Thursday, November 19, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 46 (Issue #765)

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

ASSINIBOIA DOWNS REMAINS CLOSED AS COVID RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE but online wagering fun continues as does emailing of programs, home delivery and pick-ups by ASD staff. See bottom of column.


What will brighten your day today? How about landing one of these Jackpot pick-6 pools for mere 20-cent wagers? Post times are Central Time.
  • Aqueduct $142K. Post time 11:20 a.m.
  • Churchill $143K. Post time 12:00 p.m.
  • Gulfstream West $158K. Post time 11:35 a.m.
  • Indiana Grand $140K. Post time 1:05 p.m. See below.
  • Woodbine $39K. Post time 1:25 p.m.
While you’re taking a peak at Indiana Grand in Illinois, note that Barbadian jockey Rocco “the Jocko” Bowen, whom many of you should remember for his early Canadian days at Assiniboia Downs (2008-2010) scored his 1,000th win there on Nov. 11 and should be on a roll since he loves the place (“ For some reason, this has felt like home right off the bat”) and plans to build a home for his mother there. His best year since he started riding in North America in 2007 (at Hastings in Vancouver) came at Golden Gate Fields in 2017. He has seven mounts at Indiana Grand today.

MONDAYS ARE BONUS DAYS IN NOVEMBER: Receive a 5% bonus on wagers you make Mondays in November. See details here.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Are you Ed R.? See SHOUT OUTS OF THE WEEK then contact The Insider
  • Hot pepper positives enrage trainers. What's causing them?
  • There's a time to think and a time to stop thinking. When is that? See Pocket Plenty
  • Horses wearing blankets eat less
  • Blasty is back! Who?
  • How did $25,000 slip through the fingers of betting group? Another tale of woe
ONE MORE WEEK TO PLAYER’S CHOICE TOURNEY: Remember to sign up for $25 by 5 p.m. next Friday to enter the next day’s Player’s Choice handicapping tournament where you’ll have a chance to share in $1,750 in prize money if you’re among the top five players with the biggest bankrolls. Bet a horse of your choice in any 10 North American races in your HPI account all day Saturday $2 win/place/show until 10 p.m.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in November? Find out  here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.


“I could use a second set of eyeballs”

No kidding. That’s what Los Alamitos track announcer Michael Wrona said at the wire of a 400-yard Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Stakes race at Los Alamitos Sunday (race 7). Oddly, there wasn’t a dead-heat in the seven-horse photo. Horses were separated by nose-nose-nose-nose-head-head. The longest shot at 19-1, #7 Corona Jumpim, won. Of course.

Wall in new home sports a great memory

ASD fan education specialist Marshall Posner enlarged a photo he took on Breeders’ Cup Saturday at Santa Anita last year and attached it to the wall of his office in his new home in Charleswood. “That’s where Spun to Run went gate to wire in the Dirt Mile.” he noted. It’s a scene he will treasure in the dead of winter when he starts up his car at -40 and won’t be able to see cars in front of him because car exhaust hangs in the frigid air.


Long, winding, pot-holed road opened Sept. 5
36 Derby qualifying races will be run in the U.S.; next one is next Saturday

Essential Quality wins the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
The long, winding and usually pot-holed road to the Kentucky Derby opened on Sept. 5 to hundreds of 2-year-olds who will be seeking to earn enough points to get into--and win--the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1. The Iroquois Stakes on Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs was the first qualifying race to be run and there have been four since, the last being the important Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

There are 47 point-earning Kentucky Derby prep races in all, 36 in the U.S., seven in Europe and four in Japan. Here are the first five in the U.S. that includes the Equibase speed rating for each winner:
  • Sept. 5 -- Iroquois at Churchill. Won by Dale Romans trainee Sittin On Go. Equibase speed 95.
  • Sept. 26 -- American Pharoah at Santa Anita. Won by Peter Miller trainee Get Her Number. E 88.
  • Oct. 3 -- Breeders Futurity at Keeneland. Won by Brad Cox’s Essential Qualiity. E 96.
  • Oct. 10 -- Champagne at Belmont. Won by Steve Asmussen’s Jackie’s Warrior. E 102.
  • Nov. 6 -- Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Won by Essential Qualify. E 103.
NEXT STOP ON THE ROAD: Nov. 28 (Player’s Choice tournament day) -- Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill


A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Ed R. (whoever you are) for being the second Winnipegger to win a show-survivor contest in the big leagues of California racing. Santa Anita sent out a news release saying that Ed R. of Winnipeg, MB had:
  • Won $2,500 cash (U.S.) for the longest show streak in the track’s free ShowVivor online contest
  • Won $1,000 for the longest win streak
  • Won $500 for most total wins.
That’s $4,000 U.S. or about $5,300 Canadian. So, congrats, Ed R., whoever you are. In fact, please email if this is you. You are the second Winnipegger to bring glory to the city because of your accomplishments in California contests. The first person was now-retired math prof Jim Roberts who won $5,000 U.S. ($6,000 Cdn at the time) for being the last person standing among more than 2,800 entrants in Hollywood Park’s Show Me the Money contest in 2012.

TRAINERS OUTRAGED BY UNEXPLAINABLE HOT PEPPER POSITIVES: It’s a huge mystery and it has Canadian horsemen fighting mad. Race horses continue to test positive for capsaicin, a derivative of chili peppers, that is a restricted substance because it can be used to treat pain. Forty-five horses at tracks across Canada have tested positive since June but no one knows where the capsaicin is coming from. Two ASD trainers were forced to return purse money earned by horses who tested positive after races on June 16, 23 and July 1.

When Woodbine trainer Tony Cattellaro had two positive tests last week, he was enraged: “I’m probably one of the most progressive trainers out there--a hay-oats-water guy,” he was quoted as saying. “I am pro-horse, this business is my passion. It’s a stain against me and this is not something I will accept.” Eight Woodbine trainers have filed an appeal with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to have the drug positives expunged from their records and to have purse money redistributed.

Wearing a blanket, he won’t eat as much hay
HORSES WEARING A BLANKET EAT LESS: Draping a blanket over a horse during the winter cuts back a horse’s consumption of hay by eight per cent. That’s the outcome of a University of Wisconsin study where two groups of eight horses had identical living conditions and free access to hay in December and January except that horses in one group wore blankets. The blanketed horses ate two pounds less hay each day. It seems obvious that they didn’t need to take in as many calories to keep warm compared to their unblanketed counterparts.

It seems impossible that Saturday’s ‘I won bigger” betting group wasn’t sharing $25,000 (about $500 per $20 share) after #5 Penetanguishene, won at odds of 21-1 and this was a horse used in group pick-3s and atop superfectas because I loved his chances. So why didn’t the horse appear on pick-5 tickets? I’ll take the blame. I should have reviewed tickets produced during other telephone conversations.

I took solace later in the afternoon after a friend suffered an even worse beat. He was about to bet a $220 Power pick-6 ticket on his HPIbet account but didn’t hit “send” because he thought he could cut the cost in half. Of course you know what happened: His original ticket would have given him the only correct ticket on the pick-6 and his account would have been fattened by $45,000. So, a sorrowful $70,000 went wanting on Saturday. Misery loves company.

But, of course, the “I won bigger” betting group will soldier on as usual on Woodbine races this Saturday and I’ll at least take pleasure in listening to the Call to the Post before each race. That's because that is now the correct version after I emailed the track noting the previous one--with multiple horns--was missing a couple notes and annoyed racing purists. Gotta take satisfaction in whatever little bits are thrown your way.

Blasty makes a comeback
BLASTY THE HORSE COMES OUT OF RETIREMENT: The fire-breathing horse, Blasty, is being brought out of retirement to once again adorn the Calgary Flames’ jersey when the 2021 NHL season begins likely in January. “The actual kit, what the players are going to be wearing with the pants and the socks and everything . . . is awesome,“ said Flames marketing director Ryan Popowich. “I think we have the best kit.” Adults who wore Blasty jerseys as kids in the late 1990’s and early 2000s campaigned via social media (#FreeBlasty) to bring Blasty back. But not all Flames fans are happy since the team never made the playoffs during Blasty’s first reign. Oddly, perhaps, a real horse never raced under the name Blasty.

Thanks to Illinois adopting gaming legislation last year, 95-year-old Fairmount Park--not far from St. Louis, Missouri--will be partnering with the New York sports betting group FanDuel to rename itself FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing and upgrade the facility and bring back the $250,000 St. Louis Derby that had been dropped 14 years ago. Racing will be held from May to September.

An Australian vet is the talk of the internet after he used Diet Coke to help break up a football-size mass of vegetation in a horse’s stomach. A camera that peaked into the stomach of a horse in poor condition with a dull, dry coat showed a tightly wound ball of undigested material. Based on anecdotal information, the vet, Dr. Oliver Liyou, poured two litres of Diet Coke into the horse’s stomach through a tube and another three litres two hours later after noticing the first couple litres had loosened the mass. That was finished off with an eight-litre electrolyte drench. Could Diet Pepsi have worked just as well? (I use Pepsi to rub away car rust.)
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: When is thinking a waste of brain power?

Let’s suppose you were offered to choose a winner from a race containing these choices:
  • Horse who won two races in a row
  • Horse who won his last race
  • Horse who won two races in a row before his last race
  • Four horses who finished second or third in their last couple races.
  • Horse, ridden by a 3 per cent jockey, who finished 10th in his last race at 75-1 and finished 7th in his previous two outs
So who would you choose to bet? If this were a bottom level claiming race, the correct answer is ALL. This was race 2 Saturday at Woodbine and the winner was the last horse in the above list, #1 Leon Azul, who went off at 25-1. This race once again proves you could be the best handicapper in the world and you won’t beat bottom claimers. So why waste time trying? See the program page for that race here.

If you MUST reduce the number of horses, take the five or six horses with the highest speed number SOMEWHERE IN THEIR PAST PERFORMANCES. Ignore expert picks. They’re wrong most of the time.
TOP 3 NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 11

Washington over Bengals (Sunday afternoon): The number of things that had to transpire for Alex Smith to become a starting QB again is uncanny. When the season started he was third on the depth chart but Dwayne Haskins’s spotty play and Kyle Allen’s broken ankle finds him facing--and probably beating--the Bengals.He also gives me hope that no matter how bad an injury is (and I’m recovering from my second achilles tendon rupture), there’s a chance you can play again. 

Panthers over Lions
(Sunday noon): The starting QBs of both these teams are questionable to even play. Matt Stafford is nursing a thumb injury on his throwing hand and Teddy "Two Gloves” Bridgewater has a slight MCL sprain. The Lions don’t seem to play as well outdoors so I’m giving the edge to Carolina. 

Vikings over Cowboys
(Sunday afternoon): Everyone’s favourite team to root against (except maybe Roger Jones) is back in action this Sunday taking on the suddenly resurgent Minnesota Vikings. Dalvin Cook has been nearly impossible to stop since he’s returned from injury which has helped Kirk Cousins and the passing game. An effective running game is always a quarterback’s best friend. Dallas QB Andy Dalton has been cleared to practise after suffering a nasty concussion last month so there’s a chance he plays. 

The Saints may have won the game but in the process they lost Drew Brees (broken ribs and collapsed lung) for a few weeks, if not longer....I underestimated how bad the Eagles are -- even coming off a bye week and the Giants man-handled them....Tua Tangovailoa improved to 3-0 with another solid win over the Chargers. 
THE BEST OF BOB by Bob Gates: Remembering the Big Man from South Dakota

Did you know that this past season marked the 30th anniversary of Ardell Sayler's first win at Assiniboia Downs? On Sunday May 26, 2019 we lost Ardell. Read Bob's recap of the Big Man's amazing career here. (First published in June 2019)
U.S. Thanksgiving will herald a bigger weekend of racing than usual. Is this a hurkey or a torse?
  • This Saturday: “I won bigger” group play
  • This Sunday: Grey Cup Day. Oops! Not this year. But the Winnipeg Blue Bombers would likely have followed up by what they did last year to the Hamilton Tiger Cats so you can listen to a replay on TSN radio and imagine it’s this year.
  • Monday, Nov. 23: Receive a 5% bonus on all eligible wagers you make Mondays in November.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 25: Early publication of The Insider to set up U.S. Thanksgiving racing the next day.
  • Thursday, Nov. 26: U.S. Thanksgiving with earlier than usual post times. Laurel kicks off major league racing at 10:25 a.m. Fair Grounds fires up its fall meet at noon.
  • Saturday, Nov. 28: Player’s Choice handicapping tournament. Online “I won bigger” group play. Kentucky Derby prep race: the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.
  • Monday, Nov. 30: Receive a 5% bonus on all eligible wagers you make Mondays in November.
  NEXT INSIDER: Next Wednesday to set up special racing on U.S. Thanksgiving Thursday and on the weekend.

While Assiniboia Downs and OTBs remain closed due to Code Red coronavirus directives, here’s how to play races, make deposits or withdrawals and get racing programs.

Where can I wager and watch the races?

  • You can wager on your account at or by calling a Telephone Account Betting Operator at 204-885-9800. No account? Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225.
  • Watch the races at or on MTS T.V. channels 179 & 180

How do I open an HPIbet account?

  • You can open an acccount quickly and easily at or by calling the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225.

How do I make a deposit to my HPI account?

  • Deposits can be made at using a Credit Card, Interac Online or PayPal.
  • Deposits can be made by e-transfer. Send e-transfer to and place your HPI account number in the message portion of the e-transfer .
  • Deposits can be made using a credit card by calling 204-885-9800.
  • Deposits can be dropped off at the General Office by using our curbside drop-off service. Please call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to make these arrangements in advance.
  • Deposits can be picked up from your home. Please call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to make these arrangements in advance.

How do I make a withdrawal from my HPI account?

  • Withdrawals can be made at
  • Withdrawals can be made by calling 204-885-9800

How can I get a Program or Daily Racing Form?

  • Programs and Daily Racing Forms will be emailed to you. Request the track you want by emailing Sheri at
  • Programs and Daily Racing Forms can be obtained via contactless curbside pickup. Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 in advance to make those arrangements or email
  • Programs and Daily Racing Forms will be delivered to your home. Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to make those arrangements or email

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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