Thursday, September 13, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 36 (Issue #654)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Ho-hum, out for an airing
Ears pricked, head up, hardly the look of a horse who’s having to dig in to win Friday’s Manitoba Matron Stakes. That’s Manitoba-bred Escape Clause, ASD’s overwhelmingly classy female.


Mandatory Jackpot payout Saturday

Carryover is $630,000; pool should reach $2.5 million. "Big" group to discuss

Saturday is an important stakes day at Woodbine featuring the $800,000 Woodbine Mile and the mandatory payout of the Jackpot Hi 5 in the last race that has a carryover of more than $630,000. The Mile race is run on the E.P. Taylor turf course and is a “win and you’re in” Breeders’ Cup event.

Note that Saturday morning’s “I won big” betting group will discuss the Jackpot race. Everyone is invited to attend. The group meets at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. Will you gain some insights into the Jackpot race by listening to the discussion? The Downs will generously top up $20 shares in group play with a bonus $5. Coffee and muffins/pastries will be served.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • "Back from the dead" player wins tournament
  • What ASD horse was faster than the Triple Crown winner?
  • Tie for leading jockey is only the second in ASD history. When was the first?
  • Manitoba Horse Racing Commission to discuss posting stewards' decisions online
  • MHRC upholds non-disqualification of Media Melee in Gold Cup Stakes
“3 FOR THE MONEY” GAME BEGINS SATURDAY: Woodbine is this Saturday’s feature track in the new “3 for the money” game. Predict the winner of three designated races: (1) the first leg of the pick-4 (race 4) (2) the Woodbine Mile and (3) the Jackpot Hi 5 (last race) that will have a must-pay pool estimated at $2.5 million. Look for entry ballots in the Race Book. Win $50 in betting vouchers for being right. (A draw breaks ties.) Prize increases by $25 weekly when not won—up to $150. Win this contest more than anyone else and be invited with a guest to the kickoff press conference and gourmet luncheon for live racing next spring.

: Watch for the gift-bearing fairy at off-track betting locations the next two Saturdays. OTB supervisor Shannon Davis will drop in and add 5,000 Player Rewards points to bettors showing her their cards. Also, get into the draw for a prize package at locations staffed by an ASD mutuel ticket seller. See locations of OTBs here.
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. 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 clubhouse on the second level. Registration from 8:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m. Maximum of 60 players. No late registration. Royal Flush progressive jackpot for Friday, September 14 is $13,425.


Jaw-dropper at ASD

Hot Rodin posts higher speed figure than Triple Crown winner Justify

Hot Rodin -- 111 speed fig
Justify -- 110 speed fig


Hod Rodin wins Sept. 3 race at ASD with speed figure of 111 (Jason Halstead photo)

Before being shipped to Century Downs in Alberta—where he won his ninth race of the year Monday—North America’s winningest horse, Hot Rodin—had set an Equibase speed rating at ASD that was a point higher than Triple Crown winner Justify. Hot Rodin’s Equibase figure in the six furlong optional claimer at ASD on Sept. 3 was 111; Justify’s best E figure was 110 in the Kentucky Derby.

Hot Rodin continued his crushing ways at Century on Monday with a 109 speed fig, the same as Justify in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The 5-year-old gelding set that speed in a $17,500 claimer ($4.20). Jared Brown now trains him for the Tijuana Racing Stables.

Compare Hot Rodin’s 111 to Media Melee’s 93 in the Gold Cup and Escape Clause’s 102 in the Manitoba Matron. Doesn’t that make him a contender for Horse of the Year, especially since he was also the winningest horse at the Downs with six victories?


"Back from the dead"

Two weeks after cardiac arrest, handicapper extraordinaire Whitehill wins another tourney

John Whitehill snubs Grim Reaper to win final trip-to-Vegas tournament

You can’t keep a good handicapper down. Two weeks before the final Las Vegas Challenge horseplayer tournament Saturday, retired bricklayer John Whitehill, one of ASD’s top handicappers, was in an ambulance getting his heart jolted back to life—twice, he said—and then he was in a hospital having a pacemaker and defibrillator installed, the consequence of suffering a cardiac arrest.

All of which, he told The Insider, made winning Saturday’s handicapping tournament extra special and, in a flair for the dramatic, he offered this headline: “Back from the dead, player wins tournament.” Who can improve on that?

Heightening his will to live, he even told his partner, Bonnie Simmonds in the hospital, is his (faulty?) belief he will collect $100 on my bet with him that Donald Trump will not be a candidate in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

His heart might have lost a beat or two or three but not his shrewd horse playing sense where he has a reputation for spotting longshot winners. He was the only entrant of 56 to play the $37 gate-to-wire winner in race 3, Double Time, after concluding the horse had the most early speed. Since he had already earned the Vegas trip and berth in the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas, his victory Saturday was worth a $2,000 cash prize (which he could use, if he pleases, to buy a second entry in the Vegas tournament which costs $1,500 U.S.)

RUNNERS UP: The two runners-up in the tournament were former handicappers of the year, Brian McKellar—who won an earlier trip-to-Vegas tournament--and Ron Phelps. (See their bankrolls by clicking on photo to enlarge it.) Whitehill’s partner, Bonnie Simmonds, already had significant success in the Vegas tournament, winning more than $10,000 two years ago when she finished seventh.

See full results here. See Handicapper of the Year leader board here.

*       *       *

Looking for share of Woodbine jackpot

“BIG” PLAY RESUMES SATURDAY AT WOODBINE; MANDATORY JACKPOT DAY: Champing at the bit to get rolling again at the Saturday “I won big” betting workshops? Great timing. This Saturday is an important one at Woodbine. It’s Woodbine Mile day in which there will be a mandatory payout of the Jackpot Hi 5 pool on the last race. The carryover is more than $630,000 which means the pool should grow to $2.5 million. Consideration will be given to playing a combination of the pick-5 in races 2 to 6 and the Jackpot race. That’s Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza for a “big bigg” chance at a big score. Loads of “dumb” money will fatten pools.

Rascal Candy wins Buffalo; owner/trainer/breeder Guy Kling (inset)

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to an owner/trainer/breeder who races under the radar: Guy Kling whose Rascal Candy won the $25,000 Buffalo Stakes for Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds. With gate-to-wire specialist jockey Prayven Badrie aboard, Rascal Candy lived up to his early-speed breeding (Rascal Cat and Yankee Candy) and “found more late”—as Badrie often does--holding off Marvin Buffalo’s Raven’s Cry by a length ($4.20).

Kling should feel especially proud of his horse putting away a “Who’s Who” of Manitoba breeders: Dr. Betty Hughes, Larry Falloon, Larry Falloon and Andrew Clarke and Cam and Sherisse Ziprick’s sons: Keaton and Aiden.

to another unheralded trainer Lise Pruitt who quietly was having her second-best year ever as a trainer with a limited stable of 12 horses (64-15-17-7). Her horses were winning at a rate of 23 per cent and they earned almost $100,000, about $15,000 less than her best year in 2003 which came in her second year of training. She only sends them on the track “when they’re ready to go,” she told The Insider, which accounts for her high win percentage.

After breaking a hip during spring training, her jockey husband, Jerry Pruitt, “who helps on the farm” appears to have ended his riding career earlier than expected. But it’s hard not to imagine him all bundled up working his wife’s horses on the training track again in late winter.

Tops: (From left) Antonio Whitehall ties Prayven Badrie in jockey race; trainer Jerry Gourneau

A BIG SHOUT-OUT, of course, to the tied leading jockeys, Prayven Badrie and Antonio Whitehall (with 41 apiece) and trainer Jerry Gourneau (36 wins). And also to track announcer Kirt Contois who acts as agent for Badrie and Whitehall, landing lots of live mounts for them to ride. The drama lasted until the final race of the meet. Both jockeys had a horse. Badrie’s horse, Amaretto, led to the top of the stretch but faded to third. Both jockeys have headed to Century Downs in Alberta while trainer Gourneau said he will go to Turf Paradise next month. The only other time the jockey race dead-heated was in 1972 when Bobbie Dimma and Bobby Stewart both had 62 wins.

to everyone involved with Assiniboia Downs in every capacity for helping produce a feel-good season of safe exciting racing, huge, happy crowds, increased wagering (six per cent) and sold-out buffets and brunches. Will the consultants producing an analysis of racing in Manitoba for the provincial agriculture minister say the Downs has the best vibes of any track in Canada? Wouldn’t be surprised.

Ardell Sayler and Chavion Chow with Winnipeg Futurity trophy

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to consummate baby trainer Ardell Sayler. It came as no surprise that his Eye Catching WAS eye-catching, winning a highly-competitive 89th running of the Winnipeg Futurity with Chavion Chow aboard on Sunday ($9.90). What accounts for his special knack with youngsters? “Time and patience,” he told The Insider in the Winner’s Circle after his Futurity win. “Babies tell you when they’re ready.”

to trainer Robertino Diodoro and his Sky Promise who thrilled race fans in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver with circle-the-field victories in the penultimate race for 3-year-olds in each of those provinces: the Manitoba Derby, the Canadian Derby and the B.C. Derby. Something tells me he’s already scouting 2-year-olds to carry out an encore western Canada sweep next summer. What helped his cause was Northlands running its derby a week later than usual. Century Mile should absolutely do the same thing when it opens its doors next spring.


Readers write . . .

Blown call? Or?

“Dear Ivan: Another blown call! (Non-DQ on winner in the Gold Cup Stakes.) The stewards are wrong. The horse came over at least three lanes. The jockey is to be in control of the horse.”Linus Duncan

“Dear Ivan:
At first I thought Media Melee was going to come down. After seeing the replay and how close (the jockey’s check on Plentiful) was to the wire I'd have to agree with the stewards. Media was the better horse. What I learned is never to discount John Ganas's horses in any stakes races. Lol. As for stewards posting their rulings—absolutely--they should. Why not follow NYRA?”   -- Ken Porter

“Dear Ivan:
I cannot believe the objection was dismissed. I do not know who makes the decisions on behalf of ASD but this one is catastrophic. It is apparent #4 Media Melee kept widening to 5 or 6 wide. It was apparent that #6 Plentiful was passing #4 until rider of #6 had no choice but to pull back to avoid clipping heels.”Annie Ramsey 

Hi Annie:
ASD is not involved in race rulings. That is the function of a provincially appointed body, the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission. Three stewards employed by the commission watch the races and rule on objections and inquiries.

*       *       *

Appeal denied

Commission upholds stewards' ruling on non-disqualification

Murray Duncan
Appeal denied

An appeal to the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission by Murray Duncan, the co-owner and trainer of Plentiful, to disqualify Media Melee for interfering with Plentiful in the Gold Cup Stakes has resulted in no change to the order of finish.

“We watched the race many times and are satisfied the stewards made the right decision,”
said commission chair Brett Arnason who heard the appeal along with vice-chair Peter Fuchs and MHRC member Bob King.

King told The Insider there was no video evidence showing actual contact between the two horses. He called Media Melee’s actions—drifting out toward Plentiful—“herding” but not warranting disqualification.

*       *       *

Posting stewards' decisions online "has merit"

Commission to discuss implementing something similar to New York tracks

Posting stewards’ decisions online similar to New York tracks “has merit,” MHRC chair Brett Arnason has told The Insider.

“Interesting approach,”
he said. “I will put it on the agenda of our next meeting.”

Here’s what NYRA posts on its Stewards’ Decisions web page: “Welcome to the Stewards’ Corner, where you will find explanations of the decisions that our stewards make on race days. Directly following any decision they make having to do with the official order of finish, including inquiries and objections, the stewards provide an explanation of what happened and the reason for their decision.”


BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR: When ordering food recently in the Clubhouse, a race track regular told waitress Kelly: “Instead of my usual salad, I’ll have heart attack fries with my chili dog.” Playing along with him, upon serving his fries, she said: “Here’s your heart attack.” An hour after arriving home from the track that night, he told The Insider, he suffered—you got it—a heart attack. An artery cleaning and two stents later, he was back at the track regaling friends with what happened. Moral of the story: Be careful what you ask for.

The Stronach 5 begins Friday, Sept. 28. The Stronach 5? It means what it says: a pick-5 on tracks run by Frank Stronach in rapid-fire succession. The tracks will include Laurel, Gulfstream, Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. Minimum wager is $1 and the pool will carry over to the next day when not won. The first day’s wager will have a $50,000 guarantee.

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q: How do I open an HPIbet account so I can wager online?

Now that live racing is over, it’s a great time to open an HPIbet account so you can watch and wager on simulcast racing from home or on the go. Even better, there are two great promos right now that you can take advantage of. First, every new account opening will automatically receive a FREE $20 deposit from Assiniboia Downs. Second, once you open your account and wager $100 in the first 30 days, HPIbet will automatically credit your account back the $100, regardless whether you win or lose (view promotion here).

How good is that? Anyone who is at least 18 and a resident of Manitoba may open a Horseplayer Interactive (HPIbet) telephone betting account. Get started today by calling 204-885-3330 ext 225 or go to the HPIbet website –

Got a question for Marshall? Email
THE BEST OF BOB: Bob "visits" Polo Park in 1948 with a legend. Why?

This week we begin the encore presentation of the "Best of Bob." What were the circumstances that led historian Bob and Downs' legendary trainer Albert Edward "Bert" Blake “visiting” Polo Park race track on Sept. 4, 1948 for the 19th running of the Canadian Derby? Bob explains here.


  • Storied harness races next Wednesday and Thursday

    Saturday, Sept. 15: “I won big” workshops start up again 10:30 a.m. Clubhouse plaza. $800,000 Woodbine Mile. Mandatory payout of Jackpot Hi 5 at Woodbine.
  • Sunday, Sept. 16: Seven stakes races worth $350,000 at Century Downs in Alberta; watch for ASD horses and jockeys. First post 2:15 p.m.
  • Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 19 & 20: Jugette and Little Brown Jug storied harness stakes races from Delaware County Fair in Delaware, Ohio. Post times each day 10:30 a.m.
  • Friday to Sunday, Sept. 21-23: The Great Benjamins Circus. Tickets available at
  • Saturday, Sept. 22: $1 million Pennsylvania Derby
  • Thursday, Sept. 27: Thursday night certified Angus prime rib buffets begin with pasta station, home-style soup, salad bar, other entrees and signature dessert treat Bacon Bourbon Brownies. New addition this season: Chef Gerardo’s famous Italian pizza. Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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