Thursday, December 21, 2017

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 12 No. 48 (Issue #617)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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


Too steep a hill to climb

Jones and Bamburak make late move as Hampton captures HOTY title

Transit driver Roger Jones and high school phys-ed instructor Roger Bamburak did their best Saturday to catch accountant Alan Hampton for the title of Handicapper of the Year but it was simply too steep a hill to climb.

Hampton prevailed with 259 points, nine more than Jones, giving him bragging rights forever—and $1,500 cash and a trophy. A truly nice guy, Hampton should wear the mantle well! Jones and Bamburak did pick up nice cash prizes, though, for rallying to finish second and third.

The 2017 title was decided by the total points a player accumulated in seven of 12 tournaments held from January to December. Saturday’s Player’s Choice tournament marked the final contest of the year. For the first time, the top 10 players of the year share $3,500 in prize money. They are:
  • Alan Hampton

    Alan Hampton– 259 points -- $1,500 and an engraved trophy
  • Roger Jones – 250 points – $750
  • Roger Bamburak – 247 points – $550
  • George Moehring – 246 points – $300
  • Dave Blackmore – 245 points – $150
  • Harold Wiens – 244 points – $50
  • Ken Stewin – 240 points – $50
  • Greg Earl – 237 points – $50
  • Kathleen Buckoski – 234 points – $50
  • Len Charney – 230 points -- $50
See full final leader board here. See results of Saturday’s tournament below.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Shocker of the week: $123 winner should never have been in the race
  • What's with November? Better bettor tracks take a hit
  • Enjoy $10 turkey dinner Xmas Eve and Xmas Day with 140 VLTs in play 9 a.m. - 2 a.m.
  • Do you play Tampa? Then you gotta respect Chuckie K. (See Shout-Outs of the Week)
  • Boxing Day challenge: Enter Santa Anita's free ShowVivor Online Contest
OTB PLAYER POCKETS $960 IN 60-SECOND BETTING SPREE: Customer appreciation perks came to the Quest Inn OTB Saturday afternoon and Murphy Sukhram had to be one of the happiest players there. His name was drawn for a 60-second betting spree and he turned $106 in bets into a whopping $960! (See Shout-Outs of the Week). Other players enjoyed drinks and pizza on the house. At what OTB will the perks fairy strike next? Hmm. Can you figure it out?

Congrats to Jim Roberts, Manny Medeiros and Shawn Gorrie who won consolation prizes Friday playing 5-Alive and to Rodney Zaretsky who did the same on Saturday. 5-Alive (picking horses for show, show, show, place, win) continues tomorrow and Saturday at 7 p.m.
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94.3 The Drive

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Want highlights for the next 17 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? Jets

FRIDAYS, SATURDAYS & SUNDAYS : 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: $10 buy-in poker. Registration 8 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m. Royal Flush progressive jackpot is at $4,185!

Join Santa!

9 a.m. to 2 a.m. both days

  • 140 VLTs open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. on both Dec. 24 and Dec. 25
  • $10 turkey dinner available all day and night both days (roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, chocolate Christmas cake)
  • Enjoy contest fun for cash prizes!
  • Complimentary snacks and beverages
  • Christmas Eve racing – Gulfstream 11 a.m., Sunland 1:30 p.m.
  • Christmas Day racing – Australia -- account betting only (HPIbet) – starts 8 p.m.

HAVE YOU BOOKED NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA YET? Hosted by Tom and Kerri of 94.3 The Drive, ASD once again will hold a popular New Year’s Eve gala on the main floor ballroom featuring eight strolling food stations, NuFrequency light and sound, party favours, door prizes and more. Tickets just $49.95 available from Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.

Enjoy pork souvlaki at New Year's Eve buffet

NEW YEAR’S EVE BUFFET AVAILABLE IN THE CLUBHOUSE: Pork souvlaki, fried chicken, roast beef and kale crunch are among the offerings at a load-up-your-plate-and-seat-yourself buffet on New Year’s Eve in the Clubhouse 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets only $20.17 includes taxes and gratuities and are available at the VLT cage and the ASD general office.


Winning horse should never have been in the race

60-1 colt wins $750,000 Champion of Champions quarter horse stakes at Los Alamitos

Mr Pyc to You "inhales" foes from post #10

The 60-1 colt, Mr Pyc to You, who raced Saturday in the prestigious $750,000 Champion of Champions quarter horse stakes at Los Alamitos in southern California, shouldn’t even have been in the race. The 4-year-old squeaked in because Firing Tools was barred from entering the race after testing positive for the banned substance, Clenbuterol, in a hair test following a trial race. That gave Mr Pyc a chance to take his place.

So when he beat the other nine horses to pay $123 as the longest shot ever to win the Champion of Champions (the previous high was $46.20 in 1979), there were dropped jaws in the ASD Race Book as there likely were at racing venues around the continent.

His stablemate, even-money favourite #4 Heza Dasha Fire, finished second, setting up a superfecta that paid $8,618 for 20-cents.

It probably helped that Mr Pyc raced from the 10-hole because that gave him the freedom to freewheel outside other horses in the 440-yard straightaway. “Broke out, inhaled foe,” summed up the chart caller. Perfectly put. The colt covered the distance in :21.62 seconds.

By contrast, the favourite, J Fire Up ($5.80), won Sunday’s grade 1 400-yard Two Million Futurity for 2-year-olds.

Watch Mr Pyc to You inhale the field in this exciting 21-second replay here.
(Click on Dec. 16, race 8)


What's with November?

"Better bettor" tracks take a hit

On average, you are better bettors at between 20 and 25 tracks each month which means your gains exceed your losses. Which is a great number! Except for November. For some reason, November represents a real challenge to successful wagering. There were only 10 better bettor tracks last month. A year ago, that number was only 15.

Why? Is it because handicapping is trickier in November because some tracks are winding down and therefore horses are racing less consistently? Is a post-Breeders’ Cup funk to blame? Have players exhausted themselves at the beginning of the month analyzing the biggest races of the year? Hmm.

The best tracks for bettors were Del Mar, Laurel and Los Alamitos quarter horses. One player who won $75,000 on Breeders’ Cup Day (in a pick-5 and pick-4) pretty much accounted for Del Mar success. That certainly was nice to see. Four harness tracks were also among the top 10: Batavia Downs, Monticello, Cal-Expo and Meadowlands.

The four most challenging tracks were Pompano Park (harness), Mahoning Valley, Mountaineer and Portland Meadows. Are you playing to your strengths to be a good citizen?

*       *       *

“BIG” GROUP OFF TO A MODEST GAIN AT TAMPA BAY DOWNS: So Saturday’s “I won big” group picked up a modest 30 per cent on its investment at Tampa Bay Downs last Saturday and will continue to handicap the last five races at Tampa each Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. in the Clubhouse. From previous experience, the group gave strong consideration to picks by DRF analyst Chuck Kuehhas and three of his picks, including an $18 and $14 horse, did win. (See Shout-Outs of the Week). The group’s aim this Saturday is to give themselves a big Christmas gift. Will they do it?

John Urbanski

SAD NEWS: FUN MEMBER OF “BIG” GROUP PASSES: It came as a shock this week that John Urbanski, 73, a fun member of Saturday’s “I won big” group and a great handicapper known for the multiple colours he used in marking his race programs, died of complications from diabetes at 4:50 p.m. Tuesday. The exact time is listed because he amusingly played his birth time (5:49) from time to time as 5-4-9 in triactors and was pretty successful with it. To mark his memory this Saturday, the group will play some 4-5-10 triactors. Born in Selkirk, Man., he was a police officer in North Kildonan in his early years then went on to become a floor installer and later worked for Manitoba Hydro. John’s dry humour had fellow players in stitches and he will be sorely missed.


YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Maid for Mischief. A clever double-entendre name, don’t you think? You immediately know two things about this 2-year-old who made her first start at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday: it’s a filly and her father is Into Mischief. But then she’s “made for mischief,” too.

Tourney winner John Whitehill receives $1,000 from tournament director Dawn Forbes. Left: Kevin Palmer (2nd). Right: Ken Porter (5th). Missing: Damian D'Souza & Len Charney

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Handicapper of the Year Alan Hampton (top of column) but also to retired bricklayer John Whitehill who nailed a $76 turf horse in race 6 at Fair Grounds Saturday to glide to an easy victory in the final Player’s Choice tournament of the year. Whitehill is no stranger to most of you. In March, he accompanied his partner, Bonnie Simmonds, to Las Vegas for the Horse Player World Series and she finished seventh of 570 players, collecting almost $11,000 in prize money. So how does John come up with such bomber plays? “You wouldn’t believe the amount of work he puts into it at home,” Bonnie told The Insider. Nice to see hard work paying off! Here are the top five tournament finishers with their bankrolls and prize money:
  • John Whitehill -- $100.90 -- $1,000 prize money
  • Kevin Palmer -- $61.40 -- $400
  • Damian D’Souza -- $58.60 -- $200
  • Len Charney -- $57.40 -- $100
  • Ken Porter -- $49.60 -- $50

    See full tournament results here.
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Murphy Sukhram, a regular player at the Quest Inn OTB, who turned $108 in a 60-second betting spree Saturday into a whopping $960.60. He bet $60 win, $48 to place, on #11 Imma Blink at odds of 11-1 in a 5 1/2f stakes race on the turf at Fair Grounds. “Murphy and the whole place erupted in cheering,” OTB betting supervisor Shannon Davis told The Insider. No kidding. During daily betting sprees during live racing, nobody reached that amount! Will you get the next chance to rattle off 60-seconds in bets in a surprise “customer appreciation” party at on OTB?

Chuck Kuehhas

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Chuck Kuehhas—a name you probably don’t recognize but one which you should surely become familiar with if you bet Tampa Bay Downs. He’s one of three Daily Racing Form analysts at Tampa. And, on Saturday, his longshot picks helped the “I won big” group land the late pick-5 worth $1,033 for a 60-cent ticket because the group recognizes his ability. Five of his 10 picks won (group’s pick-5 plays—races 6 to 10--are in red):
  • Race 2 – Surprise Wedding -- $6.80 (A stakes for 3-year-old fillies)
  • Race 5 – Mister Sister -- $29.60 (Maiden 2-year-olds)
  • Race 7 – Cuestion de Tiempo-- $18 (Turf race for maiden 2-year-olds)
  • Race 8 Passion Plus -- $14.20 (Turf claimer for 2-year-olds)
  • Race 9 – Tricks to Doo -- $2.80 (Stakes race for 2-year-olds)


Greyvitos wins Springboard Mile

ESCAPES FROM FIRE, WINS KENTUCKY DERBY PREP STAKES: An evacuated colt from the wildfire that swept through the San Luis Rey Downs training centre in southern California, killing 46 horses, won the very first Kentucky Derby prep race held at Remington Park in Oklahoma. Greyvitos, a Virginia-bred by Malibu Moon, posted a brilliant 110 Equibase speed figure in winning the $400,000 Springboard Mile on Sunday, paying $8 to win as the second choice in the race. He raced three-wide from post position 12 and drew clear to win by more than two lengths. Trainer Adam Kitchingman described the fire danger to his horses as a “nightmare” that he never wants to see again. The next Derby prep race is on Jan.1—the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. That will be followed on Saturday, Jan. 6 by the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.



Did you know . . . that noted racing analyst Michael Magee was correct when he said "there's something sacred about horseracing?" If you walk on the tarmac in front of the Downs' grandstand late at night and listen carefully, you can almost hear the thundering hoofs of thoroughbreds past. Get weepy and wistful with Bob here.


  • $1 million likely payout Saturday

    TONIGHT: Festive-enhanced prime rib buffet $27.95
  • Saturday, Dec. 23:Xmas cash? Mandatory payout of the Jackpot Hi-5 at Woodbine harness. Likely pool $1 million if it’s not won tonight or tomorrow
  • Sunday, Dec. 24: Christmas EveDowns is open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. VLTs, $10 turkey dinner and contest fun. Racing from Gulfstream at 11:00 a.m. & Sunland at 1:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 25: Christmas Day. Downs is open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. VLTs, $10 turkey dinner and contest fun. Account betting on Australia (HPIbet only) starts 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 26: Boxing Day. First day of Santa Anita’s winter/spring meet and free $5,000 ShowVivor Online Contest. Become the second ASD player to win one of these!
  • Sunday, Dec. 31:  New Year's Eve Gala. Main Floor Ballroom. Hosted by 94.3 The Drive's Tom and Kerri. Tickets $49.95 (plus taxes & gratuities). For tickets, call Samantha at 204-885-3330
  • Monday, Jan. 1: Kentucky Derby prep race – Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.
  • Thursday, Jan. 4: Ukrainian Christmas-themed prime rib buffet. Reserve at 204-885-3330 ext. 0
  • Saturday, Jan 6: Kentucky Derby prep race – Sham Stakes at Santa Anita

NEXT INSIDER: Thursday, Jan. 4. 2018. Note that’s the day perogies and cabbage rolls will be part of the prime rib buffet to celebrate Ukrainian Christmas. Have you reserved?

Merry Christmas!
Enjoy hot apple cider, hot chocolate and complimentary snacks at the track!

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

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