Thursday, November 14, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14  No 44 (Issue #714)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Hi! I’m taking a two-week break, returning with my regular Insider on Thursday, Dec. 5, just in time to tell you about two upcoming Kentucky Derby prep races and report on the second-last Player’s Choice tournament of the year.

In the meantime, you’ll receive two Insiders I pre-prepared to keep you up to speed on events, fun and games, TravyFootball picks and the Best of Bob. Go, Bombers, go! Go, Jets, go! And go to you, too, at the betting windows and in your HPI account.


Escape Clause joins more than 800 other broodmares at Northern Farm on Hokkaido Island

Baby-making in earthquake country
Escape Clause starts a new life at Northern Farm on Hokkaido Island

Northern Farm is at the centre of Hokkaido Island
Uphill half-mile indoor straightaway at Northern Farm
From humble beginnings at a farm near Russell, Man., Manitoba’s greatest race horse ever, Escape Clause, joins one of the largest breeding operations in the world on Hokkaido Island in northern Japan where she has lots of company--and will be experiencing mild earth tremors almost daily.

Purchased for $300,000 by Katsumi Yoshida at a Lexington auction two weeks ago, Escape Clause is now one of more than 800 broodmares on Northern Farm that has a total of 2,700 horses and 720 employees. The farm has a half-mile indoor uphill straightaway and an indoor track that is more than a half-mile. Established in 1994, the Farm’s motto is “Always put all of your heart into every innovation and new challenge.”

So racing is out; making babies is in for Manitoba’s million-dollar-earning mare. Who will she be bred to? Will it be a stallion with links to Sunday Silence, the classiest and most influential sire in Japan’s breeding history? Will grooms on the farm be asking, rather incredulously: “Where did you say she’s from?”

If only she could talk, she’d be telling her barn mates about the 13 different tracks she raced at and about being applauded by fans at Del Mar and Santa Anita. She’d recount how close she came to beating the best mare on the continent, Midnight Bisou, at Oaklawn Park, and setting a track record at Sunland Park in New Mexico. And about being startled by a paintball shot at her van window on a California freeway. She’d certainly mention her enjoyment of mints that were a frequent treat from her North American trainer/co-owner Don Schnell. “That’s why I’m licking my lips,” she’d explain to her new groom.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Handicapping: The Caveman Conundrum
  • Escape Clause trainer's most vivid recollection? "They told me I was crazy!"
  • Glen and Marshall's Breeders' Cup diary
  • End of an era: Very last K5 Stables' horse goes on the block this week
  • "My daddy took all my McDonald's toys"
“3 FOR THE MONEY” CONTEST NOW AT $75: Predict the first three winners in the late pick-4 at Woodbine Saturday afternoon. Program pages in the Race Book.

Saturday afternoon. Tickets are $5 each or three for $10. The ace of diamonds is worth $1,000, the two jokers are worth $100 and other cards $25. Buy your tickets BY 3:30 p.m. for the draw at 4 p.m. in support of the Winners Foundation.

. Enter with the ticket seller during the week as well.

Click to expand


Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in November? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Bombers, NFL, Jets

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 8 PM: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge Friday and Saturday. 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.

NEW! POOL TABLES, ELECTRONIC DARTS, TAP TV TRIVIA: These are the new games added to Clubhouse fun on the plaza. Pool games are just $1 (insert coins). Tap TV Trivia: Download the free app on your phone to answer 12 questions every 20 minutes to see if you’re better and faster than others. NOTE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY ARE TRIVIA NIGHTS WITH PRIZES! (Bartender/special events coordinator Cory is your host starting at 7 p.m.)

39-CENT WINGS AND OTHER FOOD SPECIALS: 10 wings for $3.90, 20 for $7.80 Friday and Saturday from 3 to 9 p.m. and NFL Sunday from noon ‘til 9 p.m. Daily specials:
  • This is Rib Wednesdays feature
    Pizza Mondays: $10
  • Taco Tuesdays: 3 for $10 (chicken or beef)
  • Rib Wednesdays:  $12 for half-rack of baby-back BBQ ribs with fries and cole slaw
  • Burger Thursdays: $4 off any burger platter
  • $13 weekend specials: Lasagna with Caesar salad and garlic toast or chicken pot pie with choice of side or perogies and garlic sausage with grilled onions and sour cream
  • HAPPY HOUR: Sunday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to closing. 6 oz. house wine ($4.25), house highball ($3.75), domestic beer ($3.75), Downs Caesar ($5.00)
GREEDY CORNER: See all jackpot carryovers here.

"They told me I was crazy"
Don Schnell describes his most vivid recollections as the super mare's trainer

A YEAR AGO: The day after getting permission to race in California, Escape Clause wins Kathryn Crosby Stakes at Del Mar with trainer Don Schnell about to hug jockey Tyler Baze (San Diego Union-Tribune photo)

With his “sweetheart” mare now in the hands of a Japanese breeder, former trainer Don Schnell told The Insider his most vivid memories of managing Manitoba’s super horse revolve around “the naysayers who told me I was crazy.”

He said he was told he was crazy for thinking a Manitoba-bred horse could beat graded stakes horses in California and, even when she did win the Kathryn Crosby Stakes at Del Mar and the Grade 3 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita, that he was crazy entering her in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn, a race Escape Clause almost won.

“She proved them all wrong,”
he said with obvious pleasure.

What the public didn’t know was that approval to race in California wasn’t given until the night before she was scheduled to race in the Kathryn Crosby at Del Mar a year ago and that he towed her in a van through the night from Phoenix to get to her to the track in the wee hours of the morning for a race that was running in mid-afternoon. Winning that race earned her the title, “darling of Del Mar,” and had the Workers Compensation Board woman who was trying to keep him out of the state, calling to congratulate him, he said.

“We don’t want ship-ins,”
he said she had told him in the days leading up to the race. “They bring in horses that break down.” But, at the 11th hour, five trainers on the Workers Compensation Board including Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill approved his attendance, Schnell said.

Setting a track record for one mile at Sunland Park in New Mexico was also a high point in the mare’s career, he said.

And how’s life with no Escape Clause? “It’s a big letdown not having her in my barn,” he said, “but it was time to sell. The farm she’s at couldn’t be a better place. She’ll be treated like the queen she is.”

He’s now racing primarily 2-year-olds at Turf Paradise.

The Caveman Conundrum

With apologies to any person who self-identifies as a caveman or cavewoman, a caveman ticket in the racing world is defined as an unenlightened way of playing a pick-4, pick-5 or pick-6 ticket -- by wheeling every horse you like in each leg of the ticket with hopefully enough money to pay for it.

This is the kind of ticket Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group participants mainly prefer and, I dare say, it’s the way most players play.

And the result? The “bigger” group has been spinning its wheels. Generally, tickets have been paying much less than their cost because longshots haven’t been hitting the ticket. Last Saturday, the group collected $190 for an outlay five times that amount.

Or the group, because it doesn’t have a bottomless pit of money to play with, hasn’t been cashing at all because it was forced to cut back to a key or keys that missed.

The non-caveman approach is to classify horses A, B and C according to their perceived ability to win their respective races then, for example, playing one ticket with all “A” horses, another ticket with “A” horses from three legs with “B” and/or “C” horses from other legs and so on.

Have you tried using this method? Another way to play is to use statistics. Stats show that favourites win about one-third of the time so tickets could be constructed using the most formidable favourite(s) in just two legs of pick-5 or pick-6 tickets and adding only longer-priced horses in the other legs.

What do you say, Fred and Barney? Will at least dabbling in these methods help you and perhaps help turn around the fortunes of Saturday’s betting group?

at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza with perhaps a fresh approach to the pick-5 in races 2 to 6 at Woodbine.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Woodbine jockey Justin Stein who produced a rarity Sunday: A natural hat-trick, with each winner being a bombs-away victor: The Reign Man ($24.90) for trainer Mike De Paulo in race 5, Speedy Bolt ($16.20) for Paul Buttigieg in race 6 and Play the Wildcard ($45.30) for Nick Nosowenko in race 7. If you played a $1 all-Stein pick-3, you collected $2,760.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Byebye Byebye. That’s a cute name for a 2-year-old colt but you don’t want a horse living up to that name. Byebye Byebye finished 10th and last in last Saturday’s fifth race at Woodbine and, in his previous race at the track, fell back and was walked off. Hello!

The late Phil Kives
Hammer comes down on his last horse
SIGH! LAST K5 STABLES HORSE TO BE SOLD THIS WEEK: The very last horse from the late Phil Kives’ K5 Stables, Golden Stripe who is in foal to Goldencents, will be sold this week as Hip 3915 in Keeneland’s November Sale which ends Sunday. Fans will remember Golden Stripe winning the Distaff Stakes at ASD an unprecedented four years in a row (2010-2014).

Last month a yearling by the same mating pair sold for $5,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October Yearling Sale. “It’s a buyer’s market,” noted Leona Stahl, former manager of the racing/breeding operation that once dominated the Downs but came to an end when Kives’ children chose not to follow in their father’s equine footsteps.

It’s shocker after shocker in the sports world, isn’t it? While we’re still recovering from watching the vaunted Tampa Bay Lightning lose the first round of the NHL playoffs in four straight games in the spring, we witness the World Series being won with all seven of the games being won by the visiting team. Now NFL fans can’t close their mouths after watching the very lowly Atlanta Falcons hammer the New Orleans Saints this past weekend. But bookmakers are clicking their heels: “I think we’ve had only one losing week all year,” said the sportsbook director at The Mirage in Las Vegas. Though wearing a giant bandage around his head, The Insider’s NFL analyst, TravyFootball, continues to make his picks below.

Glen Gray
Toys R Me
A HANDICAPPER’S OTHER PASSION: We know Glen Gray is a good handicapper, having won a Player’s Choice tournament, but his 40-year-old daughter, Gayle, told the world in a Virgin radio contest that he has another passion: Collecting McDonald’s gift toys taken from Happy Meals he bought for her and her brother when they were kids decades ago. “My dad used to take every one of our toys from the Happy Meal,” her entry reads. “He claimed that one day they would be worth money. It broke our hearts hahaha but now I see how happy he is with his collection and it was totally worth the heartbreak hahaha.”

Glen says he has about 400 such toys in their original packaging and he’s so enamoured with this collection, they’re part of the family’s belongings when they’ve moved to B.C. and Alberta. Can I predict, however, Dad doesn’t get his hands on the prize his daughter and three other finalists won in Virgin’s contest: a vintage McDonald’s toy set.
BREEDERS’ CUP DIARY by ASD’s Glen & Marshall

Marshall Posner and Glen Sirkis, ASD’s fan education specialists, were the fully-credentialled eyes and ears for ASD at the 36th edition of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships two weeks ago. Read their full report here. Excerpts:

Does it get any better than this?
7 AM TUESDAY, THE DAY AFTER BC DRAW: “The grandstand sounded like a bunch of people were using typewriters with all of the camera shutters going at high speed. We could hear multiple languages being spoken as we walked towards Clocker’s Corner, a popular hangout along the rail near where the horses enter the main track from the backstretch.”

“Our credentials granted us access to the entire backstretch area, which was a massive maze of barns and sheds. We walked around for a bit but even with a map of the grounds it was confusing.”

“We were amazed at how big Santa Anita is and how many different areas there are to accommodate people. You can carve out a nice spot for yourself next to the paddock area, in the grandstand, or walk through to the infield. We never felt cramped including on Saturday when there were over 66,000 people at the track.”

“After Friday’s card, we made several adjustments to our handicapping such as recognizing that the east coast horses were mostly a play-against unless they had a work over the new Santa dirt surface (such as Mitole) or had shipped West before and been successful (like Vino Rosso), and deep closers were up against it on the turf. These adjustments allowed us to hit the late pick 5 on Saturday, capping a good day (see photo of winning ticket here).”

: “I enjoyed watching the workouts each morning. It’s something I haven’t done before in 10 visits there. Being 20 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, it’s a nice way to spend a morning.”

See their full diary and photos here.
SAVVY NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 11
  • 49ers over Cardinals (Sunday afternoon): The 49ers finally lost a game last week because of a badly missed field goal in overtime. They’ll get back on track with a win here.
  • Cowboys over Lions (Sunday noon): Lions QB Matt Stafford was a very late scratch last week and missed his first game since 2011 but I guess that’s what having broken bones in your back will do to you. Dallas lost a close one to the Vikings in week 10 with some questionable play-calling at the end of the game. With no Stafford, I don’t think Detroit has a chance.
  • Panthers over Falcons (Sunday noon): The Falcons pulled off the biggest upset of the season (13.5 point underdogs) when they went into New Orleans and outplayed the Saints last week in every way possible but don’t expect that good luck to continue against the Panthers.
  • Ravens over Texans (Sunday afternoon): Is there anything Ravens QB Lamar Jackson can’t do right now? I highly suggest you go to YouTube to watch his 47-yard touchdown run from last week if you haven’t seen it yet. Wow!
MY $5 PROLINE TICKET (worth $54.40): Steelers/Browns tie ($3.20), Ravens over Texans ($1.70), Panthers over Falcons ($1.60), Vikings over Broncos ($1.25) Record: -$35

PICKS RECORD: Last week: 1 correct out of 4. Overall (since week 3): 18 correct out of 32.

In exceptional cases (e.g. injuries to key personnel), these picks may be amended in the online version of The Insider early Saturday afternoon. Go there ( for updates.

THE BEST OF BOB: How did R.C. Anderson Stakes come to be?

The R. C. Anderson, as many of you know, is an annual one-mile stakes race for Manitoba-bred fillies. But do you know how the race came by that name and why? Bob has the details here. (First published in July 2012)
  • Tonight: Thursday’s regular certified Angus prime rib buffet
  • Thursday, Nov. 21: Prime rib buffet
  • Thursday, Nov. 28: U.S. Thanksgiving. Early post times at major U.S. tracks starting at 10:25 with Laurel. Turkey plate special at the track. Certified Angus prime rib buffet from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 30: Kentucky Derby prep race (Kentucky Jockey Club) at Churchill; Player’s Choice handicapping tournament
  • Thursday, Dec. 5: Prime rib buffet
  • Saturday, Dec. 7: Two Kentucky Derby prep races -- Remsen at Aqueduct and Los Alamitos Futurity at Los Alamitos.
FESTIVE EVENTS: Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0
  • Thursday, Dec. 12: Christmas-themed prime rib buffet
  • Thursday, Dec. 19: Christmas-themed prime rib buffet
  • Thursday, Dec. 26: Chanukah-themed prime rib buffet
  • Tuesday, Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve gala

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