Thursday, September 8, 2016

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 11 No. 32 (Issue #552)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

NO BOYS! Did you notice? Only the ladies were racing last Saturday night—just fillies and mares in every race. No one can remember that happening at the Downs in its 58-year history—ever!

Live racing comes to a climactic finish

10 reasons why tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday nights will be special

What names will top this chart?

1. Get appreciated! Every night this weekend—Friday to Sunday—is Fan Appreciation Night. There are specials on the race program and food and gift shop items. You get five times the Player Rewards on your bets on ASD races (wow!). Palm Bay coolers are just $5.50. “Spin to Win” draws are doubled. Get a free handsome Derby history collectible card (while quantities last). And last but not least: join the party after racing Sunday with double the Crazy Hour. That means TWO hours of beer, wine and shots under $3 and half-price appetizers.
2. Last chance to earn a Vegas trip.
Saturday is your final chance to send yourself and a guest to Las Vegas next March to participate in the Horse Player World Series where a top prize of about $300,000 is at stake. Just enter the Get Serious Las Vegas Challenge on Saturday night’s races. (Bet $2 win/place on your choice in each race.) Entry fee of $50 is due by 9 p.m. tomorrow.
3. Who’s the best baby?
The storied Winnipeg Futurity Stakes goes tomorrow night.
4. Who’s the best older filly/mare
on the grounds? The Manitoba Matron Stakes goes tomorrow night, too.
5. Who will take the vaunted Gold
Cup Stakes Saturday night?
6. Who’s the best 3-year-old Manitoba-bred?
The J.W. Sifton Stakes Saturday night will tell us.
7. Who’s the best Manitoba baby?
The big reveal will come in the Buffalo Stakes Sunday.
8. We’ll find out who
wins the title of top jockey and top trainer for 2016 and gets his picture hung in the lobby with every other title-holder since 1958
9. Who will be voted Horse of the Year?
This weekend should help determine that honour. Paddock host Rob MacLennan says it’s between Witt Six and Electric Cowgirl. Who would you vote for?
10. The winner of the Mexican vacation
in the Place in the Sun contest will be announced as will the winner of the September prime rib buffet for two for having the highest parlay total of the month (will it be you?)

Bullet briefs . . .

  • 20-cent quick-pick ticket takes down $13,000 Jackpot Hi 5
  • How to win in the final three days
  • Leading jockey Christopher Husbands escapes suspension over riding incident
  • Who's that fitter-than-fit radio personality in the Winner's Circle?
  • "I won big" workshops begin next Saturday
  • Name the wings: Try the "hotter-than-hot" wings and submit a name
  • Prime Rib Thursdays begin Sept. 29 (Clip coupon from program!)

THIS IS IT! LAST CHANCE FOR MEXICAN VACATION AND MORE! Three nights remain to enter the Place in the Sun $5 place parlay to win a Thursday night buffet for two (highest of the month), $20 in wagering vouchers and three months of the Sun (highest of the night) and, of course, the Mexican vacation (courtesy of Charleswood Travel and WestJet Vacations) for the highest of the season. Will there be three longshots in a row to earn you the trip? Anything can happen in the last three days! To win the buffet you need to beat Penny Kasper’s $61.60 which she chalked up on Labour Day. Good luck!

Watch next Thursday’s Insider for an exciting revised 5-Alive contest that will begin next weekend.

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 September? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to know live race dates? Click here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Jays-Bombers-NFL

Final live race days:
Tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday parade to post 7:15 p.m.

After every live race card: Crazy Hour and free VLT tournaments. Beer, wine, shots $2.95 and half-price appetizers. Note: Sunday features TWO Crazy Hours to bring the live season to a highly successful conclusion.

“I WON BIG” WORKSHOPS BEGIN IN A WEEK: “I won big” workshops will return a week from this Saturday on Sept. 17. We’ll be playing the Woodbine 20-cent pick-5 (races 2 to 7) and the early 20-cent pick-4 (races 4 to 7). The usual groups A to F should look at those six races: Group A, race 2, Group B, race 3, etc. For practice, you might want to look at those races this Saturday. Everyone, of course, is welcome and everyone receives $5 for each $20 contribution to group play. At the same time and in the same place as last year. On the plaza in the Clubhouse beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Chef Michael with ghost pepper wings

NEW! HOTTER-THAN-HOT “SWEET” WINGS: When you bite into chicken wings dipped into Chef Michael’s new sweet ghost-pepper infused sauce, the first thing you taste is the mango/kiwi sweetness. Then the heat hits. The ghost pepper heat. But then you dip your carrot or celery stick into the ranch dressing and you’re ready for another bite. The verdict? These wings really wake up the taste buds and leave you feeling exhilarated, unlike any other dish I’ve tasted. Try them and take living to a new fire-breathing level. Tell The Insider what you think and what you think they should be named.

As the biggest server in North America of certified Angus prime rib, ASD continues the tradition Thursday nights starting Sept. 29. All you can eat buffet in the Terrace Dining Room with no change in price: still just $26.95. Reserve at 204-885-3330.

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Selfie Hanover. Gotta love that name for a 3-year-old filly bred in Ontario because it combines the Hanover name that has been around harness racing forever with a word that entered our world as “the word of the year” in 2013. Incidentally, “selfie” was coined by an Australian university student falling in a drunken stupor and taking a self-described “selfie” of the stitches required to close the wound in his lip. Did you know that, Justin T.?

20-cent quick-pick ticket takes down Jackpot

Vegetable farmer turns $4 into $13,000

Al Siwak with Jackpot cheque for 20-cent ticket

No, an Isle of Man player did NOT win the $13,000 Jackpot Hi 5 Saturday night. It was taken down by a Winnipeg Beach vegetable farmer who sells his produce at a roadside stand. And he did it with a 20-cent quick-pick ticket.

Lucky or what? Al Siwak, 68, a regular at live racing with his brother and cucumber helper, Bill Siwak, said he bought $4 in 20-cent quick-pick tickets (20 tickets in all) on the last race Saturday and lucked into being given the first five finishers in the correct order. Since nobody else had a winning ticket, he landed the entire Jackpot.

The second quick-pick is the correct one

And what does he plan to do with his newfound wealth? “Buy a tractor,” he said, and he was looking already the day after his score. Of course, that's a boon to the Manitoba economy, too. (If you happen to be driving down Highway 9 at Winnipeg Beach, look for his vegetable stand there.)

This was at least the second time someone won a nice amount for a quick pick ticket. A trainer spent $5 in quick picks to land about $1,300 in a mandatory Mohawk payout two years ago.

*       *       *

Brother is "Mr. Place in the Sun"

Bill Siwak has won daily parlay prize eight times

When Bill Siwak, 71, who lives in Matlock, is not planting and picking cucumbers at his brother’s farm (see above), he’s playing the Place in the Sun contest – successfully.

Bill "Mr. Parlay" Siwak

Although he hasn’t increased a $5 parlay enough to win the Mexican vacation—yet—he has been the highest eight days, more than anyone else. His biggest parlay was $68.25 on July 13. Each time he wins, he gets $20 in wagering vouchers and three months of the Sun.

“I enjoy it,”
he said of the parlay contest—even though his brother says he gets “stressed” when it comes to having to pick the third horse in the place parlay with his accumulated winnings. Still, it’s a rush that keeps him coming back for more.

These were his successes: May 27 -- $23.10; July 2 -- $16.50; July 6 -- $50; July 13 -- $68.25; July 16 -- $16.80; Aug. 12 -- $15.95; Sept. 3 -- $18; Sept. 4 -- $39.

So there they are -- the Siwak brothers: One is Mr. Lucky, the other is Mr. Parlay, and together they make a good pair! Congrats, guys!


How to pick winners during the final three days

"Gameness" is the #1 rule

So what horses will make up the final three days of live racing? Besides the obviously competitive classy horses vying for stardom in the stakes races, races will be filled simply with whatever is left in the barns.

Since there’s no tomorrow unless trainers and owners plan to ship their horses elsewhere (Cole Bennett, for example, says he will be shipping five horses to Woodbine), trainers have little reason not to enter a horse for one last race before the horse is boarded for the fall and winter.

Besides, each entered horse earns at least $200 even if he/she finishes last.

So what should we be looking for to pick winners? Gameness, not class. If a horse has been racing gamely, regardless at what level, then he or she is definitely a win candidate. For the most part, other handicapping aspects go out the window.

Hottest jock:
Christopher Husbands (8 wins)
Hottest trainer: Tanya Lindsay (6 wins)
Biggest longshot: Magic in Overtime $62.50 (7th Sun)
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $2,038 (7th Sun)

STRETCH DRIVE OF THE WEEK: Watch video here. (Sept. 5 Race 7)


HUSBANDS LUCKY; ESCAPES SUSPENSION: Leading jockey Christopher Husbands luckily escaped being barred from riding for days and instead received a $200 fine for “careless riding” when his horse, Up Your Alley, came over on Peguis Pride in the fourth race Saturday, resulting in Up Your Alley (2/1) being placed second and Peguis Pride being declared the winner ($4.50). Disbarment for days, which is what happened in June when he received two days for a bumping incident, could have had him watching racing from the sidelines this weekend with the jockey title on the line. The stewards deemed the Saturday incident wasn’t as serious as the one in June.

So, now, with a lead of nine wins over Antonio Whitehall, his second riding title appears to be in the bag. But, then again, it’s not over until it’s over. On the trainer side, Tom Gardipy, Jr., remains in the lead with four more wins than Don Schnell and five more than Shelley Brown.

Troy Westwood, wife Janet and son Trey meet winning jockey Christopher Husbands

TSN'S TROY WESTWOOD HONOURS DAD'S MEMORY: The fittest-looking person I’ve ever seen in the Winner’s Circle, Troy Westwood, the Blue Bombers’ former kicker who now is part of the well-spoken trio of sports commentators on The BIG Show on TSN radio, honoured the memory Saturday night of his father, Terry Westwood, one-time trainer at the Downs who died seven years ago. The sixth race, named The Terry Westwood Memorial Purse, was a thoughtful tribute from a son who recalled his days as a youngster accompanying dad to the track and acquiring a love for racing while watching such greats as Liz’s Pride who had won the Sovereign Award for top Canadian 2-year-old in 1978. Terry trained for eight years, the best of which was 2001 in which he had 11 wins from 45 starts.

MEDLOCK SAVES BIGG FROM GREEN HUMILIATION: It came down to the last field goal thankfully kicked by Blue Bombers’ Justin Medlock. Without his exceptional kicking throughout the game—and Saskatchewans’s equally appalling kicking—I would have been forced to wear a green hat to the track. It was a deal I had foolishly agreed to with a table of Rider fans at the track Saturday night. I had said to them: “After losing this game 11 years in a row, if the Bombers don’t win tomorrow, they shouldn’t bother coming back home.” It was 10 minutes of agonizing fits and starts until the final play. Medlock for mayor!

About a Girl romps in optional claimer

TANYA HAS GOOD WEEK: After a slow start to the season and suffering through the loss of two horses including Horse of the Year Magic D’ Oro, last year’s co-leading trainer Tanya Lindsay had her best three days, winning six of twelve races.

ABOUT A GIRL SLAYS COMPETITION: A layoff of more than a month appears to have been exactly what About a Girl needed as she returned to the races Labour Day Monday in a $15,000 optional claimer and disposed of the field by six lengths under the able guidance of hot apprentice Kayla Pizarro ($7.70). That gives the 3-year-old a record of 11-4-1-0 and earnings of $40,079. Nineteen-year-old trainer Cole Bennett (100-15-14-6) is hoping for even bigger things from her in her trip to Woodbine. How will she take to the Tapeta synthetic track? That’s the rub.

Horse weights posted at Remington Park

HORSE WEIGHTS A WEIGHTY MATTER: So, did you see horse weights displayed on TV monitors for racing at Remington Park and do you think it matters? Sometime groom Tanis Atras, whose son, Rob, is racing trainer Robertino Diodoro’s horses at the Oklahoma track, agrees with ASD’s assistant director of racing, Derek Corbel, that weight will make a difference if a horse puts on weight (about 50 pounds or more) under a new trainer after being claimed. “That’s a good sign,” she said. So that means you should record horse weights for every race at Remington for possible use down the road when a horse is claimed. Lots of work? Of course. But since hardly anyone will be doing that, it gives you an edge – and isn’t that what all of us are looking for?

HPIBET Marshall Posner

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. How do I check carryovers for a specific pools using HPIbet?
HPIbet has recently added a new feature for checking Pool Carryovers. To check Today’s Carryovers, click on the light green circle arrow icon just below the Track Name (view image here). This will open a pop-up window that lists the available carryovers including the following info: Track Name, Pool Size, Carryover From Date and the Carryover Amount. All of these amounts are displayed in CDN funds regardless of whether they are carried over from a U.S. racetrack or not.

You can now sort all four of these list items by clicking on the arrows next to each column name (view image here). For example, clicking on the POOL column name will sort all of the various carryovers into similar types of pools such as Pick 4 or Pick 5. Clicking on the Carryover column name will provide you with a list of the carryovers from largest to smallest. On days when there are upwards of 10-15 carryovers, this new sorting functionality can save you the time of having to go through all of them and possibly missing a carryover that you’re looking for.

Got a question for Marshall? Email

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: Bob's blog wraps up

Bob puts a wrap on the final week of racing by taking a look at the final days of the meets from the past.  Longest season ever? Latest date for racing at the Downs?  Check out Bob’s blog for these and more tidbits from yesteryear. (Photo at left of Bob: Last race of longest meet—Hi Executor wins with Mike Rowland aboard on Nov. 2,1981)

NEXT INSIDER: Thursdays are now the regular publication day.

Enjoy the final three!

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