Thursday, February 13, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 6 (Issue #725)

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

Presidents Day in the U.S.; Louis Riel Day in Manitoba

Great racing, lots of perks
5x player rewards, Derby countdown contest; draws for wagering vouchers

Take advantage of these perks at the Downs on Louis Riel Monday:
  • 5x Player Reward points for ALL wagers
  • Everyone who attends the “I won bigger” workshop at 10:30 a.m. will receive a $2-off coupon for any breakfast item
  • Bonus “3 for the money” contest for up to $150 in betting vouchers
  • Five draws for $10 in wagering vouchers from above entrants
  • Countdown to the Kentucky Derby contest begins with the Southwest Stakes prep race at Oaklawn. Set of two unique Kentucky Derby glasses will be awarded in a draw from contest entrants.
  • 10:30 a.m.: Special “I won bigger” betting group workshop on the Clubhouse plaza; $5 top-up for each $20 wagering share; $2 off breakfast items, Group will play pick-5 at Oaklawn (last five races).
  • 11:00 a.m.: Racing begins with Saratoga standardbreds
  • 11:25 a.m.: Laurel Park and Parx
  • 12:00 p.m.: Gulfstream Park. See full schedule here.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • It's Valentine's Eve! Celebrate by enjoying certified Angus prime rib buffet tonight!
  • Mandatory payout Saturday night of Woodbine/Mohawk Hi-5
  • My early Kentucky Derby choice is Thousand Words. Why?
  • What five U.S. horses are chasing the biggest purse in the world?
  • Why am I bringing blinkers to the next "I won bigger" betting group discussion?
  • Hockey and handicapping great, Eddie O, publishes memoirs on beating cancer and more
$150 AT STAKE IN “3 FOR THE MONEY” GAME AT FAIR GROUNDS: Predict the winners of the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Fair Grounds Saturday where the two heats of the Risen Star prep race will be run. On Monday, predict the winners of the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Oaklawn, home of the Southwest Stakes prep race.

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. Your ticket purchase supports the Winners Foundation.

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

Enter predictions for 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 after each prep race. Your 10 best scores will count toward winning the bankroll. First chance is Monday--the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn.
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. NOTE: Woodbine/Mohawk's Jackpot Hi-5 carryover to Saturday night's mandatory payout is $152K.

Why Thousand Words is my early Derby choice

Thousand Words surges away from #5 High Velocity when he sees #4 Royal Act coming
He seems to be taking after his talented father, Pioneerof the Nile, and that’s why Bob Baffert’s Thousand Words got my Kentucky Derby future wager on the weekend.

Sure, the $1-million colt won all three of his initial races including the Los Alamitos Futurity and the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita but it’s what trainer Baffert said after the Robert B. Lewis that caught my attention. He said the 3-year-old does as much as he needs to do to win--a trait he seems to have inherited from Pioneerof the Nile who, in 2009, won four Derby prep races in a row before finishing second in the Kentucky Derby (to 50-1 Mine That Bird).

Check the Equibase result charts for Pioneerof the Nile and one word jumps out again and again: “tugged.” In other words, the colt didn’t wait for his rider, Garrett Gomez, to urge him on: He “tugged” his way into striking position. And that seems to be the case with Thousand Words: he bulled his way into contention at the top of the stretch from a tricky fourth-place position during the Robert B. Lewis, dueled with his front-running stable mate, #5 High Velocity but here’s the kicker: When he saw #4 Royal Act coming at him down the stretch, he found another gear to explode away from High Velocity and hold off Royal Act.

And--get this: “He wasn’t even tired after the race,” Baffert was quoted as saying. “ He's got that big long stride and the further the better with him. You could tell about the last 50 yards he was really getting going.”

I was also heartened to hear racing writer George Williams is equally enamored with him; we watched the race replay together on his phone on Saturday.

Worth a Derby dabble, don’t you think? Now let’s just hope he stays healthy over the next 2 ½ months to make it to the Big Dance.

The Future Pool odds I got on the Florida-bred is 16-1. Barclay Tagg’s Tiz the Law, winner of the Holy Bull prep race at Gulfstream, and Baffert’s Nadal, winner of the San Vicente at Santa Anita, closed as the 8-1 co-favourites. As is generally the case early in the year, the “field” of horses not individually listed in Pool #2 went off at odds of 2-1. See the full listing of horses and their odds here. The next future pool will be available March 6-8.
*       *       *
Three Derby preps this long weekend
Includes Risen Star at Fair Grounds Saturday; Southwest at Oaklawn on holiday Monday

Kentucky Derby prep races are increasing in value for the top four finishers. The top four in the two heats of the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Saturday will earn 50-20-10-5 points toward entry into the Derby.

The El Camino Real prep race that also goes Saturday at Golden Gate and the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on holiday Monday will be the last two prep races with a 10-4-2-1 point distribution.

Note that Monday’s Southwest Stakes is the first of 15 prep races in which you will earn points toward winning a $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby on May. Your 10 best scores will count toward winning the bankroll.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Oui Say No. What can one say except this is an imaginative bilingual name for a 2-year-old filly racing at Santa Anita
Tampa pick-5 pays

Woe is us

Opinions get in the way of rules for handicapping Tampa's pick-5 Saturday

I’m bringing blinkers to group play Saturday and holiday Monday
“Thou shalt not be influenced by outside hype again. Thou shalt not be influenced by outside hype again. Thou shalt not be influenced by outside hype again. Thou shalt not . . .“

Yes, I’m writing lines for being naughty.

In analyzing Tampa’s late pick-5 for the “I won bigger” betting group on Saturday--a wager that paid a single ticket-holder $435,000--I allowed myself to be swayed by racing podcasters and others who almost guaranteed that Mark Casse’s Got Stormy was a Leg One key so I crossed out a couple “rule” horses in the same leg because, although their closing kick on the turf was as good as Got Stormy, they weren’t Grade 1 calibre.

Those two horses finished one-two. And Got Stormy didn’t even finish third, setting up big show payouts. Although Leg Four, the Sam F. Davis Kentucky Derby prep race, was trickier than Leg One, most analysts thought the unbeaten Independence Hall would likely win. Wrong. He finished second; a “bounce” type horse (another rule) roared past him in the stretch.

This column has repeatedly said a rule is a rule is a rule so why do we continue to allow opinions and hype to edge out the rules?

Leg Two was won by a horse with the biggest pace number (a rule) who went wire-to-wire and the last leg was won by a 12-1 longshot who was one of two horses with the best closing fractions on the turf. Duh!

Which means I’m bringing blinkers for everyone attending this Saturday’s (and holiday Monday’s) “bigger” group discussion on the Clubhouse plaza at 10:30 a.m. each day. The blinkers will concentrate the mind on playing by the rules.

Saturday’s play:
Tampa’s late pick-5 and Fair Grounds’ late pick-4 (with the Risen Star prep races)
Monday’s play:
Tampa doesn’t race so we’ll be tackling the late pick-5 at Oaklawn which includes the prep race for the Kentucky Derby, the Southwest Stakes.

"Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life"

One-time Jet and Hall of Famer Eddie O signs memoirs book at McNally Robinson

Eddie Olczyk’s memoir discusses beating the odds in hockey and fighting cancer
In his lowest days of chemotherapy to treat colon cancer, hockey Hall of Famer Eddie Olczyk recalled in a radio interview on the weekend that he got through the tortuous sessions by taking one day at a time as he did “as a hockey player, as a coach and trying to bounce back from being down $2,500 playing the races.”

A centre for the Winnipeg Jets, the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and three other teams and now NBC’s colour commentator for the NHL, Blackhawks and horse racing, Eddie O, 53, was in town on the weekend not only to cover the game in which the Jets beat the Blackhawks but also to autograph his book, “Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life,” at McNally Robinson Booksellers. Olczyk’s main claim to fame as a horseplayer was winning a $500,000 pick-6 at Hollywood Park.

“He was an incredibly positive presence at the store,” McNally event coordinator John Toews, told The Insider. “All in the line were already in a very good mood and all walked away from the signing table beaming. He took his time with each individual and chatted with them warmly.” Olczyk estimated there were a “couple hundred people” there and that he signed about 250 books.

ASD CEO Darren Dunn, a good friend of Eddie and quoted multiple times in the book, chauffeured him to the store (and later to Bell MTS Place) and there was a surprise visit from Thomas Steen, former Jet and Winnipeg city councillor, who was inducted into the Jets’ Hall of Fame on Tuesday along with Randy Carlyle.

“This memoir,”
states an online synopsis about his book, “is an honest and emotional account of everything Olczyk has experienced: the sacrifices his parents made so he could pursue a career in the NHL, the joy of playing for the Hawks, the mental and physical stress involved in the life of a professional athlete, the incredible moments he's called from the broadcast booth, and the profound lessons learned while battling cancer.” It’s available at McNally Robinson for $38.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: The two most important angles to pick winners

Dropping speed horses and maidens dropping from allowance races into a claiming race are the two most important angles for picking winners. My first-ever $1,000 wager, in fact, was a dropping speed horse simulcast from Northlands Park in Edmonton.

My horse had shown early dueling speed, then tired, at $8,000 and was dropping into a $5,500 claimer. Bettors were all over the speedy $5,500 horse while I kept on adding hundreds on the dropping horse. My horse tracked the $5,500 speedster and took over in the turn, holding off a late closer to win by three-quarters of a length. It went off at odds of 9-2.

CELEBRATION OF LIFE TODAY FOR OFF-TRACK MUTUEL SELLER: Today would have been Susan Bain’s 71st birthday but, instead, the life of the long-time mutuel ticket seller at ASD off-track locations is being celebrated at 2 p.m. at Chapel Lawn Funeral Home across the highway from Assiniboia Downs. She died of complications from a spine infection that led to the discovery of leukemia, said OTB director Shannon Davis who will be delivering the eulogy at today’s service.

“Always perfectly manicured, she was a quick-witted woman with a good sense of humor--often with a one-liner--and closely followed the Bombers, Jets and curling,”
she said. And players appreciated her efficiency and discreteness, she added. Susan is survived by partner Hugart Grant, two sons and five grandchildren.

Check out the U.S. map here. Horses from blue states earn $250 after they have completed one start at the Downs. Those from red states get $600 after a completed start. Spread the word! (Uh, don’t read anything political into the colours where red states normally mean Republican and blue means Democrat.)

The disqualified winner of the Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security, and the winner of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup, Mucho Gusto, are among the five U.S. horses who are the likely entrants in the $20 million Saudi Cup, the richest race in the world, on Saturday, Feb. 29, from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Other horses include McKinzie, second place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the mare Midnight Bisou, second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and Gift Box, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap. There will be eight races with purses totalling $29.2 million. Efforts are underway to make North American wagering possible.
Cartoon in the Winnipeg Free Press in 1969 marked the record-setting “quartet”
THE BEST OF BOB: Ruled on "fog bowl;" headed Manitoba Horse Racing Commission

Did you know that the man who ruled on the historic Grey Cup "Fog Bowl" was also the head of the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission? Click here for the story of Sydney Halter(First published June 2018)

Four race-winning horses on the same card with the same trainer, same owner AND SAME FATHER! Yes, even the same father. On June 26, 1969, jockey Dick Armstrong rode Tiny Will, Forever Maxwell, Rob's Choice and Guardian F--all sired by Joe Wilson--to victory for trainer Carl Anderson and owner Max Freed. Belongs in the Guinness Book of World Records, don’t you think?
Celebrate Valentine’s Eve tonight enjoying Chef Gerardo’s prime rib buffet
  • Tonight: Valentine’s Eve certified Angus prime rib buffet in the Terrace Dining Room 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0 to reserve.
  • Tomorrow: Valentine’s Day Friday, Feb. 14: Italian-themed Valentine’s dinner and dance. SOLD OUT.
  • This Saturday: Kentucky Derby prep races-- El Camino Real at Golden Gate and Risen Star (two heats) at Fair Grounds.
  • Holiday Monday, Feb. 17: Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, Presidents’ Day in the U.S. with major tracks racing and many perks (see top of column). Southwest Stakes Kentucky Derby prep race at Oaklawn Park, the first race to enter your prediction for the Kentucky Derby Countdown Contest to win $200.
  • Saturday, Feb. 29: $20 million Saudi Cup, second Player’s Choice handicapping tournament of the year. Fountain of Youth Kentucky Derby prep race at Gulfstream.

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.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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