Friday, September 18, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 37 (Issue #756)

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


That’s a wrap
#6 Kats Second Silver wins the last race of ASD’s most unusual race meet ever featuring empty stands and record-breaking wagering
(Ivan Bigg photo)

Bullet briefs . . .

  • What a year! Wagering was five times higher than last year
  • ASD ran out of jockeys for last race
  • Dave Blake wins third Las Vegas Challenge tourney in two summers
  • Preakness countdown: Thousand Words to race Derby-winner stablemate
  • A bacon reward at last for "I won bigger" group
PLAY FOR $5,000 U.S. IN SANTA ANITA SHOWVIVOR CONTEST: Picking a show horse each race day at Santa Anita--when the fall meet begins next Friday--can have you sharing in $5,000 U.S. Go here for details.
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.


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

HOW TO OPEN AN HPI ACCOUNT FOR BETTING ONLINE: Go to or phone 204-885-3330 ext. 225 for assistance.

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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. Menu. Reservations required at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

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

A record-smashing year

At $63.3 million, betting on ASD races was five times what it was last year

There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the increase in interest in Assiniboia Downs races this year. The little modest track on the prairies has captured the hearts and bets of race fans in Australia, Germany, England, Brazil, Mexico and, of course, the U.S.

Thanks to aggressive marketing--that had the Downs racing spectator-free when few tracks were even available to be played--wagering soared to more than five times last year’s figure: It shot up to $63.3 million from $12.5 million.

Racing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night, when there was little competition, helped betting numbers soar. The average bet per race card was $1.26 million.

The previous high for a race meet was $53.4 million in 1981 but that was for a 135-day season.

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Ran out of jockeys
Horses scratched after no one could take the place of injured jockeys

Two late scratches in the last ASD race Tuesday was the result of no jockeys being able to replace injured jockeys. Derek Corbel, ASD’s assistant director of racing, told The Insider Richard Mangalee hurt his ankle in a gate flip, Kayla Pizarro appears to have broken her collar bone in a spill and Rafael Zenteno hurt his wrist in a spill.

The small jockey colony was the result of the usual complement of jockeys from the Caribbean not being able to travel to Canada as a result of COVID-19.

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Hottest jockey: Richard Mangalee, Stanley Chadee Jr. (3 wins)
Hottest trainer: Jerry Gourneau (3 wins)
Biggest longshot: King’s Revenge $39.70  (Race 5 Tuesday)
Stakes champions:
Bells and Whistles (Winnipeg Futurity), Melisandre (Buffalo)
20-cent mandatory payoffs:
$1,711 in the Jackpot pick-5; $257 in the Super Hi-5

Two years in a row

Dave Blake wins Las Vegas Challenge tournament for third time in two years

Dave Blake
Dave Blake has the bead on live races. Last year the owner of a food services business won two Las Vegas Challenge tournaments and this year he won another this past Monday, beating 76 entrants with a bankroll of $83.90.

After three second-place finishes and two short-priced wins in the tournament, Blake told The Insider “I knew race 7 was do or die. I chose #9 Greeleys Spirit. Dropping to the bottom, some decent finishes at a higher class level, than today, excellent Beyer back class (78 in a win last year at Oaklawn) and the huge odds were reasons for the play. He went into the gate at 25-1 and came out at 9-1. I wasn’t too happy. (Paid $21.10, $10.90 and $7.10.)

“After he won, I knew I also needed to win the last race. Mission accomplished after #9 Where’s the Reward hung on to beat #4 Big Rocket Man, the other horse in the race I considered. A big thank you to everyone at ASD for making the live racing meet possible in these trying times.”

Jane Baxter
finished second with a bankroll of $69.50 and Murray Chaban was third with $68.10.

BONUS PRIZE MONEY: 13 shared $100 for playing the highest priced horse on the card, Greeleys Spirit that paid $21.10. Jane Baxter picked up $100 for predicting three winners the most times (9) on ASD cards leading up to the tournament. The next tournament--on simulcast races--for prize money of $1,750 goes Saturday, Oct. 3, which happens to be Preakness Stakes day.


A BIG SHOUT-OUT to this year’s leading trainer and jockey, both of whom blew the competition out of the water almost from Day 1 of the 50-day meet. Trainer Jerry Gourneau posted 73 wins, almost double those of last year’s winner, Tom Gardipy Jr., and Antonio Whitehall rode 74 winners, 26 more than Stanley Chadee Jr.

This was the second leading title for both. Gourneau has been featured in multiple stories in newspapers and on TV and he wondered why The Insider didn’t give him a bigger write-up when he won his first title two years ago. Some titles carry more weight than others, he was told. Two years ago he had lots of horses compared to other trainers but had no stakes victories and his winning percentage was around 14 per cent compared to 25 per cent this year and this year his horses had multiple stakes victories including those for best horse and best female horse on the grounds.

to the ASD player who picked up $9,200 for a $98 ticket on Woodbine’s pick-6 last Saturday. He won $4,600 twice when the wager was paid out for five of six since no player had six of six. He says he likes playing Woodbine’s pick-6 because not that much money is played on the wager which presents a better opportunity to land the entire jackpot. His win has incentivized the “I won bigger” group to play that bet tomorrow.

to Woodbine trainer Josie Carroll whose horses ran one-two at long odds in the Queen’s Plate including one-eyed Mighty Heart who won at 13-1 and Belichick who finished second at odds of 26-1. A mini-shout-out to ASD’s John Whitehill, a longshot specialist who loved #13 and caught the exactor that paid $365 for $1.
COUNTDOWN TO THE PREAKNESS STAKES, third leg of the Triple Crown

Thousand Words to take on Derby-winning Authentic

Baffert says his two stablemates will be entered in October race

Thousand Words being exercised at Churchill Downs
Hooray! It appears we’ll get a chance to see what Thousand Words can do when pitted against his stablemate, Authentic, who won the Kentucky Derby.

You recall Thousand Words and his connections had bad luck in the Derby when he flipped in the paddock, necessitating an automatic scratch even though he seemed none the worse for wear. Now, Baffert says Words will be entered to compete against Authentic in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on the first Saturday of October.

Both horses are training at Churchill Downs before being shipped to Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland which opens for racing next Thursday.

  • Authentic logged a 109 Equibase speed figure in winning the Kentucky Derby
  • Thousand Words set a 107 speed fig in the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar

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DO YOU AGREE WITH ASD HANDICAPPER MARSHALL POSNER? “I’m definitely playing against Authentic this time around because he was so cranked for that Derby race that I think he bounces big time.”

$2,500 YEARLING WINS WINNIPEG FUTURITY: Trainer Craig Smith obviously made a great purchase when he picked up Bells and Whistles as a yearling last November for $2,500 U.S. at a Keeneland mixed sale. The filly has already earned $25,623 U.S. by winning both the Winnipeg Futurity this past Monday ($10.60) and previously breaking her maiden at first asking at Century Mile in July. The owners include Dialed In Racing, True North and Graham Thoroughbreds.

In the baby race for Manitoba-breds, the Buffalo Stakes, Melisandre, trained by Michael Nault, made it four-for-four on Tuesday ($3.30), signalling big things lie ahead for another Manitoba bred owned by Barry Arnason, True North and Charles Fouillard. The filly was purchased for $25,000 at last year’s annual CTHS yearling sale and has already earned almost $50,000 U.S.

Racing stewards at Golden Gate Fields mistakenly posted 5-2-3-4 as the order of finish of race 3 on Sept. 7 when, in fact, the order was 5-3-2-4, costing the track $528.40 at betting windows before the mistake was discovered. Such errors these days are not as costly as they once were because most bets are made electronically from betting accounts where a correction simply changes the account balance. Such mistakes, however, are taken very seriously; a steward’s prime job is to get the race order correct.

BACON AT LAST FOR “I WON BIGGER” PLAYERS: The crispy crunchy bacon reward at tomorrow’s “I won bigger” betting group workshop will taste mighty good as the group finally broke through with a win in Tuesday’s pick-5 at Assiniboia Downs, collecting $92.50 for each $20 share, after enduring weeks of high-paying “just-abouts.” In the tricky sequence on large fields, the group caught horses that were 30-1 and 40-1 morning line horses.

The group took #7 Simply Fablus in the second leg because the horse had the highest Equibase speed number of 82 at the 7 ½-furlong specialist distance and took #6 King’s Revenge in the third leg because it was the best closer. Two scratches in the last leg gave them two extra winning tickets when given the post time favourite. Group play continues tomorrow with the early pick-5 and pick-6 on the Ricoh Mile card at Woodbine. Everyone is welcome at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: These are bad bets at the end of a racing season

Logic should tell you that, on the closing days of a race meet, playing horses who haven’t raced for more than a month is a big gamble. It’s likely a trainer is clearing his or her barn of horses for one final start, whether the horse is sufficiently primed to win or not. If you followed that logic on Tuesday, you were well-rewarded.

In race 2, for example, #2 Tiz Funny at 2-1 looked like a strong front-end win possibility--but hadn’t raced since July 27. What happened? He went to the lead and stopped in mid-stretch, with three horses who raced recently finishing in the top three positions, setting up a triactor that paid a handsome $324. And in race 7, favourite #7 Bye Y’all was a big class dropper who looked unbeatable on class but hadn’t raced since July 13. He stopped in late stretch and a game recent runner, #1 Vallentay, sailed past.

TOP 3 NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 2

Cowboys over Falcons (Sunday noon): One of these teams is going to start the season 0-2 which is never a good thing. Dallas has been hit with the injury bug early, but their offense still should be able to score points against a Falcons defense that never seems to get better, only worse.

Steelers over Broncos (Sunday noon): It’s amazing how much better the Steelers look when they have Big Ben under centre. Having him back and healthy, the Steelers looked crisp on both sides of the ball last week. The young up-and-coming Broncos, with better clock management (here’s looking at you, Vic Fangio) could have won last week but a couple of poor late game drives where they didn’t use the clock to their advantage ended up costing them.

Bucs over Panthers
(Sunday noon): Tom Brady’s first drive as a Buc couldn’t have gone more perfectly ending with his patented QB sneak up the middle for a touchdown, Unfortunately it was the rest of the game that was the problem for him, throwing two uncharacteristic interceptions. But I expect him to correct those mistakes and get the win this week.

(1-2): Joe Burrow had a decent showing against the Chargers and had it not been for offensive PI and a missed FG, he would have had his first victory . . . Cardinals DeAndre Hopkins couldn’t be stopped by the 49ers defense, combine that with a poor outing by QB Jimmy Garoppolo and that’s a recipe for a loss . . . Ravens QB Lamar Jackson continued to show why Baltimore is one of the early picks to make it to the Super Bowl. He was 20 of 25 for 275 yards and 3 TDs.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: A tale of two Bobbys

Did you know that May 3 was a date that figured prominently in the life of legendary jockey Bobby Stewart? In 1969 it was the date of Bobby's only Kentucky Derby ride. Flash forward 16 years and May 3, 1985 was the date his life crashed and burned. Read historian Bob's moving tribute to Robert Roy "Bobby" Stewart here. (First published in May 2019)
Historic race goes Thursday at Delaware Fair
  • Tomorrow: “I won bigger” workshop 10:30 a.m. Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes at Woodbine
  • Wednesday, Sept. 23: Famous Jugette harness race from historic Delaware Fair in Ohio. First post 10 a.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 24: The Little Brown Jug from Delaware Fair. First post 10 a.m. Special Terrace Dining Room “delicious dining” menu is launched. See DO THE DOWNS above.
  • Friday, Sept. 25: Santa Anita is scheduled to begin its fall meet after a one week postponement because of smoke from wild fires
  • Saturday, Sept. 26: “I won bigger” betting group plays the Woodbine pick-5 for starters.
  • Sunday, Sept. 27: $100K Canadian Derby at Century Mile with likely entrant being Mongolian Wind, winner of the Manitoba Derby and Gold Cup Stakes.
  • Saturday, Oct. 3: “I won bigger” workshop. Preakness Stakes from Pimlico, Player’s Choice horseplayer tournament

The Insider will now be published Thursdays

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