Thursday, October 25, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 42 (Issue #660)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Orphaned foal gets teddy comfort

BREEDERS’ CUP ADVANCE DRF GOES ON SALE TODAY: Lists the lifetime past performances of the horses pre-entered in the 14 Breeders’ Cup races. Buy it at the VLT cage at the track.

Monday is the day post positions will be drawn for Breeders’ Cup races so Equibase programs will be available Tuesday at the track (VLT cage) and, off-track, Wednesday at OTB program kiosks (for Friday’s races) and Thursday for Saturday’s races.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Use Saturday's tournament as a Breeders' Cup dress-rehearsal!
  • Harness racing's Breeders Crown goes Saturday night
  • Why is Bob Baffert wrong?
  • What is Job One for the "Big" betting group?
  • Can Enable do what no Arc-winning horse has done in eight tries?
  • Escape Clause sets track record at Century Downs
TWO PLAYERS ALMOST WIN CONTEST; $150 AT STAKE SATURDAY: Almost! Paul Gray and Charlie Johnson correctly predicted the first two legs of last Saturday’s “3 for the money” contest at Laurel ($6.60 and $8 horses) but missed the third (a $9.00 horse). Nice try, guys! So the jackpot has reached its maximum: $150 in wagering vouchers is yours this Saturday if you nail three races at the feature track of Santa Anita. (Note: “3 for the money” will take a day off on Breeders’ Cup Saturday)
QX104 � Today's Country

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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 $16,365.

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.

ROCK THE MIC: SING WITH A LIVE BAND! Channel your inner rock star at ASD on Thursday, Nov. 1, 8, 15 and 22. Registration 6 p.m.; music and dancing starts at 7 p.m. Cover charge: $7.

– 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.


Saturday tourney and dress-rehearsal for Breeders' Cup?

Play Keeneland races as though they're Breeders' Cup races

Here are three ways to look at this Saturday’s second-last Player’s Choice handicapping tournament:
  1. You have a chance, of course, to share in $1,750 in prize money
  2. You get points toward winning top-10 prize money for Handicapper of the Year
  3. Why not pretend it’s Breeders’ Cup Day and dive into the Keeneland card in a very intensive way as a “dress rehearsal” for next Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races. It’s a tough card, both dirt and turf races, that will school the brain for the highly competitive races a week later.
You get all of that for just a $25 entry fee. Your objective is to accumulate the highest bankroll by betting $2 across the board on a horse in 10 races, your choice, from noon to 4:30 p.m. Sign up by 9 p.m. tomorrow (Friday) for $25 or Saturday before noon for $35.

*       *       *

MAIDEN DOES THE UNEXPECTED, TRASHES “BIG” TICKET: Heading into the final leg of Woodbine’s pick-5 last Saturday, the “I won big” betting group—still smiling from enjoying a morning bacon reward as a result of its previous week’s success--felt confident it had the winner in the maiden claiming race. It would likely be a class dropper from a maiden allowance race. Not! A sneaky 18-1 non-dropper, Classy Vision, powered home from the back of the pack to trash the group’s ticket. The 20-cent pick-5 with him paid $885. It happens. So it’s back to the drawing board this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza, races 2 to 6 at Woodbine, with half your share money being banked for Breeders’ Cup play.

Darren Dunn says horse name evokes this song and would be fun to call

YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Bababababababad. He’s a 3-year-old quarter horse racing at Evangeline Downs in Louisiana. What does a race caller think when confronted by a name like this: is this a nuisance or a challenge? I asked ASD CEO Darren Dunn whom, you know, was the ASD track announcer. “ I would announce it as if I were hearing/singing the George Thorogood song ‘Bad To The Bone’,” Dunn told The Insider. “Actually, it would be a lot of fun.” Hmm. Never expected anything THAT creative. Watch Evangeline announcer Michael Chamberlain's winning race call here. (Click on Oct. 17, race 3.)


Opinion: Bob Baffert is wrong

Trainer says Accelerate is "the horse to beat" in the Classic; I say it's Catholic Boy

Accelerate: The horse to beat?
(US Racing photo)

Don’t get me wrong. I have all the respect in the world for Bob Baffert. I mean he gave us American Pharoah, Arrogate and Justify in short order. And who could forget his thoughtfulness in donating an American Pharoah halter to help raise money for ASD jockey Alyssa Selman whose lower extremities were paralyzed in a racing accident at the Downs?

He’s a class act all the way. But now he’s saying John Sadler's Accelerate is “the horse to beat” in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

It’s time to draw the line. He’s wrong! He’s overlooking a colt who also has a big heart—as in grit and determination: Jonathan Thomas’s Catholic Boy. The son of More Than Ready would have given Justify everything he could handle in the Triple Crown races had he not suffered such severe bleeding issues in the Florida Derby.

Since returning to race in the summer and fall, ‘Boy fought back in two races—including the Belmont Derby-- after being passed by the favourite and we know how much he dominated the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Now clocker Mike Welsch is effusive at how well the 3-year-old galloped out in a recent Churchill workout. “He kept going and going.” Like the Energizer bunny.

Sorry, Bob. We love you but all we can say about your Accelerate is: “You’re entitled to be wrong.”

*       *       *

Will you be wearing pants?

What's just as important as wearing pants?

Clocker Mike Welsch
Watching his reports are as important as wearing pants. Click to watch latest.

Will you be wearing pants (or a dress) to watch and play Breeders’ Cup races? Of course, you will. Will you have watched Mike Welsch’s clocker reports on the DRF website leading up to those races? Of course, you will have. Because you know his reports are as important as wearing pants.

stories from previous Breeders’ Cup years showed how winning performances were directly tied to his reports. In fact, my flirtation with Catholic Boy began a year ago after Welsch talked him up before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in which Catholic Boy finished fourth. I remember thinking “here’s an up-and-comer”—which he certainly turned out to be.

*       *       *

"Go big or go home"

Job One of the "Big" betting group will be to win the pick-6; current bankroll $800

Winning the pick-6 will mean big money AND glory (and two months of bacon?)

The penultimate challenge on Breeders’ Cup Saturday, of course, is to win the pick-6 – and that’s the lofty goal of Saturday’s “I won big” betting group. “Go big or go home” will be the mantra. Certainly, other plays will be made, too, but who doesn’t want a chance for real glory?

In previous years, various players at the Downs, playing on their own, had picked horses that, if combined with others’ horses, would have won the pick-6. This year, the views of those disparate players will be added to the mix. (One of those players had five of six in the pick-6 two years ago for a mere $12 ticket!) You may share in the group tickets, of course. Shares are $20 and the Downs generously tops up each share with $5.

You may wait until Breeders’ Cup Saturday at 9 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. Or come out this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. to play the pick-5 in races 2 to 6 at Woodbine and half of your share money will be saved for the Breeders’ Cup bankroll that currently stands at $800.

*       *       *

Brunch starts at 11 a.m.

DON’T FORGET THE BREEDERS’ CUP WORKSHOP with Glen and Marshall in the Finish Line banquet hall next Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. Free to attend, free BC programs and free entry into a draw for BC merchandise. Book your attendance with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

DINING SPECIALS ON BREEDERS’ CUP SATURDAY: $1 off breakfast served from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Reserve for the Breeders’ Cup brunch ($16.95) that goes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Play the races from your table! Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “It was his gallop-out that got you excited. He just kept going and going,” – DRF clocker Mike Welsch talking about Catholic Boy’s 5-furlong workout Sunday at Churchill Downs. Are you watching Mike’s daily reports? Google DRF Breeders’ Cup Clocker Reports for the latest.


Don Schnell
Century's top percentage trainer

ESCAPE CLAUSE SETS TRACK RECORD; PAYS $2.70: Manitoba’s star filly, Escape Clause, paid a gigantic $2.70 Sunday in winning the 7-furlong $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes for fillies in record time (1:22.19)—the same race she won last year—at Century Downs in Alberta. It was another cakewalk for the 4-year-old Going Commando/Danger Pay filly, winning by nine lengths, bringing her lifetime earnings to $296,840.

Owner/trainer Don Schnell also won with Bold Charmant ($5), a $2,500 claimer, on Sunday’s card after having won with Hey Bro ($8.50) on Saturday in a $25,000 optional claimer. Schnell is the leading percentage trainer at Century (29 per cent) with a record of 24-7-4-1. His horses have earned $83,979.

WINX LOOKS FOR 29TH WIN IN A ROW AND FOURTH COX PLATE: Horse-crazy Australians will stop breathing for two minutes Saturday (Friday night in North America) as their beloved 7-year-old mare, Winx, attempts to win her 29th race in a row and a record-breaking fourth Cox Plate which will have two international stars trying to defeat her: Aidan O’Brien’s Rostropovich and Godolphin’s Benbatl. Eight are entered in the 2,040-metre (about 1 ¼-mile) race on the turf at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Melbourne. The $5 million Cox Plate is the second-most prominent race in Australia after the Melbourne Cup which stops the nation on the first Tuesday in November.


ORPHANED WEANLING COZIES UP TO TEDDY: It was heart-wrenching: a weanling who lost his mother and needed to imprint on something—and that something was a teddy bear. Adopted by the Mare and Foal Sanctuary in Devon, England, after a farmer found him in distress trying to suckle from barren mares, a public appeal was made for a large teddy to comfort the orphan. The one in the picture was one of many.

The weanling, who was named Breeze, initially needed a colostrum drip (pre-milk fluid), then milk. “He’s a cheeky chap with lots of character and is growing bigger and stronger by the day,” a Sanctuary staffer was reported as saying at the time. “He’s not scared of anything and loves being outside.” With teddy keeping a watchful eye, no doubt.

All of that played out in 2013. Since then, Breeze has been frolicking with a herd but was reunited with teddy to see how he would react. That picture appears at the bottom of today's column.

NEW CAREER FOR MANITOBA DERBY WINNER INSIDE STRAIGHT: Frustrated by the refusal of Inside Straight to break from the starting gate in three races, trainer Robertino Diodoro has said the 2016 Manitoba Derby winner and winner of the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (grade 2) in 2017, is being schooled to become an “event” horse: jumping, dressage and cross-country. The 5-year-old gelding’s last refusal to break was at Canterbury Park in June when he was the 1-2 favourite. “It’s crazy. One of the weirdest things I’ve dealt with,” Diodoro has been quoted as saying. Inside Straight is already practising jumping on a small farm in Arizona.

Will he suit his new career? Here’s what his assistant trainer, Rob Atras, has told The Insider: “He is definitely athletic enough and has the endurance and soundness to do it. One would think he would like it. When he trained in the morning he always wanted to do more. Always galloped strongly and worked like a machine.”

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q: Is Enable a standout single this year off her big win in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe?

There’s no doubt that Enable is one of the best turf horses in the world, comparable only to the Australian superstar Winx, in several knowledgeable circles. Now, that we know she’ll be running in the BC Turf, fresh off her back-to-back Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe scores in Paris, the hype machine should be running 24/7 leading to the Breeders’ Cup.

Watch Enable's stretch drive in Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

There’s no doubt this 3-year-old filly will be less than even money to accomplish something that no other Arc winners have been able to do – win the coveted double of both the Arc and the BC Turf. Granted, there have only been eight attempts to date, but the list includes extremely accomplished horses including Found, Golden Horn, Workforce, Sea the Stars, and Dylan Thomas. Is Enable the best of the bunch? Maybe, but are you willing to take 4/5 odds to find out? She’s guaranteed to be the lowest price horse in any of this year’s BC races, currently listed as the ante post (day before the race) favourite at -163.

Of course, an eight horse sample is not large enough to draw any major conclusions from and another argument can be made that for many of those other horses, the BC Turf was merely an afterthought, whereas with Enable, the BC Turf was always part of the plan and she’s been lightly raced this year.

Whatever you decide to do, just be sure to handicap the race before anointing Enable the winner at low odds.

Got a question for Marshall? Email

THE BEST OF BOB: Who was one of the winningest horses ever?

Did you know that Murray Duncan, part of the 2017 winning Manitoba Derby connections, owned and trained a horse called Precambrian that ran at the Downs in the 1960s? Precambrian ran eight times during the 42-day meet at the Downs in 1961 and won seven straight, finishing second by a head in his eighth start on the final day of the season. Read more here. (First published July, 2012)


  • Breeders' Crown goes Saturday night

    Today: Breeders’ Cup advance Daily Racing Form goes on sale. Pick one up after digging into certified Angus prime rib at tonight’s buffet from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.
  • This Saturday: Player’s Choice horseplayer tourney; Breeders’ Crown--$6 million in championship harness races from The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania
  • Tuesday, Oct. 30: Breeders’ Cup programs available at the VLT cage at the track
  • 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.
  • 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

Three years later, Breeze reunites with Teddy

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