next?
  • Barred from rushing, Harris takes in racing
  • Whew! Del Mar has zero breakdowns during summer meet
OTB GOODIES: All through September, enter your name with mutuel sellers at these OTB locations (Pembina, Windsor, Quest & Green Brier) to be drawn on Saturday to win $25 in betting vouchers and 5,000 Player Rewards points. This is your final weekend to receive 5x the usual Player Rewards points when you wager at Club Regent, McPhillips & Rookies.

QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

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, NFL

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 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Top winner from each night participates in a month-end finale for more spins and $250 in prize money.

POKER FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker is now on summer break. Poker will resume on Friday, Sept. 13 with a royal flush progressive jackpot of $5,111.25.

GREEDY CORNER: $1 MILLION at stake this afternoon in Gulfstream’s Rainbow pick-6. See other carryovers here.

"We need to get into the Winner's Circle"
Manitoba's millionaire mare is pointed to $200,000 stakes at Churchill in 10 days

“We need to get into the Winner’s Circle,” Don Schnell, Escape Clause’s trainer, told The Insider from a Keeneland training facility in Kentucky where Manitoba’s millionaire mare is being readied for her next race.

She’s been nominated to the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 $200,000 Locust Grove stakes at Churchill Downs that goes a week from this Saturday, he said, and her value at auction on Monday, Nov. 4 could depend on how well she performs in that race after her third-place finish at Thistledown in Ohio on Aug. 17.

As it turned out, Schnell said, the 5-year-old was racing with a virus in that Thistledown race and that’s what caused an unusually flat performance. “One vet said her blood count wasn’t bad, it was terrible.”

She now appears strong and ready for her next assignment, he said. Her owners which include Schnell, Barry Arnason and True North partners have turned down US$600,000 and are hoping for a figure approaching $1 million at the Fasig-Tipton “night of the stars” auction on Nov. 4.

Is she the most-travelled horse in North America? She certainly has been around, having raced at Thistledown, Delaware, Belmont, Oaklawn, Sunland, Santa Anita, Del Mar, Century Downs, Northlands, Canterbury, Zia and, of course, Assiniboia Downs. And her upcoming race is at Churchill. That would make it 13 different tracks.

I wonder what place she liked best. I’d say it was Oaklawn where she tuned in to all the new bird sounds. (And lost the Grade 1 Apple Blossom stakes to Midnight Bisou by a mere nose.)
EYE ON LIVE: Friday & Saturday 7:15, Sunday 1:15

The final three live race days mean . . .

. . . fan perks; last chance for Vegas trip; 90th Winnipeg Futurity and Sunday must-pays

Wow! There are lots of exciting reasons for you to take in the final three days of live racing from Friday through Sunday:

  • 5X the usual Player Rewards on all wagers on ASD races
  • $2 program, 50-cent tip sheet
  • Draw for $500 Travelodge package
  • Food and beverage specials
  • 20% to 50% off select Gift Shop items
FINAL VEGAS TRIP: Play the races better on Sunday than other entrants to the Las Vegas Challenge tournament (betting $2 win/place/show) and you and a guest will be flying to Las Vegas to compete for big money in early spring. Entry fee: $50. Likely competition: 60 other entrants. Value rating: Very high.

  • Friday: the $30K Manitoba Matron for top older Manitoba females
  • Saturday: the $25K J.W. Sifton for top Manitoba-bred 3-year-olds
  • Sunday: the $30K 90th Winnipeg Futurity for top 2-year-olds and the $25K Buffalo for top Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds
MUST-PAY POOLS ON SUNDAY: How much will the Jackpot pick-5 grow to? The whole pool must be paid out during Sunday’s afternoon card. So must the Super Hi-5 pool on the last race. So must the pick-4. Double Crazy Hour (two hours) will follow the final live race on Sunday ($2.95 beer, wine and shots; half-price appetizers)

*       *       *

Are titles in the bag?
Mairs and Gardipy appear to be a lock for leading jock and trainer

With 27 races remaining on the live season, Richard Mairs and Tom Gardipy, Jr. appear to have a stranglehold on titles for leading rider and leader trainer. Mairs’ five victories in the past three race days and Gardipy’s four wins appear to have sealed the deal. Here are the current standings:
  • Jockey race: Richard Mairs -- 48, Antonio Whitehall -- 41, Alex Cruz -- 38
  • Trainer race: Tom Gardipy, Jr. -- 45, Juana Pablo Silva -- 41 and Jerry Gourneau -- 36
This would be Mairs’ first jockey title and Gardipy’s sixth. Trophies will be presented in the Winner’s Circle on Sunday. In the win-percentage category, Cruz is tops at 23 per cent wins and Gary Danelson is tops among trainers at 30 per cent. There’s no trophy for that but there are bragging rights!

*       *       *

Hottest jockeys: Richard Mairs
(5 wins)
Hottest trainers:
Tom Gardipy, Jr. (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: Inxsessive Reality $38.30 (Fri race 5)
Stakes champion(s): Deep Explorer (Gold Cup)
Stakes this week:
Manitoba Matron (Friday), J.W. Sifton for MB-bred 3-year-olds (Saturday), Buffalo for MB-bred 2-year-olds and 90th Winnipeg Futurity for 2-year-olds (Sunday)

Pick-4: none
Jackpot Pick-5 (starts race 3): $8,482 (must-pay Sunday)
Jackpot Hi 5 (last race): $1,019 (must-pay Sunday)

*       *       *

"We'll do it again next year"
Positive reviews for first "Thoroughbred Showcase" sale

A novel, informal way to bring horse sellers and buyers together on Sunday--with an event dubbed “Thoroughbred Showcase”--produced positive results even though the crowd was not as big as expected, says Final Furlong originator April Keedian. “So we’re hoping to repeat this again next year.”

Horses were paraded in the ASD paddock with a view to producing sales from viewers there and from viewers of videos posted on Final Furlong’s Facebook page. Thirteen of 33 listed horses were sold as of this writing but negotiations are continuing, Keedian says. Final Furlong is a non-profit organization that helps find good homes for retired race horses.
Jerry Gourneau and jockey Chavion Chow with Gold Cup

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Deep Explorer, his trainer Jerry Gourneau and owner Texan Henry S. Witt, Jr. for winning the $30K Gold Cup with breathtaking tenacity: The 6-year-old chestnut gelding dueled early in the 1 1/8-mile race with predicted front-runner and favourite, Manitoba-bred Langara, causing onlookers to think: “Uh-oh, this pair is done.” Hardly. Jockey Chavion Chow kicked Deep Explorer into high gear and he exploded from his six pursuers, scoring a seven-length victory and a lifetime best Equibase speed figure of 98, paying $10.80. Some race!

Fans were wary of Alberta invader Alta Gem whom trainer Tim Rycroft shipped in to win the Gold Cup because Robertino Diodoro passed up entering Manitoba Derby winner Oil Money. But the 3-year-old finished third, beaten for second by 12-1 local longshot Telling You Twice. Gourneau said Deep Explorer’s next race will likely come at Remington Park in Oklahoma. His likely trainer there will be top trainer Karl Broberg while Gourneau heads to Delta Downs in Louisiana with 15 2-year-olds and five older horses, he told The Insider.

As his wife, Carina, looks on, Andrew Harris discusses a race with track announcer Kirt Contois in the press box Friday
BARRED FROM RUSHING, HARRIS TAKES IN RACING: What do you do when you’re the star running back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the team is heading to Regina without you because you’ve been suspended? For Andrew Harris, it meant playing the races Friday at Assiniboia Downs with wife Carina. And one of their thrills was being invited to the press box to watch track announcer/handicapper Kirt Contois call a race--and get a wagering tip.

“Bet all your money on #1 in the fifth race,”
Contois suggested. Oops! Leading rider Richard Mairs tried his best on #1, Corporate Chapel (5-2) in the $1,500 claimer but couldn’t get past 18-1 Dane Dawkins on Inxcessive Reality on a night in which longshots ruled. Harris wasn’t around after the race to indicate whether he had followed Contois’ advice but, then again, he could have played Corporate Chapel to place ($4.80) or in an exactor that paid $217.50 for a $2 ticket.

With California racing under the microscope because of the rash of breakdowns during Santa Anita’s winter/spring meet, Del Mar did what it pretty much needed to do: Run a meet in which there were no racing fatalities. And it did. Pre-race inspections by vets and a discussion of entries by a panel of vets and racing officials with obvious cooperation from horsemen helped produce a perfectly safe record. The rush of air you felt following Del Mar’s last race on Sunday was the entire racing industry heaving a huge sigh of relief. The meet lasted 36 days. Cal racing now moves to Los Alamitos while, on the East Coast, racing moves from Saratoga, which enjoyed a record $705 million in wagering, to Belmont.

Supporters of Arlington International Racecourse in Chicago are worried about the track’s future following the announcement by Churchill Downs, which owns Arlington, that it will not seek a casino license despite the state’s new legislation that makes it possible. A casino at the track would be less lucrative for Churchill than its Rivers Casino 18 minutes away because it would require Churchill to funnel some casino revenue into racing.
NFL SEASON PREVIEW by Travers "Travyfootball" Cummings

When Travers isn’t tapping out your race bets in the Clubhouse, he’s quarterbacking a flag football team (now in the playoffs) and watching the NFL Network channel a lot. So, with the NFL season kicking off tonight, what better person to put on the spot for predictions? (Seems he’s a darn good writer, too!)

  1. Kansas City Chiefs: If it hadn’t been for defensive miscues in the AFC final, the Chiefs would likely have been playing in--and winning--the Super Bowl last year. I don’t know what Patrick Mahomes has in store for his second season as a starter but one thing seems certain: they will be lighting up the scoreboard like nobody else.
  2. Baltimore Ravens: I am picking them to win the AFC North, Look for second-season quarterback Lamar Jackson to cut down on last year’s rookie mistakes. The Ravens also have a tough secondary which will make it difficult to move the ball through the air on them.
  3. New England Patriots: Last time I checked Tom Brady is still the quarterback and Bill Belichick is still the coach. Enough said. (Will this finally be the year Brady’s production drops off? Or will he continue to work wonders and cement himself as the greatest player ever?)
  4. Chicago Bears: Dominant pass rusher Kahlil Mack is the heart and soul of this team. If the Bears have Super Bowl aspirations, it’s their defense that will take them there. The jury is still out on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Sleeper Team -- Jacksonville Jaguars: 2018 was a write-off for the Jaguars who underachieved in every possible way. In the off-season they finally decided to part ways with atrocious quarterback Blake Bortles and replaced him with Super Bowl winning quarterback Nick Foles from Philadelphia. 

Conference final teams:
Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears

Super Bowl winner:
The Kansas City Chiefs over the New Orleans Saints

Tonight’s season-opener: Bears vs Packers at 7:20 p.m. CDT
HISTORY ON THE HOOF with Bob: 90th Winnipeg Futurity prompts flashbacks

As the sun sets on live racing this week, Bob explores the history of the Winnipeg Futurity.  2019 marks the 90th running of the race (on Sunday, Sept. 8) and Bob has put together a delicious assortment of facts, figures and stories for you to feast upon.  Who was the winner of the first Futurity?  Did you know that one trainer won the race a record-setting four times and did it in consecutive years?  Bob has all the details here.

To earn racing artifacts from your birth year and for $50 in wagering vouchers, $50 in ASD merchandise and to endear yourself to historian Bob forever, come answer multiple-choice questions on Bob’s 18 blogs next Saturday at 1 p.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. The quiz should take just 10 or 15 minutes. Refresh your memory on his blogs here. There will be one question from each blog.
DON’T LOOK NOW BUT . . . today is national “Be Late for Something Day” which has been around since 1956 and is a reminder--not necessarily to be late for an appointment--but to take a moment to smell the roses. Or freshly-cut grass or hay or whatever. Good concept.  
Final night market next Saturday is part of a huge exciting day of interest
  • Fan appreciation this Friday: Live racing 7:15. Manitoba Matron Stakes
  • Fan appreciation this Saturday: Live racing 7:15. J. W. Sifton Stakes for Manitoba-bred 3-year-olds
  • Fan appreciation this Sunday: Final live race day 1:15. Final horseplayer tournament to earn a trip to Las Vegas, Buffalo Stakes for Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds. 90th Winnipeg Futurity for 2-year-olds . Top jock and top trainer awards. Family fun.
  • HUGE Saturday, Sept. 14: First “I won bigger” betting group workshop of the season at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza kicked off with a crispy, crunchy bacon treat as participants consider the Woodbine pick-5 and Escape Clause’s race at Churchill. $800K Woodbine Mile. Multiple-choice quiz on Bob Gates’ blogs at 1 p.m. for prizes and bragging rights. Third and final Manitoba Night Market of the season from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 26: Thursday night certified Angus prime rib buffets begin. Just $27.95. Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 to reserve for that Thursday or any other Thursday.

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