Thursday, April 2 , 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 13 (Issue #732)

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


How to open an online betting account: Call the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to open an HPI (Horse Player Interactive) account if you don’t yet have one. Your first $20 in wagers are free!
Tracks you can bet today starting at 11:35 a.m.:
Gulfstream, Oaklawn, Golden Gate, Remington, Australia. See racing schedule here.
Free programs
(Manitobans only): Email Sheri at (Specify Equibase or DRF program)
Where to bet:
On your HPI account or by calling 204-885-9800.
Where to watch:
Online or on TV (Bell MTS channels 179-180). Weekend racing is also available on Fox Sports which is part of the Bell MTS sports bundle (channels 1170-82)

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No access to e-transfer, credit card deposit or a computer to look at a race program? No worries. The Downs is offering a home delivery and pick-up service in Winnipeg.
  • Call the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225 by noon and an ASD staffer will deliver a race program (specify Equibase or DRF program) and/or pick up a deposit BY 4 PM THE SAME DAY. Social distancing measures will be in place and will be explained to you when you call.
  • The delivery service is available Wednesday through Sunday. You are encouraged to call THE DAY BEFORE. That’s 204-885-3330 ext. 225.


Intriguing foals
A Nonios weanling and Kentucky purchases offer promise

Breeder Larry Falloon on his Foxwarren farm with Nonios foal and the filly’s mother, Esther’s Wish (Denis Huberdeau photo)
In these troubled times, horse breeding goes on as usual with the births of promising foals. Larry Falloon of Foxwarren, Man. is celebrating the recent birth of the half-sister to last year’s CTHS Sale Stakes winner, Esther’s Quest, and is touting the genetic qualities and “really nice temperament” of her sire, Nonios, whose mating services he’s offering at $1,250 a pop.

“She has great-looking broad shoulders,”
he enthused about the weanling whose mother is Esther’s Wish. He owns the foal and sire with Darin Bouchard.

Meanwhile, at Ziprick Thoroughbreds in Russell, Man.--where Manitoba’s greatest horse of all time, Escape Clause was born--"we just had a full sister to Why So Blue (by Going Commando out of Jungle Storm) foal today,” Sherisse Ziprick emailed last week. Why So Blue (13-7-3-0) won the most important stakes race for Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds, the Buffalo, in 2017 then went on to win the Frank Arnason Sire Stakes and the J. W. Sifton. Like brother like sister?

Three other mares who recently dropped their foals, she said, were purchased in Kentucky by her husband, Cam Ziprick, and Charlie Fouillard. There’s a colt and a filly by New York-bred A Shin Forward who campaigned exclusively in Japan for four years and won a Grade 1 stakes there, and a colt by Tourist who won the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Lots of promise with those foals.

The Ziprick’s resident stallion, Kentucky Bear, also produced a foal out of Bears Princess. Her sire is Olmodavor who finished second in four Grade 1 or 2 stakes.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Final Kentucky Derby future pool goes this weekend with great odds on top horses
  • Are you taking advantage of the great betting pools?
  • With no Derby preps this weekend, enjoy this Manitoba-proud rewind from Santa Anita
  • Native Manitoban who's training in New York reflects on the tough times there
  • "I won bigger" betting group goes online. Want to join?

With no Derby prep races going this weekend, your next chance to enter the contest to win a $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby in September will be the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on May 2. See the leader board here. Congrats to Stan Stewin whose Florida Derby entry was drawn to win a set of unique Kentucky Derby glasses.

Tiz the Law & Nadal are top horses in weekend future pool

But "other 3-year-olds" are still most favoured

Tiz the Law impresses in the Florida Derby
(Ryan Thompson/Coglianese photo)
Really? Oddsmaker Mike Battaglia assigns 5-2 odds to ALL 3-YEAR-OLDS that are not listed individually in the fourth and final Kentucky Derby future pool with wagering available from tomorrow through Sunday.

In other words, Battaglia believes most horseplayers think that none of the 23 listed horses in this future pool will win the Kentucky Derby. To which I respond: “Rubbish! The winner WILL come from a horse on that list.”

What do you think? Look at the horses on the list here: Tiz the Law, Authentic, Thousand Words, Nadal, etc. Surely a horse on the list will win -- which makes the lowest odds for “all other 3-year-olds” a pretty bad bet, don’t you think?

These are the individual horses Battaglia thinks will be most-favoured:
6-1 odds: Tiz the Law
(winner of the Florida Derby) and Nadal (winner of the Rebel Stakes)
8-1 odds: Authentic
(winner of the San Felipe) and Charlatan (allowance winner at Santa Anita)
12-1 odds: Honor A. P.
(second in the San Felipe)

One of Authentic’s biggest supporters has now jumped off the bandwagon. After watching Tiz the Law win the Florida Derby, sports writer Scott Taylor emailed: “Ok, I’m ready to reconsider: Tiz the Law might be a better colt than Authentic.”

But I’m not ready to give up on MY Derby choice, Thousand Words, until I see him in another race. He’s 30-1 in the future pool. He was supposed to have raced in the Santa Anita Derby this Saturday but the track was forced to close in light of coronavirus concerns. The Stronach Group is lobbying LA County to be exempted from the requirement.

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Virus casualties
Blue Grass is cancelled, Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby are postponed

Watch a REWIND of Goldencents in the 2013 Santa Anita Derby ( photo)
So the biggest weekend of Kentucky Derby prep races scheduled for this Saturday (see the COUNTDOWN graphic below) have become casualties of the coronavirus. Two of those races, the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita, may be held at a later date but the Blue Grass Stakes won’t go at all this year because Keeneland’s spring meet never got off the ground.

So how can you add a bit of excitement to a weekend devoid of prep races? How about a Manitoba-proud REWIND of the Santa Anita Derby from seven years ago? That was the Derby in which a Manitoba mare’s son, Goldencents, was racing in the biggest race of his young life -- before going on to win back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Miles.

His races were thrillers. Watch that Santa Anita Derby here and then watch his exciting performance in the Breeders’ Cup Mile here. Great races, eh? Goldencents, of course, is the son of Golden Works who was bred in Manitoba by the late Phil Kives.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to the tracks that have put health protocols into place that allow them to continue racing while most of the rest of the sporting world is shut down. What makes racing different is that horses can’t “shelter in place” as people are being asked to do in many places. They need to be exercised and looked after and that isn’t much of a stretch to their actually racing.

Horse owners are banned from the backstretch at most tracks and Santa Anita says it will also ban jockeys from the stabling area and exclude jockey agents from everywhere in the backstretch if it gets permission from LA County to resume racing. Especially important in the fight against the virus is the introduction this week of a virus test that produces results in mere minutes. That should allow race tracks to operate even more safely.

Saturday betting group goes online
Missed Rainbow pick-6 by a neck last Saturday

Zulu Alpha losing the fourth leg of last Saturday’s Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream Park by a neck killed tickets bet online by the “I won bigger” betting group--but so many participants loved the experience, online play will continue each Saturday as long as Assiniboia Downs remains closed to the public.

Group players will be emailed the tracks and plays Friday mornings. If you’re a Manitoba player and would like to join group play, email Sheri at and you’ll be added to tomorrow’s email list.

Aqueduct race track becomes a hospital . . .

. . . while Manitoba trainer says he's hoping Belmont racing begins in a month

With New York City leading the world in coronavirus cases, Aqueduct race track has discontinued racing and the grounds are being turned into a temporary hospital. This Saturday was to have featured a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby -- the Wood Memorial.

So what’s happening with trainers and their horses? The Insider asked New York trainer Rob Atras, a native of Oakbank, Man., who’s third in trainer standings at Aqueduct with 16 wins from 51 starts and has a sharp 31 per cent win rate. His emailed response:

“There haven’t been any horses stabled at Aqueduct since Jan 1. We just shipped in to run. I’ve always been stabled at Belmont and we’re continuing to train here. Some horses have gone to the farm for a break and a few will go to race at other tracks.

“It’s a tough situation for all for sure. As long as we stay safe and try to minimize the risk of getting the virus we’ll be okay. Our goal right now is to return to racing at the end of April or early May. The next few weeks will give us a good idea if that will be possible.”

The scheduled opening day for the Belmont meet is April 25. 
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Every day is "big event" day; take advantage of fat pools

Since few tracks are racing and most sports betting is non-existent, every race day is like a major event day at a big track when betting pools are fat, fat, fat. If you’re a great handicapper (and aren’t all Insider readers great handicappers?), then you should love the opportunities. Remember that ASD’s simulcast/program director, Sheri, will email free programs to Manitoba players. Just email her at and dive into the pools.

QUEEN'S PLATE POSTPONED: With a directive from Toronto mayor John Tory that all mass city functions be cancelled until June 30, Woodbine Entertainment has postponed the June 27 running of the 161st Queen’s Plate to a date yet to be determined. No date has yet been announced either for the start of the thoroughbred meet.

UK PLAYERS, MEET FONNER PARK: Horseplayers dropping into betting shops in England or Ireland are being given an opportunity to bet horses at a track they’ve likely never heard of: Fonner Park, a small track in Grand Island, Nebraska. That’s because racing in the UK has been cancelled due to the coronavirus threat and there are few other tracks to choose from.

While the coronavirus originated in mainland China next door to it, Hong Kong has managed to race without interruption in a “safety bubble” by putting sound health protocols into place. Racing is particularly important to that special Chinese administrative region because it’s the largest source of taxes for the region. About 700,000 people have online betting accounts and per-race betting is a whopping $20 million.

NOTE TO HORSEMEN: The Manitoba Horse Racing Commission office is closed as well. See the directive on licensing procedures here.
THE BEST OF BOB: A record-setting mystery man

How many trainers get the chance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a stakes win? Not many, unless of course your name is Gary Danelson and you're the Downs’ all-time leading trainer. Click here to read Bob's story about Gary's Cosmic Tip and his run in the Speer Memorial in 1966. (First published in August 2016)
  • Tomorrow through Sunday: The fourth and final Kentucky Derby future pool. Win and exactor wagers. See entries here.
  • This Saturday: “I won bigger” betting group online play
  • Saturday, May 2: The final Derby prep race, the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. The Kentucky Derby has been moved to the first Saturday in September.

Keep your distance, eh?

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

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