Thursday, December 10, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 49 (Issue #768)

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.


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.



Have you noticed what’s happening at Turfway Park that just began its winter meet with a brand new Tapeta surface? Bombs away winners. A $120 horse won the first race last Saturday gate to wire. And look at the other payoffs: $20.40, $18.80, $8.80, $22.20, $9.40, $11.20, $34.80.

Doesn’t that command your attention, especially if you’re playing in this Saturday’s Player’s Choice handicapping tournament? Nail a few such races and you’ll be among the top finishers. So here’s a suggestion: Play the track tonight and tomorrow night at 5:15 p.m. which could put you into a position to pounce on Saturday. What kind of horse is winning on the new Tapeta surface--and from where?

What was the past performance indicator that made the $120 horse a potential gate-to-wire play? See program page here. (The winner was #3 College Party.)

Bullet briefs . . .

  • What does a horse really want for Christmas? You won't believe this
  • Sign up by 5 p.m. tomorrow for final Player's Choice tourney of the year
  • Turfway Park hits the big time. How?
  • Time's running out for you to share in horse ownership
  • Betting group arms itself against racing gods
SIGN UP BY 5 PM TOMORROW FOR FINAL HANDICAPPING TOURNEY OF THE YEAR and keep in mind that, the next free online ShowVivor contest at Santa Anita (won previously by an ASD player) starts up again on the opening day of Santa’s winter meet on Dec. 26.
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.


Who will be crowned Handicapper of the Year?
Are you up to the challenge of producing your best tourney result of the year?

So this Saturday is your last chance of the year to take on the challenge of outplaying about 60 others in the Player’s Choice handicapping tournament to share in $1,750 in prize money.

It will also result in the crowning of the Handicapper of the Year which will merit a trip to the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas or a cash buy-out. And, of course, will give the title-holder bragging rights forever. Retired salesman Trevor Tilston-Jones tops the leaderboard and transit driver Roger Jones is 11 points back.

Never played in a tournament? It’s a great way of taking your mind off COVID isolation. The entry fee is just $25--which you can pay by credit card by calling the ASD mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225 by 5 p.m. tomorrow. Then bet $2 win/place/show Saturday in your HPIbet account on a horse in 10 races all day until 10 p.m. Bet thoroughbreds, quarter horses or standardbreds, your choice.

See the previous tournament results here. See the leader board for the HOTY title here.

Time is running out . . .
. . . to share in horse ownership in the 2021 live race season

John Field
Coordinates Assiniboia Racing Club
Time is running out for you to join the Assiniboia Racing Club (ARC) to become partners in a horse or horses during the 2021 racing season.

A share is $500 which includes everything for the season including buying a horse(s), trainer fees, feed, vet bills--the works. Then you cross your fingers hoping your horse burns up the track. HBPA director John Field coordinates ARC activities. He expects about 50 members for 2021. This is the ARC’s sixth season.

Field said Devon Gittens will be the Club’s trainer and is currently looking for a horse. At the 2020 race meet Gittens had seven wins out of 35 starts (20 per cent) and finished second in two stakes races: Purrsistent in the Distaff and Prairie Magic in the Buffalo.

If you wish to join, email Shannon at

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What became of last year's Club horses?
Club members bought them: One is retired, the other will become a broodmare

It was a challenging season for the Assiniboia Racing Club in 2020, with just a second-place finish the best placing of the two 4-year-olds the Club owned. But, then again, Club members wouldn’t have been able to crowd into the Winner’s Circle for a prized photo anyway.

Club members, though, still were able to watch their horses live from the ASD dining room with social distancing in place.

And what about their two horses? The filly, Gemagine, was purchased by 17 Club members to become a broodmare on the farm of owner/breeder Ken Pawluk. And the gelding, You’ll Like It, was bought by two Club members and “now has a good home in rural Manitoba,” Field said.

Turfway Park's status soars
The Jeff Ruby Steaks is equal to Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby and other biggies

Turfway’s Jeff Ruby Steaks is now worth 100 points; John Battaglia is new prep
Turfway Park with its brand new Tapeta surface has become a major player on the road to the Kentucky Derby. The track’s Jeff Ruby Steaks (yes, the spelling is correct) is now worth 100 points to the winner compared to its previous 20 points. That puts the race on the same level as the Florida Derby, the Santa Anita Derby, the Blue Grass Stakes, the Wood Memorial, the Louisiana Derby, the Arkansas Derby and the UAE Derby. It will be run on March 20, the same day as the Louisiana Derby.

In other words, the Florence, Kentucky track has joined the big leagues. Which seemed pretty inevitable, I guess, given the fact that Churchill purchased Turfway Park. And Churchill has added another prep race to the road to the Kentucky Derby to act as a prep race for the Jeff Ruby. That race is the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes to be run on Feb. 6. That stakes has been running since 1982--but never before as a Derby prep. So, the John Battaglia is to Jeff Ruby as the Fountain of Youth is to the Florida Derby. Get it?

The Jeff Ruby Steaks has that name because the Jeff Ruby Steakhouses sponsor the race. It’s a neat play on words--and makes me long for a sizzling steak every time I write about the race.
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TWO MORE DERBY PREPS THIS YEAR: As you’ll note on the chart above, the final two Kentucky Derby prep races of the year will go next Friday and Saturday: the Springboard Mile at Remington Park in Oklahoma on Friday and the Los Alamitos Futurity at Los Alamitos Race Course on Saturday. The initial batch of prep races are worth 10 points to the winner. That increases to 50 with the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 6.

This is war
Racing gods have had their final bit of fun with "I won bigger" betting group

No chinks in group’s armour this week?
You’re got to hand it to the racing gods. If the “I won bigger” betting group shows the slightest vulnerability they swoop in and shred the tickets. Every week, they seem to find something. Four weeks ago was the worst, of course, where the mistake of not double-checking tickets before they were played cost the group $25,000.

So where was the vulnerability this past Saturday? Not pausing to examine the late entry of an also-eligible horse into one leg of Tampa’s pick-5. A huge effort went into producing the initial tickets for the five 2-year-old races. That included a discussion with a breeding specialist, buying stats on sires, back-and-forth with a couple of the best handicappers at the track (whose keys, incidentally, both won) and weighing the views of DRF analysts.

Problem was, the also-eligible horse #11 wasn’t part of all those discussions; it was discovered at the last minute and was hurriedly dismissed. Calm reflection would have resulted in adding that horse because he came from Delaware Park where, the previous week, two legs of the pick-5 were won by horses from Delaware and DRF analyst Kenny Peck had good things to say about his debut trip. That omission cost the group about $3,000.

But that’s it, racing gods. While we congratulate you for your ability to find and exploit a weakness each week, we put you on notice there will be no chinks in our armour playing Tampa this Saturday. Every "t” will be crossed, every "i” will be dotted. The group dares you to find an opening.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Can a $112 horse be easy? You decide

By nature, most of us are lazy. So you’ll probably skip this item because it involves computing closing fractions in turf races. But when a horse pays $112, as #10 High Noon Rider in race 7 at Gulfstream Saturday did, can you afford NOT to be computing fractions? Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to do it at a glance. Promise.

In a recent mile race, the $112 horse had a closing fraction of :23.2 and, in a 1 1/16-mile race, posted :35.1. Anything faster than :24 and :36 generally means, “watch out.” Just do this: Compute how quickly a horse raced to the finish line (at a mile, 1 1/16 mile and 1 1/8-mile) from its time at three-quarters of the race. If a horse has made up ground, you reduce its time by 1/5 of a second for each length gained. And, of course, add 1/5 second for each length lost.

Look at it this way: Most players think it’s too complicated. But isn’t that good? It gives you an edge. Congratulations if you DO compute fractions and nailed the $112 winner. See the program page here. The $112 horse is #10.

There is actually a book on horse tricks
WHAT DOES A HORSE REALLY WANT FOR CHRISTMAS? Reading an article entitled “Six Things Your Horse Really Wants for Christmas” in The Horse magazine, I was totally unprepared for Point #4: “Teaching Them a New Trick.” What? “Horses really appear to enjoy being taught a trick,” a horse behaviour specialist is quoted as saying. “If you haven’t trained your horse to do a trick before, you will be amazed at how easy and fast it is.” Which made me think that a patient trainer at ASD could teach a horse to bow in the Winner’s Circle when the horse wins a race. Or whatever. Read that article here.

The B.C. racing industry is seeking a 51-day race season that would start on Kentucky Derby Day May 1 and conclude in mid-October. Training would begin Feb. 6--when the crocuses are coming into bloom.

It appears “stable geniuses” in the racing world have had their run. After breaking her maiden at Finger Lakes a year ago and then finishing third twice, 4-year-old New York-bred filly Very Stable Genius was sidelined in October after finishing 10th at Presque Isle. Meanwhile, Kentucky-bred 4-year-old gelding Stable Genius, hasn’t returned to the races since finishing third in a maiden special race at Santa Anita a year ago.

Thanks to an Insider reader for pointing out that Double Bear, the declared winner of the 2017 Canadian Derby, was (and still is) trained by Rod Cone and not Tim Rycroft as reported in last week’s Insider. Rycroft actually trained third-place finisher Trooper John. He DID train Double Bear as a baby but Cone claimed him.
TOP 3 NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 14

Giants over Cardinals (Sunday noon)Don’t look now but the NFC East might actually be producing not one, but TWO decent teams. The Giants have won four games in a row and they are doing it with defense. The Cardinals on the other hand have lost three in a row and Kyler Murray doesn’t look nearly as good as he did during the first half of the season. 

Seahawks over Jets
(Sunday afternoon): Well, the Jets almost got their first win of the season last week but, on the last play of the game, former Jets defensive coordinator (I say former because he was fired the next day) Gregg Williams called an all-out blitz which might go down as one of the worst calls in the history of football. That ultimately cost them the game. Seattle is coming off an embarrassing loss to the Giants last week but shouldn’t have a problem beating the other New York team this week. 

Saints over Eagles
(Sunday afternoon)The Eagles have seen enough of Carson Wentz and have decided to bench him in favour of second-round draft pick Jalen Hurts. The rookie QB is going to have his work cut out for him against one of the top-ranked defenses in the league. Since taking over for the injured Drew BreesTaysom Hill is undefeated. His passing is very basic but he’s getting it done. 

The Dolphins actually had to put some effort into beating the Bengals despite the fact the Bengals were playing without Joe Burrow....After crushing the Titans, the Browns want people to take them seriously. . .The 49ers couldn’t generate a pass rush against the Bills and Josh Allen made them pay for it. 
THE BEST OF BOB: The efforts to bring American Pharoah's halter to ASD

Did you know that Assiniboia Downs came within seconds of being the proud owner of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah's halter? Folks, this is a must-read if ever there was one. Click here to learn more about Garylle Stewart's (brother of jockey Bobby Stewart) efforts to acquire the prize halter. (First published in May 2016)
  • This Saturday: 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. Louisiana Championship Day with $750K in special stakes and three pick-4s and two pick-5s.
  • This Sunday until 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: Kentucky 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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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

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