Thursday, October 12, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 39 (Issue #607)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


"Didn't sleep a wink," says trainer Schnell

MB-bred Escape Clause & Langara crush Alberta/B.C. breds; Santa Anita later?

Escape Clause wins as she pleases

Owner/trainer Don Schnell said he “didn’t sleep a wink,” the night before his two prized Manitoba-breds—filly Escape Clause and gelding Langara--were to face off against Alberta and B.C. rivals in two $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes at Century Downs Sunday.

He needn’t have worried. Both performed as expected. Three-year-old Escape Clause ($3) toyed were her field, gliding to almost a 10-length victory over her nearest B.C.-bred competitor, Anstrum (11-1). And 4-year-old Langara ($5.50) pulled away from his field to win by three lengths. The even-money favourite in the eight-horse field, Alberta-bred Golden Odie, finished third. The Escape Clause/Langara double paid $6.40. It was a big day for ASD jockey Antonio Whitehall; he rode both of them.

Langara draws off

“To win two stakes was definitely special,” Schnell told The Insider in a telephone interview. “It was made even more special when people glare at us and try to get rid of us (by trying to have his horses declared ineligible for the stakes)." The stakes were for 3- and 4-year-olds who went through the sales rings in their respective provinces.

And what did Schnell do to celebrate? “Worked in the barn until 8 p.m.,” he said, “then went out for dinner with my two daughters (Mariah and Juliann who are attending Lethbridge University. Mariah in veterinarian science, Juliann in psychology).”

Any treats for Escape Clause? “About 35 mints. She loves mints and you can’t help but give her one every time you pass.”

Three other part owners were at Century for the big races, Schnell said: Barry Arnason, Pat Beavis and Phil Allard. Century management generously “comped” them to a table next to the window overlooking the track and to food, Schnell said. “Barry said it was one of the best days of racing in his life.”

Escape Clause is now the talk of the backstretch, Schnell said, with “huge offers” to purchase her, which the owners have rejected. An offer would have to be “humungous” to merit consideration, he said.

Meanwhile, the filly is being pointed to a $50,000 stakes race for fillies and mares on Oct. 28 at Century. And, afterward, consideration will be given to racing her at Santa Anita in a “third-tier” allowance race for 3-year-old fillies. “I know she can handle it,” Schnell said.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • $3 million is likely in mandatory Jackpot Hi 5 payout at Mohawk Saturday
  • Woodbine works "as fast as we can" to line up more tracks for Partial Cash Out option
  • "Be Vewy Vewy Quiet" creates Race Book hilarity
  • Top turf racing at Woodbine Sunday includes $800,000 Canadian International
  • Looking for the word "gamely" can fill your pockets
  • Remembering a jockey whose death saved lives
GORRIE IS FIRST TO PREDICT ALL LEGS IN 5-ALIVE: Congrats to Shawn Gorrie who had all five legs in the 5-Alive contest Saturday night, betting $2 to show on three races in a row at Charles Town and $2 to place and $2 to win. The prize is double his $10 in wagers which is $20 (in wagering vouchers) Had he wagered $10, his prize would have been $100. On Friday, Jim Roberts, betting $5 per race, also at Charles Town, won four legs but not the fifth and received a consolation prize of $15. Good luck to all this Friday and Saturday night!
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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 $1,695! 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.


More tracks being lined up

"As fast as we can," says Woodbine product development director

More tracks will be added to HPI’s revolutionary Partial Cash Out program “as fast as we can,” Woodbine’s director of business and product development, Kevin Maharaj, has told The Insider.

He adds, though, that “there are many complicated pieces required for us to add new tracks so it does take a bit of time.”

PCO gives players with Horseplayer Interactive (HPI) accounts the option of cashing their bets—in whole or in part—on doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s and pick-6s at Woodbine, Mohawk and Belmont before the last leg.

The response to this new program has been “fantastic,” he said. The obvious question is: Isn’t this risky for HPI? Said Maharaj: “Risks are inherent.  We have battle tested the PCO feature and believe that balancing an engaging new experience with the thrill of the win is what’s best for the customer."

“The PCO concept has been on our radar for a few years. As you know all implementations of PCO in sports betting today is being conducted through a sports book model.  We are the first in North America to launch PCO on pari-mutuel pools.  PCO gives our bettors a new way to engage in the sport they love.”


Sign up for Nov. 1 seminar

Take advantage of Marshall's favourite race event

It’s Marshall Posner’s favourite time of year—Breeders’ Cup—so you know the fan education specialist is putting a lot of effort and love into the workshop he will be holding with Glen Sirkis Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in the lower level Finish Line banquet hall.

Sign up by calling Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0. Attendees will receive Breeders’Cup programs and a $10 voucher to bet BC races Friday or Saturday. Topics under discussion:
  • Previous Breeders' Cup winners
  • Euro’s chances this year
  • Mike Watchmaker’s workout reports
  • Different wagering strategies

*        *        *


  • BRUNCH: Reserve a seat in the Terrace Dining Room for a Breeders’ Cup brunch on Saturday, Nov. 4. $14.95. Must be 18+. Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • WORKSHOP: Special “I won big” workshop to nail the pick-6 and other exotics will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4. Everyone welcome. Huge pools with lots of “dumb” money at stake. To bring the group extra luck (???), yours truly will be wearing an exclusive colourful Del Mar Breeders’ Cup shirt worth $120 U.S.
  • DRAWS AND CONTEST: Watch for draws for BC merchandise and a contest to test your BC handicapping smarts.
  • ARROGATE’S SWAN SONG: Arrogate, winner of last year’s BC Classic and of the Dubai World Cup, will make this year’s edition his final lifetime race, Juddmonte Farms has announced. Then it’s off to the breeding shed. Will he go out in a blaze of glory? Or?



The word for the week is "gamely"

Simply looking for that word can help you win big

Probably the most potent word in past performance lines is “gamely.” A game horse is a horse who tries. A game horse is a horse who can overcome a lack of class by determination and heart.

How’s this for an amazing illustration of this fact? Look at race 5 at Woodbine Monday and take five seconds to scan the field, looking for the word “gamely” at the end of past performance lines.

You’ll see “gamely” for three horses--#2, 9 and 11. And do you know what? One of those horses won (#11 at $35.90) and the other two finished in the superfecta. A 20-cent super paid $1,500. It would have cost $33.60 to simply wheel those three game horses in all four positions to win the super.

(The gameness factor is what prompted the “I won big” group to put those horses on its pick-5 ticket and pick up $600 when the $35.90 horse won.)

*        *        *

“I WON BIG” REGRESSES AS FAVOURITES DOMINATE: To cash big, Saturday’s “I won big” workshop participants look for upset horses for their pick-5 and pick-4 plays at Woodbine. Problem was, over the past two sessions (Saturday and Monday), only one upset horse won a race and that was #11, Miss Savvy ($35.90) in Monday’s fifth race. Which meant participants lost 25 per cent of their investment Monday and 75 per cent Saturday. Had the second-place finisher won the last leg of the pick-5 on Monday, the pick-5 would have paid about $6,000 instead of $600 when the favourite won. What will happen this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza? Is it time for upsets? We’ll be discussing the usual races 2 to 7 at Woodbine and you’re invited.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Be Vewy Vewy Quiet. Say this 2-year-old’s name out loud and see if you don’t erupt in laughter and repeat it to others—as a few of us did Monday in the Race Book to great hilarity. Be Vewy Vewy Quiet finished second in the Bull Page Stakes at Woodbine. What did the race call sound like? Listen to it here.
  • Trainer Don Schnell and breeder Cam Ziprick

    BIG SHOUT-OUTS to the breeder, Cam Ziprick, and the trainer, Don Schnell, of Escape Clause, the greatest Manitoba-bred filly since Liz’s Pride in 1978 despite having pretty average parents. The precocious 3-year-old filly who easily disposed of Alberta and B.C. breds on the weekend has posted a vaunted 97 Equibase speed figure, nine more than her father, Going Commando, who was a $10,000 claimer at Penn National and 14 more than her Manitoba-bred mother, Danger Pay, whose only stakes victory was the CTHS Sales Stakes. So Ziprick can take a bow for having matched just the right genes to produce speed and stamina and Schnell deserves a standing “O” for readying her for peak performances. The big question now is: How far will she go?


MEDIA MELEE WORKS OUT ON WOODBINE TURF: Media Melee, ASD’s multiple stakes winner including the R.J. Speers and the Free Press, worked out on the TURF course at Woodbine last Wednesday, posting a time of 1:01.60 for five furlongs, the fastest time of four. Might we see the 4-year-old gelding by Mass Media entered soon in his very first turf race?

There is no “owned by Her Majesty the Queen” entries in this Sunday’s $800,000 Canadian International Stakes on Woodbine’s turf, a race made famous by Secretariat who ended his brief stellar career there in October, 1973. Last year, the Queen’s Dartmouth finished second to Erupt. The purse has been reduced to $800,000 from last year’s $1 million.

Oddly, bridgejumper money on 1-5 Toughie in the first race at Century Downs, a quarter horse race, on Sunday was bet TO PLACE rather than show. It was odd because the player(s) would still get $2.10 as they would if they bet the horse to show. It was a moot point, though, because Toughie finished fourth. The 27-1 horse who finished second, Go Jessin Beaver, paid $103.60 to place. Bridgejumping wagers seem more risky for quarter horses because a horse’s chances could be eliminated right out of the starting gate if the horse is severely bumped, breaks to its knees or is “sandwiched” as Toughie was.

Owner/trainer Don Schnell lost 3-year-old Manitoba-bred Paint My Ride in a $15,000 claiming race Monday at Century Downs. Once thought to be the equal—or better—of Escape Clause, the gelding finished last in his Century race as the favourite after contesting the early lead. “I loved him, too,” Schnell said.

Horseman Max Freed, left (1912-2010) gave Monty Hall (1921-2017) secret help

“DEAL” MAKER DIES BUT HIS CONNECTION TO RACING LEGEND LIVES ON: The passing on Sept. 30 of Winnipeg’s Monty Hall of TV’s Let’s Make a Deal fame--at age 96--brings to mind historian Bob Gates’ blog in which he recounts how Hall, as a youth, got a financial boost from racing icon Max Freed--with the condition the youth didn’t tell anyone. Read about that and other fascinating aspects of the Hall/Freed connection here. Freed and his Meadowbrook and Maxwell King stables were synonymous with racing in Manitoba for seven decades and Hall, born and raised in West Kildonan and the son of a poor butcher, went on to co-create the TV hit, Let’s Make a Deal that ran for 23 years and is likely to be in re-runs forever.

Polo Park racetrack where tragedy struck, resulting in greater jockey safety

90TH ANNIVERSARY OF A JOCKEY’S DEATH THAT HAS SAVED LIVES: It has been 90 years since 16-year-old jockey Earl (Sandy) Graham died of injuries from being trampled in a spill at Polo Park, a death that led to the formation of The Jockeys Guild to help safeguard jockeys’ lives throughout the continent. Who knew that an obscure track on the Canadian prairies would come to have that much influence on today’s racing scene? Read my story which appeared in the Canstar community papers distributed with the Winnipeg Free Press here.


Did you know . . . that during a four-minute wind and rain storm on June 6, 1976 winds clocked at 100 kph blew-out eight large plate glass windows in the southwest corner of the grandstand and whipped heavy benches into a big pile? It was scary stuff, Bob reports here.


  • This Saturday: Mandatory payout of 20-cent Jackpot Hi 5 at Mohawk with an estimated pool of $3 million. The carryover is a record (for Mohawk and Woodbine) of $978,000. It’s a big night of racing, too, with the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals worth $1.8 million in purse money.
  • This Saturday: 132-day Turf Paradise fall/winter meet begins in Phoenix. First post 2:55 p.m. Continues Sunday & Monday 2:55 p.m.
  • This Sunday: The race that Secretariat made famous, the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International Stakes on the turf at Woodbine.
  • Friday & Saturday, Oct. 27 & 28: Breeders Crown harness championships at Hoosier Park, Indiana
  • 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
Watch Secretariat’s farewell race at Woodbine here.
It’s the race that has made Sunday’s Canadian International famous.

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