Thursday, December 31, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 51 (Issue #770)

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.


NEW YEAR’S BONUS! 3% CASH-BACK TOMORROW THROUGH SUNDAY! Bet at least $250 on your HPIbet account over the next three days and 3% of your wagers will be deposited back into your account--up to $50. This is in addition to the regular bonuses. $2.10 payoffs don’t apply.

And tomorrow launches a LASIX BAN on most stakes races in the U.S.! What will that mean for your wagering? See below.


Mandatory payout at Aqueduct!

Your 20-cent wager on the Empire pick-6 at Aqueduct today could result in your sharing in a pool likely to grow to $2 million! The carryover is $183,471. First post today at Aqueduct is 11:50 a.m. (Psst! I think #5 is live in the first and last legs of the pick-6 that begins with race 3.)

Note that mandatory payouts will continue in every Aqueduct race card in January; in other words, there will be no carryovers.

Extra interest continues at Aqueduct tomorrow as it stages the first Kentucky Derby prep race of the year, the Jerome Stakes. Then on Saturday, the second Derby prep of the year, the Sham Stakes, will be featured at Santa Anita where Life Is Good is likely to be the prohibitive favourite.

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Got your calendar? It's a must!

Final Furlong, the non-profit that helps find good homes for retired race horses, has produced a beautiful monthly calendar of ASD “alumni” horses that deserves a space in your home. And, get this, IT WILL BE DELIVERED FREE TO YOUR DOOR by ASD staffers while they’re out and about delivering race programs. Or drop by at ASD for curbside service. It’s $20. Place your order at 204-885-3330 ext. 225. Highly recommended!

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

Bullet briefs . . .

  • What does Lasix ban mean for your wagering on stakes races?
  • How did horses figure into creation of COVID-19 vaccines?
  • What can we learn from recent ASD tournament winner?
  • Will Santa Anita's popular downhill turf course reopen?
  • Horse breeder dies too soon; misses colt's last-to-first jaw-dropper
  • Major news: Congress passes Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act
WIN A TRIP! SUBMIT YOUR TOP 10 HORSES OF THE PAST 50 YEARS! 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the Eclipse Awards for outstanding horses, jockeys, trainers and others. Entering your best 10 horses from the past 50 years and your 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.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in January? Find out  here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Download 2021 LIVE RACING SCHEDULE here.

JOIN THE ASSINIBOIA RACING CLUB; STILL A FEW SHARES AVAILABLE! $500 buys you a partnership in a horse and pays all racing bills through ASD’s race season. Email Shannon at  

Lasix ban starts tomorrow for most U.S. stakes races
What does that mean for your wagering?

Starting tomorrow, Jan. 1, most stakes races in the U.S. will be run without Lasix. That will be the drill at all major tracks and a few minor tracks.

Considering the fact that almost all horses in recent years have been running with Lasix, what does “Lasix-free” mean for your wagering?

Probably not much. That’s because only about one in 10 horses has a “bleeding” issue; that is, its lungs fill with enough blood that it impairs breathing enough to slow the horse down. So, basically, in a 10-horse field, nine of 10 horses shouldn’t be affected by the ban.

Most horses do bleed a bit into lung capillaries while racing because their blood pressure soars to four times normal but research has shown that doesn’t slow down most horses. Two-year-olds will also race Lasix-free.

Will Canadian tracks follow suit? “We recognize that this is a very difficult and controversial issue in North America,” Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson has been quoted as saying. “Between Woodbine and the Jockey Club in New York, we’ve had many long discussions about it. My reaction is one of caution right now.” 

Breeder dies too soon
Misses a powerful first-to-last burst by 2-year-old in Derby prep race

Senor Buscador makes a powerful move in the Springboard Mile
Too bad. Oilman/horse breeder Joe Peacock Sr. died at 88 in San Antonio, Texas, in September missing the thrill of seeing his colt, Senor Buscador, charge from last to first to win Remington’s Kentucky Derby prep race, the Springboard Mile two Fridays ago. The colt posted an impressive 107 Equibase speed figure.

If he were alive today, Peacock would probably be saying to everyone: “See?” That’s because he predicted six years ago, when he divested himself of all broodmares except one, New Mexico-bred Rose’s Desert, that she would produce a foal of his dreams. Is Senor Buscador The One?

The horse runs exactly as Gunnevera did four years ago in winning the $1 million Delta Jackpot which also was a last-to-first burst. Gunnevera, of course, went on to earn $5.5 million that included a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic two years ago.

Senor Buscador’s mom, Rose’s Desert, was also bred--and raced--by Peacock. Racing exclusively in New Mexico, she never finished worse than second (15-10-5-0). She was bred to Mineshaft to produce Senor Buscador. The colt’s trainer is Todd Fincher who was second in the trainer standings at Sunland Park.

Remember the name: Senor Buscador. The colt may be worth a toonie or two future wager in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool in February.

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How good is Life Is Good?
Won his debut race without trying; now featured in Sham Stakes Saturday

Horses don’t win much more easily than Life Is Good won his career debut at Del Mar five weeks ago with a 106 Equibase speed figure without really trying.

The Bob Baffert trainee returns this Saturday in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, one of two Kentucky Derby prep races the next two days. He went off at 1-5 in his debut but will likely be 1-9 Saturday. It will be a bridge-jumper’s delight but it’s hard to imagine anything but win and place being offered.

, by the way, is the name of the colt who gets his fame from tangling with Secretariat throughout 1973, finishing second to the mighty colt in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but, exhausted by those two efforts, finishing last in the Belmont Stakes, 45 lengths behind Big Red.  

There’s no such monster standout in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct tomorrow. In fact, it appears to be a very competitive field of colts celebrating their third birthday.

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BAFFERT “OWNS” LOS AL FUTURITY: Trainer Bob Baffert Is seven-for-seven at Los Alamitos in the Los Alamitos Futurity since Hollywood Park closed and the Futurity continued at Los Alamitos. His win two Saturdays ago was a heart-stopper with his Spielberg prevailing in a head-bob. The colt’s E speed was 99.
Did you know . . . tomorrow’s Kentucky Derby prep at Aqueduct, the Jerome, is the second-oldest stakes race in the U.S. (after the Belmont Stakes) and is named for Leonard Jerome, the founder of Jerome Park, the predecessor of Belmont Park? And did you know the track founder was the grandfather of England’s famed prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill? Small world.

Will Santa's popular downhill course reopen?
"Being seriously considered"

Now that Santa Anita has opened a new 6 ½-furlong chute on the turf, does that mean the end of its picturesque signature downhill 6 ½-furlong course that was closed amid a rash of general horse breakdowns at the track last year?

Good news.We have not ruled out returning to the hillside turf course this season and it is something being seriously considered,” a Santa Anita spokesperson told The Insider in an email. “That is a decision that will be made as the season goes along.” Longshots often prevailed in races on the course; in fact, one study I did showed the average payout was just over $20. The course COULD be conquered, though, by looking for horses that already won or did well on the course or looking for horses cutting back to this sprint distance after showing early pace in route races.

It should be noted that after dealing with horse safety in a very serious way in the face of breakdowns, the southern California track had a perfect non-casualty fall meet. There’s a very strong PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) movement in California and that had to lower the volume a bit.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: What we can learn from tournament winner?

So how did Geoff Metcalf win the final tournament of 2020 with a bankroll of $122.80? Maybe we can learn from his plays. He decided to play Hawthorne, he said, because he thought he had a better chance to finding longshots because the track was sloppy. In the first race he went to leading jockey Victor Santiago riding a maiden claimer, #8 Lill Queen B, dropping from maiden special weight. That’s huge. Lill Queen B wired the field and paid $29.50.

Then Metcalf caught jockey Santiago again on #7 Hellofaguy in the last race on a $44 horse ($42 cap price). Metcalf said he went back to Santiago because the leading jockey had two wins already and would likely be trying hard to notch the hat-trick. Simple. See program pages for races 1 and 9 here.

NEW BODY TO ENACT DRUG AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS FOR ALL U.S. TRACKS: The signing on Sunday in the U.S. of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act--described as “the biggest gain in Congress for horses in half a century”--means racing commissions throughout the U.S. will cede drug and safety rules to a national authority that will control such things as jockeys’ whips and whipping, drug use, race track surfaces, pre-race vet exams, etc.

Two standing committees--one for anti-doping and medication control and the other on safety--will serve under a board of directors that will consist of industry reps as well as independent people outside the industry. The result should be consistency from track to track.

CONDOLENCES to ASD trainer and HBPA director Connie Clauson whose husband, Lee Berry, died on Boxing Day at 75 after a lengthy lung ailment. Born in Ireland, once a nurse in England, Berry partnered with Connie in a small stable called Little Oak Acres with Kenton being the star, finishing second in the Graduation Stakes in 2014 and Frank Arnason Sire stakes in 2015. But his involvement with horses went back decades in Alberta, Ontario and West Virginia, partnering with trainer and ASD carpenter Steve Thompson who described Lee as a “people person. One of the nicest people you could know.”

Just released; da Silva bares his soul
“I CRIED EVERY DAY FOR THREE MONTHS WRITING THIS BOOK” said retired leading Woodbine jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva in releasing his book, Riding for Freedom, described as “his journey from a young boy with a big dream in a poor country to a seven-time recipient of Canada's outstanding jockey award,” Available from Amazon for $24.99 Cdn.

Why should the “I won bigger” betting group restrict itself to Saturday bets only? Why, indeed? So the group has branched out, making spot plays when there are good opportunities. Half the group’s bankroll will be used for Saturday’s Tampa pick-5 play but the rest will be used for spot plays throughout the week. Leading the way will be Dave Boehmer who has a reputation for hitting sizable pick-4s and pick-5s with bets rarely over $100. In his first play last Sunday, his $144 pick-5 ticket at Tampa returned $1,054. Want to share in the fun? Email Sheri at Shares are $20, generously topped up with $5 from the Downs.

Maximum Security wins $20 million Saudi Cup but winnings are on hold (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Doug DeFelice photo)
WORLD’S RICHEST RACE MOVED FORWARD AS MAXIMUM SECURITY PROBE CONTINUES: The $20 million Saudi Cup and its seven-race undercard has been moved forward a week to Feb. 20 this year, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia has announced. Meanwhile, the Club continues to investigate last year’s Saudi Cup winner, Maximum Security, to determine whether his connections should receive first place money of $10 million because of allegations his trainer at the time, Jason Servis, was charged with administering misbranded drugs to his horses. Total purse money for the eight Saudi races will be $30.5 million, up from $29.2 million.

An animal health company headquartered in Kansas that developed a vaccine in 2005 to inoculate horses and humans against the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus was pivotal in the quick development of the vaccine that is now fighting COVID-19. Fort Dodge Animal Health for the first time used a molecular piece of the West Nile virus to trigger a horse’s or human’s immune system into action. Before that, a killed or inactive form of virus was used in vaccines.

Lucky us! Travyfootball simplifies the muddy playoff picture

It’s been a while since week 17 in the NFL has had so many playoff implications. So instead of my weekly picks, I will don my mathematician hat and try to explain who needs to win, who can afford to lose and who needs a combination of both. 

NFC East

: Win
: Win + Washington loss
: Win + Washington loss
The winner of this wacky division will host a playoff game. 

For the NFC 6th and 7th seeds, two out of these three teams will make it

: Win--or loss by Cards or Rams
: Win--or loss by Bears or Rams
: Win--or loss by Bears and/or Cards 

First round NFC Bye
: Win--or Seahawks loss
: Win + Packers loss + Seahawks loss
: Win + Packers loss + Saints loss

For the AFC 4th through 7th seeds, four out of these five teams will make it: 

: Win--or Colts loss
: Win--or Ravens, Browns, Colts loss
: Win--or Browns, Colts loss
: Win--or Colts loss, or Titans loss + Dolphins win + Ravens win
: Win + a loss by either the Ravens, Browns, or Dolphins

Got it? Take the playoff quiz here. (Just kidding.)

In case you missed it last week, historian Bob’s tour de force holiday column, A Racetracker’s Night Before Christmas is being re-run today. And, in case you’re wondering about Santa’s reindeer called “Donder” in today’s column, three different names have been given that reindeer: Donner, Donder and, in the original poem, Dunder. Read A Racetracker’s Night Before Christmas here.
Turf Paradise begins Monday. Racing goes Monday to Friday.
  • Tomorrow: Happy New Year! And Happy Birthday to all horses in the Northern Hemisphere. 3% cash back on HPI bets totalling at least $250 Jan. 1 to 3, maximum cash-back deposit $50, $2.10 payoffs excluded. Kentucky Derby prep race at Aqueduct--the Jerome Stakes.
  • This Saturday: 3% cash back (see above), “I won bigger” group play continues; Kentucky Derby prep race, the Sham Stakes, runs at Santa Anita with likely prohibitive favourite Life Is Good
  • This Sunday: 3% cash back (see above).
  • Monday, Jan. 4: Turf Paradise meet from Arizona begins 1:40 p.m. Racing goes Monday to Friday until May.
  • Friday, Jan. 8: Sam Houston meet begins at 6:45 p.m. Racing continues either Wednesday to Saturday or Thursday to Saturday each week.
  • Saturday, Jan. 9: Main “I won bigger” group play at Tampa

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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