Thursday, April 9, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 14 (Issue #733)

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

BREAKING NEWS: ASD live racing postponed to May 24

Statement from CEO Darren Dunn: “Based on what we currently see is a clear trend of extended timelines related to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols, which we fully understand and respect, we felt it was appropriate, at this time, to reflect this understanding in our live race calendar.  As such, we have postponed opening by two weeks to May 24.” See revised live race schedule here.


No access to e-transfer, credit card deposit or a computer to look at a race program? No worries. The Downs is now offering a home delivery and pick-up service in Winnipeg TWICE A DAY SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.
  • Call the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225 by 10 a.m. and ASD staff will deliver a race program (specify Equibase or DRF program) or pick up a deposit by 2 p.m.
  • Call the above number by 2 p.m. and delivery or pick-up will be made by 5 p.m.
Social distancing measures will be explained when you call.

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Seemingly out of nowhere landed a 3% rebate in the HPI accounts of Manitoba players who bet $250 or more last Saturday. And there’s more to come--with no prior announcements as to when they might happen again.

Players who qualified received a surprise email from Assiniboia Downs telling them about the 3% bonus injection into their accounts. “The little surprise is our way of showing our appreciation of their support for Assiniboia Downs,” said Sharon Gulyas, vice-president finance and gaming for the Manitoba Jockey Club.

The 3% injection is on top of bonus rebates offered on a regular basis. See those rebates here.


12:00 p.m.
-- Gulfstream -- Today’s Rainbow pick-6 pool about $400K
1:30 p.m.
-- Oaklawn
6:00 p.m.
-- Remington
8:00 p.m.
-- Australia.
Download racing schedule here.

Free programs
for Manitobans available from Sheri at . Wager online through an HPI (Horse Player Interactive) account which you can open by calling 204-885-3330 ext. 225. Telephone account wagering is available at 204-885-9800.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Why did a race program from 1927 give me the shivers?
  • Bigg's Boredom Busters
  • Who's the newest "flavour" to win the Kentucky Derby?
  • Be wary of a horse's past best race; he may suddenly find his legs again
  • Group betting continues online. Join in!

Earl “Sandy” Graham’s grave at Brookside Cemetery
Wow. I actually shivered Monday night after opening an email from track historian Bob Gates. It depicted the cover of the Sept. 10, 1927 Polo Park race program and, in the first race, was a horse that immediately caught my eye: Vesper Lad. On that fateful day, 16-year-old substitute rider Earl “Sandy” Graham was thrown from Vesper Lad and suffered severe spinal injuries when the horse rolled over him. He received no immediate care and ultimately died of his injuries. (See that race page here.)

As recounted on a plaque mounted on a stand near the ASD Winner’s Circle, the rider who originally was booked to ride the horse, Tommy Luther, feeling guilty and upset with Graham’s death--and the lack of care for him following the race--made it his life’s work to lobby--in the face of stiff resistance from race track owners--for the formation of a union that would address jockeys’ safety concerns. With other “name” jockeys joining his cause, the Jockeys’ Guild was formed in 1940.

Bob said he received the historic--and I’d say very valuable--program from a buddy in the U.S. “I’ve had it for a while and really not looked through it in great detail. Well, I did just that the other night . . . I cannot believe how lucky I am at not just having these things but knowing what is significant about them.  Holy crap!”

Precisely my sentiments!

Bigg’s Boredom Busters

Bored? When you’re not playing/watching races in real time, choose from these seven things to do:
  1. Plank
    Draw up a three-week workout regimen you can do at home. Simple exercises such as “planking” will give you a sturdier core and better balance. Stick to your plan.
  2. Cook or bake favourite foods even if you’ve never done anything more complicated than boiling water. Google recipes. Start out with soups.
  3. Make a list of racing angles you’d apply to each race condition. E.g. In sprint races, look for horses exiting a ROUTE race in which they showed early speed. Keep on adding to your list.
  4. Minimize your life. Get rid of anything you haven’t used/worn/etc. in the past six months--except for important keepsake items such as racing forms from 20 years ago.
  5. Plant tomato seeds in the sunniest window or under lights--plus seeds of other veggies or flowers. Go to and look through seeds and other gardening items in a catalogue produced by T & T Seeds in Headingley. They’ll mail your order to you. My fav tomato varieties: New Girl, Better Boy, Sun Sugar.
  6. Google the word “horse” with any descriptive words around it such as stupid horse tricks, best horse races ever, funny horse videos, streaking at a horse race, etc. Yes, I linked a streaker video to the previous words.
  7. If you like football, the NFL network is a must. Such topics as 10 Best Hail Marys and 10 Best Player Comebacks to many well-researched and often touching biographies on players, coaches and owners in A Football Life offer great entertainment.

Where did that come from?

Horse that didn't win a stakes race edges Tiz the Law as slight Derby favourite

Surprised? I am. Most of us were very impressed with the ease in which Tiz the Law won the Florida Derby two weeks ago. So one would have expected to see that view reflected in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager this past weekend.

But look who’s commanding a lot of attention -- even though the horse has not won a stakes race but only an allowance race. Bob Baffert’s Charlatan.

Whaaaat? Yes, the Speightstown colt edged Tiz the Law in Future Wager betting although both horses are listed at 5-1. (Charlatan drew $17,364 in win bets compared to $17,275 for Tiz the Law). Next were Maxfield and Nadal at 9-1 and Authentic at 10-1.

What is most surprising, though, is that “all other 3-year-olds” settled at odds of 3-1. That means most players think that not one of the 23 horses listed to in that Future Wager pool will win the Derby. Good luck to them!


To be sure, Charlatan won his two lifetime starts convincingly but his 108 Equibase speed figure in his second race is below the Equibase figures of prep race winners: (Did he get the action because his Beyer speed figure was a bit higher than others?) Here are the top five 3-year-olds according to Equibase speed figures:
  1. Tiz the Law -- 117 Equibase speed figure in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on Feb. 1 ( 112 in the Florida Derby)
  2. Authentic -- 110 in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 4
  3. King Guillermo -- 110 in the in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 7
  4. Sole Volante -- 108 in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa on Feb. 8
  5. Charlatan -- 108 in an allowance optional claimer at Santa Anita on March 14

Who is your money on at this stage, with the Kentucky Derby still 4 ½ months away?

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MORE FUTURE WAGER POOLS BEING PLANNED: Churchill Downs is considering adding more Future Wager pools during the summer because the Kentucky Derby won’t be run until the first Saturday in September.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Be wary of a horse's best race; he could do it again

When a $38 horse came roaring out of the pack to win race 7 at Fonner Park Tuesday, the first thing that came to mind was: He had the highest speed figure of all horses in the race--but that was last August.

That’s something always to pay attention to. When a horse is having a good day, he/she could suddenly revert to a great day last year or the year before. Remember when Bar of Gold won the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, paying $135? A year before that, she had run faster than any other horse she was racing against in the Breeders’ Cup race.

The “I won bigger” group DID have the $38 horse in its pick-5 but only by taking ALL in that race. But, in playing a smaller ticket, the $38 horse would have been a must-take.

SURREAL SCENE AT MEADOWLANDS IN NEW JERSEY: Where race fans once stood in line to wager on thoroughbreds and standardbreds at the Meadowlands in New Jersey now are filled with hospital beds. The state is one of the hardest hit by coronavirus cases in the U.S.

Players unfamiliar with Fonner Park race track in Nebraska until they recently started playing the track because few tracks are racing have been treated to a smooth easy-to-listen to track announcer Steve Anderson who’s been calling the races there for 17 years.

With Assiniboia Downs closed to the public in the face of COVID-19, “I won bigger” betting group workshops are continuing online with the group betting and winning the pick-5 at Tampa Bay last Saturday ($1,765) but losing the mandatory payout of the Fonner Park pick-5 Tuesday by a scant head despite nailing $38 and $19 horses. To join in the thrills of group play, email Sheri at
THE BEST OF BOB: The big grey gelding was truly a late bloomer

Did you know that the great old grey campaigner, My Game made his first start at the Downs as a 5-year-old maiden? Read Bob's story on My Game here. (First published in August 2017)
  • This Saturday: “I won bigger” online group play of Tampa Bay Downs
  • This Sunday: Happy Easter, such as it is.
  • Saturday, May 2: The Kentucky Derby prep race, the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. The Kentucky Derby has been moved to the first Saturday in September.

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