Thursday, December 3, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 48 (Issue #767)

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.

NEW! 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS BONUSES! In addition to the usual bonuses, ASD will add an extra 1% to all wagers made between Saturday, Dec. 12 (Player’s Choice tournament day) and Wednesday, Dec. 23. Total wagering must be more than $1,500; maximum extra bonus $100. Payoffs of $2.10 not eligible.

Perk up someone’s day with an ASD gift card!

Give the promise of better days to come by presenting an ASD gift card to a loved one or friend during the holiday season. To obtain a gift card(s) simply phone the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225, request whatever amount you wish ($20 or more.) Gift cards can be paid for with your credit card. Curbside pick-up and free delivery service are offered during these COVID-19 times.

Yay! Final Furlong has produced a 2021 calendar for sale

Good to see! Final Furlong, the non-profit organization that helps find good homes for retired race horses and ponies has produced a 2021 calendar featuring photos taken by Carey Lauder and Rusty Barton during the ASD race meet. Cost is $20. Great for you and as a gift!

(1) Order directly from Final Furlong with an e-transfer of $25 (includes $5 shipping charge) to See Final Furlong’s Facebook page here. (2) Or make a $20 credit card purchase for each calendar from ASD by calling 204-885-3330 ext. 225. You may then pick-up your calendar(s) via curbside service or ask for free delivery to your home.


It’s time to honour the blue collar horse!

The what? Just as Breeders’ Cup is a celebration of the world’s top horses who have a chance to scoop giant purses, there is a day each year to recognize the horse that is the backbone of the racing industry--the claimer--and giving that horse a chance to win a sizeable purse.

And that’s what this Saturday is all about at Gulfstream Park as it begins its winter/spring Championship Meet. It’s called Claiming Crown Day. Claimers in a series of nine races will have a chance to shoot for sizable purses between $75,000 and $150,000 each.

This day of recognition was established 22 years ago by horsemen (HBPA) and horse owners/breeders (TOBA). It doesn’t require you to tear up and become all maudlin over the hard-trying claimers who usually give us so much pleasure. Just taking a moment on Saturday to recognize their contribution--and betting them as usual--will be enough.

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MANDATORY PAYOUT SATURDAY: Note, too, that Saturday is Cigar Mile Day at Aqueduct when there will be a mandatory payout of the 20-cent Empire pick-6.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Single-team bets are on the way
  • How did tourney winner win?
  • If your colt is racing with Lasix, no Kentucky Derby for you
  • Look who's calling Century Mile harness races!
  • Why is this Saturday's Ky Derby prep such a stiff test for 2-year-olds?
  • Flashback: This is historian Bob's most popular column
FINAL TOURNEY JUST NINE DAYS AWAY: The final Player’s Choice handicapping tournament of the year with $1,750 in prize money and with the (virtual) crowning of the Handicapper of the Year is just nine days away -- a week from this Saturday. See last Saturday’s winner and runners-up below.

Ed Romanik
Beat more than 3,200 contestants
MANITOBA PROUD: SANTA ANITA REVEALS SHOWVIVOR ACHIEVEMENT. Santa Anita tells The Insider that Winnipegger Ed Romanik put away more than 3,200 contestants from all over North America to win $4,000 U.S. in Santa Anita’s ShowVivor contest during its 16-day fall meet. He won $2,500 for being the last person standing after nine consecutive show picks, $1,000 for the longest win streak (seven days) and $500 for the most wins (12).  Romanik is a former air traffic controller who owned horses at ASD for about 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s. He now runs a small business and likes to play the races at ASD at a table near the bar.
Click to enlarge.

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


"I always watch replays of horses racing outside"
Former Handicapper of the Year nails 32-1 horse to win November tourney

Jeff Rozmus
Nails a 32-1 longshot
Sometimes one good longshot is all a player needs to win a handicapping tournament. And so it was for Jeff Rozmus, 67, a retired City of Winnipeg sewer bylaw enforcer, who won the second-last Player’s Choice tournament of the year this past Saturday. He also brought into the tourney his reputation as the 2012 Handicapper of the Year.

“I always watch replays of horses racing outside (in previous races),” he told The Insider. In race 4 at Churchill, he noted 32-1 Warrior in Chief “had been seven wide his whole trip and still finished with guts up the stretch.” Warrior in Chief won and Rozmus padded his bankroll with a 26-1 horse, Traipsing, in the last race at Aqueduct. As a speed horse, “I thought he could clear.” Which he did, ultimately resulting in a second-place finish. (For contest purposes, bets are capped at $42, $22, $12 across the board.)

Part of handicapping in these COVID-19 times is avoiding distractions at home, especially in tending to three female grandchildren, 3, 5 and 7 years of age. “My wife teaches the 7-year-old grade 2 and the 5-year-old kindergarten. And I handle the discipline,” Rozmus said.

The top five finishers and their prize money:
1. Jeff Rozmus -- bankroll $108 -- $1,000 prize money
2. Mel Peddle -- $78.10 -- $400
3. Jane Baxter -- $78.00 -- $200
4. Brian McKellar -- $77.70 -- $100
5. Kathy Phelps -- $73.80 -- $50


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Jones passes Jones in HOTY battle
One Jones is on a roll while the former leader slumps

A Roger Jones tournament play simply stops
Transit driver Roger Jones wasn’t surprised Saturday when retired salesman Trevor Tilston-Jones passed him to become the new leader for the title of Handicapper of the Year that will be awarded after the final Player’s Choice tournament on Dec. 14. Trevor has 230 points to his 219.

“I’ve been in a slump,”
Roger told The Insider. And, as if he needed proof, his 9-1 contest pick in a quarter horse race at Lone Star Park came out of the gate and stopped. Simply stopped. “Figures!” Jones said.

To regain the lead he must finish at least fourth in the final tournament. At least he had a hopeful sign in a later race on the Lone Star card when his bombs-away 38-1 tournament play lost by only a half-length, finishing third. If the horse had won, he would have maintained his HOTY lead.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to one of the most versatile people in the racing business, former ASD paddock host Rob MacLennan, who now is doing a more-than-adequate job calling harness races at Century Mile race track in Edmonton. He had been the race secretary for Century Mile’s thoroughbred meet and calling a harness race “started as a joke,” he told The Insider.

It turned out he’s a natural at it (listen to him call a race in mid-November here). The only trouble, he said, is remembering to use harness terms and not fall back on his “default” thoroughbred terms. “Harness horses don’t run, they pace. Then there’s first over, pocket, gapped off cover, hobbles, driver, etc.” He’s also the track handicapper and creates the morning line.

Patrick Mahomes
Did he give permission?
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Mahomes. Hey, I thought a living person had to give written permission to have a horse named after him. Is that what quarterback Patrick Mahomes did? Or maybe his father, Pat Mahomes, a Major League Baseball pitcher did. At any rate, Mahomes, the 3-year-old gray gelding sired by Cairo Prince, has a record of 10-1-4-1 racing at Prairie Meadows. There’s a 2-year-old quarter horse named Mahomes, too. He finished second and third in Futurity Trials at Ruidoso in New Mexico.

Thousand Words trains up a storm
The colt I picked to win Kentucky Derby prepares to race in Los Al meet

Thousand Words winning Shared Belief stakes on Aug. 1 (Eclipse Sportswire photo)
Never say die. Will Thousand Words, the colt I predicted would win the Kentucky Derby, finally justify the faith I put in him and silence the naysayers?

Good signs are there. The son of Pioneerof the Nile, trained by Bob Baffert, has been working up a storm at Santa Anita, likely to prepare for a start in the Los Alamitos thoroughbred meet that begins tomorrow. He worked five times in the past five weeks, two of them bullets. Last Saturday he was fastest of 37 horses at 5f in one minute flat.

Thousand Words never got to race in the Kentucky Derby because he flipped in the paddock before the race. That effectively shredded $200 in future wagers I had bet on him, some at odds of up to 65-1. His subsequent start in the Preakness Stakes was a head scratcher. After going to the lead he offered little resistance when other horses came to him.

His owners, Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm, who paid $1 million for him at a yearling sale have to be crossing their fingers as well.

Toughest test for 2-year-olds goes Saturday
Juveniles must go 1 1/8 miles in Kentucky Derby prep race, the Remsen

The Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, named for the colonel who commanded soldiers in the U.S. revolutionary war of 1776, is the toughest test of the year for 2-year-olds. That’s because the distance is the longest in their young careers--1 1/8-miles.

Although the Remsen hasn’t produced a Kentucky Derby winner since Go for Gin in 1994 and Thunder Gulch in 1995, there are other notable winners including Honor Code, Mohaymen and Catholic Boy. Of course, Catholic Boy.

Life Is Good is favoured to win Kentucky Derby (Benoit photo)
AS PREDICTED, LIFE IS GOOD IS FAVOURED TO WIN THE DERBY: After Del Mar race caller Larry Collmus gushed over the ease in which Life Is Good won his debut race two weeks ago (see last week’s Insider), it was inevitable the juvenile would become the single-horse favourite in the first Kentucky Derby future wager pool this past weekend. (Canadians couldn’t bet into the pool because federal regulations don’t allow bets to be carried over to a new year.)

After three days of wagering, Life Is Good settled at 5-1 while Essential Quality, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, was 8-1. As usual, though, the “all other horses” option went off at odds of 6-5. See full list here.  

Lasix has been banned from both the Kentucky Derby on May 1 and the Kentucky Oaks on April 30 and horses racing in prep races leading to those races will only receive qualifying points to enter those races if they race Lasix free.

NEW SINGLE-TEAM SPORTS WAGERING BILL INTRODUCED: Canada’s Parliament has introduced a bill that will allow single-team bets. Up to now, sports bettors had to combine a favourite team with at least two other teams. It was like having to bet a pick-3 when you’d prefer to make a win bet.

Turfway Park has a new Tapeta surface
LEADING TRAINER PRAISES TURFWAY PARK’S NEW TAPETA SURFACE: Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky opened its winter meet this week to praise for its newly-installed Tapeta track. “Our horses have been training for a few weeks over the new Tapeta track and it appears to be an excellent racing surface,” said leading trainer Brad Cox. Turfway previously had a Polytrack synthetic surface as Woodbine did but, like Woodbine, replaced Polytrack with Tapeta. Racing goes from Wednesday to Saturday at 5:15 p.m. CT. 

There always seems to be a new way for Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group to take a hit. Last Saturday, a key in Gulfstream West’s pick-6 wasn’t taken as a key because he hadn’t had a workout in more than a month--when three weeks is the usual requirement. Except, as we found out later, this workout rule doesn’t apply to turf races, only dirt races. Which meant that the 7-1 horse could have been singled and more horses taken in other legs to possibly win the $6,000 payoff. Oh well, we bandage more wounds and soldier on, concentrating on Tampa this Saturday. Will the racing gods get nicer as we get closer to Christmas?

ASD HORSE OWNER, BROTHER OF LEADING TRAINER PASSES: These have been sad days for the large Gourneau family and racing communities in Manitoba and North Dakota as horse owner David Gourneau, brother of leading ASD trainer Jerry Gourneau, died at 64 last Tuesday in a Fargo, ND hospital. After a career in education as a teacher and principal, he joined his three brothers racing at Assiniboia Downs and at North Dakota tracks. His horses had 249 starts, with 33 winning and almost 100 of them finishing in the money. Fittingly, his last start--a futurity stakes race at North Dakota Park in July-- was a winning one. As his obituary reads: David will be forever missed and lovingly remembered.”

Racing picks in The Insider last Thursday for U.S. Thanksgiving Day by ASD’s Kirt, Marshall and Stretch turned into a mixed bag. Kirt’s horse with a morning line of 10-1, emerged as the favourite but finished fifth; Marshall’s horse at Del Mar was scratched and Stretch’s race favourite at Del Mar ran second.

Only a memory now
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: So Gulfstream Park West--formerly Calder--is no more. The Florida track associated with one of the most memorable race-calling phrases in racing--“and they’re not going to get him today” by the late Phil Salzman--officially closed its doors Saturday, creating a rush of nostalgia among those who enjoyed the feel of the place--as I did.

Alberta trainer Tim Rycroft can finally say the horse he trained for the 2017 Canadian Derby, Double Bear, won the $150,000 Derby--because an Alberta tribunal reversed a ruling by track stewards and backed his contention that the actual race winner, Robertino Diodoro’s Chief Know It All, had interfered with his horse.
TOP 3 NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 13

Dolphins over Bengals (Sunday noon): This SHOULD have been the first meeting between the top two drafted quarterbacks but both are injured. Joe Burrow of the Bengals is having his knee reconstructed and Tua Tangovialoa of the Dolphins has an injured thumb on his throwing hand. There is a chance Tua can still play in this game but it really doesn’t matter who is at the helm because the Bengals have no shot. 

Titans over Browns
(Sunday noon): The Browns might be the worst 8-3 team I’ve seen in a long time. Up until last week, Browns QB Baker Mayfield hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass since week seven. They beat all the bad teams and lose to all the good teams. Titans running back Derek ”King” Henry had a monster game against the Colts last week (178 rushing yards and three touchdowns) and I don’t see the Browns slowing him down. 

49ers over Bills
(Monday night): After completing the season sweep of the LA Rams last week, the 49ers will try to keep their playoff hopes alive by beating the Bills. As if San Fran hasn’t had enough to deal with this season (with half the team on IR), new COVID restrictions in Santa Clara (where their stadium is located) means they will play their last two “home” games in Arizona. Good grief! 

After suffering yet another loss to the Texans, the Lions figured it was time to clean house by firing their coach and their GM....The Cowboys tried to pull off the WORST fake punt in football history which ultimately cost them the game against the Redskins .... And the “Coronabowl” between the Ravens and Steelers was postponed to yesterday with the Steelers winning 19-14.
THE BEST OF BOB: Here's Bob's most-popular column -- "A gem of a family"

Did you know that Ruth and Jim Benjamin from Montana involved their entire family in the racing world we call Assiniboia Downs? Bob has their story here, which by the way remains Bob's most-read column. (First published in July 2017)
Nine Claiming Crown races go Saturday at Gulfstream
  • Tomorrow: Los Alamitos Race Course meet begins at 2:30 p.m.
  • This Saturday: Online “I won bigger” group play; Kentucky Derby prep race, the Remsen, runs at Aqueduct, as does the Grade 1 Cigar Mile. Nine-race Claiming Crown series at Gulfstream
  • Saturday, Dec. 12: Final Player’s Choice handicapping tournament of the year. First day of “12 days of Christmas” bonuses: 1% cash back on total wagering exceeding $1,500 (except for $2.10 payoffs). Maximum bonus $100.
  • Sunday, Dec. 13 to Wednesday Dec. 23: Cash back “12 days of Christmas” bonus days. See above .
  • Friday, Dec. 18: Kentucky Derby prep race, Springboard Mile, at Remington
  • Saturday, Dec. 19: Derby prep race, Los Alamitos Futurity at Los Alamitos

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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