Thursday, February 20, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 7 (Issue #726)

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


Was evidence planted?
Retired New York steward questions 10-year ban of trainer Richard Dutrow

Trainer Richard Dutrow, Jr.
10-year ban
Retired steward Stephen Lewandowksi
“Evidence was planted”
He was one of the more colourful trainers in North American horse racing: New York’s Richard Dutrow, Jr. who famously commented that it was a “foregone conclusion” that his Big Brown would win the 2008 Belmont Stakes--and hence the Triple Crown--before the colt finished a jaw-dropping last after a troubled trip.

Three years after that event, Dutrow was banned from training for 10 years for numerous racing infractions but, now, chief state steward Stephen Lewandowski, who retired last year after five years, has alleged in a letter to the New York Gaming Commission that evidence used to incriminate Dutrow--three hypodermic needles found in his desk drawer-- was planted.

“I state emphatically that his penalties for which he received ten years and a $50,000 fine do not equal the infractions that occurred,” Lewandowski states in his letter to the Commission. “It was obvious, and still is, that this was a personal issue against Mr. Dutrow which did not merit the punishment he received.”

The New York state attorney’s office is investigating the evidence-planting allegation. Dutrow is weathering the seventh year of his 10-year suspension. He was a highly successful trainer, winning 25 per cent of his starts. His horses won 1,811 races out of 7,204 starts, earning $87.5 million.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Here we go! Backstretch readies for invasion of the neigh-sayers
  • Online poll: Who will win the Kentucky Derby?
  • Some days, winning can be easy. Are you missing out?
  • Why bacon and crow will be served on Saturday
  • Mother's Day brunch almost sold out
CONGRATS TO $150 “3 FOR THE MONEY” WINNER: Two-time Handicapper of the Year and ex-cop Brian McKellar not only won $150 in wagering vouchers for predicting the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Fair Grounds Saturday in the “3 for the money” contest but he also deserves copious bragging rights because the sequence was very tricky (a $1 pick-3 paid $224). He based his third leg pick (Mr. Monomoy in the Risen Star prep race) on breeding. Since no one won holiday Monday’s contest, this Saturday’s “3 for the money” contest on the first three legs of the late pick-4 at Tampa will feature a prize of $75.

Retired accountant Al Hampton was first to have his entry drawn from entrants in the Countdown to the Derby contest that runs each time a prep race is run and he said he loves the “designer” Derby glass set that is the special contest giveaway. You have 14 chances to win your own set simply by entering the contest that earns you points toward winning a $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby. Next contest day: Saturday, Feb. 29 on the Fountain of Youth prep race at Gulfstream.

with more than $1,300 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.

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.
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.


GREEDY CORNER: See all jackpot carryovers here.

Here we go!
Horses to start moving in for Season 63; backstretch diner opens Tuesday

Raring to go in the snow
It never gets stale. One’s pulse rate quickens a bit when horses start filling the stables to begin spring training--as they are about to do at Assiniboia Downs.

The backstretch diner opens Tuesday and trainer Steven Gaskin appears primed to be the first to ship in horses as he did last year. He says he will have 30 horses on the move.

The Equi-ciser--which gets horses neighing and kicking up their heels as they go round and round--is set to open a week from this Sunday and the training track will open 10 days after that, weather permitting.

A lot of attention will focus on Hidden Grace who will be returning for her third year of racing with an unbeaten record of nine wins, all stakes races. Will she follow in Escape Clause’s hoofprints as the next Manitoba-bred to take on the world?

Top U.S. trainer Robertino Diodoro who is currently hitting at a 38 per cent win clip at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, has indicated he will be shipping 40 horses to the Downs (primarily from Delta and Turf Paradise) and other trainers/horse owners are incentivized to bring their horses to the Downs by being given $250 and $600 bonuses just for completing one start at the track. (See map of bonus U.S. states here.)

Will that help increase field size? Optimism prevails!

*       *       *
MOTHER’S DAY BRUNCH IS ALMOST SOLD OUT! Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 for tickets. Tickets are also available for the Mother’s Day dinner and for brunches on Father’s Day, Canada Day and Derby Day. To book a race presentation package for any day of live racing, call Abbi in group sales at the same number as above, ext. 277. Race schedule.

ASD trainer Shaun Morin (23-6-5-3 record last season) is in Florida hunting for a horse for the Assiniboia Racing Club, reports ARC coordinator John Field. There are 58 members in this year’s Club who bought 59 shares at $500 apiece that covers all costs of buying a horse and racing during the upcoming season.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Go Google Yourself feels like a rather intemperate name to give a 5-year-old mare who won the Bayakoa Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Monday. One speculates that “Google” substitutes for a word that wouldn’t be allowed.

Who's going to win the Kentucky Derby?

  1. Tiz the Law: 45.6%
  2. Sole Volante: 14.3%
  3. Thousand Words (my choice): 11.7%
NEXT DERBY PREP RACE: Next Saturday--the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. The race is a prep race, too, for the $1 million Florida Derby four weeks later.

Bacon and crow to be served Saturday

Crow? Missing gate-to-wire winner on two tickets blunts joy of collecting $4,250

Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group will be crunching on bacon this Saturday for cashing a $4,252 pick-5 ticket from Tampa last Saturday but will also be dining on crow for missing out on another $4,200 on two other tickets--a pick-4 at Fair Grounds on Saturday and a pick-5 at Oaklawn Park on holiday Monday. In each case, a gate-to-wire winner killed the tickets.

As a speed handicapper, I should have lobbied harder to include horses with high pace numbers on those errant tickets.

Well, at least group participants pocketed $90 for each $20 share on the Tampa pick-5 and are looking at a return to Tampa this Saturday where I’ll guarantee that a speedy high-pace horse will NOT be overlooked in the late pick-5. Crunch time is the usual 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Winning big can sometimes be this easy

If, on holiday Monday, you played a $1 pick-4 wheel on the last four races at Oaklawn Park using just the top picks of the three analysts in the Daily Racing Form at a cost of $36 (3 x 3 x 2 x 2), you would have collected $1,320.

Yes, some days winning big can be THAT easy. Here are the winning picks of the three DRF analysts:

Race 7: Ron Gierkink
correctly picked #3 Home Run Trick ($10)
Race 8: Chuck Kuehhas
correctly picked #6 Warrior’s Charge ($8)
Race 9
(Southwest Stakes): Trackwoman Mary Rampellini and Gierkink correctly picked #2 Silver Prospector ($11.40)
Race 10:
Kuehhas and Gierkink correctly picked #5 Background ($7)

That’s why the weekly “I won bigger” workshop group always looks at analysts’ picks. Two Saturdays ago, DRF analysts’ picks in two tricky maiden races at Tampa helped point the way to an early pick-5 that paid $140,000 for 50-cents. Need I say more?

ASD WILL OPEN 6:30 AM FOR SAUDI CUP WAGERING ON FEB. 29: ASD is completing the regulatory process this week to permit on-track wagering of the eight-race Saudi Cup card on Saturday, Feb. 29. Race coverage would begin at 6:30 a.m. since the track in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is nine hours ahead of our time. The pools will be big as the betting hub for the races is Premier Gateway International, Isle of Man. The feature race, of course, will be the $20 million Saudi Cup with half the field filled with top U.S. horses. Will the mare, Midnight Bisou, beat the boys?

Churchill Downs, the new owner of Turfway Park in Florence, KY, says it will spend $5.6 million replacing Turfway’s Polytrack synthetic surface with Tapeta, a surface in use at Woodbine, Presque Isle and Golden Gate. Consisting of sand, fibres and wax, it is thought to be the best surface for winter racing. Installation will begin after the current meet ends in late March and will be ready for its next season in December.
THE BEST OF BOB: This column will leave a "hoofprint on your heart"

Did you ever read Jim Coleman's A Hoofprint on my Heart? Bob's take on the book just might have you searching for this out-of-print keeper. Click here for Bob's "review." (First published in June 2018)
  • This weekend: Backstretch opens to prepare stables for horse influx
  • Tuesday, Feb. 25: Backstretch diner opens
  • 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 (enter Countdown Contest).
  • Sunday, March 1: Equi-ciser “merry-go-round” opens for horses
  • Friday, March 6: Three-day Kentucky Derby Future Pool #3 begins. Got a hunch? Bet a bunch!
  • Saturday, March 7: Three Kentucky Derby prep races-- Gotham at Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa, San Felipe at Santa Anita (enter Countdown Contest)
  • Tuesday, March 10: Training track opens, weather permitting

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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