Thursday, February 6, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 5 (Issue #724)

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

TRUE OR FALSE? It’s better for horses to start racing early in life because that results in fewer injuries later in life. See answer at bottom of column.


High-percentage U.S. trainer to ship 40 horses to ASD
"I'm pretty excited. I always liked coming up there, " says Robertino Diodoro

Trainer Robertino Diodoro and jockey Ty Kennedy
Here’s exciting news for the live race season. A top trainer in the U.S., Robertino Diodoro--whose horses are currently winning at a high rate at four U.S. tracks--says he will ship 40 horses to race at Assiniboia Downs during the 50-day meet that begins on Mother’s Day, May 10.

“I’m pretty excited,”
he told The Insider in a telephone interview. “It’s something different. I always liked coming up there. We should have a good chunk of horses there in the third week of April.” Assistant trainer Kent Knudsen and jockey Ty Kennedy who are now racing at Delta Downs in Louisiana will accompany his horses, he said. (Kennedy has ridden four winners in his last 10 mounts at Delta.)

Diodoro’s horse owners will be able to share in a generous ASD “shipping incentive program,” too. Horses shipping in from five states closest to Manitoba will earn a bonus of $250 after each horse completes one start at ASD. And horses shipping in from 11 states further away will net their owners $600.

Of course, Diodoro has won the Manitoba Derby three times: Inside Straight in 2016, Sky Promise in 2018 and Oil Money last year. He currently has horses at Turf Paradise (28 per cent wins), Oaklawn Park (28 per cent wins), Delta Downs (23 per cent wins) and Sam Houston (31 per cent wins). While at the Downs, he said he will also have horses racing at Canterbury Park in Minnesota so there will be an exchange of horses between the Downs and Canterbury. And he’ll also be racing at Churchill Downs and Lone Star Park in Texas.

Diodoro, 45, is a native Calgarian who gave up on hockey to train horses--which is what he has been doing for 25 years. He has won 2,365 races from 11,567 starts and his horses have earned more than $40.5 million. He had 310 wins last year, the sixth highest of North American trainers.

His favourite horse? Broadway Empire, winner of the $200K Canadian Derby and $400K Oklahoma Derby in 2013. “He took things to the next level for the whole stable.”

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Tiz the Law is early choice to win the Kentucky Derby after sizzling prep race
  • Chilling flashback: wealthy wife of Great Buffalo Race rider mysteriously drowns
  • Looking for trouble pays off
  • Future wagers on Kentucky Derby go from Friday thru Sunday. Got a hunch? Bet a bunch
  • A coronavirus affects horses, too
  • TravyFootball recaps the Super Bowl while trying to remain composed
  • What are you doing Valentine's Eve? Book the prime rib buffet!
$150 NOW AT STAKE IN THE “3 FOR THE MONEY” GAME: Predict the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Tampa where the Sam F. Davis, a Kentucky Derby prep race, will be run.

with more than $1,200 available if you pick the Ace of Diamonds and $100 for each of two jokers ($5 per ticket, three for $10). Buy tickets before 3:30 p.m.; draw at 4 p.m. And remember, your ticket purchase is helping the Winners Foundation.

 Each day you’re at a staffed OTB venue, enter the draw for 5,000 Player Rewards points ($25 value) which will be made Saturday afternoon.

Enter your weekly predictions for the winners of Kentucky Derby prep races to win a $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby and get into the draw for Derby souvenir glasses.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in February? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Jets

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 8 PM: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge Friday and Saturday. 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.

POOL TABLES, ELECTRONIC DARTS, TAP TV TRIVIA: These are the new games added to Clubhouse fun on the plaza. Pool games are just $1 (insert coins). Tap TV Trivia: Download the free app on your phone to answer 12 questions every 20 minutes to see if you’re better and faster than others. NOTE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY ARE TRIVIA NIGHTS WITH PRIZES! Starts at 7 p.m.

BOOKINGS NOW OPEN FOR BUFFETS AND BRUNCHES DURING LIVE RACING: Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0. First day of live racing is Mother’s Day, May 10. See race schedule here.

by calling Group Sales representative Abbi at 204-885-3330 ext. 277.


GREEDY CORNER: See all jackpot carryovers here.
ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: 3-year-olds unleash their talent

Equibase speed figure for Tiz the Law in Holy Bull is second-highest in five years of Derby preps

Tiz the Law sizzles in Holy Bull Stakes (Barbara D. Livingston photo)
This was a jaw-dropper. In tracking Kentucky Derby prep races since 2016, The Insider has found no 3-year-old that has raced so quickly so early as Tiz the Law did in Gulfstream’s Holy Bull Stakes on Saturday.

In fact, when all Derby preps are taken into consideration including those who run later in the spring, Tiz the Law’s 117 E fig was the second highest in almost 200 races. Only Bolt d’Oro’s 118 in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita in March, 2018, was higher.

That should make Tiz the Law--bred in New York by Constitution out of Tizfiz--the early favourite in this weekend’s Derby Future Wagers to win the Derby but caution is urged. Here’s what happened to the top E-fig horses the past four years:

2019 – Code of Honor
111 in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream -- finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby (after Maximum Security was disqualified)
2018 – Bolt d’ Oro
118 in the San Felipe at Santa Anita -- was second in the Santa Anita Derby but 12th in the Kentucky Derby which was won by Justify
2017 – One Liner
117 in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn -- didn’t run in the Derby; second in a Grade 3 stakes race at Pimlico
2016 – Mohaymen
115 in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream -- finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby

By the way, the highest speed figure for Justify, the Triple Crown winner in 2018, was 114, posted in the Santa Anita Derby.

*       *       *
  • Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita: Thousand Words 107
  • Withers Stakes at Aqueduct: Max Player 103
THIS SATURDAY’S PREP RACE: The Sam F. Davis at Tampa
FLASHBACK to the Great Buffalo Race

The Great Buffalo Race at ASD in May 1989
(Photo courtesy of track historian Bob Gates)
Buffalo rider at ASD at the centre of intrigue
His heiress wife drowns under mysterious circumstances six months after their marriage

I certainly wasn’t prepared for this. Researching the aftermath of a fun event at the Downs on May 21, 1989--the Great Buffalo Race--led to chilling accounts of the mysterious drowning of the rich wife of Collin “T.C.” Thorstenson, the rider/trainer/owner of the buffalo. The body of his wife, newspaper heiress Margaret Lesher, was found at the bottom of a lake where the couple went camping six months after their marriage. A Vanity Fair piece on the event, The Mystery of Bartlett Lake, is very compelling. Read it here.

And, about the buffalo in that picture, Harvey Wallbanger (so named because he bounced off walls): After his mother had been killed by poachers at his South Dakota ranch only three days after his birth, Harvey was bottle-fed for a year and trained to race and perform tricks. He died two years after his ASD race after eating hay contaminated with a poisonous plant. Thorstenson was awarded $475,000 in damages from the hay supplier. The replacement buffalo, Harvey Wallbanger Jr., continued to wow spectators until killed by a virus contracted from sheep. More recently, Thorstenson operated a bar in Cave Creek, Arizona.

The ASD announcer at the time of the Great Buffalo Race, Ken Miller, recalled in an email to The Insider: “I remember telling the DRF crew before the race: ‘I sure hope he runs straight’ and, thankfully, he did.”
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Looking for trouble pays off

On Dec. 14, Aussie Gold, a 5-year-old mare, finished third in the fourth race at Charles Town at odds of 46-1. But if you checked the trouble line for that race-- “checked hard at the start, rushed three wide”-- you’d appreciate just how impressive that race was. And if that convinced you to watch the race replay (which you can watch free on the Charles Town website) you would have been blown away. (Why not watch it?)

And you would have been all over Aussie Gold in her subsequent start on Jan. 30 (after making sure she had a workout to stay sharp) when she paid $23.40, giving one ASD player a $3,400 pick-up and giving another player $300 when he played a $10 parlay from her to Kansas City winning the Super Bowl.

Need I say more about reading trouble lines? It’s a favourite betting angle of Les “Longshot” Buzzell.

NEW GATE FOR KENTUCKY DERBY: Gone in this year’s Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May will be the gap between the two starting gates used for the 20-horse field. Churchill Downs has hired an Australian firm to build its first 20-stall gate. The track had previously hooked up a six-stall auxiliary gate to its 14-stall gate.

Only three fillies have won the Kentucky Derby in its 145-year history but that isn’t preventing trainer Brad Cox (fifth most wins of North American trainers last year) from toying with racing the unbeaten filly Taraz in prep races leading to the Kentucky Derby. Taraz recently easily won the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn, earning her points to enter the Kentucky Oaks, the filly equivalent of the Kentucky Derby. Where will Taraz turn up next? The only fillies to have won the Kentucky Derby were Winning Colors (1988), Genuine Risk (1980) and Regret (1915).

According to a published report, a coronavirus that affects horses has been around for about 10 years, having originally been detected at a racetrack in northern Japan. “Between November 2011 and April 2012,” states the report, “there were four outbreaks of coronavirus in California, Massachusetts, Texas and Wisconsin; 161 horses were affected and four died or were euthanized.” Read more here

With last Saturday’s late pick-5 at Tampa paying just under $600, “I won bigger” betting group players collected $11.50 for each $20 share. The week before, a longshot won a bottom-level claiming race; this past Saturday the favourite won. Any horse other than the favourite would have resulted in a “bigger” group profit. Group play will return to Tampa this Saturday where the Sam F. Lewis Kentucky Derby prep race will be featured. See you at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. If you have strong plays elsewhere, be sure to bring them along.
by TravyFootball

Did the Chiefs win the game? Or did the Niners hand it over to them? Both things can be right.

For three quarters the Niners had the game in hand. They ran the ball well with Coleman and Mostert which set up play-action passes by Jimmy G. Nick Bosa and the defense made Pat Mahomes look very ordinary--until 1:40 of the first half when Kyle Shanahan (whom you may remember was part of the Falcons’ epic collapse against the Patriots three Super Bowls ago) made some questionable coaching decisions.

When the score was 20-10 the Niners snagged an interception that SHOULD have sealed the game for them but dubious decisions followed including:
  • Not going for it on 4th and 2 in the third quarter and settling for a field goal
  • Throwing passes on 2nd and 5 and 3rd and 5 when they had gained 5 yards running on 1st down.
Before you knew it, it was 31-20 Chiefs with Mahomes once again proving why he is the best player in the game, staging the second-biggest comeback in Super Bowl history with 21 unanswered points. Hopefully, Shanahan watches the game film, realizes the errors he made and comes back stronger and smarter next season. On the betting side, props can be fun but cruel to the psyche as follows (“X’s” mark the ones I got wrong.)
  • National anthem - O/U 2 minutes X
  • Total sacks for 49ers D - O/U 3.5 X
  • Will there be a 2-point convert attempt - Yes/No X
  • The jersey number of the first player to score a TD - O/ U #35 X
  • Will the 49ers convert a 4th down - Yes/No
  • Passing attempts for Jimmy G - O/U 15.5
  • Interceptions for Pat Mahomes - O/ U 1.5 X
  • Will receivers have more total touchdowns than running backs - Yes/No X
  • What will happen first - Chiefs TD, Chiefs Punt
  • Who will score first - George Kittle/ Travis Kelce X
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE NFL SEASON: We had breakout players like Lamar Jackson and Derek Henry and huge disappointments such as the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears. Overall I’d give the season a solid B+ rating. Want more football? The XFL will be kicking off this Saturday at 1 p.m., the second go-around for the XFL but with a seemingly more serious intent. I don’t expect much based on the talent pool but I’ll keep an open mind.

As for myself, I will be back quarterbacking for the PIT touch football league in March for the 12th year. It’s a fun way to play without punishing tackles. Interested? Check out the PIT website at or talk to me in the Clubhouse. Here are a couple clips of me during my championship game at IGF last September. or

THE BEST OF BOB: Fud was no dud! Who?

Remember the quality of the Downs stakes races from the mid-1970s? In this week's blog revival, Bob recalls Stuart Polet's "Fud the Stud." Who? Click here for more. (First published in July 2017)

Did you know . .
. the first time an entire race card was cancelled at the Downs was July 6, 1977, 19 years after the Downs opened? After days of heavy rain, officials deemed the track unsafe for horses and jockeys. However, the first time a race card was EVER cancelled in Winnipeg racing history occurred at old Polo Park. The cancellation had nothing to do with weather. The date was June 6, 1944. Robert James Speers postponed the day's race card out of respect for the D-Day invasion by allied forces.
Bet your predicted Kentucky Derby winner from Friday to Sunday
  • Tomorrow: First of three days to make a future wager on the Kentucky Derby, win and exactor bets that could pay a small fortune even if their odds on Derby Day are much lower. Click here for pool #2.
  • This Saturday: Kentucky Derby prep race-- Sam F. Davis at Tampa.
  • Next Thursday, Feb. 13: Valentine's Eve prime rib buffet. Since the following night's Valentine's dinner and dance is sold out, why not dig into the delicious dishes on Valentine's Eve as you might enjoy Christmas Eve?
  • Valentine’s Day Friday, Feb. 14: Italian-themed Valentines dinner and dance. SOLD OUT.
  • Saturday, Feb. 15: Kentucky Derby prep races-- El Camino Real at Golden Gate and Risen Star at Fair Grounds. Countdown to the Derby contest begins with a $200 bankroll on the Kentucky Derby at stake
  • Holiday Monday, Feb. 17: Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, Presidents’ Day in the U.S. with major tracks racing. Southwest Stakes Kentucky Derby prep race at Oaklawn Park.

EVERY THURSDAY: Dig into super-tender certified Angus prime rib buffets with soup, salad bar, pasta station and signature Bourbon Bacon Brownie dessert every Thursday evening from 5 to 8 p.m. in the ambience-rich Terrace Dining Room. Reserve with Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0.


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

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