Thursday, October 21, 2021

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 16 No. 35 (Issue #812)

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

10 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily


Favourites win eight races in a row -- then KAPOW!

Players at Century Mile racetrack in Edmonton Friday night didn’t know what hit them. They were lulled into a state of serenity as eight races in a row were won by the favourite--EIGHT IN A ROW!--with horses paying $2.10, $4.50, $3.40, $6.40, $5.40, $3.30, $4.70 and $3.10. Then, kapow, the nightcap had them gasping for air.

It was won by a $109.60 jaw-dropper, Big and Flashy--a Lethbridge invader. But that wasn’t all. Finishing second was 22-1 Caledon Summer, then 65-1 I’manimperialgirl and 10-1 Theruffsideofexhi. The $2 exactor paid $2,094. Nobody had the triactor; a $1 triactor paid $2,529 to three holders of a ticket that had 8-1-ALL. And there was a carryover of $5,679 to the next day’s superfecta. It shouldn’t surprise you that the condition for that race topped The Insider’s warning list for chaotic finishes -- non-winners of two races lifetime. See program page here. The top four were 8-1-7-4.


Bullet briefs . . .

  • The place to be Saturday at 6 p.m. is the Race Book for Jets, Bombers, races, prime rib
  • Aw, shucks, Rob Atras, former ASD trainer, won't be going to Breeders' Cup
  • Artie, potential superhorse with Winnipeg connections, regresses a bit in Sunday race
  • For a betting edge in Breeders' Cup races, simply add up in-the-money finishes
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wins on the ice--and on the track
  • Bye bye Bigg: Giving credit where credit is due; down memory lane
Watch Jets, Bombers and races at the same time here while you dine on prime rib
WANT IT ALL? BLUE BOMBERS/WINNIPEG JETS/RACING? RACE BOOK IS THE PLACE TO BE: The place to be Saturday at 6 p.m. is in the ASD Race Book where, spread in front of you, are TV screens covering the Winnipeg Jets/Nashville Preds hockey game, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers/B.C. football game and the first races go to post at Charles Town, Woodbine Mohawk, Monmouth Park and Lone Star Park. And you can watch all of it while digging into a super-delicious Angus prime rib dinner for $24.95. Does it get any better than this?

We’re one week from the next Player’s Choice handicapping tournament--on Saturday, Oct. 30--with $1,750 in prize money, bragging rights and points toward Handicapper of the Year at stake again. Bet $2 win/place/show on 10 horses at any track(s) until 10 p.m. See tourney rules here.
Click to enlarge.

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.
When do they play? Bombers, Jets.

Do you have your new HPIbet account card that replaces the previous HPI card and the ASD Player Rewards card? Assiniboia Downs has joined the HPI rewards and bonus program and the new program began Monday, Feb. 1. See details here. If you haven't received your new card in the mail call 204-885-3330 (ext. 225) to check on the status.

GREEDY CORNER: There’s a cool half-a-million carryover in Santa Anita’s 20-cent Jackpot pick-6 which you can play over the next three afternoons--Friday through Sunday--at 3 p.m. CT. See list of carryovers here.

"We ran back too soon"
Potential superhorse bred by Winnipeggers runs third after previously crushing rivals

Artie after winning his previous allowance race with 108 speed figure. Trainer Martin Drexler at right. (Will Wong photo)
“We ran back too soon.”

That was the view of Ken Lee, one of the Winnipeg partners in 3-year-old Artie, a potential superhorse who had crushed his Woodbine rivals in his first two races but finished third in a subsequent race Sunday at Woodbine. That was two weeks after he won his previous race with a sizzling 108 Equibase speed figure. His E speed in Sunday’s race was 94.

“Artie still ran a good race,”
Lee noted. The gelding started from post 8, raced three wide in the turn and was in position to challenge the leader at the top of the stretch. Problem was, he wasn’t able to sustain a drive and lost by 1 ¾ lengths to Kevin Attard trainee Clayton who led gate to wire ($9.50). Artie had been the 3-5 favourite.

“It was a tough field,”
Lee said. No kidding. Race winner Clayton is a year older and had raced eight times which included a victory in Woodbine’s Plate Trial Stakes and second place in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie. “Artie is still a special horse. We’ve never had anything like him,” Lee, a long-time horse owner/breeder, said. His other partners include Winnipeggers Dennis Mitchell and Don and Gaye Bell.

And Artie’s next race? “Probably in four or five weeks. A ‘non-winners other than’ condition going two turns.” Artie so far has raced only one-turn races--one at 6-furlongs and two at 6 ½-furlongs. “And we may take him to Gulfstream later,” Lee continued. Whether that is just for boarding or racing remains to be seen, he said. Exciting times for Team Artie!

Watch Sunday’s race here. And who did DRF Pro Pick selectors take to win the race? Trackman Ron Gierkink took Artie, Randy Goulding took Artie as his best bet of the day and Pete Shewchuk took Clayton, the ultimate winner.
BREEDERS' CUP COUNTDOWN: Two weeks from tomorrow

Del Mar is just across the highway from the Pacific Ocean. Some ASD players are heading there including Les “Longshot” Buzzell

Keep this when you order a cherry vodka lemonade
WHERE AND WHEN: At Del Mar race track on Friday, Nov. 5 and Saturday, Nov. 6. Del Mar is located in the town of Del Mar--pop. 4,300--40 kilometres north of San Diego. “Del Mar” is Spanish for “by the sea.”
14 Breeders’ Cup races with purses totalling $31 million
Five ‘Cup races on Friday starting at 4:50 p.m. CT. Nine ‘Cup races on Saturday starting at 2:05 p.m. CT. There will be preliminary races each day: Five on Friday starting at 1:55 p.m. and three on Saturday starting at 12:15 p.m.

: Enjoy a cherry vodka lemonade in a souvenir Breeders’ Cup glass for $9.95 and keep the glass! Available both Breeders’ Cup days while supplies last.  

Join the excitement and potential big payoffs of Breeders’ Cup by sharing in group tickets that will be put together at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza on BC Saturday in two weeks. You may buy shares ($20 each) to be applied to BC play at any time from Larry or me in the Race Book. (Assiniboia Downs is not involved.)

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Aw, shucks, native Manitoban Rob Atras won't be going
Despite winning a win-and-you're-in race for the 'Cup, his horse is being rested

Rob Atras and wife/assistant Brittney with Maracuja
Despite free shipping and entry fees for his horse to enter a Breeders’ Cup race, native Manitoban Rob Atras told The Insider last week that he and the mare he trains, Maracuja, will be skipping the world championships in Del Mar in two weeks.

“She’s been sent to a farm in Kentucky for a brief freshening and we hope to start her back January 1 for her 4-year-old campaign,”
he told The Insider in an email.

Is he disappointed? “I recommended she get a break so it’s been planned,” he said. “I think she’ll come back bigger and stronger after a break from training for awhile.”

This would have been the first time a former Manitoba trainer would have had a horse in that world-class event. Atras, who hails from Oakbank, Man., trained at Assiniboia Downs from 2009 to 2011 before heading south. He now trains in New York.

Maracuja had earned an expenses-paid entry into a Breeders’ Cup race by virtue of beating the previously unbeaten Malathaat in the Grade 1 $600K Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. But, in two subsequent races, she finished last in the Alabama which Malathaat won and fourth in the $1 million Cotillion Stakes at Parx.

*       *       *
Pre-entries for Breeders’ Cup races will be in by Monday

Pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup will become known on Monday. That’s the final day for trainers to submit the names of horses they want to enter one of the 14 races. However, the horses that will finally make up the BC races won’t be known until the following week.

Printed Daily Racing Form Breeders’ Cup Advance edition (program-style) will be on sale for $2 at the VLT cage on Thursday, October 28 and at off-track betting locations (Pembina, Quest, Windsor & Green Brier) on October 29.

Stay tuned, as well, for Clocker Reports which are vitally important to see which BC entrants are training well, as reported by the DRF’s Mike Welsch. Not watching his reports is like running in a foot race with flip-flops.

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An easy (and perhaps very profitable) betting angle

In-the-money stats produce startling results

Here’s a jaw-dropper for you, as I have reported before. Just for the heck of it, I pulled out an old Breeders’ Cup program—the 2006 Breeders’ Cup program from Churchill Downs—and did something I had never done before: In the BC Distaff: I simply calculated the number of times each horse finished in the money related to their number of starts.

I was shocked. The horse with 10 out of 10 in-the-money finishes had won the race (Round Pond) and paid $28. A superfecta box of the six horses with the best in-the-money stats had produced a $2 payoff of $33,800. Crazy!

An investigation of other races showed the longshot winner of the Turf, Red Rocks ($22.90) had finished in the money 8 out of 9 lifetime starts and the winner of the Classic, Invasor ($14.90) had exactly the same in-the-money stat.

Remember Bar of Gold, the 66-1 bomber that won the Fillies and Mares Sprint at Del Mar in 2017? For that specialist distance of 7-furlongs, I did something a bit differently: I analyzed how many times horses had finished in the money ONLY AT THAT SPECIALIST DISTANCE. Bar of Gold was 4 for 5 at the distance. Need I say more?

Giving credit where credit is due
The Insider wouldn't have continued without Sheri

Sheri has been behind the masterful production of this column
With my final column just a couple weeks away, I must give a giant shout-out to the person who’s been behind the production of this column for 814 weeks--program/simulcast director Sheri Glendinning.

She is simply the most efficient person I have ever known and without that efficiency and deadline responsibility, The Insider would not have been produced for almost 16 years. She has made it a pleasure. She converted my text, photos and instructions into what I believe have been easy-to-read columns. She knew what I required and I knew what she required and we got it done without fuss or bother. I can’t say enough good things about her.

*       *       *

Down memory lane
Escape Clause, Balooga Bull, Jon's Golden Run and "keying" in California stand out

Over a span of almost 16 years a columnist has many memories but I’m hardly someone who wallows in the past. A quotation I picked up in my teenage years from English poet Samuel Rogers seems to have resonated through life: Man to the last is but a froward child; So eager for the future, come what may, And to the present so insensible.”

Suffice to say I’ve considered myself especially lucky to have covered the Escape Clause years where the best-ever Manitoba-bred horse criss-crossed the continent to earn more than $1 million before continuing her life as a broodmare in Japan where we now look forward to the progress of her first foal who recently fetched almost $1 million at an auction.

And, of course, who was not captivated by the Ardell Sayler-trained Balooga Bull who was named Horse of the Year twice and won the Gold Cup three times? Or felt proud of Goldencents, the son of a Manitoba mare bred by the late great Phil Kives, who won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile two years in a row?

And, outside of racing, I still smile at a memory from 2009 when I persuaded Hollywood Park security to release parking lot video showing the former head of the California Horse Racing Board scratching (“keying”) the Jaguar of a horse owner who infuriated him with his harsh criticism of synthetic race surfaces.

Olympian Jon Montgomery with gold medal and Jon’s Golden Run(Winnipeg Free Press/Phil Hossack photo, May, 2011)
But it was the Jon’s Golden Run saga in 2010 that stands out as the stuff of a Hollywood movie. Jon Montgomery of Russell, Man. wins a gold medal for skeleton racing in the Winter Games in Vancouver, horse breeder Cam Ziprick in his home town names a colt Jon’s Golden Run, The Insider emails Montgomery to give him that news, Montgomery shoe-horns in a visit to the Downs to see his namesake horse, a picture of them winds up on the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press, the horse’s trainer Emile Corbel “after too many Crown Royals” guarantees the horse will win the Buffalo Stakes for 2-year-olds, the horse wins with a bold, off-the-pace move on the outside of his rivals, Corbel bows repeatedly to his horse as he’s led into the Winner’s Circle -- which turns out to be the horse’s one and only victory. Fade to happy retirement on a Manitoba farm.

And fade also to Ivan Bigg being that “froward child” eagerly anticipating the future. (“Froward” is defined as “difficult to deal with, contrary.” Lol.)
TOP 3 NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 7

Titans over Chiefs (Sunday noon): Having to play the Chiefs and Bills back-to-back seems a little unfair to the Titans but, lucky for them, both are home games so that should give them a slight advantage. The Chiefs have been a little off this year and Patrick Mahomes has already thrown eight interceptions which is more than he had all of last year. Titans running back Derek Henry should be licking his lips when the Chiefs 27th ranked defense rolls into Nissan Stadium. 

Ravens over Bengals
(Sunday afternoon):  The battle between Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert last week didn’t turn out to be much of a battle at all. The Ravens dominated the Chargers quite easily and Lamar Jackson just keeps on winning. Speaking of winning, a word not often used when referring to the Bengals, they have already doubled their win total from last year and are currently only one game out of first place in the AFC North.  Joe Burrow and Ja’marr Chase seem to have rekindled the chemistry they once had as college teammates at LSU and will look to continue that as they go up against the Ravens’ defense that is ranked 26th against the pass. 

Rams over Lions
(Sunday afternoon): I have no problems admitting when I’m wrong and boy was I wrong about the Lions. I thought maybe losing all those close games would have motivated them to play hard and beat the Bengals last week. Instead they turned in one of the worst performances of a football team this year. Head coach Dan Campbell called out his QB Jared Goff after the game saying he needs to step up more than he has been. And what better time to step up than having to face your old team. You could call this a “revenge” game for both Jared Goff and Matt Stafford as they were traded for each other during the off-season. Having said all that, if the Rams don’t win by at least 25 points, I’d be shocked. 


Ryan Nugent-Hopkins holds trophy won by Infinite Patience
NUGENT-HOPKINS SCORES ON THE ICE -- AND ON THE TRACK: Edmonton Oilers left-winger Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a huge racing fan beginning with his teen years at Hastings Park in Vancouver, co-owns one of the top fillies in Western Canada, Infinite Patience, who won the CTHS Sales Stakes at Century Mile in Edmonton a week ago at odds of 1-9 and chalked up a 101 Equibase speed figure winning the Northlands Distaff before that. In three years of racing, the 4-year-old B.C.-bred sired by Sungold, has won five stakes at Hastings, four at Century Mile and finished third in the $125K Fury Stakes at Woodbine, earning more than $280K U.S. Nugent-Hopkins co-owns the filly with her breeder, William DeCoursey.

To ensure trainer Bob Baffert--whose Medina Spirit tested positive for a prohibited substance in winning the Kentucky Derby--is above reproach in preparation for Breeders’ Cup races, his horses are subject to being tested pretty much at any time at Del Mar and he must provide extra security in his stables. Medina Spirit is expected to race in the BC Classic. Baffert is also expected to enter two horses in the BC Juvenile but, for purposes of the Kentucky Derby, they will not earn points toward being entered into the Derby because Churchill Downs has banned his horses from qualifying for the Derby for two years.

FAVOURITE WINS WORLD’S RICHEST TURF RACE: Twelve of Australia’s fastest sprinters lined up Saturday afternoon at Royal Randwick in Sydney for the richest turf race in the world, the $15 million Everest at about 6-furlongs, where less-than-even-money favourite Nature Strip didn’t disappoint his backers. The 7-year-old gelding led pretty much all the way but the race was still a thriller which you may watch here.

So in last week’s Insider you read that a favourite won the leg of Woodbine’s pick-5 in which Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group took “all” horses. So, wouldn’t you know it, a race this past Saturday where the group took half of the 12 horses was won by a morning-line 20-1 horse the group didn’t have on its ticket. That should have been an “all” leg because it was bottom claimers. The group zigged when it should have zagged. What do the racing gods have in store for the players this Saturday as we count down to the big money Breeders’ Cup races two weeks from this weekend?
$6 million in purses next Friday and Saturday
  • This Saturday: It’s Maryland Millions Day at Laurel featuring 12 stakes races
  • Friday, Oct. 29: Breeders’ Crown harness racing at Meadowlands with $6 million in purse money
  • Saturday, Oct. 30: ASD Player’s Choice online handicapping tournament. Eight stakes races at Belmont, Day 2 of Breeders’ Crown harness racing at Meadowlands. Note early post time of 11 a.m.
  • Halloween Sunday, Oct. 31: Boo! Ontario Derby at Woodbine, eight stakes races for New Mexico-bred horses at Zia Park
  • Monday, Nov. 2: Melbourne Cup from Flemington Racecourse in Australia (actually Tuesday afternoon in Australia)
  • Friday, Nov. 5: Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar. Five BC races starting at 4:50 p.m. CT
  • Saturday, Nov. 6: Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar. Nine BC races starting at 2:05 p.m. CT



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