Thursday, December 22, 2016

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 11 No. 46 (Issue #566)

By Ivan Bigg

Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

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

Festive fun continues through Christmas!

ASD is open Xmas Eve & Xmas Day with 140 VLTs in play. Plus turkey and more.

Enjoy hot apple cider

TODAY'S AND TOMORROW'S ACTION: ENJOY HOT APPLE CIDER! Racing starts today at 11:25 a.m. with Monticello harness and Gulfstream. Tomorrow's full card begins with Laurel at 11:30 a.m. Remember that tomorrow night is mandatory payout of Woodbine harness's Jackpot Hi-5 with an expected pool of $1.2 million. Hot apple cider, hot chocolate and snacks will be served throughout the day and night!

DEC. 24 & 25 -- XMAS EVE & XMAS DAY:
No racing but there will be a festive atmosphere from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. each day as action centres around 140 VLTs, Spin to Win Christmas cash, a $12.95 turkey dinner and complementary hot apple cider, hot chocolate, coffee and snacks.

A full day of racing begins at 11:30 a.m. with Parx, Laurel and Gulfstream. Santa Anita's prestigious meet begins at 2 p.m. Enter ShowVivor! Complementary beverages and snacks served.

For tickets to New Year's Eve at the Downs ($49.95) hosted by Alix Michaels of 94.3 The Drive call Samantha at 204-885-3330. Fabulous food creations, of course, and light and sound by NuFrequency.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Woodbine's Jackpot Hi-5 MUST be paid tomorrow night ($548,000 carryover)
  • “It was panic time!” Eventual Handicapper of the Year blanked in first seven picks
  • Blind child prodigy—the nephew of an ASD player--is honoured by the Vatican
  • Enter Santa Anita's free $5,000 (U.S.) online ShowVivor contest Monday
  • Toy with this during Xmas: Equibase “Statsmaster.” Do-it-yourself stats!
  • What ASD jock started his career with $48, $31, $29, $71 winners? See Bob's blog
  • Got suggestions for improving HPIbet? Marshall tells you how to make them

MR. PARLAY SOARS TO THE TOP AGAIN: Al “Mr. Parlay” Ilott is not about to lose his title as the best parlay player at the Downs. Facing a $20 parlay as the highest of the month, he came into Friday’s play with a vengeance, playing two $6 show parlays in five races. His Turfway Park entry grew the most, to $51.75. See it here. Now he can sit back daring anyone to take him on in the remaining three contest nights: Dec. 23, Dec. 30 and Dec. 31. Is someone waiting to jump in at the last moment on New Year’s Eve? Uh-oh! If no one beats him, Al will win his third prime rib buffet for two in a row. Grr!

QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive

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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

EVERY FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY: 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: 5-Alive "Double Your Winnings" contest from 7 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. and $10 buy-in poker. Registration 8 p.m. Game starts at 8:30 p.m.

TRIVIA TEASER #1: Is it worth playing trainer Bob Baffert's longshot horses at Santa Anita? (Horses with odds of 8/1 or higher.) (a) yes (b) no (c) depends. See answer at bottom of column.


"It was panic time"

Handicapper of the Year blanked on his first seven tournament plays

Handicapper of the Year Wayne Misko (left) with December winner Murray Chaban and tourney director Dawn Forbes

To win the Handicapper of the Year title for the second year in a row, retired postie Wayne Misko needed to finish among the top nine in Saturday's Player's Choice tournament with 33 players.

Easier said than done. He totally blanked on his first seven $2 win/place plays and had only three left. “It was panic time,” Misko told The Insider . But then, as seems to be his history, “I got lucky at the right time.” His final three plays came through for him and he ended up finishing third – which gave him the HOTY title. Those plays:
Tampa Race 8
-- #1 Triple Chelsea “because she was a closer in a race filled with speed and had a bullet work.” She won at odds of 9/1.
Gulfstream Race 10 South Beach Stakes
-- #6 Neck of the Moon: “I thought she'd be around at the end.” Mare won at 6/1.
Tampa Race 10
-- #3 Going Bold (a class dropper in a turf claimer). Filly finished second at odds of 6/1.

The HOTY prize is a trip to the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas in March. But since Misko had already earned a trip by winning a tournament during live racing, he was awarded $1,500 cash—as per contest rules.

The winner of the December tournament was another retired postal worker, Murray Chaban. His winning bankroll was $73.30; second was retiree George Moehring with $59.20 and Misko had $55.60. See results of December tourney here.

See final HOTY standings here. Congrats, Wayne!

QUESTION FOR 2017: SHOULD WIN/PLACE PAYOFFS BE CAPPED? A number of players have suggested that next year's Player's Choice tournaments have a payoff cap identical to the cap during the live racing tournament: $40 for win and $20 for place. That would put ASD rules in line with Vegas ones, too.

Agree? Any other suggestions? Send them to

*       *       *

New! Stats as you want them at your finger tips

This is the best thing to happen to statistics since pace and speed figures

You gotta love it. The best thing to come out of the Posner/Sirkis seminar last Wednesday was the unveiling of a new Equibase feature, Statsmaster.

It gives you quick answers to horse, trainer and jockey stat questions covering the past five years. Just input what you want and there it will be. And the service is free.

For example, how effective is a trainer on the turf? On sloppy tracks? In very short races? In stakes races? With first time starters? What wagers can you make blind that will make you money (a positive “return on investment”)? The value of this new feature is only limited by your imagination.


  1. Google “Track Profile for (name of track)” and click on it..
  2. The TRACK PROFILE for that track will pop up on your screen. Look for the box that says OTHER INFORMATION and click on it.
  3. On the page that comes up, click on the word “Statsmaster.”
  4. That will produce the above page onto which to input the stat info you're seeking about a horse, trainer or jockey.

TRIVIA TEASER #2: What trainer's horses could you have bet blindly throughout the year at Santa Anita and still achieved a profit of 66% ? (a) Robertino Diodoro (b) Doug O'Neill (c) John Sadler (d) Patrick Gallagher . See answer at bottom of column.

Blind child prodigy

Nephew of horseplayer/art dealer David Loch is honoured by the Vatican

Blind Ethan Loch at piano (Inset: Uncle David Loch)

David Loch is best known in Winnipeg as the art dealer who patriated the Winnie the Pooh “Honey Pot” painting to the city from an auction in England. And Insider readers should know him as the astute handicapper who had a “perfect” day playing Gulfstream last year, winning every pick-3, pick-4 and the Rainbow pick-6 for a total pickup of $50,000. And he won a $125,000 pick-6 pool at Santa Anita last fall, too.

Now know David as the uncle of a blind child prodigy, Ethan Loch, 12, a virtuoso pianist who was recently honoured by the Vatican, no less, for his exceptional talent and his inspiration to others.

“People were in tears,”
David told The Insider. David was in the audience when his nephew, from Edinburgh , Scotland , received the annual International Giuseppe Sciacca Award and played two songs on the piano to a standing ovation. You can watch the ceremony, young Ethan's touching acceptance speech and his artistry in two songs ON THIS VIDEO. (David can be seen on the extreme right in the video at 12:48 recording his nephew's performance on his iPhone.

As you watch Ethan playing the well-known Clair de Lune, remember the boy has been blind since birth and obviously has never seen a sheet of music. No wonder tears were flowing and no wonder David is so proud of his nephew.


Derby hopefuls turn 3 on Jan. 1

Derby preps begin early in 2017

Jerome Stakes goes Monday, Jan. 2; Sham on Jan. 7

The day after their birthday on Jan. 1, some of North America's better 3-year-olds will be trying to qualify for the Kentucky Derby by racing in the second-oldest stakes race in the U.S., the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.

Five days later, on Saturday, Jan. 7, California 3-year-olds will be doing the same thing at Santa Anita in the Sham Stakes. Equibase speed figure to beat: 117 set by Classic Empire in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Other important dates:

  • TOMORROW: Mandatory payout of the Jackpot Hi-5 in the last Woodbine harness race. Carryover is $548,000.
  • BOXING DAY MONDAY: Santa Anita's winter/spring meet begins at 2 p.m. Enter the track's free $5,000 ( U.S.) online ShowVivor Contest . Do what an ASD player did eight years ago. He outlasted more than 2,800 entrants in a similar “last person standing” show contest at Hollywood Park to win $6,000 (Cdn.)

NEAT FACT: Aqueduct's Jerome Stakes was named after the grandfather of Sir Winston Churchill, the prime minister of England during the second world war.


40 COUNTRIES VOTE CALIFORNIA CHROME MOST POPULAR: Online votes came in from 40 countries to make California Chrome the most popular horse of 2016 which means his connections will receive the Vox Populi Award for the second time in three years. Chrome won seven of eight starts this year including the Dubai World Cup and Pacific Classic. His only defeat came at the hoofs of Arrogate in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The award was established in 2010 by Secretariat owner Penny Chenery; the winner is determined in an online poll. Chrome is pointed to the new $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28 as his final race before being retired to stud. Will he face Arrogate again?

"Mattress Mack" McIngvale
Ponied up $1 million for Pegasus

"MATTRESS MAC" BUYS SOUTH AMERICAN HORSE FOR PEGASUS: Flamboyant Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of Runhappy, the winner of the 2015 Breeders' Cup Sprint, has purchased a horse in Argentina he hopes has what it takes to win or at least perform well in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream on Jan. 28. The horse is Eragon, son of Offlee Wild who also produced Bayern, winner of the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic. McIngvale bought a starting position in the Pegasus for $1 million. Controversy swirled around the Texas furniture store magnate when he fired the trainer of Runhappy, Maria Borell, after the horse won the Sprint and didn't share the horse's purse money with her.

ASD TRAINER WINS AT 49/1 BUT "I WON BIG" DOESN'T BITE: Nobody anywhere last Saturday picked the late pick-5 at Tampa Bay because of a 49/1 bomber, Limehousegas, in the first leg. Some believed the “I won big” group should have taken the horse because the trainer, Penny Hulme, had trained at ASD (38-3-7-4). Maybe so. Since the group didn't do the “homer” thing, though, it had to settle for winning the pick-4 in the next four races and getting a return of two-thirds of its total outlay that day. A week from this Saturday, the group will return to the last five races at Tampa and also will have a vote on whether to consider playing Gulfstream in ensuing weeks because there have been rumblings in that direction. Where do you stand? In the meantime, make the most of the festive season (love the hot apple cider!).

HPIBET Marshall Posner

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q. How do I send my suggestions to help improve HPIbet in 2017?

A. If you have any ideas about how to help improve the wagering experience in HPIbet, why not let them know? HPIbet programmers and application developers are constantly working behind the scenes at enhancing the horseplayer experience by adding new functionality, improving the interface design and so on. They welcome user input and encourage people to share their ideas.

The best way to do this is by clicking on the CONTACT US text link under the SUPPORT heading at the bottom in the footer. This will then prompt you to submit your comments through an online form (view image here ). The reason this is the best method is that there will be a documented record of your submission and you will also receive a response if you make a submission this way (unlike using the FEEDBACK button along the top header.)

Got a question for Marshall? Email

You write the caption. Be nice!

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob

Who was the first Winnipeg native to win the riding title at Assiniboia Downs since Tommy Stadnyk did it in 1961? Bob tells the story of this well-respected young man who retired in 2007. When he was asked if he missed racing, his answer was short and sweet "every day"! Find out who he is here.

Bob pays tribute to one of the finest Manitoba-breds to ever race at the Downs. This four-time winner of the Agassiz and track record holder was nominated for the 1975 Kentucky Derby before injuries scuttled that plan. When this boy was right, he was a tough one to beat! Find out who that horse was here.

NEXT INSIDER: Thursday, Jan. 5

ANSWER TO TRIVIA TEASER #1: No, no, no. You'll lose big time if you bet Bob Baffert long shots. Of 35 Baffert horses that raced on the dirt this year at Santa Anita at odds of 8/1 or higher, only one horse won – even though Baffert is the leading percentage trainer at Santa Anita with 27 per cent wins. (His turf longshots are slightly better: one in five longshots won during 2016.)

(d) Patrick Gallagher. If you simply bet an equal amount on his 85 starters at Santa Anita this year, your return on investment (ROI) would have been 66 per cent. Here are the ROIs for the other trainers: (a) Robertino Diodoro (25%) (b) Doug O'Neill (-15%) (c) John Sadler (-28%)

NOTE: The above shows you the value of Equibase's “Statsmaster”

A few seats left for tonight. Book quickly!

Merry Christmas!
As a gift to yourself, win a share in Woodbine's Jackpot Hi-5 tomorrow!
See ya back here next year!

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