Thursday, October 18, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 41 (Issue #659)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


"Confrontational, disrespectful, insubordinate"

. . . Frank Stronach says of daughter Belinda in lawsuit filed against her

Frank Stronach at Gulfstream
$50 million statue an apparent sore point

It’s the stuff of supermarket tabloids—but there it was last Thursday on the front page of The Globe and Mail: the “dirty laundry” of the Stronach auto parts/horse racing empire being waved around in public for all to see and become titillated over. Daddy—Frank Stronach, 86—was suing daughter Belinda, 52, for scheming to deprive him of control over the empire he built over a six-decade period.

In brief:
  • Daughter doesn’t like the fact that daddy spent $50 million on the Pegasus-slaying-dragon statue in the Gulfstream Park parking lot. And daughter has allegedly scoffed at paying bills associated with daddy’s giant grass-fed cattle ranch and golf course in Florida.
  • For his part, daddy says daughter is “entirely unwilling or incapable” of running the Stronach Group properly (race tracks, gambling and other businesses) and should have no say in what he does and owes him $520 million just for being so uppity—“confrontational, disrespectful and insubordinate.“ (Daughter was once the highest paid executive in Canada, earning $40 million a year as head of Magna International Inc.)
Belinda apparently gave her father a take it or leave it deal—which he rejected--saying she and her adviser should control The Stronach Group (TSG) and daddy would control his cattle ranch and golf course in Florida.

Whoever “wins,” which probably is the wrong word to use, the good thing for racing fans is that The Stronach Group tracks—Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel, Pimlico and Portland Meadows–are on a very firm footing. Earnings have almost doubled to $1.1 billion from $600 million. And good on Frank, with his aggressive marketing and innovation (the Rainbow 6 wager and Pegasus World Cup) and his magnificent diversions (i.e. the Pegasus statue) for helping make that happen.

Let the (legal) games begin!

Bullet briefs . . .

  • ASD trainer fined and suspended for cobalt positive
  • ASD "likely" to follow New York tracks. By doing what?
  • "How I picked Breeders' Cup longshots"
  • 11-1 longshot brings home the bacon -- literally
  • What were ASD players' better bettor tracks in September?
“3 FOR THE MONEY” CONTEST NOW AT $125: Nobody picked winners of the three races at Woodbine last week so now it’s on to Laurel this Saturday with all of its races being part of the Maryland Millions all-stakes card. Look for program pages and entries in the Race Book Saturday. Good luck!
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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, NFL

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge every Friday and Saturday 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 in the clubhouse on the second level. Registration from 8:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m. Maximum of 60 players. No late registration. Royal Flush progressive jackpot for tomorrow, Friday, is $15,890.

MANITOBA ART EXPOManitoba’s premier art show and sale. At the Downs Friday, Oct. 26, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More info here.

– At the Downs Friday, Nov. 2, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More info here.


ASD trainer fined, suspended over excessive cobalt in horse

"Much longer suspension if there weren't mitigating factors"

The Race Book was abuzz this past weekend over the 15-day suspension and $1,000 fine meted out to this year’s leading trainer, Jerry Gourneau, for too much cobalt in a horse’s system in a test after a race. The horse in question was Witt Eight who won race 1 on Sept. 8 ($8.40).

Cobalt is a trace element in Vitamin B12

Purse money won by the horse was required to be returned and distributed to others in the race.

What is cobalt? It’s a trace element in Vitamin B12 which horses require but, in larger amounts, is thought to be a performance enhancer by stimulating the production of more red blood cells that reduce fatigue during a race. But it is a subject of some controversy. A British veterinarian has said a horse already stores red blood cells in its spleen that can be “called up” when needed which would make excessive cobalt irrelevant.

A British trainer was suspended for three years and Peter Moody, the Australian trainer of super filly Black Caviar, was suspended for six months because of excessive cobalt in a horse.

Brett Arnason
MHRC chair

“Mitigating factors” were cited for not imposing a “much higher” suspension period on Gourneau, the ruling posted on the MHRC website says. The mitigating factor, MHRC chair Brett Arnason told The Insider, is the fact that the usual "time between races" wasn’t followed for the horse in question. The horse was treated in the usual way by the vet, Gourneau had told the commission, but he raced only three days apart at the end of the season which could have meant that higher levels of cobalt ingested after his second-last race didn’t have time to dissipate before the final race. Cobalt has a half-life of 6 ½ days.

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ASD steward decisions "likely" to be posted online

MHRC chair says the suggestion will be put forward at Nov. 9 meeting

It’s “likely” that ASD steward decisions involving objections and inquiries will be posted online during next year’s live race season, MHRC chair Brett Arnason has told The Insider.

He said the matter will be discussed during the final MHRC meeting of the year on Nov. 9. A model for this is the New York Racing Association’s “steward decisions” web page which you can view here.


"How I picked longshots in last year's Breeders' Cup"

Here's the thinking of a consummate longshot player

Les Buzzell

You’ve read numerous times about Les “Longshot” Buzzell who only bets longshots, making bets of $50 to $100 on each and wins regularly. His biggest catch was 71-1 several weeks ago at Churchill.

On Breeders’ Cup Saturday last year, he bet four BC races—races 3 to 6—and won races 3 & 4 and had a second in race 6. Here’s his thinking that led to his wins.

  • Del Mar race 3. $50 to win on 14-1 Declarationofpeace (#9). Pays $30.40. “There were only three horses who had raced in Grade 1 races -- #6, 9 and 10. Number 9 was clearly the best at grade 1 races.”
  • Del Mar race 4. $100 to win on 17-1 Caledonia Road (#12). Pays $36.60. “First I eliminated the favourites (below 7-1), then Woodbine horses, as they do not fare well at Del Mar. I was left with the #3, 4, 5 & 12. Out of all those horses only one raced in a grade 1 race. Yup, you got it - the number 12. You all might think that it’s crazy but it really works well for me.”


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ADVANCED BREEDERS’ CUP RACING FORM: Will be available next Thursday with ALL of the past-performances of the pre-entered horses.


Were you a better bettor in September?

Churchill, Del Mar, Monmouth were among most profitable for ASD players

Pat yourself on the back if your superior handicapping skills sucked more money into the province in September. ASD betting stats showed Manitoba players were better bettors at 18 tracks, of which Churchill, Del Mar, Monmouth at Meadowlands, Presque Isle, Thistledown and Canterbury were among the best. Congratulations!

The best harness tracks were Pocono and Batavia and they were on the low side. Usually, harness bettors fare better than they did in September. And the most challenging tracks? Woodbine, Belterra, The Meadows (harness), Hawthorne (harness) and Remington.

Let me guess that you’re saving your best initiative for the Breeders’ Cup races. Wouldn’t it be nice if Churchill has to cover $100,000 or more in winnings by local players? Those players should be named citizens of the month, too.

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BACON TIME! “BIG” GROUP WINS SEVEN TIMES ITS INVESTMENT: Building momentum heading toward Breeders’ Cup play in two weeks, last Saturday’s “I won big” betting group will be crunching on a bacon reward this Saturday after turning a $432 pick-5 ticket at Woodbine into $2,838. Each $10 share was worth $72.50. The first leg, won by a 11-1 longshot, set up the big payoff. The reason for taking the horse? He stood to continue improving after being claimed two races back—and he did.

The group also banked about $400 toward Breeders’ Cup play because half of each $20 share contribution was saved for that purpose. Half of this Saturday’s contributions will also be used to boost the BC bankroll. C’mon out to play--and crunch--along with us! Woodbine races 2 to 6, 10:30 a.m. Clubhouse plaza.


BACKSTRETCH SADNESS: Leona Stahl, manager of K5 Stables, writes: “Received sad news that Joe Zaprova passed away Tuesday, Oct. 9 from cancer at age 66. Joe galloped horses at ASD for 30 plus years and was a valet for years. Joe was full of life and was one of the best gallop persons on the grounds, retiring when his knees were shot. His partner, Brenda, groomed horses for the same length of time. Joe had one heck of a sense of humour. Laughed all the time and loved to pull pranks. He lived life to the fullest and will be remembered for his love of horses and his happy self.” Well said, Leona. Thank you and rest in peace, Joe.

It doesn’t seem right but those are the rules: Five years after a horse has retired from racing or from breeding, that horse’s name—unless he was quite famous—can be given to another horse. So it was for Monsoon Rain, a fan favourite stakes-winning gelding at the Downs from 2007-2011. Five years after that, the name Monsoon Rain was given to a filly who is now racing at Woodbine. It would seem more decent if there were a gap of, say, 15 years before the same name could be used, wouldn’t it?
THE BEST OF BOB: He discovered and developed the great Sandy Hawley

Bob’s blog this week?  Let’s try a game of “Who Am I?”  The late Bert Blake described this man as “one of the greatest horsemen to ever walk the prairies.” Hint: He discovered and developed Sandy Hawley into a world class jockey. Find out his identity here. (First published in June, 2017)


  • Available next Thursday

    This Saturday, Oct. 20: Maryland Millions Day at Laurel with 11 stakes races worth $1.12 million
  • This Sunday, Oct. 21: Manitoba’s super filly Escape Clause races in $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes at Century Downs
  • Thursday, Oct. 25: Breeders’ Cup advance Daily Racing Form becomes available
  • Saturday, Oct. 27: Player’s Choice horseplayer tourney; Breeders’ Crown--$6 million in championship harness races from The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania
  • Wednesday, Oct. 31: Happy Halloween! But there will be nothing spooky about Marshall’s and Glen’s Breeders’ Cup workshop at 7 p.m. in the Finish Line. Reserve a place with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • Friday, Nov. 2: Five Breeders’ Cup races from Churchill
  • Saturday, Nov. 3: Nine Breeders’ Cup races from Churchill
  • Monday, Nov. 5: Melbourne Cup from Flemington race course in Australia

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