Thursday, October 3, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14  No 38 (Issue #708)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Hidden Grace in the snow Sunday at Century Downs with well-insulated trainer Mike Nault (Photo by groom Brittney McDonald)

Following in Escape Clause's hoofprints
Hidden Grace's trainer eyes two $50K stakes at Century Downs this month

With Manitoba super mare Escape Clause awaiting auction in Kentucky, the new--and some say “even better” Manitoba-bred female, the unbeaten Hidden Grace--is being pointed to possibly two $50,000 stakes at Century Downs near Calgary this month.

Speaking from Century Downs which cancelled its Sunday race card because of heavy snow, Hidden Grace trainer Mike Nault told The Insider that Hidden Grace’s main objective is the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stake Fillies Division on Saturday, Oct. 26, the race that Escape Clause won two years in a row. (It’s a race for 3- and 4-year-old fillies bred in Canada who were run through the CTHS yearling sale in Alberta, Manitoba or B.C.).

But he said he is also considering entering the 3-year-old in the $50,000 Lynn Chouinard Founders Distaff Handicap on Thanksgiving Monday, Oct. 14. It’s a race for older fillies and mares. Nominations close tomorrow. The only problem, he said, is that there are only 12 days separating this race from the CTHS Sales Stake. “I’ll take a look at the other nominations to see if she should be entered,” he said.

“She’s getting bigger and stronger,”
he noted. “Everybody’s anxious to see her run. When people pass her stall, they say ‘There’s that good filly'."

Hidden Grace, who is eight for eight wins, all stakes races, was bred in Russell, Man. and has the same father, Going Commando, as Escape Clause.

Nault is training four other horses at Century Downs. This past Saturday, his Sharon’s Temper (4-1) finished second in a maiden allowance and his Vivacitas (9-1) was third in an optional claimer. Watch for his Vidira (12-3-2-1) in a race this Sunday, her first start since finishing third in the Manitoba Matron.

*       *       *

ESCAPE CLAUSE AUCTION PUT OVER ONE DAY: The Fasig-Tipton “night of the stars” auction after Breeders’ Cup weekend will now be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5, rather than Monday to allow more time for horses to be shipped from Breeders’ Cup participation at Santa Anita. Manitoba’s Escape Clause will be on the block. The auction will be broadcast on the internet. Now, at least, the sale doesn’t conflict with Melbourne Cup night Monday, Nov. 4.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Woodbine bans overhand whipping
  • Sign up for the next handicapping tournament this Saturday; who's the HOTY leader?
  • How much did the winning $2.2 million Rainbow 6 ticket cost?
  • Mike Smith gets the boot in the Breeders' Cup Classic
  • Bob has the story of a life well-lived
Jim Roberts with 1951 photo, ASD fleece and cap and $50 in wagering vouchers
STRATEGY OF A CONTESTANT WHO HATES TO LOSE: Jim Roberts, a retired Red River College math prof, hates to lose contests--so, for the History Quiz test which won him a 1951 photo (from his birth year), $50 in ASD merchandise and $50 in betting vouchers, this is what he said he did leading to quiz day: “After golf, I’d read a couple of Bob’s columns, then have a snooze, then read a couple more.” (There were 18 columns in total.) You do the work, you win the prize.

His most impressive contest win ever came in Show Me the Money at Hollywood Park where he won $6,000 for being the last person standing from among more than 2,800 contest entrants from around the continent who had to submit one show pick a day online.

before peaking at the answer for each of the 18 questions. You’ll likely be surprised.

(on the same day as the next Player’s Choice horseplayer tournament.) Predict the winners of races 2 to 4 at Century Downs to win $50 in wagering vouchers. Look for complimentary race programs at the track. Prize pool increases by $25 each time it’s not won (up to $150).

All through October, 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.
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, Jets

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.


GREEDY CORNER: $560K carryover in Belmont's Empire pick-6. Other carryovers.

Tourney this Saturday at noon
Share in $1,750 prize money; earn points to try to cut in to Dave Blake's HOTY lead

The fourth-last handicapping tournament of the year goes Saturday from noon to 4:30 p.m. with $1,750 in prize money on the line plus points toward being named Handicapper of the Year.

Dave Blake is the current HOTY leader
By virtue of his two tournament wins during live racing, horse owner and Kenora resident Dave Blake is the person to catch atop the HOTY leader board; $3,500 will be paid out to the top 10 players of the year.

Here are the current top 10:
  1. Dave Blake -- 230
  2. Geoffrey Metcalfe -- 219
  3. Alan Hampton -- 216
  4. Kevin Palmer -- 199
  5. Chuck Whalen -- 178
  6. Stan Stewin -- 177
  7. Al Ilott -- 169
  8. Chris Lucyshyn -- 167
  9. Brian McKellar -- 164
  10. Wayne Misko – 164

Entry fee is $25 by tomorrow at 9 p.m. or $35 by noon Saturday. Contestants bet $2 win/place/show on 10 horses at any thoroughbred tracks they wish between noon and 4:30 p.m.

*       *       *

Bad timing
Gulfstream's Rainbow pick-6 gets won two days before mandatory payout

For the third time in my memory, Gulfstream’s Rainbow pick-6 pool was won just before a mandatory payout day that would have seen a giant pool.

Lots of ASD players were investing in $20 shares in the “I won bigger” group selections with the hopes of sharing in about $10 million. But, unfortunately, someone won the $2.2 million pool with a 20-cent ticket on Friday. So the group played Woodbine’s pick-5 and Belmont’s Empire pick-6 (same as the Rainbow 6; carryover of $500,000) instead.

Jockey Paco Lopez won three of the six legs of the Rainbow. The winning horses in the six-race sequence paid $13.60, $11.40, $11.40, $6.40 (fav), $30 and $13.80. The player who won it spent $230.40. The bet was made through

The biggest Rainbow 6 pool ever, $6.78 million was won by a Floridian in 2014 -- also just before a mandatory payout day that might have seen the pool increase to $30 million.

*       *       *
BETTING GROUP GETS FIVE OF SIX IN BELMONT PICK-6: I’m not sure the “I won bigger” betting group did the right thing by changing its betting to the Belmont pick-6 last Sunday because the $2 million pool at Gulfstream had been won. Gulfstream’s pick-6 still paid $24,000 because the pool was almost $500,000 and the sequence was tricky -- but a small ticket I played myself had four of the six winners. Spending more, the group might have nailed it.

The group’s tickets on the Empire 6 at Belmont got to the last leg only to have the key horse--a Rob Atras trainee who had dropped into a maiden claimer from maiden allowance races--get into an unforeseen duel, resulting in another maiden dropper winning the race. The pick-6 paid $3,813.

Let’s continue to play Woodbine’s pick-5 (races 2 to 6) and Belmont pick-6 (last six races) though. We’re getting a knack for playing Belmont, it seems. Should we drop Woodbine? Let’s discuss. That’s this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza, only four weeks from Breeders’ Cup Day when, last year, the group won the $2 pick-6 twice!

What race will Catholic Boy enter?

Does his recent workout on the turf mean he's going to enter the Mile?

An Insider favourite, Catholic Boy, is getting ready to atone for his bad start and 13th place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The versatile ridgling will likely be entering the BC Mile (turf) or the BC Dirt Mile, according to his trainer Jonathan Thomas. The Breeders’ Cup is four weeks away.

The 4-year-old whom The Insider had picked to win last year’s Kentucky Derby until he was sidelined with bleeding issues has had a light campaign but has been working steadily. His most recent work was Sunday on Belmont turf. He breezed the half-mile in :47.66, the fourth fastest of 14 horses working out that morning.

He’s won four of his past six starts, the only losses coming in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a second-place finish in his last race, the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes at Belmont in July.

*       *       *
Mike Smith
Removed from McKinzie
MIKE SMITH ON THE OUTS; WHO WILL RIDE MCKINZIE IN THE CLASSIC? Who will ride the 4-year-old colt McKinzie (13-7-5-0) in the Breeders’ Cup Classic after trainer Bob Baffert has told McKinzie’s “forever” rider, Mike Smith, to find a different mount for that race? The jockey change follows McKinzie’s loss (at 1-5) to longshot Mongolian Groom (25-1) in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday. Despite Smith ranking third in all-time jockey earnings, this seems to be a case of “what have you done for me lately?” The jockey change will add more intrigue to the Classic.

Three weeks from today you should be able to pick up the pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup races in the Daily Racing Form which will list the lifetime performances of all horses.

This is banned at Woodbine
WOODBINE BANS OVERHAND AND BELLY WHIPPING: Woodbine has announced whipping rules for the balance of the thoroughbred meet that allows only “underhand” whipping and disallows whipping of a horse’s belly and surrounding areas. “Woodbine Entertainment is committed to safety and being a leader of change for the betterment of the horse racing industry in Ontario and throughout North America,” Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson announced in a news release this week. That pretty much means Woodbine horses will be coaxed rather than struck, even though whips these days are a far cry from the long ouchy leather ones that once ruled the racing industry (see Readers write below).

Who would have thought that a nonsense word in a presidential tweet, Covfefe, would appear in serious headlines about the achievements of a filly who was given that name? Covfefe, a 3-year-old filly by Into Mischief, out of Antics, has earned more than $560,000 U.S. by winning five races out of seven starts including the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga ($8.50) and she's being pointed to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Which means horse racing doesn’t offer a total escape from politics.

Escape Clause (rail) almost defeats Midnight Bisou in Apple Blossom
FILLY WHO BEAT ESCAPE CLAUSE BY A NOSE IS RATED #2 HORSE IN NORTH AMERICA: Manitoba’s mighty Escape Clause was flattered this week by a racing poll that showed that the filly who beat her by a mere nose is rated the #2 horse on the continent, Midnight Bisou. The experts rate Bricks and Mortar, the winner of six turf stakes in a row including the Arlington Million, #1 with 387 points and Midnight Bisou with 363 points in the NTRA Top Thoroughbreds Poll. Bisou has won seven races in a row, the last being the Beldame at Belmont on Sunday, but that would be four in a row if Escape Clause had out-nosed Bisou in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn in April.
Readers write . . .
ASD whips ahead of their time

“Dear Ivan:
In regards to Woodbine’s new whipping rules (see above), ASD implemented this policy 20 plus years ago!
  1. All whips supplied by ASD.
  2. Reduced length of whip to ensure not able to reach underbelly.
  3. Popper on whip-end open to reduce impact. Then replaced by "cushion whip" for approximately past 10 years.
All progressive ideas don’t come from Woodbine/large tracks.” -- Harvey Warner, president Manitoba Jockey Club

Thanks for this Harvey. I found out first-HAND at the time the difference in whips when Darren (now CEO Darren Dunn) told me to hold out my hand and he struck it with the standard leather whip in use at the time. Ouch! That really stung. Then he wound up and hit my hand with the most recent “popper” whip you describe. You could hardly feel it by comparison.
SAVVY NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 5
  • Ravens over Steelers (Sunday noon): Ravens have lost two games but QB Lamar Jackson should turn that around facing the Steelers 20th ranked defense.
  • Bears over Raiders (Sunday noon): Bears defensive stud Khalil Mack returns to Oakland from where he was traded. I’d take the Bears defense vs the Raiders offense any day of the week. Chase Daniel replacing QB Mitch Trubisky (out with a dislocated shoulder) is not a bad thing.
  • Chiefs over Colts (Sunday night): The Chiefs survived a Lions scare last week to stay undefeated despite QB Pat Mahones not throwing a TD pass but playing the Colts at home at Arrowhead should result in at least four TD passes.
  • 49ers over Browns (Monday night): Sitting at 3-0 on top of the NFC West, the 49ers (my team!) should be well rested coming off the early bye week. Facing the Cleveland Browns who destroyed the Ravens last week, 40-25, this will be a decent test for the young 49ers defense who have more interceptions this year (five) through four weeks than all of last year (two). Jimmy Garoppolo must limit his turnovers. the Browns defense is missing a few of its starters.
MY $5 PROLINE TICKET (worth $176.85): Bengals/Cardinals tie ($3.40), Bears over Raiders ($1.70), Jags/Panthers tie ($3.40), 49ers over Browns ($1.80). Record: -$5

PICKS RECORD: Last week: 2 correct out of 4. Overall (since week 3): 5 correct out of 8.

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: "Reflections of a life well-lived"

Did you know that Ray Stewart rode the first winner in the Gold Cup in 1958 and returned to the Downs in 2015 to present the Gold Cup trophy? Mr. Stewart has passed now but Bob shares the life story of the Pride of Gladstone here.(First published in May 2015)
Reserve now for the Thanksgiving buffet a week from tonight
  • Tonight: Regular certified Angus prime rib buffet which includes salad bar, pasta station, many entries and desserts highlighted by ASD’s signature Bourbon Bacon Brownie that is the talk of the town. $27.95. Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • This Saturday: Monthly Player’s Choice horseplayer tournament with $1,750 in prize money and points toward Handicapper of the Year. Sign up for $25 tomorrow at 9 p.m. or by Saturday at noon for $35.
  • Thursday, Oct. 10: Thanksgiving buffet. Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-330 ext. 0.
  • Saturday, Oct. 12: Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine. 1 ½-miles on turf. This race was made famous by Secretariat who retired to the breeding shed after this race.
  • Sunday, Oct. 13: Thanksgiving plate special from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Includes roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, veggies, gravy, cranberry sauce and dinner roll. Just $13.95 per plate. Pumpkin pie available for purchase separately.
  • Thanksgiving Day Monday, Oct. 14: Thanksgiving Day plate special as above. Hidden Grace may race in $50K stakes at Century Downs
ANSWER TO HISTORY QUIZ: Surprise! The answer to every question is “c.” Bob Gates said this is something he always wanted to do -- so we did it. Nobody apparently clued into this possible scenario. Contest winner Jim Roberts’ first eight answers were correctly circled “c” but then he deviated.

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