Friday, March 20 , 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 11 (Issue #730)

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

The new reality
Races play to empty stands

Santa Anita (AP photo)
Aqueduct (BloodHorse photo)
Gulfstream Park (Miami Herald photo)

The only sounds you hear in the stretch are pounding hoofs and chirping jockeys. That’s the new reality of races being run at North America’s major race tracks where spectators are being banned in a bid to stem the coronavirus spread.

At least, in a world of depleted sports-viewing (and betting) opportunities, racing is an oasis and we all cross our fingers that it will continue.

LATE UPDATE: Aqueduct has suspended racing after a backstretch employee tested positive for the virus. Woodbine/Mohawk harness racing has also been suspended effective today. Its $200K Jackpot Hi-5 pool will carry over to the track's resumption of racing.

*       *       *


Assiniboia Downs is closed to the general public for two weeks because of the coronavirus threat but there are three ways to continue to watch and wager on the races:

  • ONLINE ON YOUR HPI ACCOUNT: No HPI account? Phone the ASD mutuel desk at 204-885-330 ext. 225 to sign up. Your first $20 in wagers are free!
  • ON THE TELEPHONE: Call in your wagers to a telephone account betting operator at 204-885-9800.
  • AT OTB SITES: As of this writing, these off-track sites were open--Rookies, Green Brier, Canad Inns Windsor Park and the Pembina Hotel.

The Equibase racing program or the DRF past performances may be downloaded as usual at off-track betting sites (a printed DRF is no longer available).

Or players may request
--without charge--either the Equibase or DRF program for tracks by emailing Sheri, the Downs’ simulcast & program director, at: (Manitobans only)

See the racing schedule here.


Your HPI betting account allows your winnings to be deposited into your bank account. Or you may make withdrawals at an off-track betting site (see sites above). Or you may call ASD’s mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to arrange for payment.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • The road to the Kentucky Derby gets longer
  • Did Nadal's gritty Rebel win change the opinion of sports writer who loves Authentic?
  • Assiniboia Racing Club buys a horse. Who? From where?
  • Troubled times: What two Kentucky Derby prep races won't go?
  • These potential race-winning clues are hiding in plain sight
With Assiniboia Downs being closed to the general public for two weeks, contests and games are obviously suspended. The Countdown to the Derby contest, with a $200 bankroll at stake to play the Kentucky Derby, will resume upon reopening. The Kentucky Derby has been moved to Saturday, Sept. 5. See the current contest standings here.

Although the track is closed to the general public, ASD employees continue to be paid as they work in and around the ASD complex.
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.


Kentucky Derby postponed to Sept. 5

The first Saturday in May will become the first Saturday in September for the 146th Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs has announced. The Kentucky Oaks, the female equivalent of the Derby, will be held the day before. That’s due, of course, to the need for social distancing during the coming weeks and possibly months to avoid catching the coronavirus.

"The most recent developments have led us to make some very difficult, but we believe, necessary decisions and our hearts are with those who have been or continue to be affected by this pandemic,"
Bill Carstanjen, Churchill’s CEO, said in a statement.

*       *       *

True grit in Rebel Stakes
Nadal's eye-popping win doesn't phase Scott Taylor: "Authentic still the one"

It was, to many, the most awesome display of grit by a horse in recent memory: Nadal winning the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park Saturday. In a pressured trip throughout, surely that colt would wilt in late stretch. Not. When the longest shot on the board came ranging up on the outside, he found yet another gear and prevailed. Wow!

Which, however, didn’t nudge sports writer Scott Taylor from his firm prediction that Authentic will win the Kentucky Derby. “I’m still all over Authentic for every possible reason,” he emailed The Insider.

But Nadal’s scintillating performance must have made others re-evaluate their positions. Authentic was the 6-1 Kentucky Derby Future Pool favourite two weeks ago after his San Felipe win at Santa Anita. Nadal was 10-1 in that pool. What will the final pool on the first week of April bring?

"You'll Like It"
Will they?

A 4-year-old gelding named You’ll Like It who has tried 13 times at five different race tracks to win his second lifetime start is now in the hopeful hands of about 60 members of the Assiniboia Racing Club who bought him in Tampa, Florida on Sunday. The day before that, he was the longest shot on the board in a Tampa Bay Downs $8,000 claiming race in which he finished third after leading to the stretch.

ARC coordinator John Field
“A perfect horse for the Club”
Win or lose, one thing is certain: You’ll Like It will receive a lot more attention--and treats--than he did in Florida.

“He is a big, sound, healthy and good-looking horse who is nice to be around and who will be suited to 7-71/2 furlongs,”
said Club coordinator John Field. “He will get a pasture break now at trainer Shawn Morin's friend's farm in Florida until we can get him back here (to the Downs). I think this is a perfect horse for our Racing Club.”

Uh-oh! “Perfect” is a loaded word these days.

(Club members ponied up $500 each to buy, train and feed a horse or horses through ASD’s live race season, with a view to posing in the Winner’s Circle as many times as possible.)
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: These clues to a winner are hiding in plain sight

Clues to an upcoming race winner are hiding in plain sight but, chances are, you’re not doing the detective work to spot the clues. It’s quite simple really. In tracks with rolling doubles, watch the probable payoffs from one race to the next as soon as the payoffs are shown for each race. That will show you the “live” horses in the second half of each double.

Last Saturday, the “I won bigger” betting group keyed a first-time starter in the first leg of a pick-5 ticket at Tampa because the horse had been getting an inordinate amount of money in the double wagering pool, as shown in the probable payoffs listed in the race before that. The horse went to the lead and won easily.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “ In life you have to figure out what's more important -- winning at all costs or your integrity.” Mark Casse, 11-time Sovereign Award-winning trainer, in welcoming the horse-doping charges laid against top trainers Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro, among others.

Don Schnell
“Racing is in shambles”
SUDDEN CLOSURE OF TURF PARADISE RATTLES FORMER ESCAPE CLAUSE TRAINER: “Horse racing is in shambles now.” That was the comment from Don Schnell, the former trainer/part owner of Escape Clause, who was racing about eight horses at Turf Paradise in Phoenix until the track was suddenly closed last Saturday. “Most racetracks are closing now and no one knows where to go,” he said. “The owner of Turf Paradise tried to kick all the horses and people off the track because of a simulcast dispute and blamed it on the coronavirus. But the commission and the HBPA had meetings and gave concessions and now we can stay and train until May 9.

“Nobody knows where to go or what to do. Most of us will stay here until other tracks open and then decide. Hopefully things will get better and we can start racing in two or three months. Tremendous hardship on all horse people and many will get out of the game and many will go bankrupt. But we do have to stay optimistic.” 
THE BEST OF BOB: This record will NEVER be broken

They say records are made to be broken. Well, not this one! Read more here about the man they call "Hank" and the record that Bob says will NEVER be broken. (First published in September 2014)
  • This Saturday: Louisiana Derby, Kentucky Derby prep race, at Fair Grounds.
  • Saturday, March 28: UAE Derby and $12 million Dubai World Cup; Florida Derby Kentucky Derby prep race
On a positive note, today is the first day of spring! Yay!

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

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