Thursday, December 17, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 50 (Issue #769)

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

The next Insider will be published on New Year’s Eve

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.


"12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS BONUS" CONTINUES UNTIL WEDNESDAY: In addition to the usual bonuses, ASD will add an extra 1% to all wagers made up to Wednesday, Dec. 23.Total wagering must be more than $1,500; maximum extra bonus $100. Payoffs of $2.10 not eligible.


Become a millionaire for Christmas!

Gulfstream gives you a chance to become a millionaire by Christmas -- for a 20-cent ticket. Today’s carryover in the Rainbow pick-6 is $668K and, if not won today or tomorrow, will soar into the millions  Saturday because it’s a mandatory payout day

To give yourself a chance to land today’s pool you don’t even have to look at the races. By simply betting, say $5, on quick-pick tickets, you’ll have 25 chances to win a fortune.

If you DO handicap today’s races consider the fact you’ll need a “chaos” horse in a couple races to take down a fortune. One way of making this happen is to play “all” in two legs with keys or just a couple horses in other legs. Manitobans may request today’s Gulfstream program from Sheri at The pick-6 begins on race 5 that goes to post at 1:36 p.m. CT.

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Who’s this?

The Santa on the front page of the Winnipeg Sun back in 2009 was track historian Bob Gates whose Christmas spirit included waving to motorists passing his south Winnipeg home. He did this each Christmas for about 15 years -- until about five or six years ago, he said. What brought that on? “Remember,” he said, “I am a Christmas Day baby. So the day has always been special.”

Lately he turned his attention to re-writing The Night Before Christmas that has included ASD touches. And what a creative must-read effort that turned out to be! Read A Racetracker’s Night Before Christmas here.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Who has been crowned ASD's Handicapper of the Year?
  • Mandatory payouts Saturday: pick-6 at Gulfstream; Jackpot Hi 5 at Mohawk
  • Do Florida on Christmas Eve!
  • My Thousand Words returns to race on Boxing Day in Santa Anita feature
  • Shocker! Guess how many horses raced Lasix-free in 10 Kentucky Derbies?
  • Win a trip to Lexington by entering your 10 fav Horses of the Year in contest

WHO ARE YOUR TOP 10 "HORSES OF THE YEAR" IN 50 YEARS? ENTER TO WIN A TRIP! 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the Eclipse Awards. Entering your best 10 Horses of the Year and most outstanding jockey and trainer in a contest could win you and a guest a trip to Lexington, Kentucky for a day at the races (Keeneland), a tour of Four Roses Bourbon Distillery and a visit to historic world-renowned Spendthrift Farm. 

Download ballot here. Download Horses of the Year here.
Get jockeys here and trainers here.

The deadline for entries is Jan. 25. The Eclipse Awards are named for a horse who went unbeaten in 18 starts in England in the 18th century. His genes appear in the pedigree of most of today’s thoroughbreds. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association is sponsoring the contest.

$5,000 U.S. is at stake in Santa Anita’s online ShowVivor contest that begins on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, the first day of Santa’s winter/spring meet. ASD player Ed Romanik won $4,000 in Santa’s fall contest. Keep the prize money flowing north! Note the NEW CATEGORY below, under Christmas Week Action.
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.

HOW TO ORDER AN ASD GIFT CARD AND/OR A “FINAL FURLONG” CALENDAR: Phone the ASD mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225. Using your credit card, order (1) a gift card in any amount over $20 and/or (2) a 2021 Final Furlong wall calendar for $20 (produced by non-profit Final Furlong to raise funds to find good homes for retired race horses). Ask for curbside pickup service at ASD or for free delivery to your home.

You also may order a calendar directly from Final Furlong with an e-transfer for $25 (includes shipping) to See Final Furlong’s Facebook page here.

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WANT TO SHARE IN HORSE OWNERSHIP? Email Shannon at For details see last week’s insider

Metcalf tops in December tourney
Posts $122 bankroll, $26 ahead of runner-up Chris Trubyk

Geoff Metcalf
Outplays 54 others
Congrats to veteran ASD player Geoff Metcalf who logged a solid $122.80 bankroll to beat 54 entrants in ASD’s final Player’s Choice handicapping tournament of 2020. His end-of-the-year victory bookends his first-month-of-the-year win in January last year.

His tourney preferences include “those with trouble lines in their past performances, trainers with good stats and favourable equipment changes.” His $122.80 bankroll was third highest of the year. Les Buzzell was highest with $146.10 in January and Brad Ostrove came in second at $124.50 on Oct. 3. The top five in the December tournament and their prize money include:

1. Geoff Metcalf -- bankroll $122.80 -- prize money $1,000
2. Chris Trubyk -- $95.90 -- $400
3. Ken Porter -- $91.40 -- $200
4. Nicole Baker -- $87.30 -- $100
5. David Smook -- $83.20 -- $50

See complete results here and the Handicapper of the Year below.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to one of the most passionate players at Assiniboia Downs, retired salesman Trevor Tilston-Jones, who has earned bragging rights forever by capturing the 2020 Handicapper of the Year title.

More than 100 players entered tournaments throughout the year and he rose to the top by virtue of consistent play and winning one tournament during live racing. He wins an engraved trophy and trip for two to the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas or a cash buy-out.

In a duel for the title with that other Jones, transit driver Roger Jones, he prevailed in the end. Roger would have been a whisker of overtaking him if his 42-1 Wager on Your Wagon, in a quarter horse race at Evangeline Saturday, had finished first--instead of second--when an enquiry didn’t overturn the winner. Roger receives $500 for finishing second and David Smook receives $250 for third.

Trevor told The Insider he prepares for tournament days by doing about 10 hours of prep work on multiple tracks, half of which is watching video replays, he said. He doesn’t have a favourite angle but does look for horses with odds of at least 3-1.

Any other trips for wannabe winners? "Make sure the horses you choose are set up in a post time frame. Have at least 20 horses ready to go,” he said. "Enter online tournaments ( for good practice and a fun way to improve your skills.”

Escape to Florida on Christmas Eve

Do Florida on Christmas Eve
Take in Tampa and Gulfstream, the only thoroughbreds racing on Dec. 24

On Christmas Eve, put on a flowery short-sleeved shirt, a pair of shorts and sandals, mix yourself your favourite summer drink and head for the palm trees and race tracks of Florida, virtually speaking, of course. Tampa and Gulfstream are the only thoroughbred tracks racing on Christmas Eve. Here’s the schedule:
10:30 a.m. Gulfstream
11:00 a.m. Harrah’s Philly
11:35 a.m. Tampa Bay
How big will the carryover pools be on that day? Remember, you can always check out carryovers by Googling Equibase carryovers. Or click here. Don’t forget sunscreen.

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Thousand Words to return on Boxing Day
My Kentucky Derby pick to face Charlatan, Nashville in Grade 1 headliner at Santa

Boxing Day a week from this Saturday means the beginning of Santa Anita’s winter/spring meet. First post is 1 p.m. It also means Mohawk will stage one of its rare matinee cards at noon.

But the main headline from this corner is the return of my Kentucky Derby pick, Thousand Words, who is slated to run in the classiest race of the day, the $300K Grade 1 Malibu Stakes, a 7-furlong event for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita.

He will face two “buzz” horses: his stablemate Charlatan (from the barn of Bob Baffert) and Nashville who set a track record 1:07.8 at Keeneland on Breeders’ Cup Saturday.

Thousand Words, who flipped in the paddock before the Kentucky Derby and was scratched--negating my $200 in Future Wager tickets--has been training up a storm with two bullet workouts during regular weekly efforts at Los Alamitos and Santa Anita since October.

Here’s the rundown of stakes action scheduled for Santa Anita:
  • $300K Grade 1 American Oaks on the turf -- 3-year-old fillies racing 1 ¼-miles
  • $300K Grade 1 La Brea -- Named for the tar pits in the centre of Los Angeles, this 7-furlong race features 3-year-old fillies
  • THOUSAND WORDS’ RACE: $300K Grade 1 Malibu -- 7-furlong race open to 3-year-olds
  • $200K Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile on the turf -- a race for 3-year-olds named for a major furniture seller in the U.S.
Enter free ShowVivor on Boxing Day
NEW CATEGORY! FREE $5,000 SHOWVIVOR CONTEST BEGINS BOXING DAY: Win $5,000 U.S. by entering Santa’s ShowVivor contest in which you make a single race pick at the California track. New category: Person accumulating highest amount in win bets wins $500 U.S. See details here.

Since Boxing Day is Saturday, it will mean “I won bigger” group play as well. The late pick-5 at Tampa and Gulfstream's mandatory-payout pick-6 will be considered. Shares are $20 which are generously topped up with $5 courtesy of Assiniboia Downs. To participate, contact Sheri at


Q: How many horses in 10 years of the Kentucky Derby have raced without Lasix?

A: One.

Racing in the 2021 Kentucky Derby without Lasix will be a brand new experience for many in the racing world. Here are the past 10 Derbies listing how many horses raced with and without Lasix.

Lasix is banned in Derby, Oaks and prep races
2020 Authentic won. ALL horses raced with Lasix.
2019 Country House won. ALL horses raced with Lasix.
2018 Justify won. ALL horses raced with Lasix.
2017 Always Dreaming won. ALL horses raced with Lasix.
2016 Nyquist won. ALL horses raced with Lasix.
2015 American Pharoah won. ONE horse raced without Lasix: Mubtaahij who finished eighth.
2014 California Chrome won. ALL horses raced with Lasix.
2013 Orb won. ALL horses raced with Lasix.
2012 I’ll Have Another won. ALL horses raced with Lasix.
2011 Animal Kingdom won. ALL horses raced with Lasix.

The new Derby (and Kentucky Oaks) rules also means horses hoping to qualify for the Derby will receive no qualifying points from a prep race in which they raced with Lasix.

So what will the “no Lasix” effect be? It will be interesting to hear from trainers. “I don’t think you’ll see anything different whatsoever,” trainer Kenneth McPeek has been quoted as saying. "You’ll see they run just as straight and narrow as they ever did.”

Lasix, of course, is a diuretic that reduces body fluids. It is used to reduce respiratory bleeding.  Obviously, though, not every horse has bleeding issues. In the 1991 Derby, only half the field raced with Lasix.

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FINAL TWO DERBY PREPS OF THE YEAR GO TOMORROW AND SATURDAY: Two-year-olds vying for qualifying points to race in the Kentucky Derby will face off in the Remington Mile tomorrow (first post 5 p.m.) and the Los Alamitos Futurity on Saturday (post time 2 p.m.).

ASD ANNOUNCES 2021 LIVE RACE DATES: ASD’s 2021 live race schedule has been finalized, reflecting the success of the 2020 schedule. See dates here. The race meet will cover 50 live race days with seven races per day. The popular ASD Live show will also return with handicappers Kirt, Marshall and Stretch.

With Gulfstream West (the former Calder) closed forever, Gulfstream’s turf track won’t get a two-month break to recover. Which has the track toying with installing a third near-turf synthetic track, Tapeta, that could act as a turf surface when racing has been taken off the turf during rain storms--and, at other times could be used to give the turf track a break. Turf and synthetic tracks are interchangeable in Europe and Australia.

Turf Paradise begins Monday, Jan. 4
TURF PARADISE TO BEGIN RACING MONDAY, JAN. 4: Good news! Turf Paradise will begin a winter/spring meet on Monday, Jan. 4. The desert track will race Monday to Thursday at 1:40 p.m. and Fridays at 1:55 p.m.

Finally, Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group caught the pick-5 at Tampa last Saturday but it paid only $447 for 60-cents which amounted to just $8.25 per $20 share. If Lady Luck had also been on the group’s side, two horses that were a half-head and a half-length behind the winner of one leg would have gotten up to give the group multiple payouts of up to about $3,000. But maybe the modest break-through will herald better things to come this Saturday as we look at Tampa’s late pick-5 and Gulfstream’s Rainbow pick-6 that has a mandatory pool payout.
TOP 3 NFL PICKS by TravyFootball: Week 15

Packers over Panthers (Saturday night): The Packers have taken over first place in the NFC (they hold the tie-breaker over the Saints) and will be hosting the Panthers this week. Packers receiver Davante Adams has 12 touchdown receptions since week seven and is making his claim as the best receiver in the league. The Packers tend to let teams hang around longer than they should but I expect them to put this game away early.

Bills over Broncos (Saturday afternoon): The Bills handed the Steelers their second loss in a row on Sunday. Sitting third in the AFC, this will be their last game outside their division. Teams travelling to Denver have a high-altitude disadvantage but Bills QB Josh Allen has been playing some really good football and should notch another win.

Cowboys over Niners (Sunday afternoon): I’m going to throw ASD horseplayer and diehard Cowboys fan Roger (don’t call me Jerry) Jones a bone here and give his team the win over mine (reluctantly). Mathematically neither of these two teams are out of the playoffs yet but, then again, neither deserve to be in the playoffs. Cowboys QB Andy Dalton got a bit of revenge against his former team, the Bengals, last week and the 49ers were bested by a familiar face in Alex Smith. With the storied history between Dallas and San Francisco, never would I have thought these teams would be removed from primetime and replaced with a game between the Giants and the Browns. Good luck, Roger

After watching Daniel Jones return from injury for the Giants, it looked like he could have used another week to recover as the offense could only manage to score one touchdown against a Cardinals defense that isn’t particularly great . . . Seahawks safety Jamal Adams got his revenge against the team that traded him in the off season . . . And Eagles rookie QB Jalen Hurts earned his first career victory over a Saints team that had won nine in a row!

MY PICKS FOR WEEK 16: Chiefs over Falcons
(Sunday noon), Browns over Jets (Sunday noon), Bills over Patriots (Monday night) 

A Racetracker’s Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas at Assiniboia Downs,

The barns were all empty, it was quiet on the grounds . . .

Continue reading here.
Mandatory payout Saturday of Jackpot Hi 5 at Mohawk starts with $336K
  • Tomorrow: Kentucky Derby prep race, Springboard Mile, at Remington. Cash back “12 days of Christmas” 1% bonus continues to next Wednesday. Bet at least $1,500; receive up to $100 ($2.10 payoffs are not eligible).
  • This Saturday: Kentucky Derby prep race, Los Alamitos Futurity at Los Alamitos. Online “I won bigger” group play at Tampa. MANDATORY PAYOUT of Gulfstream’s Rainbow pick-6 and Mohawk’s Jackpot Hi 5. Carryover: $336K.
  • Monday, Dec. 20: Winter begins at exactly 4:02 a.m. CT. Then the days get longer! Yay!
  • Thursday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve: Three tracks in play. Gulfstream at 10:30 a.m., Harrah’s Philly at 11 a.m. and Tampa at 11:35 a.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 25: Merry Christmas! No racing.
  • Saturday, Dec. 26, Boxing Day: Multiple Grade 1 stakes at Santa Anita which begins its winter/spring meet. “I won bigger” group play at Tampa.
  • Thursday, Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve. Publication day for next Insider.
  • Friday, Jan. 1: Happy New Year and Happy Birthday to all horses in the Northern Hemisphere. Kentucky Derby prep race at Aqueduct--the Jerome.
  NEXT INSIDER: New Year’s Eve Thursday, Dec. 31 Best wishes for a safe, enjoyable, profitable holiday season!

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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