Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 11 No. 42 (Issue #562)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. friends!

Five reasons to look forward to tomorrow:

  1. FREE BREAKFAST SANDWICH to the first 25 at the track between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. (to compliment your usual free coffee). First posts: Laurel 10:25 a.m., Churchill at 10:30 a.m.
  2. ENJOY CRUNCHY BACON TREAT at a special “I won big” workshop at 9:30 a.m. where the first five races at Aqueduct will be discussed and played (pick-5 and pick-4). Be ready to win! Download races here! First post at Aqueduct: 10:50 a.m. (The bacon treat is a result of my losing a bet. See below.)
  3. EXCITING STAKES RACES featured at Churchill, Aqueduct, Fair Grounds and Del Mar
    • Vikings/Lions 11:30 a.m.
    • Redskins/Cowboys 3:30 p.m.
    • Steelers/Colts 7:30 p.m.
  5. TURKEY DINNER SPECIAL all day. Roast turkey with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, veggies for $10.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Good value? Play the three-stakes pick-4 at Penn National at 5 p.m. (races 1-4)
  • Tonight is your second-last Wednesday to play Woodbine (5:45 p.m.)
  • Two Kentucky Derby prep races and Cigar Mile set for Saturday
  • Readers who paid attention to last week's Insider cashed big
  • Weanling of ASD mare fetches $180,000 (U.S.) at Keeneland auction
  • Before horses race at Del Mar tomorrow, humans will. What?
  • Sign up for second-last Player's Choice tourney of the year Saturday

PARLAY SHOWDOWN IMMINENT? CHALLENGER HAS ONLY TWO DAYS: Mystic Writer threw down the gauntlet in last week’s Insider promising to unseat Al “Mr. Parlay” Ilott as the #1 parlay guru. Well, nothing materialized last weekend so Mystic Writer has just this Friday and Saturday night to make good on his boasting and increase a $6 show parlay to more than $160.50, which is Ilott’s winner of a prime rib buffet if no one exceeds that. How does that saying go? “Put up or shut up!” Somehow I don’t think Mr. Parlay is squirming in his boots.

QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
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94.3 The Drive

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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? NFL-Jets

EVERY FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY: 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: 5-Alive "Double Your Winnings" contest from 7 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. and $10 buy-in poker. Registration 8 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m.

SECOND-LAST PLAYER’S CHOICE TOURNEY SATURDAY: Noon Saturday is the beginning of the second-last Player’s Choice horseplayer tournament of the year with $850 in prize money at stake. Sign up by 9 p.m. Friday. Simply bet $2 win/place on 10 horses of your choice Saturday afternoon. The top three bankrolls receive prize money and trophies. HOTY leader board.

Enjoy while watching Grey Cup

ENJOY SPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS ON GREY CUP DAY: All day Sunday, Grey Cup Day, enjoy the spaghetti and meatballs with garlic toast special for $10. Kickoff for the Ottawa Redblacks/Calgary Stampeders tilt is 5:30 p.m. Continue to play Del Mar, Golden Gate, Portland Meadows and Flamboro and Northfield harness followed by Los Alamitos and Australia. If the game becomes a bore, hey, you have the excitement of racing in store! Simulcast schedule.


Hope you cashed, too!

Insider was a perfect two-for-two in providing tools to win big

Gunnevera duplicates his last-to-first thriller

Yup, that was me yelping in the Race Book Saturday afternoon when the 2-year-old colt, Gunnevera, charged from last to first to win the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes. It wasn’t because that earned me $2,000 in the pick-4—although that was certainly nice—but because his win made last week’s Insider a perfect two-for-two in helping you and other Insider readers cash big, too—for spending very little.

In last week’s Insider, you may recall:

  1. I wrote that 36 per cent Manitoba trainer Rob Atras was bookending that night’s pick-4 at Remington with horses he conditions for Robertino Diodoro. And what happened? If you simply keyed his horses in the first and fourth legs and added the two favourites in the middle two legs for a $2 ticket, you collected about $350. Yes, it was that simple.
  2. I also invited you to click on a replay of Gunnevera’s stakes race at Saratoga and suggested that his last-to-first victory in that race could be exactly the move that would win the Kentucky Derby prep race at Delta Downs. And it was. That race anchored a huge overlay pick-4 that was relatively easy to pick. I spent just $48 in a $1 wheel--keying Gunnevera in the last leg--to win $2,000.

“Thanks for the excellent insights,” Insider reader Elliott wrote. Glad to be of help.

*       *       *

BIG DAYS AT MINOR TRACKS OFFER BETTER VALUE THAN MAJORS: The overlays at Delta Downs in the pick-4 above and in the superfectas that day showed again that big days at minor tracks are really worth playing. Overlays abound because major players seem to stick to “A” tracks, leaving the pools at minor tracks to be built up primarily by less-informed casual players.

Speaking of which, you may wish to take advantage of the pick-4 in races 1 to 4 at Penn National tonight because it’s an important day at the track with races 2 to 4 being stakes races. Will you win the pick-4 for a return several times more than you think it should pay? First post is 5 p.m. See those races here.

TRIVIA TEASER: What is the most number of wins by any horse ever at Assiniboia Downs? (a)14 (b) 19 (c) 24 (d) 29. Bob’s got the answer in today’s blog.

Big day for Manitoba horse breeders

Weanling fetches a "shocking" $180,000 (U.S.)

Witch's Coven wins 2011 Winnipeg Sun Stakes. Owners Ken Lee (left) and Dennis Mitchell (right). Missing: Sandra Lepard.

For three Manitoba horse owners, Remembrance Day turned into Christmas Day, too, when a weanling they bred fetched a “shockingly” high price of $180,000 (U.S.) at the Keeneland breeding stock sale and they won a race at Woodbine, earning $48,600.

“Bidding just became a blur after it reached $100,000 and just kept going,”
co-owner Sandra Lepard, who was at the auction, told The Insider.“I was just a little shocked.” The reserve price had been $95,000, she said.

She and her partner, Ken Lee—both of whom are chartered accountants--had a 50 per cent share in the weanling under the Gold Medal Stable name and the other half belonged to Dennis Mitchell, the retired owner and operator of Wildwood Transport.

Lepard and Lee got heavily involved in racing and breeding after Lee became a director of the Manitoba Jockey Club in 1993 (he left in 2014).

Coven's handsome weanling son fetches $180,000 (U.S.)

Assiniboia Downs fans will recognize the mother of their sold weanling, Witch’s Coven, because the mare won the 2011 and 2012 Winnipeg Sun Stakes. She was bred to Violence, a stallion who had won the CashCall Futurity at the now-defunct Hollywood Park. The mare’s most recent tryst was with Bayern, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic two years ago.

Through the years, Lee said, they have raced 89 horses, 27 of whom they bred themselves. Another 25 of the horses they bred were sold. Their most successful: Ontario-bred Britannia Penny 11-3-2-3 ($118,000) and three Manitoba-breds: Get Down 8-3-0-1 ($118,000),Fionn 50-4-16-9 ($119,000) and Simply Regal 55-8-10-12 ($91,000).

Nothing matched the elation they experienced on Remembrance Day, however. Former ASD trainer Martin Drexler (who won the Manitoba Derby with Weather Warning in 2008) trains for them at Woodbine and it was their Blurricane who won a $62,500 optional claimer on Nov. 11.

Lepard has also ridden horses herself, performing in hunter ring events on the Red River Ex grounds and she has served on the executive of the Manitoba division of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society. And how did she get her start in racing? By looking for winning mutuel tickets tossed to the ground at Stampede Park in Calgary where she lived in her early teens. Started from the ground up, so to speak.

U.S. Thanksgiving: a weekend of sizzle

The Cigar Mile and two Kentucky Derby prep races headline 23 stakes

Will McCraken thrill us with another field-rounding move?

Must-watch stakes races over the next three days include top turf events all three days at Del Mar and, on Saturday, the $500,000 grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct along with two point-earning qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby:
• The Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct
• The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill

Will a horse in either or both of those Derby prep races exhibit something similar to the last-to-first brilliance of Gunnevera in last Saturday’s Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes?

Mo Town
, a son of Uncle Mo, is the likely favourite in the Remsen especially after his 5f bullet breeze at Belmont last Saturday. In his last start in the slop, he vanquished the field by seven lengths.

The most exciting finish of the two prep races could come from two-for-two McCraken in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Despite being fanned seven wide in the turn in his previous race, the son of Ghostzapper rallied well and drew off to win by more than three lengths.

In the prestigious Cigar Mile, Curlin’s son, Connect, will attempt to double up on his Pennsylvania Derby win.


PEOPLE RUN AT DEL MAR BEFORE THE HORSES DO: While you’re eating your free breakfast sandwich at the Downs tomorrow morning, people at Del Mar race track in California will be lining up in the starting gate to run around the one-mile track to raise money for an animal centre. Tickets cost $22 which includes race track admission and parking, a fun-run T-shirt and a race bib. Participants are being encouraged to wear costumes and some jockeys will be joining in as well. Kids in strollers are welcome, too.

The crunch that settles a score

"BIG" GROUP GETS BACON WHILE BIGG IS STUCK WITH HUMBLE PIE: Common sense says that when a meet is ending at a race track, as it is at Woodbine, trainers may rush to give a first-time starter at least one start before the track closes even though the horse may need more prep time. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But that logic—my logic-- didn’t prevail in race 5 at Woodbine last Saturday so I owe the “I won big” participants a bacon treat tomorrow morning. Instead of one of the three logical choices winning the race—as I said would happen--an unlikely 36/1 bombs away first time starter, EllanVannin, swept to victory.

Gulp. The good thing was, I still took the advice of several players who insisted that one of our pick-4 tickets contain “all” horses in that leg. Which we did and that meant group members got back about three-quarters of the money spent on other plays. Maybe crunching on bacon will put them in just the right frame of mind to pick winners in the first five races at Aqueduct in a special session tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. You’re invited!

WHAT WOULD A HORSE TRAINER DO ABOUT HOCKEY? Race fans who know that horses need a fairly lengthy rest between peak performances have to be having a problem with human athletes. Namely, hockey players. A major topic on sports radio lately has been the tiring schedule—three games in four nights, for example—that the Winnipeg Jets have had to endure. In addition to lots of flying time. One has to wonder whether that is fair to fans who pay big bucks to see their stars at their best. What if a horse trainer were in charge of hockey schedules? He’d likely pare down the 82-day season to 76 or even 72 games. Food for thought.

HPIBET Marshall Posner

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. Is it possible to view trainer entries in a list as opposed to scanning each race?

A. Yes, HPIbet allows you to view all of the entries for any given trainer for their next day of racing. Just type in the trainer’s name into the SEARCH box at the top of any page and hit enter (view image here). This will produce a Search Results page with a list of all of the entries from that trainer for the next day of racing (view image here). You’ll also get their year-to-date stats, total winnings and win percentage. If you want to view any particular race in greater detail, watch a race replay, etc., just click on the track name for the entry you’re interested in.

Got a question for Marshall? Email

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

Who knew? Since 1958, the ASD Winner’s Circle has had three significant makeovers. In the 1960s a second winner's enclosure was set up in the infield for special stake races. Bob's blog fills you in here.

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