Thursday, October 5, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 38 (Issue #606)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Enable destroys 'em . . .

Forget the caffeine. Watching this race is all you need to get your blood flowing and get your day off to an exciting start. Consider this race a preview for the Breeders’ Cup world championships four weeks from this weekend!

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Big money at stake tonight in Mohawk's Jackpot Hi 5. Pool about $800,000.
  • Do you like this new option? Cash pick-4s, etc. BEFORE last leg. See Marshall's column.
  • Will Escape Clause crush her Alberta & B.C. rivals on Sunday? Grrrr!
  • Ho-hum! Route speedster at Santa cuts back to a sprint and pays boxcars--again.
  • "I won big" group now three-for-three
  • You're invited to a special "I won big" workshop on Thanksgiving Monday 10:30 a.m.

Rick Zaretsky
Will he score a home run?

SETS ASTONISHING MARK IN UMPIRING; NOW SEEKS 5-ALIVE GLORY: Substitute teacher Rick Zaretsky, who set a rather astonishing mark of umpiring 328 baseball games from May to September, is now looking to set a winning mark playing in the 5-Alive contest. Betting $5 a race at Mohawk Saturday night he won his first four wagers (three show bets and a place bet) but came up short betting a winner. So he collected a $15 consolation prize. Will he be the first to win double the cost of his bets this weekend? Will you do it? Play Friday and Saturday at your favourite track from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
QX104 � Today's Country

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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 October? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Jets - Bombers

FRIDAYS, SATURDAYS & SUNDAYS : Free VLT tournaments starting at 8 p.m. 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.

EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker. Registration 8 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m. New Royal Flush progressive jackpot is at $1,500! Entry fee to play the jackpot is an additional $5. Click here for new features!

THURSDAY PRIME RIB BUFFETS CONTINUE TONIGHT: All-you-can-eat certified Angus prime rib buffets continue tonight ($27.95) which includes other delicious entrees, pasta station, salad bar, soup and multiple specialty desserts. Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0 to reserve or eat at your carrel while you’re playing tonight’s races: Pay a server and load up a plate as many times as you like.

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. How do I use the new "Partial Cash Out" (PCO) option in HPIbet?

A. This past week, HPIbet launched an exciting new feature called Partial Cash Out or PCO. PCO refers to an option to cash out—or partially cash—a live double, pick-3, pick-4, pick-5 or pick-6, before the last leg is run. The only tracks currently offering this new feature are Woodbine, Mohawk and the NYRA affiliated Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga. There’s been no indication of when, if ever, any additional tracks will be included in this new feature.

To cash out or not to cash out, that is the question

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS: When you’re going to place a bet, you’ll see a small orange striped banner with the letters PCO in the corner of the various multi-race wagers buttons (view image here). This identifies each of these bets as qualifying for the PCO option. If there’s no orange banner, then there is no PCO available for this bet.

Assuming you’ve made a bet that is PCO eligible, and you’ve won the first leg or several legs of the wager, you will be notified by HPIbet that you have a PCO offer available. You will only be notified if you’re logged in to HPIbet, though. And it usually takes upwards of five minutes before you’re notified so don’t worry if you don’t see anything right away. When your cash-out options are ready, an orange stripe will appear along the bottom of the screen with a yellow NEW button across it (view image here). Click this orange banner to view your cash out offers.

This will open a new pop-up window that lists all of your current cash out offers (view image here). Simply click the offer you want to review and this will open the specific offer where you will then have three options: Accept the entire offer, decline the offer, or cash in a portion of your ticket, by using the sliding scale to determine the percentage of the wager you want to cash out and then keep the rest in play (view image here)

This new cash-out functionality is common in many offshore sports books but I’m surprised to see it being offered by HPIbet. Like anything, if used correctly, it can certainly become a tool for handicappers that have made it to the final leg of a multi-race bet and want to capitalize by ensuring a guaranteed payout or a partial payout. I’m certain I’ll take advantage of this new feature in the coming weeks/months. Make sure you feel like you’re getting a good payout when you accept the offer!

Got a question for Marshall? Email

Showdown at Century Downs

Escape Clause faces older Alberta-bred fillies Sunday in $50,000 Sales Stakes

Escape Clause
Faces western rivals Sunday

B.C.’s 7-for-7 Daz Lin Dawn has been retired for the year so she will not face off against Manitoba’s super filly, Escape Clause, in this Sunday’s $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes (filly division) at Century Downs.

But the 3-year-old filly who finished second in the Manitoba Derby still faces two 4-year-old Alberta-bred fillies who finished one-two (Smart Fix and Onestaratatime) in the $50,000 Fall Classic Distaff at Northlands Park in mid-September. Sunday’s race is for 3- and 4-year-old Canadian fillies who have gone through the yearling sales ring in their respective provinces.

How do the main contenders match up in Equibase speed figures?
  • Escape Clause – 96
  • Onestaratatime – 93 but that was last year; this year it’s 78
  • Smart Fix – 83
There were 13 nominations to this race; the entries will be drawn today.

*        *        *

LANGARA FACES SALTY B.C. & ALBERTA RIVALS IN OTHER SALES STAKES: The male equivalent to the filly stakes above, which also will be run on Sunday, will feature ASD’s Langara who has the highest Equibase speed figure (99) of all the nominated horses. The main protagonists (if they enter) and their Equibase speed figures:
  • Langara ( Manitoba) – 99. Two-time winner of the Phil Kives and winner of the J.W. Sifton
  • Golden Odie ( Alberta) – 89. Winner $50,000 stakes.
  • Rock Victor (B.C.) – 88. Winner $50,000 stakes
  • Makealittlenoise ( Alberta) – 88. Winner $50,000 stakes.



Friday's race at Santa was a classic. Did you cash?

The $47 winner of a down-the-hill race couldn't have been more obvious

Horses that show speed in turf routes are strong contenders on this sprint course

Do you remember the story in The Insider last fall about the 89-1 horse winning the 6 1/2f down-the-hill race at Santa Anita, setting up a $33,000 pick-4 payoff that an ASD horse owner collected?

It happened again. The last race at Santa last Friday was almost a carbon copy, with the winner of the race paying $47 and the pick-4 paying $18,000 for $1. Did you have it?

The rule is to look for horses that have shown early blazing pace in route races. When they cut back to a sprint, watch out! They often save that early energy to make a late charge.
  • Last Oct. 21, Stylistics United ($180.80), who had recorded a 127 pace number in a turf route, charged from eighth to win the sprint by a half-length.
  • Last Friday was déjà vu when #11 Mr. Roary ($47.60), who had a bunch of jump-off-the-page pace numbers in routeraces-- the last one being 123--swept from ninth to win the sprint by a neck.

*        *        *

TOP FOUR: ASD tournament director Dawn Forbes presents $1,000 to winner Trevor Phelps. Others, from left: George Davis (4th), Paul Gray (2nd) and Jeff Rozmus (5th). Missing: Kathleen Buckoski (3rd)

TREVOR PHELPS BACK IN THE LIMELIGHT IN TOURNAMENT PLAY: It’s amazing how a single horse can have so much influence on a day. The $67 winner in race 5 at Woodbine Saturday, Cat’s Whisper, not only won the “I won big” group a $2,200 pick-5 (see below), it also gave mechanical service specialist Trevor Phelps the Player’s Choice tournament victory (and $1,000) and gave Paul Gray a second-place finish (and $400).

The horse had had a terrible first start but, curiously, the 2-year-old maiden gelding was the top pick in that race for the Daily Racing Form’s trackman at Woodbine, Ron Gierkink, and that pick caught the attention of observant players when Woodbine posted the picks of multiple analysts on the TV simulcast program. (See Shout-Outs of the Week.) Phelps’ other important play was a Gulfstream horse that fit the “mile-speed-cutting-back-to-a-sprint” rule. The top five and their contest bankrolls:  
  • Trevor Phelps $91.10
  • Paul Gray $71.90
  • Kathleen Buckoski $59.40
  • George Davis $51.20
  • Jeff Rozmus $47.80
See full results here. See standings for Handicapper of the Year here.

*        *        *

"I WON BIG" GROUP MAKES IT THREE IN A ROW: Another win last Saturday made it three in a row for Saturday’s “I won big” workshop group. A $67 horse set up a $2,200 pick-5, making each $20 share worth $55.50. We’ll be looking for Winning Week #4 this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with races 2 to 7 at Woodbine on tap again. NOTE: There will be a special session on Thanksgiving Monday at 10:30 a.m., with the same six races at Woodbine under discussion. So, see you both days on the Clubhouse plaza to keep our streak going!
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Popyhowuspelcupcak. He’s a 3-year-old gelding by Tale of the Cat racing at Santa Anita. “So I hear you own a horse? What’s his name?” “Poppy how you spell cupcake.” “What? I’m not even going to ask what you named your dog.”
  • Christopher Husbands
    Busts toteboard at Woodbine

    A BIG SHOUT-OUT to ASD jockey Christopher Husbands who exploded onto the riding scene at Woodbine last Friday with a stunning toteboard-busting nose win aboard Cape Zavata ($151.90) that left 4-5 favourite Gentleman Jackson and Luis Contreras settling for second. Husbands had taken over the mount from Skye Chernetz who had ridden the 8-year-old gelding four times. Unfortunately, this shout-out doesn’t extend to ASD tournament tiger George Moehring who added Husbands to his 20-cent superfecta wheels but didn’t think Husbands could beat the favourite—which cost him $1,500. In large fields of 10 or more horses, the “rule” is to play an exactor wheel with the less-than-even-money horse SECOND. There were 11 horses in the field and a $2 exactor paid $664.

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Woodbine’s betting site, Horseplayer Interactive, for adding a revolutionary new option: the ability to cash—in whole or in part—a sequence wager from doubles to pick-6s at Woodbine, Mohawk and Belmont (see Marshall’s column above). That option had one player in the Race Book Saturday wondering whether to jump at the chance of accepting $1,100 for a pick-4 at Belmont Saturday after only three legs when he knew that if the favourite won the last leg he would get under $300. After listening to those around him (including yours truly), he cashed, even knowing he could win $3,000 in the last leg if a longshot on his ticket won. The result: a horse he had played on his ticket did end up winning but the payout was only about $950 so cashing out for $1,100 proved quite profitable. What would you have done? Decisions, decisions.

  • Century Downs
    Hmm, where else is there a red starting gate?

    A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Century Downs for copying ASD’s red colour for its starting gate. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Escape Clause and Langara should feel right at home when they’re loading for their respective $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes races on Sunday.  

  • A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Woodbine DRF handicapper Ron Gierkink who informed his readers that 2-year-old maiden Cat’s Whisper at 32-1 was a very live horse in race 5 Saturday, a horse he picked to win because, despite an awful first start, had a “speed pedigree” to consider. That prompted the “I won big” group to make Cat’s Whisper one of three horses in the fourth leg of its pick-5 ticket which resulted in a pick-up of $2,200. Cat’s Whisper was also the horse that helped Trevor Phelps win the handicapping contest and Paul Gray to come second. These are the little things you can pick up during discussions at the weekly Saturday morning workshops.


Harry Kube, right (1944-2017) with jockey Ken Hendricks after winning 636 Classic in 1988

FRIENDLY FACE OF HARRY KUBE IS GONE: The friendly face of trainer Harry Kube that graced the Downs from 1982 to 2012 is no more. He died on Sept. 24 at 73 in a personal care home. Historian Bob Gates recalls the year when he was dubbed “Hard Luck Harry” because his best horses were disqualified from wins. Bear With Us was set down to second in the Fort Garry Handicap on June 19, 1988, and, less than three weeks later, his Ray O Luck was bumped down to fourth in the R.C. Anderson.

But the determined trainer got the last laugh: Ray O Luck subsequently won the Oaks and Bear With Us won the $50,000 636 Classic (attached photo). He won 378 races of 3,183 and had 395 seconds and 438 thirds. His horses earned $2.66 million. Said Wendy and Michael, his adult children: “ Dad was one of the lucky few who could say they chased and achieved their dreams in life”. Nothing can top that.

ASD CEO Darren Dunn said Kube, as longtime vice-president of the HBPA, "was very fair and open minded in the interests of horsemen" and said he will be "historically stamped in the memory of fans" with such great horses as One and Only and Liz's Pride.

Century Downs’ Winner’s Circle is oh-so-close and yet so elusive to ASD trainers. Jared Brown has posted three seconds in five starts and Don Schnell has two seconds in four starts. Will this be the breakthrough weekend?

, beaten by Media Melee in the R.J. Speers Stakes at ASD before heading back south, won a recent allowance/optional claimer at Remington Park in Oklahoma where the 7-year-old gelding earned almost $19,000 U.S. That win certainly flatters Media Melee, the only horse that owner John Ganas said he has kept since the ASD live meet ended.

Loses her balance just yards from the wire

JOCKEY FALLS OFF HORSE; BOOKIE PAYS ANYWAY: Most bettors in England were infuriated Tuesday when jockey Bridget Andrews fell off her favoured horse, Stick to the Plan, at Southwell Racecourse in England just yards from the wire – except those who made their bets with Paddy Power. That bookmaker, known for its flamboyancy, paid off on her horse anyway as if it had won. See falling incident here.

After Monday’s seventh race at Parx was brought to a halt and declared “no contest” after jockey Mychael Sanchez fell from his horse and lay unconscious in the centre of the track, the $31,000 U.S. purse was equally divided among the remaining eight horses and each jockey received $350 U.S. Sanchez was dazed and otherwise appeared uninjured but was taken to the hospital for tests.

Readers write . . .

"Well done -- from Halifax"

Dear ASD: I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge the fantastic work that you folks do on promoting ASD and all its events! I grew up on ASD from 1967 to 1972, starting to work for Pinehurst Farms and R.J. (BooBoo) Watt, the trainer.

The folks who put the newsletter together are fantastic and I look forward to reading every word. The fact you have events, fantastic looking meals, and workshops/contests throughout the year is great. I believe many race tracks can take a lesson from you in maintaining the sport and facilities.

So, just a WELL DONE from an old racetracker sitting here in Halifax, Nova Scotia!”
Jamie Hubbs

Hi Jamie:
Sounds like an enviable comfortable retirement you’re having. Glad that The Insider and its links can connect you to past pleasurable memories. Thank you for your kind words!


Did you know . . . that Bobby Q raced until he was 10 and that all but three of his starts took place at the Downs and that Jack Robertson was the only trainer Bobby ever knew? Read more here.


  • Tomorrow: Keeneland’s boutique fall meet begins, featuring lots of stakes races and great turf racing. First post 12:05 p.m.
  • Saturday: A day rich in grade 1 stakes races – six in all – from Belmont, Keeneland and Santa Anita. Enjoy the best of the best.
  • This Sunday: Escape Clause looks for her eighth win of the year in the $50,000 filly sales stakes race at Century Downs and Langara races in a similar race for the boys.
  • Thanksgiving Monday: A full day of top racing that starts with a special “I won big” session at 10:30 a.m. See schedule here.
  • Friday & Saturday, Oct. 27 & 28: Breeders Crown harness championships at Hoosier Park, Indiana
  • Wednesday, Nov. 1: Breeders' Cup Handicapping Workshop at 7:00 p.m. with Marshall & Glen. Sign up at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • Friday & Saturday, Nov. 3 & 4: Breeders’ Cup World Championships from Del Mar
  • Saturday, Nov. 4: Exciting new “survivor” wager begins at Meadowlands (harness).
  • Monday, Nov. 6: Melbourne Cup at Flemington race course in Australia

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