Thursday, March 5, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 9 (Issue #728)

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


5 reasons to love this Saturday
  1. FREE PROGRAMS: All programs you download at program kiosks are FREE this Saturday (and Sunday and Monday). Press the FREE button when printing.
  2. BETTING REBATE: Get a 2% rebate (up to $100 deposited into your HPI account) on bets totalling $250 or more. Use your Player Rewards card when betting. (Doesn’t apply to bets paying $2.10.)
  3. GREAT RACING: Three Kentucky Derby prep races--the Gotham at Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa and San Felipe at Santa Anita
  4. DERBY COUNTDOWN CONTEST: Predicting the winners of the prep races above earns you points toward winning a $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby and enters you into three draws Saturday afternoon for unique Derby glasses
  5. NEW $10 SHOW PARLAY CONTEST: Parlay $10 on five races to pocket big money for yourself and win $100 and more (see below)

LOVE SUNDAYS AND MONDAYS, TOO: Remember, too, that FREE programs will be offered on Sundays and Mondays in March, too. And a 5% rebate will be applied to wagers on Mondays. Use your Player Rewards card when betting. Rebate kicks in at $100 in bets; the bonus (up to $50) will be deposited into your HPI account. (Doesn’t apply to bets paying $2.10.)


5 reasons to play show parlays

  1. They’re fun
  2. You can turn a little into a lot. (I recall parlaying $8 into $330 one night playing ASD and a simulcast track.)
  3. They present an exciting challenge to your handicapping skills as your parlay grows into big money
  4. CONTEST FUN: Win $100 on Saturdays if your “Let It Ride” $10 show parlay on five races grows the most. Winning will also give you a chance of being invited with a guest to the hottest media event in town--the kick-off to live racing--featuring an over-the-top sumptuous buffet
  5. A big parlay win can cover your other wagers. You may be thanking yourself for giving yourself another option for making money.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Hall of Fame jockey hit with world record fine
  • Former ASD jockey agent rounds up horses to race at ASD. How many?
  • Prayers work for tournament winner
  • Take a flyer this weekend on a KY Derby/KY Oaks double in Future Pools
  • Escape Clause island under lockdown
“LET IT RIDE” SHOW PARLAY CONTEST BEGINS SATURDAY: Parlay $10 in five races to pocket big money for yourself PLUS--if your parlay grows the most--to win $100 and a chance for an invitation for two to the Downs’ live racing kick-off press conference with lavish buffet. Each time you say “let it ride,” ask the mutuel seller for your cashed ticket to save as proof of your plays. (This contest replaces "3 for the money")

Predict the winners of the Gotham at Aqueduct, the San Felipe at Santa Anita and the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa to accumulate points to win a $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby -- and also to get into THREE DRAWS for a set of unique designer Kentucky Derby glasses. See current standings here.

with more than $1,500 available if you pick the Ace of Diamonds and $100 for the remaining joker (a joker was picked last week). Buy tickets ($5 each, three for $10) before 3:30 p.m.; draw at 4 p.m. Your ticket purchase supports the Winners Foundation.
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.

"I'll be bringing about 20 horses"
Former jockey agent at ASD will be bringing horses from Sunland Park to train

Training track to open Tuesday
As the Downs prepares for the opening of the training track on Tuesday, a former ASD jockey agent has told The Insider he’ll be bringing about 20 horses to the Downs in May in the role of owner/trainer.

Mike Pierce
, 61, a one-time agent for jockeys Paul Nolan and Adolfo Morales, and who more recently has been acting as an agent for horse owners racing at Sunland Park in New Mexico, said horses will be shipped from there after the meet ends near the end of April.

“It’s a good spot to race in the summer,”
he said of Assiniboia Downs. It bridges the gap between the end of Sunland’s meet and the beginning of racing at Turf Paradise in Arizona in October, he said.

Besides, he added, “there are so many good people up there.” These are rough personal times for him, he said, having lost his wife of 41 years last April. He has since sold his ranch in Arizona and is a man on the move.

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith hit with record fine
Fined $210,000 for whipping second-place Midnight Bisou too many times

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who has won more Breeders’ Cup races than any other jockey, had a rather unflattering statistic added to his legacy in Saudi Arabia Saturday:

He was slapped with a world record fine of $210,000 for striking second-place finisher Midnight Bisou too many times with his whip during the $20 million Saudi Cup. Ten times is the limit under Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia rules; stewards said he struck Midnight Bisou 14 times. The fine is 60 per cent of his jockey’s $350,000 share of the $3.5 million purse for the second-place finisher.

Maximum Security holds off Midnight Bisou in Saudi Cup (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Doug DeFelice photo)
Smith, 54, was also hit with an eight-day suspension for the ride plus one day for whipping “without considering Bisou’s stride” plus two more days for failing to weigh in after a fifth place finish in a race.

"All riders, including Mike, were spoken to at a briefing on Friday and Saturday, and reminded of the relevant rules and penalties,"
steward Phil Tuck is quoted in the Racing Post "A guide to all relevant rules was emailed to visiting riders before their arrival and copies were pinned up in the changing rooms. We are protecting the welfare of the horse and all riders were informed of this."

Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. also was given two days for whipping fourth-place finisher Mucho Gusto too many times--which was added to eight days for over-whipping a mount on Friday. His fine was 10 per cent of his share of the purse each day. Maximum Security put out a huge effort to hold off Midnight Bisou in the Saudi Cup, winning by three-quarters of a length.

The California Horse Racing Board said it will enforce the Saudi suspension. Smith reportedly called the penalties “absurd” and plans to appeal.

*       *       *

BISOU’S SECOND-PLACE FINISH FLATTERS ESCAPE CLAUSE: When Manitoba’s Escape Clause was at the top of her form last April, she lost to Midnight Bisou by a mere nose in the $750K Grade 1 Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Bisou just collected $3.5 million for finishing second in the $20 million Saudi Cup. What does that say about Escape Clause who is now baby-making in Japan? After a rest, could she also have participated in the Saudi Cup with a possible top three or four finish? Boggles the mind.

"My prayers were answered"
Financial advisor calls on a higher power to win tourney

TOP THREE: Tourney director Dawn Forbes awards $1,000 to Earl Grantham, flanked by Geoffrey Metcalf (2nd) and Myrna Dram (3rd)
“I put my hands over my race programs on Friday and prayed,” financial advisor Earl Grantham told The Insider Saturday after winning the February Player’s Choice handicapping tourney and $1,000. “I said: ‘Please help me pick the horses to win the tournament.’”

It worked, not to mention the fact that he also spent half a day handicapping the races, he said. That catapulted him into the winner’s perch for the first time ever after multiple sideline finishes.

He essentially doubled his starting bankroll. After betting $2 across the board on 10 horses, he had accumulated $119.60, $12 more than Geoffrey Metcalf, a previous tournament winner.

Grantham’s best payoff was $33 for betting against a 1-5 favourite in race 2 at Laurel Park, a bottom-level non-winners of two condition where anything can happen and often does. “My horse (Mr. Chesapeakecity) had been racing on muddy tracks and I thought he could improve on a fast track” which the 4-year-old gelding did. The prohibitive favourite, Chuck’s Dream, finished fifth.

Congrats to the top five, all of whom shared in the $1,750 in prize money.
  1. Earl Grantham -- bankroll $119.60 -- $1,000 grand prize
  2. Geoffrey Metcalf -- $107.30 -- $400 prize
  3. Myrna Dram -- $78.90 -- $200 prize
  4. Keith MacLennan -- $78.70 -- $100 prize
  5. Greg Earl -- $73.20 -- $50 prize
See full results here. See HOTY leader board here. Next tournament: March 21.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? Yippi Yi O Ti A. This 4-year-old gelding--a novel mouthful for race caller Chris Griffin--made his first lifetime start at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas Saturday, finishing sixth.
THE (ROCKY) ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Three great preps Saturday

POCKET PLENTY IN '20: How thoroughbred handicapping works for harness

Books on harness racing tell us that closing fractions are the most important aspect for handicapping standardbreds. But I have found a more useful tool which is similar to handicapping thoroughbreds. Look for harness horses that set the quickest early fractions in their previous race while being first or second. That’s equivalent to a high pace number among thoroughbreds and those harness horses are often great plays. It’s a quick, easy way to separate out harness contenders. You may be surprised.

Juan Pablo Silva claims back Hot Rodin and wins
HOT RODIN CONTINUES TO LIVE UP TO HIS NAME: Hot Rodin was ASD’s claimer of the year in 2018 and continues to be one of the hardest-trying horses everywhere he goes. Claimed by trainer Maria Stanford from trainer Juan Pablo Silva last year for a mere $5,000--then winning two optional claimers in a row while setting a lifetime best 107 Equibase speed figure--the 7-year-old gelding was claimed back by Silva for $3,000 U.S. at Turf Paradise at the beginning of this year and promptly won two races and finished second in another. Some horse (42-18-7-5)! Reminds one of the Energizer bunny.

A rash of coronavirus cases in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido has resulted in a declaration of emergency and the closing of restaurants, malls, stadiums and schools. Manitoba-bred Escape Clause is baby-making among 800 broodmares at Northern Farm on the island.

$4 million will be added to several purses at this year’s Breeders’ Cup races at Keeneland: the Classic will be $7 million, an increase of $1 million; the Turf will be $6 million, an increase of $2 million and the Dirt Mile will double to $2 million from last year’s $1 million. New horse safety protocols will also be introduced.

I toyed with changing the first leg of Tampa’s late pick-5 last Saturday after emailing picks to “I won bigger” betting group participants because it became clear to me that the race had been mis-handicapped. (Some players didn’t attend the group discussion because they were concentrating on tournament play.) Unfortunately, I was right. A horse I had put on my own ticket beat us. The pick-5 paid $1,200. The group did have the pick-4 at Gulfstream but it paid only $118. Thankfully, this Saturday should have the full complement of sharp players. The pick-5 pool at Tampa should be bigger, too, because it’s Tampa Bay Derby Day! See you 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza to make amends. Bacon beckons again.
Time lapse eclipse
THE BEST OF BOB: Memories from the Hart

Gerry Hart retired a couple of years ago after nearly 50 years as the Downs track photographer. Did you know that Gerry and a colleague took the iconic photo of the February 26, 1979 total solar eclipse that appeared on the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press? Yes, the time lapse shots that featured the eclipse as it occurred over the dome of the legislative building. Read more here. (First published September 2013)
  • Tomorrow: Three-day Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Future Pools--with added doubles. Got a hunch? Bet a bunch! SEE ENTRIES AND ODDS HERE.
  • This Saturday: 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. Forecast: -5C.
  • Saturday, March 14: Kentucky Derby prep races -- Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway, Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn
  • Tuesday, March 17: Luck o’ the Irish Day
  • Thursday, March 19: First day of spring. (Yay!)
  • Saturday, March 21: Louisiana Derby, Kentucky Derby prep race, at Fair Grounds. Player's Choice Tourney at noon.
  • Sunday, March 22: Sunland Derby, Kentucky Derby prep race at Sunland Park in New Mexico

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.

Let it ride for fun, fame and fortune!

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

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