Thursday, March 12, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 10 (Issue #729)

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


"This is a good day for those who play by the rules"
Maximum Security's trainer among 27 indicted in horse-doping "scheme"

“A sad day for racing but a long time coming. A good day for those who try to play by the rules, we will all be better for it.

That tweet, from trainer Graham Motion, followed bombshell allegations from U.S. federal authorities Monday that 27 people have been involved in wide-spread horse doping including Jason Servis, trainer of Horse of the Year and Saudi Cup winner Maximum Security, and Jorge Navarro, whose X Y Jet won the Golden Shaheen in Dubai last year. X Y Jet died of a cardiac event in January.

Describing the news as “extremely disturbing and disappointing,” Maximum Security’s owners, Gary and Mary West, have indicated they are transferring their horse to trainer Bob Baffert who has trained for them before.

INDICTED: Jason Servis(Skip Dickstein/ Times Union photo). Inset: Jorge Navarro
The charges against trainers, veterinarians and enablers carry maximum prison terms of five years except for the obstructing justice charge against harness trainer Nicholas Surick who is alleged to have told others to lie to authorities after a horse was allegedly hidden from them. Telephone intercepts are especially revealing and damning.

In one instance, around June 5 last year, a veterinarian is alleged to have falsified a drug test for Maximum Security who was being given a “misbranded and adulterated” version of growth-enhancer SGF-1000. Eleven days later the colt finished second in a stakes race at Monmouth and the following month won the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth. Authorities allege Servis used this substance on all his horses.

Servis and Navarro were third and fourth on the continent in horses’ winning percentages last year and were first and second in 2018. Here are the trainers with the highest win percentages last year:
  1. Larry Rivelli -- 32% wins (132 wins from 419 starts)
  2. Justin R. Evans -- 30% wins (135/445)
  3. Jason Servis -- 29% wins (168/574). Previous year was second (tied with Bob Baffert) at 32% wins
  4. Jorge Navarro -- 28% wins (216/769). Previous year was #1 at 34% wins
  5. Chad Brown -- 27% (222/823)

*       *       *

WOODBINE CEO APPLAUDS CHARGES: “We are extremely supportive of all efforts to eradicate cheating and the use of performance-enhancing drugs in our sport,” Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson said in a statement following the indictments. “Hopefully this permeates through the industry and changes the culture at all levels of horse racing . . .Thank you to everyone who contributed to this investigation.”

Bullet briefs . . .

  • How many horses and trainers at the Downs?
  • Free programs continue Sundays and Mondays; Monday also features bet rebates
  • He picked 18 show horses in a row. What can you learn from that?
  • What happened to my Derby choice, Thousand Words? Is he now a write-off?
  • Glen and Marshall hold their first seminar of the year. Sign up!
FREE PROGRAMS CONTINUE SUNDAYS AND MONDAYS PLUS REBATE MONDAYS: Remember that all through March you may download all programs FREE on program kiosks Sundays and Mondays. And you get a 5% rebate on your bets on Monday--up to $50 deposited into your HPI account. Use your Player Rewards card when betting. Rebate kicks in once you’ve bet at least $100 and doesn’t apply to payoffs of $2.10.

Parlay $10 to show on five races, asking for your cashed ticket back after each bet to prove your parlay. No one won last Saturday. See tips below on playing a parlay. Note, too, that you and a guest will become VIP invitees to the ASD press conference for live racing--featuring an over-the-top luncheon--if your parlay is highest of the month.

Predict the winners of the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park and the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park to accumulate points to win a $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby -- and also to get into TWO 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. 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 March? 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.

Sign up for the next free Glen/Marshall seminar
Wednesday, March 25, 7 p.m., Clubhouse Plaza


  • Florida Derby preview with an overview of main Kentucky Derby contenders
  • Discussion of the upcoming Kentucky Derby Future Pool #4 (Do they like my Thousand Words or Scott Taylor’s Authentic?)
  • Race replays and how to make use of them to pick winners
Marshall Posner and Glen Sirkis are ASD’s fan education specialists who man the Fan Education Centre during live racing.


107 horses in training
Last year's top trainer, Tom Gardipy, Jr., is among 10 trainers who are first to arrive

Tom Gardipy, Jr., last year’s leading trainer, is among early arrivals
Ten trainers with 107 horses are now in training at the Downs, says Derek Corbel, ASD’s assistant director of racing. Nine trainers conditioned horses at ASD last year and one, Lee Delaronde, raced at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon last year.

The trainers who have returned include last year’s leading trainer, Tom Gardipy, Jr., and Shelley Brown, Steve Gaskin , Marvin Burnett, Ryan Desjarlais, Fred Rawson, Lise Pruitt, Elton Dickey and Devon Gittens.

Horses are using the indoor Equi-Ciser and the training track that opened Tuesday.

Corbel and assistant race secretary Kirt Contois will be making another trip to the U.S. in several weeks to do more horse recruitment, armed with an incentive program that gives horse owners $250 or $600 for each new horse that completes one start at ASD. See bonus states here.

Robertino Diodoro
, second in the trainer standings at Turf Paradise and first at Oaklawn Park (32 wins from 104 starts--31%), has told The Insider he plans to bring 40 horses and former ASD jockey agent Mike Pierce says he will be bringing about 20 horses from Sunland Park in New Mexico to train and race.
PLAY OF THE WEEK: A new level of luck

Les Buzzell keeps topping himself
“Unbelievable” multiplied by 10 is still too weak a way to describe the latest lucky play by Les “Longshot” Buzzell. I had to tape my jaw shut after hearing about his latest coup.

You may recall The Insider’s piece on Buzzell who, while downloading DRF race programs at a kiosk at Club Regent Casino for the January handicapping tournament (which he won), saw on the TV screen a horse by the name of Sweaty Betty about to race at Turfway Park. “I liked the name so I bet $50 on her,” he said afterward. She wired the field at odds of 45-1.

Well, he was back at the casino last Thursday downloading more programs and noticed a horse named Stand for the Anthem about to race at Turfway Park. “This couldn’t happen a second time,” he recalled thinking at the time but “I still bet $100 on the horse because of the name.”

You got it. Stand for the Anthem won--at odds of 18-1. As he did with Sweaty Betty, Les showed me the cash voucher for his win.

If you’re speechless, join the club. We wouldn’t believe this if we saw this in a movie--but here we have it in real life. We need a new word to describe this level of luck.

Hey, is that the best you can do?
No one won $100 for the top show parlay Saturday

ASD players had egg on their faces Saturday in the Race Book and it wasn’t from the At the Post breakfast. No one completed a five-horse show parlay, starting with $10, so the $100 prize went begging. Shame!

ASD has a reputation to live up to on the show front: the #1 show parlay player in all of North America seven years ago was a Downs player: Jim Roberts, a math prof at the time at Red River College. Playing against more than 2,800 contestants in Hollywood Park’s online “Show Me the Money” contest, he was the last person standing and collected $6,000.


Surely, then, you can pick five horses! Make amends this Saturday. Roberts has generously provided The Insider with his seemingly simple formula to his show success below.

*       *       *

Jim’s winning formula for picking 18 show horses in a row

Jim Roberts
Beat 2,800 in show contest
“I tried to select races with the fewest number of horses. I handicapped those races and tried to get horses on the outside ridden by Garrett Gomez or Rafael Bejarano.  Preference was given to stakes races or maiden races where many of the same horses had raced against each other.”

Near the end of the contest, he said he also bounced his selections off Glen Sirkis (who now is an ASD fan education specialist). And, in a head-to-head encounter that won him the contest, he used a bit of psychology. He said he avoided playing a horse that he thought his opponent would play. That horse finished out of the money, whereas his horse prevailed. And $6,000 was his.

"Authentic will win the Kentucky Derby"
So says sports writer Scott Taylor after San Felipe. What happened to Thousand Words?

“There’s your Kentucky Derby winner,” sports writer/commentator Scott Taylor said with great assurance in the Race Book after Authentic won the San Felipe Stakes ($4.40) at Santa Anita Saturday.

The Into Mischief colt won by almost three lengths for trainer Bob Baffert. He has won all three of his lifetime starts including the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita at the beginning of the year.

The big question, though, is what happened to the other Baffert trainee, Thousand Words--MY choice to win the Derby--who finished fourth in that race. He set a mere 87 Equibase speed figure, 20 points below his winning mark in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Authentic’s mark was 105.

Baffert said he is pointing Authentic to the Santa Anita Derby in a month and he will wait a couple weeks before deciding on Thousand Words’ next race.

In last weekend’s Kentucky Derby Future Pool #3, Authentic was the 6-1 favourite among 23 listed horses. However, it appears players aren’t convinced they’ve seen the best 3-year-old yet because the odds on “other unlisted horses” was 4-1.


Two Kentucky Derby qualifying races go this Saturday -- the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn and the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway. If the Jeff Ruby Steaks makes you hungry, you’re not alone. Jeff Ruby Steakhouses are sponsoring the race and that is why it is called a “steaks” race rather than a “stakes” race. Speaking of which, consider ordering an ASD steak if you’ve never tried one. They’re seasoned just right and very tasty.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Jump on a horse that makes no sense

You notice that a horse who finished fifth last time is being elevated in class and is racing for a higher claiming price than last time. Should you put a line through that horse? No, you should bet him. Put yourself in the trainer’s shoes. The only reason you would elevate a horse in class is because you’ve done something that should improve the horse’s performance. That horse is likely to reward you well, too, because most players will discard that kind of horse.

BIGGER GROUP PLAY -- GLAD I WAS BORN WITH ELEPHANT SKIN: Give me a break! If you had seen my racing program for Tampa on Saturday, you would have seen three horses checked off in the Tampa Bay Derby--including #11 King Guillermo--the ultimate 49-1 race winner that resulted in a 60-cent pick-5 payout of $18,000. So why didn’t I mention that horse when I was hosting the “I won bigger” betting group workshop (it’s the only horse we missed)? Because others had indicated a preference for six other horses in the race and I wasn’t going to argue for another. Groan. So I’m living the life of Hamlet again this week, “suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” Good thing I was born with elephant skin.

But never say die (with apologies to Black Sabbath). We’ll tackle the late pick-5 at Tampa again Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza with Macbeth-like ambition along with the late pick-5 at Oaklawn Park (since it’s Rebel Stakes Day), while dreaming about a crispy, crunchy bacon treat if we get it right.

If you’re healthy, you have little to fear from the coronavirus, my nurse neighbour says reassuringly. “It’s like the flu,” she said, where those with underlying health issues are most at risk. So eat healthy food and go for a brisk walk--or similar exertion--every second day and you should get through COVID-19 season if it sweeps over us.
THE BEST OF BOB: The Winner's Circle through the years

Did you know that the Downs Winner's Circle has undergone several makeovers? At one time special race presentations were done in the infield. This week Bob revisits the history of the Downs’ "hallowed ground" - click here. (First published in June 2014)
  • This Saturday: Kentucky Derby prep races -- Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway, Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn
  • Tuesday, March 17: Luck o’ the Irish Day. Look for hunch plays!
  • Thursday, March 19: First day of spring. (Yay!)
  • Saturday, March 21: Louisiana Derby, Kentucky Derby prep race, at Fair Grounds. Player’s Choice handicapping tournament
  • Sunday, March 22: Sunland Derby, Kentucky Derby prep race at Sunland Park in New Mexico
  • Wednesday, March 25: Marshall/Glen seminar on Florida Derby, early Derby analysis and how to make the most of race replays 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 28: My birthday (park my gift behind the grandstand); Dubai World Cup; Florida Derby Kentucky Derby prep race
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.
Will you "show" yourself the money?

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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