Friday, September 11, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 36 (Issue #755)

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


Double mandatory payouts at ASD Tuesday!

And $50K guaranteed pick-4 pools Monday and Tuesday

A season in which wagering records for Assiniboia Downs races were smashed to smithereens will come to a big-money finish Tuesday with mandatory payouts of the Jackpot pick-5 and the Super Hi-5. How many millions will be bet on the race card Tuesday?

Also highlighting the final two nights of the 50-day meet:
  • $50K pick-4 pool guarantees both Monday and Tuesday
  • The Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament on Monday. Earn a trip for two to the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas or take a buy-out of $2,500.
  • The Winnipeg Futurity for top 2-year-olds runs on Monday
  • The Buffalo Stakes for Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds runs on Tuesday
  • Eight races both days

*       *      *  

MANDATORY PAYOUT AT WOODBINE, TOO, ON QUEEN’S PLATE DAY TOMORROW: The Queen’s Plate goes tomorrow at Woodbine with a mandatory payout of the Super Hi-5 in the last race. The “I won bigger” betting group will meet at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza to discuss the pick-5, the Queen’s Plate and the Super Hi-5 race.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Derby Day was memorable for all the wrong reasons
  • "Strategy" works; Manitoba Derby winner wins Gold Cup Stakes
  • Trainer fights for her life
  • TravyFootball's top three NFL picks
  • Bob's final column of the live race season: Tribute to a fallen hero

LAS VEGAS CHALLENGE HANDICAPPPING TOURNAMENT GOES MONDAY: See the list of those qualifying for entry fee discounts here.

Click to enlarge.
DO THE DOWNS for racing, gaming and dining

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.


OFF-TRACK WAGERING: See location of OTBs and hours here

  • 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.

*       *      * 

DELICIOUS DINING: Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be extra-special in the Terrace Dining Room starting Thursday, Sept. 24.

New appetizers and desserts will be featured along with, all-you-can eat signature soup, salad and freshly-baked breads and the Downs’ famous certified Angus prime rib, steak, chicken, pasta, salmon and ribs. Reservations required at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

Special offer:
Say “Insider $5” and get $5 off any entrée! (Valid until Oct. 31.)

Derby Day was memorable in this corner . . .

. . . for all the wrong reasons

My skin may not be gray but it’s thick as an elephant’s. In fact, don’t all veteran horseplayers have thick skins?

That’s the reason Derby Day was survivable. First, my Derby choice, Thousand Words, the colt I’ve written about in numerous columns flipped in the paddock before the race resulting in his being scratched. Which meant the horse I’ve supported with $200 in future wagers since March--with an opportunity to score $8,500 if he won--never had an opportunity to show his stuff.

Then the “I won bigger” betting group--smarting from multiple weeks of “just-abouts”--saw $27,800 in potential winnings go up in flames when Tiz the Law finished second in the Derby instead of first.

The pall of disappointment carried over to the next day. It reminded me of the day after I had won a $10,000 superfecta at Santa Anita but couldn’t collect because money from Assiniboia bettors (and some other tracks that day) didn’t get added to Santa Anita pools because two systems went down at Santa that day. I just got refunded the $75 in bets I had made on the super.

I was reminded, too, of two other Derby debacles in which I strongly supported horses that never got to run. There was Catholic Boy two years ago. He developed bleeding issues in the Florida Derby that kept him out of all Triple Crown races--then he won the Travers Stakes that showed he might have been a serious Derby threat.

And the other horse was I Want Revenge in 2009. His scratch on the morning of the Derby hit my psyche so hard that I remember exactly where I was standing in the Race Book when the scratch was announced. A “hot spot” had been felt on his ankle that morning. Groan.

Bad things happen in three’s, we’re told, so doesn’t that mean my next Derby horse will be the charm? Hope springs eternal.


Mission accomplished

Manitoba Derby winner wins Gold Cup after a potential rival is shipped west

Mongolian Wind wins Gold Cup handily
Did you catch the program hints that Mongolian Wind, the Manitoba Derby winner, was the most likely horse to win the Gold Cup Stakes on Monday?

The Wade Eno barn put a little “strategy” into play to win the race -- and it worked. You could have taken note in the program that Mongolian’s owner, Andy Stronach, owned not only Mongolian Wind, the winner of the Manitoba Derby, but was the new owner of Deep Explorer who had won the Gold Cup Stakes last year under trainer Jerry Gourneau and was a threat to win this year’s Gold Cup under Gourneau as well.

But Stronach purchased Deep Explorer before the Gold Cup and scratched him from that race, banking on his Mongolian Wind to take care of the rest of the field. And he was right. Deep Explorer instead was shipped west and ran yesterday in an allowance optional claimer at Hastings Park in Vancouver--where, away from his favourite surface, he finished fourth at odds of 7-2.

Mongolian Wind’s impressive win--the 3-year-old beat seasoned older horses--puts him on track to run in the $100K Canadian Derby at Century Mile in Edmonton on Sunday, Sept. 27. Which, of course, would take him out of consideration for the Preakness Stakes in early October--which is the race owner Andy Stronach had been toying with after the colt’s Manitoba Derby win.

*       *      *   

Hottest jockey: Antonio Whitehall (5 wins)
Hottest trainer: Jerry Gourneau (5 wins)
Biggest longshot: Zippeddie $24  (Race 7 Wednesday)
Stakes champions:
Mongolian Wind ( Gold Cup), McKague (J.W. Sifton)
Upcoming stakes:
Winnipeg Futurity (Monday); Buffalo for 2-year-old MB-breds (Tuesday)
$164,587 in the Jackpot pick-5; $66,150 in the Super Hi-5

*       *      * 
GOURNEAU NEEDS EIGHT WINS TO TIE RECORD: Trainer Jerry Gourneau needs four wins in each of the last two race nights to tie the ASD record of 78 wins held by Tom Dodds. Gourneau has 70 wins. That would require him to win half the races each day Improbable but not impossible!

JOCKEY BEAUREGARD IS A “LAST RACE WONDER,” STATS SHOW: Veteran player-Stewart Hayek points out a curious anomaly in stats for jockey Shannon Beauregard. She has won on 38 per cent of the horses she had ridden in ASD’s last race (10 for 26) yet her overall win rate is 9.5 per cent. Hayek wonders whether that points to her having more stamina going into the last race than other jockeys.

Shelley Brown in happier days with Stevie Mac
TRAINER SHELLEY BROWN FIGHTS FOR HER LIFE: An x-ray for shoulder pain, Shelley Brown told The Insider, resulted in the 47-year-old trainer at Assiniboia Downs finding out--as she bluntly put it--“my body is riddled with cancer.” With her bartender brother, Dean, from Montreal and her sister, Lynne, an accountant from Regina, providing support at her home near Assiniboia Downs, she said she has been phoning cancer-treatment centres in the U.S. to find out what they offer. A GoFundMe page has been setup to help Shelley during this trying time. To donate go here.

Her assistant of 10 years, Scott Creighton, is now managing her stable of about 20 horses. “When you work around horses, all pains can be explained away,” she said of her ignoring signs of ill health. It goes without saying the Assiniboia racing community wishes her all the best. She has been training since 2009 and was leading trainer in 2012, the only woman at ASD to have earned the title.

Saturday’s pick-6 on the Churchill Derby card looked so good for the “I won bigger” betting group. After nailing a $48 longshot, the group had “all” with “all” in two legs leading to Tiz the Law for a potential payoff of $27,800. Tiz tanked, however, and Monday’s plays on the mandatory Saratoga pick-6 fizzled, too, so now the group is relying on Queen’s Plate Day tomorrow at Woodbine to drag itself out of the funk. Pick-5, Queen’s Plate and the mandatory payoff in the Super Hi-5 in the final race will be discussed at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza.

NATIVE MANITOBAN MAY BE YOUNGEST TRAINER EVER IN QUEEN’S PLATE: At 23, Woodbine trainer Cole Bennett from Oak Bluff, MB, may be the youngest trainer ever to have a horse in the Queen’s Plate that runs tomorrow. Cole trained at Assiniboia Downs in 2015-16 before seeking his fortune in the major leagues. His colt, Truebelieve, is a 30-1 morning line longshot in the field of 14 which goes as race 10 on the 13-race card. Truebelieve broke his maiden at first asking in a $25,000 claimer last November at odds of 64-1.
Readers write . . .
"Trying our hand at breeding"

“Hi Ivan: A few members of the Assiniboia Race Club are in the process of forming a group to try our hand at breeding. We do not have a name just yet. We have purchased Gemagine from ARC and she is being cared for by Ken Pawluk on his farm near Warren. We hope to breed her next spring and hopefully some day we will have a Manitoba champion. This is a photo of my husband and me with Gemagine in her new home. We are all very excited about this new venture.” -- Yvonne Peters

As you should be, Yvonne. Thanks for sharing and good luck. Obvious name for her offspring: Gemagine That.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Don't let the "buzz" horse throw you

Were you one of many who got caught up in the Tiz the Law-is-a-beast phenomenon? It was hard not to. The colt had waltzed to victories in the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes and appeared primed to become the third Triple Crown winner in five years.

It was fine to feel that way. But should that have prevented normal handicapping of the race? You’d start out by saying: “Who is the main speed? Will the speed get hooked? If not, will that result in the speed horse going the distance?”

That simple analysis should have resulted in more of us considering Authentic as a rather strong Tiz the Law upsetter--as he was.
TOP 3 NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 1

Niners over Cardinals (Sunday 3:25 p.m.): The 49ers have put last year’s Super Bowl in the rear view mirror. Their revenge tour kicks off against the new-look Arizona Cardinals. A lot of “experts” have high expectations for the Cards, I am not one of them. Niners get the win here with a combination of stout defense and a poised running game.

Bills over Jets
(Sunday noon): With Tom Brady out of New England, the AFC East is ripe for the Bills’ taking. Buffalo is another team with high expectations this year and once again it will fall on the shoulders of third-year QB Josh Allen. The addition of WR Stefon Diggs during the off-season should help with that. The Jets . . . well, they will not be good. Period.

Bengals over Chargers
(Sunday 3:05 p.m.): First overall draft pick Joe Burrow will be making his first professional start for the Bengals this weekend. This kid checks all the boxes of what you want a locker room leader to be and he’s one heck of a player. I am very excited to see what he can do at the pro level. The Chargers are starting their new post-Phillip Rivers era and I don’t think it will be very bright, at least not this season. Journeyman quarterback Tyrod Taylor is the opening day starter but with the Chargers using their first-round pick in the draft this past April on QB Justin Herbert, Taylor’s allowance for error will be very small.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: Tribute to a fallen hero

Bob concludes this year’s columns with a tribute to a fallen hero we lost in 2020.  He was a grandson of the mighty Northern Dancer, a winner of the Canadian Derby and a multiple stakes winner at the Downs. Your guess? Click here to read the story on this Downs champion.

Note: “The best of Bob” columns kick in next week -- oldies but goodies from Bob’s history yarns. They give you a chance to catch up on columns you may have missed.
  • 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.
  • Saturday, Sept. 19: “I won bigger” workshop 10:30 a.m. Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes at Woodbine
  • Sunday, Sept. 27: $100K Canadian Derby at Century Mile with likely entrant being Mongolian Wind, winner of the Manitoba Derby and Gold Cup Stakes.

Go for greed -- the mandatory triple!
(Super Hi-5 at Woodbine Saturday; Jackpot pick-5 and Super Hi-5 at ASD Tuesday!)

© 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