Thursday, October 19, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 40 (Issue #608)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Sir Barton
First winner of the Triple Crown

YOUR MORNING JAW-DROPPER: What does a colt do four days after winning the Kentucky Derby? He runs in the Preakness Stakes and wins that, too. Four days? Yup, Sir Barton, a Canadian colt and the first-ever winner of the U.S. Triple Crown in 1919, had only three days rest between the first two legs of the Triple Crown—and that included travelling from Churchill Downs to Pimlico. His connections had just entered him to be a rabbit to set up a stable mate to win the Derby. But he wired the field instead as he did the Preakness Stakes four days later.

The following year, he faced Man o’ War in “the race of the century” in Windsor, Ontario. What happened? See below.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Will Manitoba horses make it four-for-four in Alberta stakes Sunday?
  • Escape Clause "good for racing" says Century's race secretary, son of Woodbine CEO
  • Did Woodbine race taken off the turf help settle the turf vs synthetic dispute?
  • Advanced Breeders' Cup DRF to be available next Thursday
  • What can you learn from last year's Breeders' Cup winners?
  • Woodbine pick-5 pays $97,000 for 20-cents, one day after puny "I won big" win

GORRIE IS FIRST TO WIN MAXIMUM 5-ALIVE PRIZE: Veteran racing and sports bettor Shawn Gorrie became the first 5-Alive contestant to win the maximum $100 prize in wagering vouchers when his five $10 wagers at Charles Town Saturday came in. He also collected $98.50 on his bets. They were:

  • Shawn Gorrie

    Race 3 – #1 to show – paid $2.10 (collected $10.50)
  • Race 4 – #2 to show – paid $2.40 (collected $12.00)
  • Race 5 – #2 to show – paid $7.50 (collected $37.50)
  • Race 6 – #9 to place – paid $3.20 (collected $16.00)
  • Race 7 – #10 to win – paid $4.50 (collected $22.50)
Congrats to others who almost made it all the way: Jim Roberts on Friday (collected a consolation prize) and Dave Boehmer and Rodney Zaretsky on Saturday. The 5-Alive contest continues between 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Bet $2 to $10 on five races in a row—show, show, show, place, win—at the track of your choice to have a chance to win double your wagers.
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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 $1,895!

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.


Will Escape Clause romp again Sunday?

She, Langara and Coolidge hope to make it four big stakes wins in a row

Uh-oh. If you’re an Alberta horseman, you’ve watched Manitoba invaders capture the two biggest races at Century Downs so far—the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes. Now those horses are back for more in two stakes this Sunday:
  • Super filly Escape Clause in the 1 1/16 mile $50,000 Founders Distaff Handicap for fillies and mares
  • Langara and Coolidge in the 7f $100,000 Harvest Plate (for horses that have won a stakes worth $27,500 or more in 2017 or had high earnings)
Trying to beat Escape Clause in the Founders Distaff may be too high a hill to climb but the Harvest Plate is wide open. In a prep race in September for this race, Coolidge finished second at odds of 39-1 and Langara was fifth at 23-1. Will either of them improve enough to give Manitoba a perfect four-for-four stakes record at Century? First post at Century Downs on Sunday is 1:50 p.m., as it is on Saturday.

*        *        *

"Good for racing"

Century race secretary, Tim Lawson, son of Woodbine's CEO, lauds Escape Clause

Tim Lawson with father, Jim, CEO at Woodbine

Escape Clause may be a thorn in the side of Alberta horsemen looking to keep big stakes money at home but Century Downs' race secretary, Tim Lawson, says the 3-year-old Manitoba-bred filly is “good for racing.”

“She’s one of a kind who outruns her pedigree. People appreciate good horses,”
he told The Insider in a telephone interview.

If the race secretary’s name—Lawson--rings a bell, it should. Tim, 24, is the son of Woodbine CEO and former CFL commissioner Jim Lawson. And there’s a Lawson connection to ASD, too. Tim said his Racing Hall of Fame grandfather, the late Mel Lawson, won the Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs in 1966 with Carodana.

So Tim is the latest incarnation of a family that has been ensconced in horse racing for six decades. Tim said he trained for his race secretary job (which requires him to put together competitive race fields) at Keeneland and at Woodbine.

Escape Clause, he said, “showcases probably the best filly in Alberta and we couldn’t be happier.”

Which should be music to the ears of Escape Clause trainer Don Schnell who said he has had to contend with “glaring looks” from some horsemen.



Turf vs synthetic

Does this example help prove that synthetic tracks are similar to turf?

Tapeta: similar to turf?

In England and Australia races are run interchangeably on turf and synthetic surfaces based on the premise that the two surfaces are almost alike in terms of horse performances.

But there are strong opinions—emanating especially at Saturday’s I won big” workshop—that the two surfaces are distinctly different.

A race Saturday at Woodbine, though, may have given those in the “similarity” corner strong ammunition for their side of the argument. Kitten’s Boy, a first-time starter with a very strong turf pedigree (Kitten’s Joy), was entered in a turf race that was taken off the turf because of rain.

When this had happened in a race before, his connections scratched the horse. They didn’t want to run on Tapeta. But, for some reason this past Saturday—maybe just to give him a race—he was allowed to run on Tapeta.

And, lo and behold, he was a convincing winner, charging from off the pace to beat his rivals by three-quarters of a length.

It probably won’t end the turf vs synthetic debate but his win certainly weighs heavily for those in the “similarity” corner. What do you think?

*        *        *

“I WON BIG:” PICK-5 PAYS JUST $118 THE DAY BEFORE IT PAYS $97,000: Once again, last Saturday’s “I won big” workshop participants contended with mainly favourites winning Woodbine’s pick-5, thus giving them only a small return. The group should have played the following day when the two pick-5s paid $7,800 and $97,000 for a 20-cent ticket. As a certain handicapper likes to say: “That’s the way the cookie bounces.” What will happen this Saturday at 10:30 a.m.? Let’s face it, though, the races everyone is looking forward to for both fun and fortune are the Breeders’ Cup races in two weeks. I have a feeling the group is going to do well.

Read George Williams’ “How to win Biggly” reprinted from The Racing Journal here.



Advanced DRF available next Thursday

Sign up for Nov. 1 seminar, reserve for brunch

Your first opportunity to study all of the past performances of all the Breeders’ Cup pre-entered horses will come next Thursday with the availability of the DRF Breeders’ Cup “advance” edition at the track and at off-track locations.

You’re reminded, too, of these BC events:
  • Reserve for Breeders’ Cup brunch ($14.95) by calling Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0 (18+ only)
  • Sign up for Glen’s and Marshall’s BC seminar on Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. by calling Samantha at the above number. Attendees receive free BC programs and $10 to bet BC races.
  • The “I won big” workshop on Saturday, Nov. 4 will start at 9:30 p.m. with a discussion centred on the last six BC races at Del Mar to play the pick-6, pick-4, etc.

*        *        *

Learn from last year! (When $292,000 was so close)

Three RULE horses, three OPINION horses and two CLOCKER horses won

In last year’s Breeders’ Cup, ASD players came oh so close to cashing the pick-6 which paid $292,000. One player had five of six on a mere $12 ticket.

Of the nine races on Breeders’ Cup Saturday a year ago, only one race was inscrutable. Of the other eight, “rules” applied to three races, the clocker’s views figured strongly in two races and three horses were “opinion” picks.

  • Doug Evans
    Best out of 220

    A BIG SHOUT-OUT to ASD’s Doug Evans, a retired sales manager of a pharmaceutical company, who placed FIRST out of 220 entries on Day 1 of the three-day Fall Classic horseplayer tournament at the Orleans Hotel Casino in Las Vegas last week. His prize was $1,650 U.S. He scored 5,280 points for betting two longshots (32-1 and 23-1) out of his 15 required plays on the day. Unfortunately, “it was downhill from there,” he told The Insider, with not one correct pick out of 30 over the next two days. So he slipped to 31st in overall standings and prize money was paid only to the top 20.

    He played alongside ASD’s Larry Liebrecht, he said, and sought help from players at the Downs who were the ones who suggested the 23-1 horse on the first day. Evans said his 32-1 pick “jumped out” partly because the jockey had left the race favourite to ride this longshot. It cost $500 U.S. to enter the tournament which was won by Russ Edwards who pocketed $34,650. The big tournament that four ASD tourney winners will be playing in--the $1 million Horse Player World Series--is in March.

  • BIG SHOUT-OUT to Shawn Gorrie who was first to capitalize on the maximum $100 prize in the Downs’ new 5-Alive contest that pays winners double the amount they bet in five races (see Fun & Games above). He also told The Insider that a previous story on him in The Insider —in which he made $5,000 show wagers on Songbird (which he won) and Arrogate (which he lost)--impressed sports bettors in Costa Rica who had apparently seen the story. He had earned a trip to go there through his sports betting. Will he make similar wagers on any Breeders’ Cup races?



100th anniversary of Man o' War's birth

He ran in "race of the century" in Canada; open-coffin funeral 70 years ago

Man o' War's match race with Sir Barton was first horse race filmed in its entirety

His funeral on Nov. 1, 1947 was broadcast on radio

In this year of racing anniversaries (250th anniversary of horse racing in Canada, Year 60 of Assiniboia Downs) the 100th anniversary of the birth of Man o’ War, one of the most outstanding thoroughbreds of all time, should figure prominently in our celebrating:
  • Did you know that at the age of three he faced off against a 4-year-old Canadian colt, Sir Barton, the first winner of the U.S. Triple Crown, in a match race dubbed “the race of the century” in Windsor, Ontario? (He won by 17 lengths.)
  • Did you know that that match race was the first race ever filmed in its entirety? Watch that race here.
  • Did you know he won 20 of 21 lifetime starts and his sole loss came in a race in which he was facing backward when the race was off—because the starting gate had not yet been invented? (A horse by the name of Upset beat him by a nose.)
  • Did you know that upon his death 70 years ago at age 30, he had an open-coffin funeral broadcast live on radio?
  • Did you know he won the Belmont Stakes by 20 lengths and other races by up to 100 lengths? (Secretariat won the Belmont by 31 lengths in 1973.)
  • Did you know he was so unruly and difficult to “break” that it took three days to finally make it happen and he seemed to show continuing displeasure with that event?
Man o’ War’s exploits will be remembered forever but it is likely that Secretariat, with a longer stride, would have beaten him by 10 lengths in a 1 1/16 mile match race.


YOU WERE BETTER BETTORS AT 22 TRACKS IN SEPTEMBER: Wagering statistics show ASD players were better bettors at 22 tracks in September, with two harness tracks, The Meadows and Yonkers, being the very best. Remarkably, Woodbine was a positive as was Mountaineer, Fairmount, Belmont, Suffolk and Lone Star. The most challenging tracks were Albuquerque, Del Mar, Santa Anita and Meadowlands harness. Playing to your strengths, of course, maximizes your winnings but also makes you a good citizen because the economy benefits.

John Ganas
Claims horse at Woodbine

MEDIA MELEE MAKES FIRST START ON TAPETA; GANAS CLAIMS ANOTHER: Media Melee, a multiple stakes winner at ASD, made his first start at Woodbine Saturday under the tutelage of former ASD trainer Blair Miller. It was a race taken off the turf—which Media Melee had been working out on—and the 4-year-old gelding finished last in the six-horse field on the Tapeta main track. His owner, John Ganas of Nick’s Inn, claimed another horse, Remembering Mickey out of Sunday’s last race for $20,000. He is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding who won Sunday’s race by a nose and paid $7.30.

Owner/trainer Murray Duncan, the winner of one-third of his starts at ASD including the Manitoba Derby, Canada Day Stakes and Winnipeg Sun Stakes, is now racing at Hawthorne in Chicago. His best finish out of three races has been a third by String Puppet in a $10,000 claimer. His other two starters were Britt’s Vow and Son of Pearl.

Bullards Alley (42-1): My clueless pick
(Michael Burns photo)

A SIGN? If there ever was a sign that I was born to play the races, it came during the Pattison Canadian International Stakes early Sunday evening at Woodbine. A friend called to say he was watching pre-race TV coverage on TSN and he was taking #4 to win. “I have no idea which horse is which in terms of post positions,” I told him, “but I’ll take #7 head-to-head against your #4.” Needless to say—hard to believe--#7 Bullards Alley not only won but crushed the field of 10 by more than 10 lengths and paid a whopping $87.90. As I said, sometimes there are signs pointing to whatever—and how could this not have been one of them? My friend’s pick, Idaho, the race favourite, finished fourth.

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. What's new at HPIbet?

A. Last time, we discussed the exciting new Partial Cash Out functionality that had been introduced at the end of September. Here’s news about more HPIbet additions, although less exciting than the previous announcement.

For starters, you can now download DRF Forms directly from your HPIbet account. For years, there’s only been the option to download the Equibase racing programs. Now, horseplayers have the option to download the DRF PPs as well. The cost is $3.50 per card which is a little steep but if you were to download a single DRF card directly from their website, you’d actually be paying $3.50 USD so, technically, we’re getting a slight deal.

There have been two other updates made to the Betting Window. First, they’ve added the Morning Line odds to the left of the current odds of the horses (view image here). Second, you can now sort both of these columns by clicking the up/down arrow at the top of the window (view image here). This will allow you to see the odds on favourites or view the longest shots from top to bottom or vice versa.

While these are nice minor enhancements, it would be great to see a revamped horse tracking and notification system launched at some point soon. Hopefully, they’re working on this as well.

Got a question for Marshall? Email


Did you know . . . that the winner of the 1975 edition of the Buffalo Stakes for Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds, Lore EzeTwo, beat future Manitoba Derby champion Merry's Jay by a short neck? Find out more here.


  • This Sunday: Two important stakes races at Century Downs featuring Escape Clause, Langara and Coolidge (see above). First post 1:50 p.m.
  • Friday & Saturday, Oct. 27 & 28: Breeders Crown harness championships at Hoosier Park, Indiana
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Player’s Choice handicapping tournament
  • Wednesday, Nov. 1: Breeders’ Cup seminar at 7 p.m. with Glen & Marshall
  • 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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