"In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity." ~ Albert Einstein
MOST MONEY EVER BET ON ASD RACES:
As the first track in Canada to implement a spectator-free racing strategy in the spring--and with few tracks racing elsewhere--Assiniboia Downs saw its wagering soar to five times what it was in 2019, an average of $1.26 million a day; $64.4 million for the 50-day meet. Players as far afield as England, Germany, Mexico and Brazil discovered Assiniboia Downs.
THE NEW REALITY: THESE PHOTOS SAID IT ALL
Trophy presentation to connections of Kickalittlebooty after Manitoba Oaks win (Jason Halstead photo)
Jay Cohen plays the Call to the Post to an empty grandstand at Santa Anita
BIGGEST LONGSHOT OF THE YEAR: Standardbred Sandbetweenmytoes at 203-1 paid $409.80 when he edged 1-9 favourite Tall Dark Stranger in a Breeders Crown race at Hoosier Park in Indiana on Oct. 31. A $1 exactor paid $750.
WINNINGEST RACE-PLAYER EVER: American player Bill Benter developed algorithms to play the races with a partner in Hong Kong where he won more than a billion dollars. That’s billion with a “B.” He didn’t even collect his final $20 million in winnings--his score for having the only winning ticket on the giant Triple Trio wager pool-- because he just wanted to prove his system could even solve the trickiest of wagers--predicting three triactors in a row on huge fields of horses.
BIGGEST JOCKEY FINE EVER:
Mike Smith fined $210,000
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith
, who has won more Breeders’ Cup races than any other jockey, was slapped with a world record $210,000 fine for striking his mount, Midnight Bisou
, 14 times in finishing second to Maximum Security
in the $20 million Saudi Cup in Saudi Arabia in February. Under Saudi rules, a horse may be struck no more than 10 times. The fine was 60 per cent of Smith’s $350,000 share of the $3.5 million purse for finishing second. He was also suspended for eight days.
MOST TOPSY-TURVY RACES OF 2020:
The convoluted Triple Crown races. Instead of Kentucky Derby, May 2, Preakness, May 16, and Belmont, June 13, it was Derby, Sept. 5, Preakness, Oct. 3, and Belmont Stakes 12 weeks before the Derby on June 20 (at a reduced distance of 1 1/8 miles instead of 1 ½). At least the races got to go.
BEST RAGS-TO-RICHES STORY OF THE YEAR:
The mare, Is It Gold,
who raced at ASD for $7,500, fetched $306,000 at a Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale last fall after her half-sister, Swiss Skydiver
, won the Preakness Stakes. Her Saskatoon owner, financial adviser Kane Kachur
, probably is still counting his lucky stars.
BEST NEW HANDICAPPING SHOW:
Kirt, Marshall and Stretch in ASD Live set; distancing is electronically removed during show (Jason Halstead photo)
A trio of ASD handicappers--announcer Kirt Contois
and fan education specialists Marshall
--presented their racing views--while socially distancing, of course--in a show called ASD Live that proved to be very popular. The show will resume in the 2021 live race season that begins Monday, May 17.
MOST CREATIVE USE OF A CLOTHES CLOSET:
Barred from going to a studio to record radio commercials because of COVID-19 restrictions, ASD CEO Darren Dunn
had to create studio-like conditions at home by unfolding an ironing board in a clothes closet and reading the script on the ironing board into his Voice Memo smart phone app. Envision that scene as you listen to his most recent ASD commercial here
THE TWO MOST UNUSUAL THINGS DISCOVERED ABOUT HORSES:
Horses apparently don’t like to be patted, it confuses them. So scratch them instead because that’s what horses do to each other in the wild. Also, it turns out that horses enjoy being taught a new trick--and we’re told it’s not that difficult to do.
MOST SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT BY ASD PLAYER ON THE NATIONAL STAGE:
Winnipeg businessman Ed Romanik
outlasted more than 3,200 players from throughout North America to win $4,000 U.S. in Santa Anita’s free online ShowVivor contest. That was the second time a local player did ASD proud: retired math prof Jim Roberts
was the last person standing among 2,800 entrants to a Show Me the Money contest at the now-defunct Hollywood Park, winning $6,000. They give credence to the Winnerpeg city designation.
MOST-MISSED MASCOT: Charley Horse
, of course.