Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 44 (Issue #613)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Ivan is on holidays
His regular column will resume next Thursday

Roimes Chirinos
25% winning jockey will ride Escape Clause today

ESCAPE CLAUSE RACES TODAY: How good is super filly Escape Clause? The Manitoba-bred--bought for just $3,500 at the annual CTHS yearling sale two years ago--pits her talent against mainly Kentucky-bred 3-year-old fillies this afternoon in the richest stakes race of her young life: the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks at Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico. Also featured on this Thanksgiving-eve card is the $200,000 Zia Park Derby and other stakes action. First post: 1:10 p.m. CST.

The Zia Park Oaks is the last race on the 10-race card. Post time is 5:12 p.m. CST. 

Post position order (with best Equibase speed figure and morning line)
  1. Escape Clause. 97 (12-1)
  2. Ever So Clever. 99 (2-1)
  3. The Incident. 96 (6-1)
  4. Proud and Fearless. 109 (8-5)
  5. Kell Paso. 98 (6-1)
  6. Sandy’s Surprise. 106 (12-1)
  7. Mountain Goddess. 81 (8-1)
Will Escape Clause share in the $300,000 U.S. purse? First place: $180,000, second $66,000, third $30,000, fourth $12,000, fifth and sixth $6,000. Only the last place finisher doesn’t share in the purse.

Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. neighbours!


  • 10:25 a.m. Laurel
  • 10:30 a.m. Churchill
  • 10:50 a.m. Aqueduct
  • 11:00 a.m. Fair Grounds
  • 1:15 p.m. Del Mar. See balance of schedule here.

FREE BREAKFAST SANDWICH to the first 25 at the track between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. tomorrow! See if you don’t agree it’s the best breakfast sandwich you’ve ever tasted: egg, sausage or bacon and cheese on a toasted English muffin. Warm to the touch, it’s comfort food that will kick off a great morning of racing action!

Also, enjoy the special which includes a hot turkey sandwich served open faced with fries smothered with turkey gravy and cranberry sauce for only $10.

And watch NFL football on big screens in the Race Book including:

5-ALIVE CONTEST CONTINUES FRIDAY AND SATURDAY: Bet three show horses, a place horse and a winner in three consecutive races—from $2 to $10 per race—to win double your bets if all five of your wagers are successful. Pick your track and races between 7 p.m. and 10:30 Friday and Saturday.
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive

Click to enlarge


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? Jets

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.

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 $3,025!

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. Are there certain angles to consider when handicapping Stakes races compared to claiming races?

  1. Not all Stakes Races are created equal – In a nutshell, there are minor stakes and major stakes so make sure you understand the difference when comparing horses in a race. For starters, there are Overnight Stakes that usually include top Allowance horses that are locally based. The next level of stakes races are Statebred Stakes, which means that only regionally bred runners are eligible to contend. These are restricted races and often the top horses winning these races have trouble when they move up in class and compete with Open Class company.

    The next level of Stakes races are open to all horses and are labelled as Listed Stakes. This usually attracts the best quality runners from the surrounding geographic area. The final and highest level of Stakes races available is for Graded Stakes, which are created for top-level horses and usually run at the biggest tracks across the country.

    There are three different levels of Graded Stakes including G1, G2, and G3,  with G1 races being the highest level of competition. Understanding the different levels of class and competition between each level can help you separate contenders from pretenders in every race. For example, a horse racing evenly in Grade 1 races dropping into a Grade 3 race, often has a significant class advantage over the other entries. Similarly, a horse that has been racing in Graded Stakes company dropping into a conditional stakes race, usually has a significant class advantage over those horses.

  2. Consider the current “form” of the horse you're evaluating – A “sharp” horse should always be considered when you're handicapping a Stakes race because a good trainer will often move his/her horse up when they've been improving with each win. HINT: watch race replays to decide whether a horse won easily at a lower condition and can make the improvement necessary to win at the higher level. Often these horses are well bet signaling their likely ability to improve at the higher class level. Also, check trainer stats to assess the likelihood of success.

  3. Pay special attention to top trainers and jockeys. At every track there are always one or two top jockeys and/or trainers that seem to consistently win the biggest races on a consistent basis. Always consider these connections when analyzing a Stakes race.

Got a question for Marshall? Email


(“At the Races” is Ivan’s column in the Canstar community newspapers. This column appeared shortly after the end of live racing.)

The year of the filly – and the giant killer

Season 60 at Assiniboia Downs will surely come to be known as the year of the filly – with the best Manitoba-bred filly since 1978 showing blazing talent by winning seven races by more than 70 lengths.

Giant killer Linda Kropius with longshot Gold Cup winner Galitzianer ridden by Christopher Husbands

But it also will resonate as the year of the giant-killer. That’s because no-name trainer, Linda Kropius, who, just a few years ago, had posted only one win out of 42 starts racing mainly in her native Alberta, won the Gold Cup on the final weekend of racing by taking down Manitoba Derby winner Plentiful with her 8-year-old gelding, Galitzianer.

And her Dandy Deen blasted past hugely-favoured 2-year-old Cheertothenewyear trained by the best baby trainer at the track, Ardell Sayler, to win the Winnipeg Futurity.

Both were huge upsets. Each horse paid more than $20 for $2 wagers. To have won one of those storied stakes would have been exceptional. To have won both caused jaws to drop, especially since Kropius only had a five-horse stable.

And to think that her Gold Cup winner, Galitzianer, was “a shell of a horse with really bad teeth” when she claimed him, partly out of pity, for $3,000 U.S. last year at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Arizona.

In other season-ending news, the 3-year-old filly, Escape Clause, stamped herself as the leading candidate for Horse of the Year by winning her seventh race of the season, the Manitoba Matron, gate to wire without breaking a sweat.

Not since Liz’s Pride won all seven of her races as a 2-year-old in 1978 has there been such a captivating Manitoba-bred filly.

It was a good year for the Downs at the betting windows, too, with a 14.4 per cent increase in wagering – to $11 million this year.

Jockey Rohan Singh, who had won leading jockey titles in 2000, 2001 and 2005, proved he was as competitive as ever by chalking up his fourth title with 42 wins, four more than his closest rival, former title holder Christopher Husbands. And Tom Gardipy, Jr. rallied his grooming staff in the closing days of the meet to capture the training title for the fifth time with 36 wins, two more than Don Schnell who trains filly Escape Clause.

Now what? Lots of Vegas-style simulcast action, Saturday morning horseplayer workshops (which I conduct and to which you are invited), Thursday prime rib buffets, $10 buy-in poker and 140 VLTs all day every day including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.


Did you know . . . that Manitoba breeder and horse owner Ed Pawluk has had two brushes with Canadian Derby greatness? Ed's Smoky Cinder won the 1997 Derby and he was the breeder of Fancy As who won the Derby in 2001? Read more here.


  • Next tournament goes this Saturday

    Tomorrow: U.S. Thanksgiving which means great racing, early post times and all-day NFL action on Race Book TVs. And a free breakfast sandwich for early arrivals!
  • This Saturday: Player’s Choice horseplayer tournament from noon to 4:30 p.m. Total prize money $1,750.
  • This Saturday: Kentucky Derby prep race: the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs
  • Thursday, Dec. 14: Hanukkah Festival of Lights buffet $27.95. Reserve a table with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0
  • Thursday, Dec. 21: Festive buffet $27.95. Call Samantha above.
  • Sunday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve. Downs is open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. for VLT play, turkey dinner and contest fun.
  • Monday, Dec. 25: Christmas Day. Downs is open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. for VLT play, turkey dinner and contest fun.
  • Sunday, Dec. 31: New Year's Eve Gala. Main Floor Ballroom. Hosted by 94.3 The Drive's Tom and Kerri. Tickets $49.95 (plus taxes & gratuities). Call Samantha at 204-885-3330.

A delicious toasty warm breakfast sandwich and
coffee will be waiting for you tomorrow morning!

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

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