Thursday, September 19, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14  No 36 (Issue #706)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


“The Little Brown Jug holds the record (56,000) for the largest crowd ever to watch a harness racing event. The Delaware County Fairgrounds has one of the fastest tracks on the circuit, partially due to its steep banking. The horse, Million Dollar Cam, holds the track record of 1:50, set in 2002.” -- Online description of the Little Brown Jug, a stakes race today for 3-year-old pacers at Delaware Fair in Ohio.


Bullet briefs . . .

  • Escape Clause still looking to regain past glory
  • Six ways to get Santa to work for you
  • "Balooga Bull has a girlfriend"
  • Kerfuffle over Justify's positive test seems unjustified
  • Track historian Bob has the bittersweet story of Wake Island
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 (value $25).
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, NFL

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 8 PM: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge Friday and Saturday. Get into the draw for 10 chances to win $20 in free VLT spins. Top winner from each night participates in a month-end finale for more spins and $250 in prize money.

“Assiniboia Downs regrets having to announce that it is discontinuing poker. Therefore, poker will not restart this Friday as originally planned.  We are currently working with the LGCA to determine how to disburse the current Jackpot and will advise in short order. Assiniboia Downs would like to thank Kerran and Rosie (All In Poker) for their outstanding support over the last 10 years and for hosting these tournaments. It was greatly and sincerely appreciated and we know it was definitely challenging at times!  We would also like to thank all of the players who participated in the poker games throughout the years.” – Assiniboia Downs 

GREEDY CORNER: More than $1.3 at stake in Gulfstream’s Rainbow pick-6. See other carryovers here.

"They aren't machines"
Manitoba's millionaire mare fades to fourth in Churchill Stakes

Filled with promise before the race in the Churchill paddock were Escape Clause owners (from left) Pat Beavis, Phil Allard and Barry Arnason.
“She’s not what she was in the spring,” said a horse owner at the Downs after Manitoba’s best horse ever, Escape Clause, faded to fourth in the $200,000 Grade 3 Locust Grove Stakes at Churchill Downs Saturday.

“But holy smokes,”
he continued. “She’s got 20 wins. They aren’t machines.”

The 5-year-old mare picks up $10,000 U.S. for her fourth-place finish and now the question is: Will she race once (or twice) more before she’s scheduled to go to auction in the Fasig-Tipton “night of the stars” sale on Monday, Nov. 4?

Will buyers look at her mainly as a brood mare prospect rather than a horse they will continue racing?

She hit her career best, of course, when she missed winning the $700,000 Grade 1 Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn in April by a mere nose to the mare who is considered the best on the continent, Midnight Bisou.

A subsequent trip down bumpy roads to Belmont seemed to take the edge off the Going Commando mare and she’s never matched her earlier performances where she would prompt the pace and take over at the head of the stretch.

In each of her last two races, when jockey Tyler Baze said “go” she dug in determinedly but couldn’t put away her pursuers. Those performances, however, have certainly not taken the shine out of her many other breathtaking efforts. What next? Stay tuned.

IT WAS DOWNHILL AFTER BACON FOR “BIGGER” GROUP: The problem with horizontal wagers (pick-3s, pick-4s, etc.) is that you buy your wheels HOPING for longshots. Which meant that when a 5-1 horse won the third leg of the pick-5 at Woodbine Saturday—a race in which the “I won bigger” betting group took “all”—and other legs were won by favourites, the group collected mere pocket change.

But the group recalled an “all” leg won by a longshot in April that gave the group it’s biggest score ever, --more than $16,000. So bets do even out. A pick-4 ticket at Churchill didn’t go much better. Thankfully, a bacon treat to kick off the weekly workshops left a lasting good taste. The group will be back to the grind this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and, as usual, you’re invited to attend (pick-5 at Woodbine and ???).

Groom of the Year Erin Clarke with Me First and her sketch of Langara
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to ASD’s rookie Groom of the Year, Erin Clarke, who also has a talent for sketching horses as she did for her friend, Laura, whose favourite horse is the Manitoba-bred Langara. Look closely. Doesn’t Erin’s horse (Me First, her first win as a groom) seem to be smiling?

“Erin came to us in the spring expressing a love of horses and a desire to be a groom,”
HBPA office manager Shannon Dawley tells The Insider. “She worked the entire season with trainer Mike Nault (Hidden Grace, etc.) who was beyond impressed with her work ethic, ability and willingness to learn more which earned her the Groom of the Year award presented by the HBPA at the fall supper.”

Datura (jimson weed) apparently contaminated Justify’s hay
KERFUFFLE OVER JUSTIFY’S POSITIVE TEST SEEMS UNJUSTIFIED: The kerfuffle over the presence of a restricted substance in Justify following his winning the Santa Anita Derby seems a bit much. The substance, scopolamine, which is present in a lovely trumpet-flowered plant called datura or jimson weed I’ve grown in my garden, seems to have more down-side (gastrointestinal paralysis for several days) than it has upside as a potential performance enhancer because it is basically poisonous.

That’s why it’s down at the 4c level of performance enhancers. In fact, it’s not even on the list of banned substances in human athletes. Six horses from four other barns at Santa Anita also had scopolamine in their systems, according to the former head of the California Horse Racing Board, Chuck Winner, leading to the conclusion that jimson weed contaminated hay that had been delivered to the stables.

“BALOOGA HAS A GIRLFRIEND” said Samantha Frost, a server at the Downs during live racing, who took the accompanying picture of fan favourite Balooga Bull who is living happily on a farm in Oakbank, she says. In addition to the company of a mare, she says, “he’s eating well and gained a bit of weight.” That’s good news because he seemed to have continuing stomach issues while racing and winning the Manitoba Derby and three Gold Cup Stakes and being named Horse of the Year twice.

The 10-year-old gelding made news early in the live race meet when his late owner/trainer Ardell Sayler was giving him timed workouts to possibly return to racing after a three-year absence. But after Ardell’s death in late May, his son, Aaron Sayler, discontinued the workouts and dispersed his father’s horses, with Balooga Bull being put into good hands in Oakbank.

Santa at Santa: Fall meet begins next Thursday

By Marshall Posner, fan ed specialist

Marshall loves Santa Anita so The Insider asked him for six ways Insider readers can improve their success at the SoCal track that begins its fall meet next Thursday:
  1. Pay Attention to the New Track Surface – After the rash of equine fatalities earlier this year, Santa has re-developed their dirt track, making it much deeper and hopefully safer. Pay attention to how this new surface is playing towards speedballs and closers alike. Will the new surface be similar to the old one and speed biased or more of an even racing surface?
  2. Take Trip Notes – Make a commitment to always record your trip notes and bet back horses with troubled trips. This will provide you with a huge advantage over other horseplayers.
  3. Use StatsMaster – There are always lots of maiden races for 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds at this time of year and it’s important to give yourself an edge when it comes to first time starters. Using this free online tool can help point you in the direction of a successful trainer racing first out or highlight which ones to avoid. View Santa Anita trainer stats here.
  4. Respect Turf Bias – Speed holds big time on the turf at Santa especially when it’s loose speed. Always pay close attention to race shape and toss the speed at your own discretion on the green stuff, especially in the new 5-furlong turf sprints now that they’re no longer running down the hill.
  5. Purchase Workout Reports –Consider purchasing the DRF workout reports for Santa Anita, either on special large betting days or on a semi-regular basis. These reports can provide great insight into which horses are ready for a top effort. Go here:
  6. Look for Prat on First Time Euros – Any time you’re ‘capping what appears to be a wide open race, zone in on Flavien Prat’s mount, especially if it’s a first-time Euro horse. He seems to have a real knack for connecting with these types for all sorts of different trainers.
SAVVY NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 3
  • Eagles over Lions (Sunday noon) -- The Lions were 3-5 on the road last year and 4-8 vs other NFC teams.
  • Patriots over Jets (Sunday noon) -- The Patriots were 2-0 vs the Jets last season. The Jets will be without their starting QB for the 2nd straight week.
  • Cowboys over Dolphins (Sunday noon) -- The Dolphins are just looking to tank the entire season to get the first overall pick in the draft next year.
  • Vikings over Raiders (Sunday noon) --The Raiders were 1-7 on the road last year and 1-3 vs NFC teams. The Vikings defense should handle the Raiders offense with ease.
NOTE: In exceptional cases (e.g. injuries to key personnel), these picks may be amended in the online version of The Insider early Saturday afternoon. Go there ( for updates.

THE BEST OF BOB: The bittersweet story of Wake Island

Did you know that in 1967 Wake Island won the first five races of his brief career? In the span of five short weeks, he went from a $2,000 claimer to a Gold Cup participant! Bob shares his bittersweet memory of Rosemary Henderson's wonder horse here.(First published in May 2013)
Create your own pasta dishes at Thursday night buffets
  • Today: Historic harness meet continues today at Delaware Fair in Ohio with the Little Brown Jug. First post 10 a.m.
  • This Saturday, Sept. 21: “I won bigger” betting group discussion 10:30 a.m., $1 million Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby and $1 million Cotillion at Parx, $300K Charles Town Oaks at Charles Town
  • This Sunday, Sept. 22: $100K Jack Diamond Futurity at Hastings
  • 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.
  • Thursday, Oct. 3: Regular certified Angus prime rib buffet as above.
  • Thursday, Oct. 10: Thanksgiving buffet. Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-330 ext. 0.
  • Sunday, Oct. 13: Thanksgiving plate special from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Just $13.95 per plate.
  • Thanksgiving Day Monday, Oct. 14: Thanksgiving plate special as above.

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Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

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