Thursday, November 2, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 41 (Issue #610)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

BREEDERS' CUP (tomorrow and Saturday)

"Gun Runner glided over the track as easy as can be. He made a maintenance work look special!"-- DRF clocker Mike Welsch at Del Mar


Are you ready to pocket serious dough . . .

. . . using rules, clocker reports and lessons gleaned from last year's races?

The fattest pools--the Ultra Pick-6 and the $3 million guaranteed pick-4--come in the last six races Saturday so let’s kick off an analysis of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races with those races:

RACE 7: Filly & Mare Turf
Last year:
Won by a RULE horse, a horse having raced for the highest purse. Queen’s Trust (8-1) beat favoured Lady Eli.
This year:
#9 Lady Eli is back as the likely favourite as is the horse who beat her last year but there are no standout “biggest purse” rule horses this year so consider taking “all” horses on some sequence tickets. Note that clocker Welsch "loved" #5 Wuheida's turf work--best of the day.

RACE 8: Sprint
Last year:
Won by a RULE horse, Drefong (7-2), with highest pace and speed numbers.
This year: #2 Drefong
is back—but is unproven over the deeper Del Mar dirt track whereas #8 Roy H and #9 Ransom the Moon are.

RACE 9: Mile
Last year:
Won by a CLOCKER horse, Tourist (12-1), that DRF clocker Mike Welsch had described as “Awesome all week long. Cruising along. Galloped out.”
This year: #10 Ribchester
is a perfect fit for a different rule, the “highest purse” rule.

RACE 10: Juvenile
Last year:
Won by a RULE horse, a horse with a combination of the highest program pace number AND the highest speed number: Classic Empire (9-2).
This year:
Exactly the same kind of horse, #11 Bolt d’Oro, appears to be primed to win except California’s DRF rep, Brad Free, says that 2-year-olds regress off a huge 100+ Beyer race. Note that #10 Golden Dragon (30-1) has been “very impressive” to clocker Welsch.

RACE 11: Turf
Last year:
Won by another RULE horse, Highland Reel (7-2), who was a top-two highest purse horse.
This year:
Highest purse #5 Ulysses is the rule, followed by #3 Highland Reel who won last year.

RACE 12: Classic
Last year:
Won by a CLOCKER horse, Arrogate (8-5), who “couldn’t have looked better; big reach, everything terrific.”
This year:
This year’s clocker horse is Gun Runner whom Welsch continues to gush about (see caption under picture at the top). Gunnevera, training really well, is your closer for superfectas and super hi-5 wagers--and longshot winner?

$2 PICK-6: ALL/2,7,8,10/10/10,11/5/5,9 = $448

See the other nine Breeders’ Cup races below.

Tomorrow (includes four BC races): 1:25 p.m. Saturday (includes nine BC races): 12:10 p.m.

to Saturday’s “I won big” workshop on the above six races at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the lower level Finish Line. Refreshments served. Share in group plays on the pick-6, pick-4, superfectas, etc. Each $20 share will be generously bumped up to $25 by Assiniboia Downs!

Bullet briefs . . .

  • What horse has impressed Breeders' Cup clocker the most? (See photo below)
  • What are Marshall's five tips for Breeders' Cup play?
  • Hit 5, win 5 (as in $500) in Saturday's Breeders' Cup sweepstakes
  • Exciting new Survivor wager starts at Meadowlands Saturday!
  • Who won October's horseplayer tourney and who's his favourite analyst?
  • Trainer fined $20,000 for entering two wrong horses. What caused the errors?

Spin for $20 to $100

SPIN THE BREEDERS’ CUP WHEEL: Get into the draw Saturday to win Breeders’ Cup merchandise and spin the BC Wheel of Fortune to win betting vouchers from $20 to $100.

Along with the merchandise draw above, be sure to enter the BC Sweeptstakes in which picking five winners out of the nine BC races Saturday could win you $500 cash! Look for entry forms for both.
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

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.

$10 pizza special Fri-Sun after
5 p.m. What a great deal!

EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker. Registration 8 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m. Royal Flush progressive jackpot is at $2,305!

FRIDAY TO SUNDAY SPECIALS CONTINUE after 5 p.m.: Pizza $10, perogies & kielbasa $11, chicken dinner $12.


"Nobody made a better appearance than Elate. She's sitting on the best race of her life." clocker Welsch (Sarah Andrew photo)


  • Race 6: Juvenile Fillies Turf. Highest purse rule fits #2 Happily and #10 September. Best North American horse is #11 Rushing Fall.
  • Race 7: Dirt Mile. #8 Accelerate has best pace/speed combination and loves Del Mar track
  • Race 8: Juvenile Turf: #1 Mendelssohn fits highest purse rule; #4 Catholic Boy has won high praise from clocker Welsch. Use those with #2,6,7,11,12 in superfectas.
  • Race 9: Distaff: Clocker Welsch raves on and on about #5 Elate just as he did Arrogate last year and Arrogate beat California Chrome in the Classic.

$1 pick-4: 2,10,11/8/1,2,6,7,11,12/5 = $18


  • Race 4: Juvenile Fillies. #9 Alluring Star was a bit of a bounce last time, losing to #7 Moonshine Memories but today she bounces back and wins.
  • Race 5: Turf Sprint. Clocker Welsch says the likely favourite, #3 Lady Aurelia looked only “okay, average” in a workout so is very vulnerable. Look for closers because 4 of 5 sprints at Del Mar were won by horses coming from the back of the pack. My longshot pick: #10 Hogy. Also like #6 Marsha.
  • Race 6: Filly & Mare Sprint. Race fav #11 Unique Bella very vulnerable because a 3-year-old has never won this race in 29 tries. Who is the best at the specialist 7f distance? Who likes Del Mar dirt? #4 Finest City (12-1) could win this race for the second year but take “all” in pick-3s.

TOURNEY WINNERS: Greg Earl (centre) with $1,000 from tourney director Dawn Forbes. Runners-up (from left): Geoff Metcalf 4th, Wayne Pownall, 2nd, Len Charney 3rd and John Whitehill 5th.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to retired police dispatcher Greg Earl who won an ASD handicapping contest for the first time ever on Saturday, turning $40 in wagers into $87.70 in the monthly Player’s Choice tournament. A factor in his plays? “I like following (Woodbine handicapper) Dawn Lupul,” he said and included a couple of her picks. He won $1,000 in prize money and received maximum points toward the Handicapper of the Year contest. The runners-up Saturday were:

2. Wayne Pownall -- $72 bankroll. Prize $400
3. Len Charney -- $61.50 bankroll. Prize $200
4. Geoff Metcalf -- $52.50 bankroll. Prize $100
5. John Whitehill -- $51.10 bankroll. Prize $50

The next Player’s Choice tournament is Nov. 25. It’s the second-last one of the year.

Winx wins 22nd straight (Image photo)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The Valley is rocking and the world is knocking!” – Race caller Matt Hill at Moonee Valley Race Course in Australia as Winx, unbeaten in 21 starts, turns for home in the legendary Cox Plate which she wins by a rapidly-diminishing half-length, becoming only the second horse in 97 years to win it three years in a row.


John Whitehill, Wayne Pownall and Bonnie Simmonds do a double-take in the Race Book Saturday as obvious escapees try to fit into the crowd. (See who below.)

Similarity in lip tattoo number caused confusion

TRAINER FINED $20,000 FOR ENTERING WRONG HORSES: The similarity of tattoos under two horse’s lips resulted in each of the horses being wrongly entered in races at Remington Park in September and leading trainer, Karl Broberg, being fined $20,000 for allowing this to happen. On Sept. 16, Collateral Kitten won a race that actually was won by Onemorefastdance—which was determined in the test barn after the race, leading to the finding that Onemorefastdance finished fourth in a race on Sept. 4 that actually was Collateral Kitten. The track’s horse identifiers were suspended for a week as punishment, too. The problem, Broberg pointed out, was that the tattoos under each horse’s top lip look so similar: one ends in 970 and the other ends in 910. Each mistake cost him $10,000.

The jig's up! That's Ron Zurba and Diane Duncan

WHO WERE THOSE “CONVICTS” IN THE RACE BOOK? Catching the attention of horseplayers in the Race Book Saturday appeared to be two fleeing felons -- until players realized that Halloween was a few days away. Non-threatening at all were two retirees and long-time ASD fans. They were former air traffic controller Ron Zurba and former Canada Revenue Agency employee Diane Duncan who hadn’t escaped from Stony Mountain but had just gotten off the Howlin’ Halloween Express, a spooky train ride to Grosse Isle and back.

SCHNELL’S BABY PRESSES PACE IN CENTURY STAKES; FINISHES THIRD: ASD trainer Don Schnell’s final bid to win a stakes race at Century Downs near Calgary on Saturday resulted in a third-place finish by his 2-year-old, Dreaming Ez. The 2-year-old pressed the race favourite and ultimate winner of The Freedom of the City stakes throughout most of the race, then gave way in the stretch to finish third. So, of the six stakes races offered at the track during its short fall meet, Schnell won two of them (the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes with Escape Clause and Langara), finished third in two (the $50,000 Founders Distaff with Escape Clause and the $60,000 The Freedom of the City Stakes with Dreaming Ez) and fourth in the $100,000 Harvest Plate with Coolidge. Next in sight: Escape Clause pointed to the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks at Zia Park in New Mexico on Nov. 22.

Rob Bye (1959 -2017)

RACING PHOTOGRAPHER PASSES: Shock and sorrow greeted the news this week that one of the best photographers of racing action at the Downs—and one of the friendliest guys you could know, Rob Bye—passed at 58 just three weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. As a sports photographer, his special love was horse racing and all he asked for was access to the best angles where he produced pictures with rare clarity. His most recent collection was produced on Derby Day which you can see here. He leaves a wife and three adult children.

, at odds of 5-1 in a Hawthorne allowance/claiming event Saturday, started last of six horses, raced wide throughout, and never was involved. It was the gelding’s first start since winning the Manitoba Derby and finishing second in the Gold Cup at the Downs. Trainer Murray Duncan has posted two seconds and a third in seven starts at the Chicago track since shipping there after the end of the ASD meet.

Witt's Town owner Henry S. Witt, Jr.

WITT’S TOWN LIGHTS UP BOARD FOR HENRY S. WITT, JR: Followers of the 3-year-old filly Witt’s Town who had raced at the Downs were cheering their good fortune Friday when the Henry S. Witt, Jr. filly charged from last to first in a wide open turf allowance for fillies and mares at Remington Park in Oklahoma, paying a handsome $59.80. Witt picked up $23,898 U.S. in purse money. Witt’s Town had finished second in the Manitoba Oaks and third in the Manitoba Matron.

So last Saturday’s “I won big” workshop participants put in a mere “maintenance” workout (as they say on the track), winning a 50 per cent return on their investment at Woodbine as they look forward to real money on the last six races of the Breeders’ Cup this Saturday (races 7 to 12 at Del Mar). See you down in the Finish Line at 9:30 a.m. to construct tickets that will produce the most memorable payoffs in the group’s history.

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. What are the top five things I should consider when playing the Breeders' Cup races?

  1. To Bet or Not to Bet? That is the Question. Just because there are 13 Breeders’ Cup (BC) Races spread across two days does not mean you have to bet on every one of them. Develop a betting plan so that you focus on the races that you like the most and have the strongest opinions in. Plan ahead by writing down your favourite bets and identifying the races that you intend to attack versus the ones you prefer to watch. Make sure to check race day scratches or factor in surface changes to ensure that your selections are still valid based on projected race shape, odds, value, etc.
  2. Watch Replays. Considering these are the best horses in the world coming together from an assortment of different tracks and racing surfaces, the difference between finding a winner and backing a loser can be razor thin. One of the best handicapping tools available is to watch replays on HPIbet and on YouTube (for European horses). You can often spot a contender with a troubled trip or toss out a pretender with a trouble line that can be ignored. Don’t settle for someone else’s opinion; put in the time and watch some replays on your own to draw your own conclusions.
  3. Stick to your budget. It’s easy to go overboard when it comes to betting the Breeders’ Cup. I’ve done it myself many times. Do your best to stick to your wagering plan and make sure to save some of your betting budget for the last couple of races on Day 2 as opposed to blowing your wad on the first three BC races on Day 1.
  4. Euros Win Turf Races. It’s not rocket science. Since the inception of the BC over 34 years ago, the European horses have dominated the turf races. The same is likely to happen again this year and there are several to choose from in every turf race. Pay special attention to the Euros and toss them at your own risk.
  5. Demand Value. There are so many quality horses in every race and so many competitive chances that you should always look for value in your selections. The BC is a great opportunity to find a good overlay and pass on a big underlay.
Hope everyone Crushes the Cup this coming weekend! Good luck!

Got a question for Marshall? Email

Readers write . . .

Thanks for the insights

Dear Ivan: Watching the (Escape Clause) race with two jockeys (in last week’s Insider), we three were all exclaiming, ‘Why is (the jockey) standing up?’

The ‘standing up’ issue has been a gripe of mine for decades. It also is a bad habit to get the horse into, easing to the wire. Ride 'em out past the wire.

We also appreciate the inside info on why Escape Clause faltered. Keep up the outstanding work, Ivan. You easily have the best insights from any track in North America
.” – W. G. Wind, Warm Wind Thoroughbred Farms

Not the universe? Lol. Thanks, again.


Did you know . . . that on ASD opening day April 26, 1981--under new Downs owner Michael Gobuty--7,726 patrons wagered a whopping $553,058 on the 10-day card. What are other particularly memorable opening days? See Bob’s blog here.


  • Tomorrow and Saturday: Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Del Mar; 13 races worth $26 million. First post at Del Mar tomorrow: 1:25 p.m.; Saturday: 12:10 p.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 6: “The race that stops a nation”—the Melbourne Cup from Flemington Race Course in Australia. First post 5:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 22: ASD owner/trainer Don Schnell enters Escape Clause in $300,000 Zia Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies in Hobbs, New Mexico
  • Thursday, Nov. 23: U.S. Thanksgiving which means great racing, early post times and all-day NFL action on Race Book TVs.

Lucky shirt?
For $110 U.S., it better be. But Ivan will do whatever it takes to bring luck to the "I won big" group and its Breeders' Cup plays.

My BC mantra this year is “Go big or go home.”
Good luck in achieving YOUR goals!

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