Thursday, October 15, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 41 (Issue #760)

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


Ivan is taking a break and will return with his regular column at the end of the month. That will be right on time for the Breeders’ Crown harness racing championships, the Player’s Choice handicapping tournament and eight days before the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

He produced this column before his break. The Insider has been published weekly since 2006.

SUPER BONUSES CONTINUE: Each Tuesday in October, earn an extra 5 per cent cash back on all your wagers and earn 3 per cent more during the Breeders’ Crown harness racing championship days, Friday and Saturday Oct. 30-31 here.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Q & A with CEO Darren Dunn
  • Two big races at Woodbine Sunday: $600K E.P. Taylor and $300K Northern Dancer
  • He was closing in on his 4000th win -- then tragedy struck. See "Best of Bob"
  • Where's the beef? Fridays and Saturdays at ASD
  • What are the top three TravyFootball picks for this weekend
NEXT PLAYER’S CHOICE TOURNAMENT GOES SATURDAY OCT. 31 with $1,750 in prize money. Remember, the online tournament now includes win/place/show wagering on all types of races that are run up to 10 p.m. The deadline to enter--with a $25 entry fee--is Friday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m.
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 October? Find out  here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.

60 VLTs OPEN DAILY: From 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.


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

  • HARD COPIES OF ALL PROGRAMS FOR ALL TRACKS: Equibase race programs ($2), DRF race programs ($2) and DRF Pro Picks (50-cents) are available at program kiosks in the ASD lobby and at the above OTBs.
  • EMAILED PROGRAMS: ASD program director Sheri will email programs without charge to Manitobans who email their request to her at Specify the track and DRF or Equibase program.
HOW TO OPEN AN HPI ACCOUNT FOR BETTING ONLINE: Go to or phone 204-885-3330 ext. 225 for assistance.

Saturdays are prime rib nights
DELICIOUS DINING: While the Terrace Dining Room feature from Thursday to Saturday has been put on hold, food and beverage director Manley Chan has added these specials in the Club West dining area:
  • WHERE’S THE BEEF? Every Friday is now steak night and every Saturday is certified Angus prime rib night: $22.95 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • HALF-PRICE WINGS all day Sundays
  • HAPPY HOUR DAILY 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Beer and spirits $3.75, Caesar, house wine, pint of Longshot Lager $4.75. Finger food specials: Sweet potato fries $5, chicken fingers and cheese nachos $7, all pizzas $9.95.

Q & A with Darren Dunn

(Reprinted from my At the Races
column in the Canstar Community News)

This year’s horse racing season was, to say the least, eventful. What we didn’t know was the behind-the-scenes efforts to make the race season a reality at Assiniboia Downs in the face of a pandemic that shut down almost everything. In today’s question-and-answer column, Assiniboia Downs’ CEO Darren Dunn reveals his thoughts and the difficulties in making horse racing a go.

Q: What kinds of emotions were you feeling when the track had to shut down because of COVID?
I had great feelings of deep concern. I was keenly aware that if we were not able to re-open and run a live season, the outcome could be catastrophic for the industry.

Q: What kind of hurdles did you have to overcome to get live racing going again?

There were too many hurdles to mention, but suffice to say, in conjunction with V.P. Finance & Gaming, Sharon Gulyas, we had to secure a license to race, deal with sudden massive revenue reductions, assess and implement an internal labour strategy and communicate a transparent plan with all stakeholders which included our employees, the horse owners, trainers and jockeys and the government, media and our valued customers.  Add to that the loss of our American horse trainers and about 80 per cent of our planned jockey colony trapped outside Canada and completely unavailable to us.

Q: Why do you suppose ASD was able to be first out of the gate in offering live racing in Canada?

Timing was somewhat on our side since our season had originally been slated to begin on Mother’s Day. We had the model of spectator-free racing at a few tracks in the U.S. so, with an extremely understanding provincial government and health officials, we were able to get underway spectator-free two weeks after Mother’s Day.

Q: What were the main positives that came out of having COVID around?

If there was anything good to come out of this, it was our ability to sell our racing signal around the world and our ability to open new online wagering accounts.

Q: What were the negatives?

Too many negatives to mention, but one of the worst was having to lay off 50 staff members in one day – Sharon and I will never forget that empty feeling – though it had to be done to protect the business.

Q: Your voice is on ASD radio commercials. Where did you record them?
They were recorded on my phone in my clothes closet with the script balanced on my ironing board – one of the strangest things I have ever done – but it was required to get the right sound and because I had no access to the Bell-Media studio.

Q: Describe ASD fan support during the pandemic

Epic, patient and understanding.

Q: What plans do you have going forward to make the best of a difficult situation?

Still to be determined, but the complete revision of our race schedule to Mon-Wed is strongly worth a revisit next year.
SavvyFootball PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 6

Steelers over Browns (Sunday noon): Canadian rookie receiver Chase Claypool couldn’t be stopped last week scoring four touchdowns for the Steelers against their cross state rivals, Philadelphia. This will be Cleveland’s first real test of the season, in which I believe they will fail.

Redskins over Giants
(Sunday afternoon): I was legitimately almost brought to tears last week when I saw Washington (and former 49er) QB Alex Smith jog onto the field for his first game action since November 2018. Suffering not only a career threatening, but LIFE threatening leg injury, Alex defied the odds and successfully rehabbed for two years in order to get back on the football field. This is more of a sentimental pick, because both teams really aren’t very good. If you haven't seen the ESPN special “Project 11” detailing what Alex went through, I highly suggest you do. Here is a small clip.

Vikings over Falcons
(Sunday noon): Former Falcons coach Dan Quinn along with GM Thomas Dimitroff were finally relieved of their duties this week after a 0-5 start. The real question is why did this take so long? I’m going against the theory that whenever a team fires their coach, they win their next game. Had the Vikings converted on a fourth and inches against the Seahawks they probably would have won that game.

The Bengals were out of this game right from the start. They had no chance, they scored no points, and were outmatched in every phase of the game.....Despite Dak Prescott suffering a gruesome ankle dislocation and fracture, the Cowboys got a last minute field goal to secure the victory against the Giants.....The Patriots and Broncos was cancelled due to another Patriots player testing positive for COVID-19.
THE BEST OF BOB by Bob Gates: Tragedy strikes before 4000th win

Did you know jockey Mike Rowland was approaching career win 4,000 when tragedy struck in 2004 at Turfway Park? Bob shares more here about fun-loving, dimpled, good guy, Mikey. (First published in August 2016)
  • This Saturday, Oct. 17: “I won bigger” group play online. Mandatory payout of the Super Hi 5 at Mohawk.
  • Saturday, Oct. 24: “I won bigger” group play online; the Breeders’ Stakes from Woodbine (turf), the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown
  • Friday, Oct. 30: Breeders Crown harness racing championships from Hoosier Park in Indiana at 5:30 p.m. 3% bonus on all eligible wagering on Hoosier Park Oct. 30.
  • Saturday, Oct. 31: Player’s Choice handicapping tournament, Breeders Crown from Hoosier Park continues at 5:30 p.m. 3% bonus on all eligible wagering on Hoosier Park Oct. 31; “I won bigger” group play online
  • Monday, Nov. 2: Melbourne Cup from Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia
  • Friday, Nov. 6: Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland. Breeders' Cup bonus weekend. Earn 3% bonus on all wagering over $1,000 Nov. 6 through 8.
  • Saturday, Nov. 7: Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland. Breeders' Cup bonus weekend. Earn 3% bonus on all wagering over $1,000 Nov. 6 through 8.
  • Sunday, Nov 8: Breeders' Cup bonus weekend. Earn 3% bonus on all wagering over $1,000 Nov. 6 through 8.

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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