Thursday, October 22, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 42 (Issue #761)

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 . . .

  • Will one-eyed horse win first Canadian Triple Crown since 2003?
  • Eye on Live: 'Twas the season of endless firsts
  • Horse went from a cheap punchline to the pride of Canada: See "Best of Bob"
  • Churchill Downs fires up again on Sunday
  • What are the top three TravyFootball picks for the 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.

Will one-eyed horse win first Triple Crown since 2003?
Mighty Heart to race Saturday in Breeders' Stakes on Woodbine turf

Mighty Heart winning the Queen’s Plate (Michael Burns photo)
Mighty Heart becomes only the second horse to have a chance to win the Canadian Triple Crown since Wando did it in 2003. The other horse, Wonder Gadot, won the first two legs: the Queen’s Plate and the Prince of Wales Stakes but missed the third leg, the Breeders’ Stakes, when trainer Mark Casse, ran her in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga instead (she finished 10th).

Winning the first two legs is the tough part because they are different surfaces and not many horses are equally adept on both Woodbine’s Tapeta and Fort Erie’s dirt.

Since Tapeta is considered a near-turf surface, Mighty Heart has a good chance of making a Triple Crown happen. And he has only one eye. That in itself seems remarkable. Woodbine’s Saturday card begins at noon.

'Twas the season of endless firsts

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

While sipping their morning coffee, race fans in Australia were betting nightly races half a world away at the little track on the Canadian prairies where betting pools have hit historic highs. That was just one of seemingly endless firsts in Assiniboia Downs’ COVID-crazy race meet that just came to an end. Firsts are usually recorded in the winner’s circle; this year there seemed to be just as many firsts outside of it. Namely:
  • Never has wagering reached such epic proportions. The total wagering for this season’s 50-day meet was $63.3 million, more than five times the $12.5 million wagered last year. That amounted to an average of $1.26 million a night. The previous high for a race meet was $53.4 million in 1981 but that was for a 135-day season.
  • Never have Assiniboia races been so widely available to wager on -- in Germany, England, Brazil, Mexico, the U.S. and Australia. When horses went to the post at 7:30 p.m. Monday to Wednesday in Winnipeg, it was 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to Thursday in Sydney, Australia where racing is so important there’s a national holiday to celebrate it.
  • Never have so many people watched and wagered on ASD races from home.
  • Never have races been run with no spectators in the stands or on the tarmac.
  • Assiniboia Downs was first to start racing in Canada this year. Previously, Woodbine in Toronto, Hastings in Vancouver and Century Downs near Calgary started ahead of the Downs. The early start gave ASD the exposure it needed to win over new fans.
  • Top trainer Jerry Gourneau and leading jockey Antonio Whitehall (Jason Halstead photo)
    Never has CEO Darren Dunn made so many trophy presentations--in a mask, of course--representing prominent figures who might have made presentations were it not for the pandemic. There were 32 stakes races in all.
  • Never have trainers and grooms bringing horses to the saddling area looked like they just came off a movie set where they played a gang of masked marauders shooting up a town in a grade B western.
  • Never have a trainer, Jerry Gourneau, and a jockey, Antonio Whitehall, so dominated a race meet. Gourneau logged 73 wins, almost double those of runner-up Tom Gardipy Jr. and Whitehall’s 74 wins was 26 more than Stanley Chadee Jr.
  • Never has there been such a dearth of jockeys--because many were unable to travel from the Caribbean to Canada. An unusual spate of jockey injuries on the final race night meant two horses had to be scratched from the last race because of a lack of riders.
This list could go on. Suffice to say that racing fans were happy that whatever steps were necessary to keep racing going were taken.
TOP 3 NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 7

Bills over Jets (Sunday noon): The Bills are coming off back to back losses but lucky for them the hopeless pathetic New York Jets are next on their schedule. The Jets are in the running for the “Tank for Trevor Lawrence” sweepstakes and that’s really all they care about right now.

Chargers over Jags
(Sunday afternoon): Another team in the “Tank for Trevor Lawrence” sweepstakes, Jacksonville’s experiment with QB Garnder Minshew looks like it’s coming to a close. Starting the season 1-5 doesn’t help. The Chargers on the other hand looks like they have their Quarterback of the future in Justin Herbert. Already this season he’s held his own against the likes Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Patrick Mahomes.

Giants over Eagles
(Sunday noon): The NFC East is a complete mess. All the teams are equally bad and have no hope. For one reason or another (injuries, lack of talent, etc) the Giants and Eagles both find themselves with only one win this season. Now having said that, they are both only one game back of the division leading Dallas Cowboys. I’m pretty sure whoever wins this division at the end of the year will have a losing record, but still gets to host a playoff game.

I should have just stuck with the “a team always wins the next game after they fire their coach” theory instead of trying to go against it by picking the Vikings to beat the Falcons......Chase Claypool continued to show why he will be the next great Pittsburgh Steelers receiver adding another touchdown to his resume against the Cleveland Browns.....the Washington Football Team had a chance to send their game against the Giants into overtime, but decided to go for the two point conversion instead of just kicking the extra point, spoiler alert, they didn’t get it.
THE BEST OF BOB by Bob Gates: From cheap punchline to pride of Canada

Did you know that Branch County with Michael Vaillancourt won an equestrian silver medal in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, yet in his previous career as a thoroughbred runner the same horse, known as Traffic Sub, raced only three times and was retired because he had no future on the track? Click here to learn more about Branch County's Olympic exploits. (First published in May 2019)
Goes Oct. 30-31 at Hoosier Park at 5:30 p.m.
  • 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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