Thursday, April 16, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 15 (Issue #734)

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


Mondays and Tuesdays this month (April 20-21 & 27-28)
Bet at least $100 on any day and 5% of your wagers will be deposited into your HPI account (up to $100 per day). $2.10 payoffs are not included.


$1.5 million guaranteed pool for the Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream
First baby race of 2020 goes today -- Lasix-free

Babies debut in race 2 at Gulfstream
Is a new era being launched today? The first baby race of the year, a race for 2-year-olds, goes today at Gulfstream Park and one of the conditions is that the entrants must not be given the anti-bleeding medication, Lasix, within 24 hours of the race. It’s race 2 at 12:34 p.m. with eight fillies.

There’s also a $1.5 million guaranteed pool in today’s 20-cent Rainbow pick-6 that begins in race 6 (3:43 p.m.).

12:00 p.m.
-- Gulfstream
1:30 p.m.
-- Oaklawn
6:00 p.m.
-- Remington
8:00 p.m.
-- Australia.
Download racing schedule here.

FREE RACE PROGRAMS for Manitobans. Email Sheri at Specify whether you’d like an Equibase program or a DRF one.

Bet on your phone, laptop or computer through an HPI (Horse Player Interactive) account which you can open by calling 204-885-3330 ext. 225. Telephone account wagering is also available at 204-885-9800.

*       *       *

FREE HOME DELIVERY TWICE A DAY: Need a program, want to make a deposit? Call the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225 for home delivery and pick-up of an account deposit. Call before 10 a.m. and delivery/pick-up will be made by 2 p.m. Call before 2 p.m. and delivery/pick-up will be made by 5 p.m. Social distancing will be in play.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • All trainers would love to have Bob Baffert's "problem"
  • Four minutes that rattled the Downs; historian Gates comes up with another rare photo
  • Co-owner of Winnipeg Futurity winner is proud "papa" to foal born in St. Eustache
  • Los Angeles County allows stadium construction but no racing. What's up with that?
  • When are maiden droppers not always a good bet?

Meet Belle Boy, the newest addition to Ossie Belle’s “family” (Florent Rivard photo)
Oslen Belle meets singer Leonard Cohen after naming his first horse after a Cohen song
After winning the Winnipeg Futurity . . .
. . . horse owner pins future thrills on foal he bred

Coming off a great year with his 2-year-old, Cash or Card, who won the Winnipeg Futurity and the Osiris Stakes, horse owner Oslen Belle has reason to feel optimistic about a foal who was recently born at the farm of Florent Rivard in St. Eustache, Man.

The foal, whom Belle imaginatively named Belle Boy (get it?), is by the same stallion, Going Commando, who sired Manitoba’s greatest horse, Escape Clause, and the nine-for-nine stakes-winning filly, Hidden Grace. Ossie is hoping a colt can mimic the success of the fillies, especially because the colt’s mother was fathered by the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner Roman Ruler.

Ossie, a retired probation officer, estimates he has bred and/or owned 20 horses in 30 years of dabbling at it, with Prince Raphael giving him a shot at winning the 2014 Queen’s Plate until sidelined with an injury. He recalls starting out with a celebrity connection when he named his first horse, Avalanche--after a Leonard Cohen song--and then actually got to meet his favourite artist to tell him about the horse (see photo). Avalanche won a couple races in 1990-91.

As Ossie watches Belle Boy develop, Cash or Card, which he owns in partnership with another breeder, Larry Falloon of Foxwarren, and trainer Shelley Brown, could give them even bigger thrills as a 3-year-old. The gelding was purchased as a yearling at an auction in Florida for a mere $4,700 U.S. and has already earned almost $47,000.

Baffert's "problem"
How do you keep four Derby hopefuls razor-sharp for a race that's four months off?

Bob Baffert
“Eenie, meenie, minie . . . “ (CNN photo)
Every trainer would love to have trainer Bob Baffert’s “problem.” He has four mighty 3-year-old colts, any of which could win the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of September. But the trick is to have all four of them razor-sharp for a race that is still more than four months away--Authentic, Nadal, Charlatan and Thousand Words.

The horse Baffert needs to beat at this point is Barclay Tagg’s Tiz the Law, the impressive winner of the Florida Derby.

Talk about excitement! It’s too bad the Derby isn’t being run at its usual first-Saturday-in-May slot but, then again, this stretches out the drama as we watch the best trainers in the business figure out how to best negotiate the much longer road to the Kentucky Derby.

My Kentucky Derby choice, Thousand Words, stumbled at the start of a stakes race for 3-year-olds at Oaklawn Park Saturday, losing all chance and finishing 11th in the 13-horse field as the race favourite. Bombs away Mr. Big News from the barn of W. Bret Calhoun won the race at odds of 48-1. I'll give Thousand Words one more chance to show he’s a legitimate Derby threat.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If we can get some races into Nadal and Charlatan – then after that we can sort of just go on cruise control for a little bit. This business right now, this life that we live in, it's hour-by-hour, day-by-day.” -- trainer Bob Baffert

Four minutes that shook the Downs

ASD's gleeful track historian describes finding a photo from a freaky day in 1976

Lull before the storm
About 40 minutes later, pandemonium would break out

Track historian Bob Gates has been on a roll. Last week you saw the race program from Sept. 10, 1927, the tragic day that a jockey went down at Polo Park and ultimately died, setting into motion lobbying efforts that resulted in the formation of the Jockeys’ Guild that necessitates the presence of an ambulance while races are being run.

And today Bob has a photo from June 6, 1976, the day a freak four-minute wind storm sent giant windows from high up in the grandstand crashing to the ground and whipping heavy benches on the tarmac into a pile. A photo--among many Bob received from retired jockey Larry Bird--was one in which Bird had won a race with Stevie’s Wonder about 40 minutes before the craziness erupted.

Read “The Day the Mighty Thor Ravaged the Downs,” first published in May 2014 here.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Maiden droppers aren't always worth playing

Most horseplayers know that a maiden dropping from a maiden allowance race into a maiden claiming race is one of the biggest class drops in racing.

But a player needs to look a bit more deeply than that. Did your horse show ANYTHING in the allowance race? Generally, a horse that at least showed a bit of early foot makes him a contender in a maiden claimer. But you can pretty much discount a horse for the win position if his allowance race(s) had him well back throughout. In that case, a sharp horse from a previous maiden claiming race is a more likely winner.

PLAY OF THE WEEK: When an ASD player hit a $16,000 triactor and a $100 win bet on the 38-1 winner of the sixth race at Tampa Friday afternoon, Autograph, he received accolades from fellow players during a conference call and not with a whooping/hollering celebration in the Race Book because, of course, it’s closed in these coronavirus times. “You should have seen me dancing around the house,” he said in the call. Yeah, I guess. It’s like a tree falling in a forest. We can imagine it but it’s not the same as watching and hearing the “timberrrr" as a tree actually crashes down.

Connections of horses who raced in the Saudi Cup on Feb. 29 are going to have to wait for a completion of a Saudi Jockey Club investigation before the distribution of $20 million in purse money. The probe was launched after Jason Servis, trainer of Saudi Cup winner Maximum Security, was indicted on allegations of giving his horses illegal substances.

Work continues on Rams/Chargers stadium
WHAT’S UP WITH THAT? Los Angeles County isn’t letting Santa Anita race because “it’s not an essential service” but, at the same time, the county is allowing the continued construction of the Rams/Chargers stadium nearing completion on the Hollywood Park race track site--despite one worker testing positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, down in Orange County, quarter horses are continuing to race at Los Alamitos without incident. Different county, different attitude. There are 1,700 horses at Santa Anita.

A neighbour, speaking from a distance, of course, said the virus sweeping the world is a “reset” for people to treat each other better -- while a gardening friend said this shows the need to take one day at a time and make the most of it, instead of worrying about tomorrow. Even when life is “normal,” he says, we never know when our time is up so living for today should be our overriding philosophy regardless what life throws at us.

Last week’s Insider with the subject line “Bored? See Bigg’s Boredom Busters” seemed to be more popular than usual. Does that mean you’re all “planking”--or just reading about planking? See my list of seven “boredom busters” again here.
THE BEST OF BOB: Winning the Manitoba Derby was a storybook ending

Sometimes good things happen to nice people. If you're looking for a feel good story, Bob's Manitoba Derby blog from July 2018 is just what the doctor ordered. You'll love the storybook ending - click here. (First published July 2018)
  • This Saturday: “I won bigger” betting group play on the late pick-5 at Tampa Bay Downs. Group players will receive programs Friday morning.
  • Monday, April 20 or Tuesday, April 21: ASD main track to open for timed workouts
  • Monday, April 20: 5% rebate on your bets totalling $100 or more (see top of column)
  • Tuesday, April 21: 5% rebate on your bets totalling $100 or more
  • Monday, April 27: 5% rebate on your bets totalling $100 or more
  • Tuesday, April 28: 5% rebate on your bets totalling $100 or more
  • 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.
  • Sunday, May 24: Target date for the kick-off of ASD’s live race meet. See race schedule here.

Days like these reward creativity. How are you being creative?

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