Thursday, December 12, 2019

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 14  No 48 (Issue #718)

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

  • TONIGHT AND NEXT THURSDAY: Christmas-themed prime rib buffet 5 - 8 p.m. Call Samantha to reserve 204-885-3330 ext 0.
  • BOXING DAY THURSDAY, DEC. 26: Chanukah-themed prime rib buffet. Call Samantha reserve
BEGINS MONDAY: Festive freebies. Complimentary beverages and snacks. Continues daily until Dec. 27. Also, play “pick an ornament” that could win you $5 to $100! Remember, too, that ASD is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. for VLT play!

The Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Sunday is the next Kentucky Derby prep race


  1. FINAL WOODBINE RACE CARD OF THE YEAR: That means all pools must be paid out including the Jackpot Hi-5 in the last race. The pool should reach $250,000. First post 12:05 p.m.

  2. 39-CENT WINGS: Begins at noon along with NFL football you can watch on Race Book TVs along with mutuel ticket seller Travers, who authors weekly TravyFootball picks below

  3. FINAL CARD AT LOS ALAMITOS RACE COURSE which means all pools must be paid out. First post 2:30 p.m.

  4. KENTUCKY DERBY PREP RACE: The Springboard Mile at Remington Park in Oklahoma. Watch the babies run! First post 3 p.m.

  5. 2 MILLION FUTURITY, the richest race for 2-year-old quarter horses, at Los Alamitos at night. Don’t blink! First post 7 p.m.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Wife of former ASD jockey sets record in VLT tourney. How much? See Shout-Outs
  • It's crunch time! Who will be crowned Handicapper of the Year on Saturday?
  • Escape Clause makes the Top 100 list. For what?
  • I'll take 80% of the blame. For what?
  • What were the "better bettor" tracks in November?
$150 AT STAKE IN SATURDAY’S “3 FOR THE MONEY” CONTEST:  Pick the winners of the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Woodbine Saturday to win $150 in wagering vouchers.

Play “pick an ornament” to win $5 to $100 starting Monday
CHASE THE ACE CONTINUES SATURDAY AFTERNOON with a draw in the Race Book at 4 p.m. for a chance to pick the ace of diamonds from 48 cards to win $1,000 or pick one of the two jokers for $100 (the other cards are $25). Tickets are $5, three for $10, available until 3:30 p.m. and you’re helping the Winners Foundation.

“PICK AN ORNAMENT” AND MORE BEGINS MONDAY: Get drawn in the Club West Gaming Lounge to “pick an ornament” from the festive tree to win $5 to $100 daily from noon to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Dec.16 to 27). Also enjoy complimentary festive treats--beverages and snacks--on those days!

IT’S CUSTOMER APPRECIATION TIME AT OTBs:  If OTB manager  Shannon Davis drops into the OTB you’re at this Saturday, you’ll get 20x the usual Player Rewards on bets you make while she’s there, go into a draw for a 60-second betting spree and enjoy complimentary finger food and drinks! And a $50 draw continues every Saturday at all staffed OTBs.

Click to expand


Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in December? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? NFL, Jets

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 8 PM: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge Friday and Saturday. 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.

POOL TABLES, ELECTRONIC DARTS, TAP TV TRIVIA: These are the new games added to Clubhouse fun on the plaza. Pool games are just $1 (insert coins). Tap TV Trivia: Download the free app on your phone to answer 12 questions every 20 minutes to see if you’re better and faster than others. NOTE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY ARE TRIVIA NIGHTS WITH PRIZES! (Customer Care extraordinaire Samantha is your host this weekend. Starts at 7 p.m.)


GREEDY CORNER: See all jackpot carryovers here.

This is it!
Who will capture HOTY title?

Will David Blake (left) be named Handicapper of the Year or Brian McKellar or ???
Sign up by 9 p.m. tomorrow to give yourself a chance to share in $1,750 in prize money and be part of the most exciting Player’s Choice tournament of the year because it will determine the Handicapper of the Year.

Will it be Kenora horse owner David Blake, who is currently at the top of the standings, or will it be ex-cop Brian McKellar who is looking to win the title for an unprecedented third time? McKellar is just five points behind Blake.

Or will those further down the list have a chance of making a move on the top two? See leader board here. Even those further down the list have reasons to be burning the midnight oil Friday night because the top 10 share in $3,500 in prize money and the higher a player is on the list, the bigger the prize.

On your mark . . . get set . . . handicap! (And, for goodness sake, track your bets carefully so you don’t bet the same race twice or forget to make one of your bets.)

The rules: Bet $2 across the board on a horse in 10 races at any track or tracks (thoroughbred tracks only) from noon to 4:30 p.m. Good luck!

What were the better bettor tracks in November?
Fair Grounds and The Meadows topped 16 profit-producing tracks

Fair Grounds was very good to Manitoba bettors in November. On the standardbred side, it was The Meadows that was the standout. Those were the top two most profitable tracks according to ASD wagering stats for the month. Next among the top 16 tracks were Delta Downs and Dover Downs (harness). Other tracks (in declining order of profitability):
  • Thoroughbred: Australia C, Charles Town, Mahoning Valley, Remington, Zia Park, Mountaineer and Del Mar
  • Harness: Hoosier, Monticello, Freehold, Century Mile, Trois Rivieres
Were Woodbine players better at Woodbine thoroughbreds or harness? Thoroughbreds. And what were the most challenging tracks? Pompano Park (H), Indiana, Finger Lakes and Parx. Remember that playing to your strengths brings money into the province, making you a good citizen.

Janet DesAutels, wife of former ASD rider Jacques DesAutels, wins a record $2,227 in VLT tournament
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Janet DesAutels, wife of former top ASD jockey Jacques DesAutels. She set a record in the free Unleash Your Luck VLT tournament Saturday night, increasing her $20 in free spins to a hefty $2,227.50 playing Viracocha. This was about $600 more than the previous record. “It’s our 41st wedding anniversary Monday,” Janet told The Insider. “So we decided to go to the Downs Saturday to celebrate.”

Obviously a very good choice. It made their 41st anniversary particularly memorable and suddenly has put a trip to Palm Springs in their likely future plans, Janet said.

Jacques, looking very fit and seemingly still near riding weight, was leading jockey in 2002, his second-last year of riding. He rode almost 10,000 mounts at the Downs from 1976 to 1987 then from 1998 to 2003, and his horses earned more than $6.1 million. Sir Pucker won him the R. J. Speers Stakes and $60,000 Gold Breeders’ Cup in 2002.

Jacques is now credit manager at an insurance company while Janet does occasional hairstyling. Will Lady Luck follow her into the Club West Gaming Lounge again on Saturday, Dec. 28 when she’ll be playing in the month-end finale? Stay tuned.

Anatomy of a "bigger" group loss
I'll take 80 per cent of the blame

Ron Gierkink’s comment pointed to a must-take horse
It was short and not so sweet. Saturday’s “I won bigger” group was shut out of the mandatory-payout Empire pick-6 at Aqueduct and the pick-5 at Woodbine in the first leg--but won all the other legs. The payoffs totalled more than $6,000 which had me kicking myself but I won’t take all the blame.
  • We would have won if . . . I had remembered an email that morning from Roger Jones, a Player’s’ Choice tourney winner, who said he liked two horses in the first leg of the Empire pick-6. One of his horses won. Groan.
  • We would have won if . . . someone had pointed out a comment in the Daily Racing Form by Woodbine trackman Ron Gierkink who noted that the ultimate winner of the first leg of the pick-5 “went four wide on the turn against the bias” in his previous race. That horse would have been taken for sure. (Usually, I would note such a comment but the forms arrived that morning instead of the day before and I was busy doing other things.)
  • We might have won if . . . I hadn’t been told to ignore the probable double payoffs on the race before the first legs of our tickets. That might have pointed to a “must-take” horse. “We don’t want to change our tickets,” I was told. “Let’s just go with our picks.”
Sorry, group players. C’mon racing gods! You’ve had your jollies. Don’t we deserve some holiday cheer? This Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza we’ll discuss Woodbine’s pick-5 for the final time and, perhaps, a pick-5 or 20-cent pick-6 at another track that looks playable.

TOUCHING VIDEO SHOWS PARTIALLY PARALYZED FORMER ASD JOCKEY: ASD race fans remember jockey Paul Nolan as the track’s top rider in 2012 and 2013 and a horse whisperer who got the most from two-time Horse of the Year Balooga Bull. Now Nolan is in a wheelchair battling paralysis that resulted two years ago when his horse went down in a race at Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma and rolled over him twice. Nolan is one of 59 jockeys being assisted by the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. At its annual meeting in Las Vegas, the Jockeys’ Guild Assembly honoured Nolan with the Ron Turcotte Courage Award. Watch Nolan’s touching thank-you video here

Manitoba’s super mare, Escape Clause, is among some very elite company on the Top 100 horses in 2019 earnings. Her $502,600 puts her at 97th, one below multiple stakes-winning Firenza Fire and five below Game Winner who won the Las Alamitos Derby and, the previous year, was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner. The 5-year-old mare, bred in Russell, Man., is now owned by a Japanese breeder. This year’s top-earning horse is, by far, turf specialist Bricks and Mortar at $6.7 million.

We’ll find out the answer a week from today. The Vox Populi (Voice of the People) Award, created by the late owner of Secretariat, Penny Chenery, goes to the horse who receives the most votes in an online poll. Last year’s most popular horse was the Australian mare, Winx, who was retired after winning 33 races in a row.
SAVVY NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 15
  • 49ers over Falcons (Sunday afternoon): The 49ers are back on top in the NFC thanks to a gutsy win over the Saints last week. Oddly enough it was the offense that kept them in the game rather than the defense. 49ers tight end George “The Animal” Kittle sealed the game with a highlight-video run on 4th and 2 that had my heart just about popping out of my chest.
  • Titans over Texans (Sunday noon): I have officially become a believer in the Titans. Easily the league’s hottest team right now, this game will be a first-place battle in the AFC South. The Texans are so inconsistent, it’s hard to trust them at all. Two weeks ago they shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots; last week they got destroyed by rookie QB Drew Lock and the 4-8 Denver Broncos. What gives?
  • Bucs over Lions (Sunday noon): Bucs QB James Winston has a chance to be the first “30/30” player in NFL history. He currently has 26 TD passes (second in the league), but also has a whopping 23 interceptions (first in the league by far). It will be fun to see whether he achieves that momentous mark.
  • Patriots over Bengals (Sunday noon): It seems crazy to think the Patriots are still 10-3 and hold second place in the AFC considering their recent play but, to be fair, refs blew two calls last week that would have resulted in touchdowns. A date with the Bengals should be the right medicine. The Bengals just want to hold on to the first draft pick. If you saw LSU QB Joe Burrow (likely top draft pick) last Saturday, you’d understand why.
MY $5 PROLINE TICKET (worth $140.75): Dolphins/Giants tie ($3.40), Bucs over Lions ($1.80), Rams over Cowboys ($2.30), Titans over Texans ($2.00) Record: -$50

PICKS RECORD: Last week: 2 correct out of 4. Overall (since week 3): 29 correct out of 48.

In exceptional cases (e.g. injuries to key personnel), these picks may be amended in the online version of The Insider early Saturday afternoon. Go there ( for updates.

THE BEST OF BOB: Memories of Vicki Warhol-Essman. Thanks, social media!

Did you know that Vicki won the 1977 Powder Puff Derby aboard Terre De Wire and set an opening day record in 1984 for wins by a jockey, male or female? Read about Vicki's exploits here. (First published in June 2016)
Super-tasty brisket will be part of the Chanukah-themed buffet on Boxing Day, Dec. 26
  • FESTIVE BUFFET TONIGHT: Christmas-themed prime rib buffet
  • This Saturday: Final Player’s Choice tourney of the year with Handicapper of the Year at stake. Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds. Champion of Champions quarter-horse stakes at Los Alamitos
  • This Sunday: Kentucky Derby prep race -- $400K Springboard Mile at Remington Park, final race cards at Woodbine and Los Alamitos Race Course, 2 Million Futurity at Los Alamitos at night
  • Monday, Dec. 16: Complimentary festive beverages and snacks begin and continue to Dec. 27
  • FESTIVE BUFFET: Thursday, Dec. 19: Christmas-themed prime rib buffet
  • CHRISTMAS EVE Tuesday, Dec. 24: ASD is open regular hours 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. with 140 VLTs. No simulcast racing.
  • MERRY CHRISTMAS Wednesday, Dec. 25: Same as above.
  • BOXING DAY/CHANUKAH BUFFET Thursday, Dec. 26: Racing resumes at 11:25 a.m.
  • NEW YEAR’S EVE DEC. 31: New Year’s Eve gala.
For reservations for buffets and New Year’s Eve Gala call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

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

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