Thursday, April 23, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 16 (Issue #735)

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

(Thank Goodness There’s Racing!)

EARN A 5% BONUS REBATE Monday and Tuesday when you bet more than $100. Rebates will be deposited into your HPI account--up to $100. Wins of $2.10 don’t qualify.
  • TWICE-A-DAY HOME DELIVERY CONTINUES EVERY DAY: Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 before 10 a.m. and an ASD staffer will deliver race programs or pick up a deposit at your home by 2 p.m. Call before 2 p.m. and the delivery/pick-up will be made by 5 p.m. Distancing protocols will be in place.
  • FREE RACE PROGRAMS will be emailed to Manitoba players. Email your request to Sheri at Please specify whether you’d like an Equibase or DRF program
  • WHERE TO BET: 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 wagering is also available at 204-885-9800.

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

(Assiniboia Downs remains closed to the public until the province relaxes business health protocols which are effective until May 1 unless extended.)

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Play of the week: Why was a 40-1 horse worth a $200 bet?
  • Player had the only correct Jackpot ticket so why doesn't track pay him?
  • "Bigger" group players lick wounds after a tricky pick-6 at Gulfstream
  • Seeing this famous Canadian colt is worth the price of this column, isn't it?
  • Three big Kentucky Derby prep races didn't happen. So let's pretend.
IT’S BACK! PLAY “3 FOR THE MONEY” TODAY TO WIN FREE “BIGGER” SHARES! Predict the first three legs of the late pick-4 today at Gulfstream Park and win a free $25 share in Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group tickets. Win TWO SHARES by placing at least a $2 wager on your winning pick-3 in your HPI account. (As proof, grab a screen shot of the winnings deposited into your account and send to ) Send your pick-3 prediction by 2 p.m. today to Be sure to include your name. Download the Gulfstream program here.
Longshot Les
“Thought she would close better on turf”
PLAY OF THE WEEK: Why was this 40-1 longshot worth a $200 bet? Longshot Les just keeps rolling along with mouth-dropping longshot plays, the latest being his $200 win bet last Friday on 40-1 La Viexa in Gulfstream’s fourth race, a maiden race for 3-year-old fillies.

“I noticed she was going dirt to turf,”
he told The Insider. “She had closed on the dirt in her last start when she was 10-1 odds after being more than 100-1 in her previous race and I had a hunch she would close even better on turf.” Which she did, motoring from second-last to win going away in the 12-horse field. Could you have played her? See program page here. Watch that race here, imagining YOU have $200 on #4.
Exciting news for ASD horse owners
Workouts to be shown on ASD website and on TV starting tomorrow

With owners of horses stabled at ASD not being allowed on the grounds in accordance with coronavirus restrictions, the track has decided to televise morning workouts for horse owners to watch on the ASD website and on MTS channels 179-180.

“We felt we had to do something for the valued horse owners,”
said CEO Darren Dunn. “They are paying the freight on horses they can’t even watch train so we felt this helps fill the gap to some degree in the meantime.”

"I won bigger" players lick wounds
Even a player's suggested $9,000 ticket wouldn't have won the Rainbow pick-6

Sunday’s mandatory-payout Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream Park paid a handsome $20,000 for a reason. It was tricky.

Playing online, the “I won bigger” betting group got five of six legs correct, missing a key horse in the second leg. The tickets were composed from suggestions from players buying shares in the tickets. Only two players had five of six correct legs and one of those tickets would have cost $9,000.

Follow the Flag (#1) shocks players by zooming up the rail to complete the pick-6
The last leg was the killer for almost everyone. The winning horse, #1 Follow the Flag, showed absolutely nothing in her first start, finishing second-last in a 12-horse field. A group ticket DID include her in the pick-4 ticket (but unfortunately missed the third leg) primarily because she had the highest Tomlinson turf number (see POCKET PLENTY IN ’20 below). Also noted was the fact she wore blinkers, added Lasix and had a superior rider.

The group’s loss prompted some sniping and venting but most comments are similar to the letter below: players are just thankful at having some entertainment for a mere $20 share in these stay-at-home-and-twiddle-your-thumbs world. (See Readers write below.)

And, of course, there’s always tomorrow--which comes as early as this Saturday, the late pick-5 at Tampa Bay Downs. It’s been one year since the group won $17,000 in a Tampa pick-5 and what better way to celebrate than with a similar score this weekend? Are you paying attention, oh mighty gods of racing?
Reader’s write
“Thanks for online group play”

“Dear Ivan: Thanks to you, Sheri and all the handicap crew that is making online group play possible. It sure helps take our thoughts off “what am I going to do next?” It’s thrilling to watch our group picks get so close and it’s the only sports game in town. Stay safe and keep healthy!” -- Ron Zurba

Thanks, Ron, and, because your comments have been typical, you and others will likely be happy to hear we’ll be playing the next mandatory payout of the Fonner pick-5 next Wednesday in addition to Tampa this Saturday.
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Why this 20-1 horse was gettable in Sunday's Rainbow

In the top right corner for each horse in the DRF program are the Tomlinson (turf breeding) numbers
The 3-year-old filly, Follow the Flag, had a terrible line in her first lifetime start in February--she finished 11th. No wonder her morning line in Sunday’s last race at Gulfstream Park, then, was 20-1. But she was highly playable--and ended up winning at 7-1 to complete the Rainbow pick-6--because she had the highest Tomlinson turf number of all horses in the field.

The Tomlinson numbers are listed in the DRF in the top right corner for each horse. Hers is 388. The next best Tomlinsons were horses with 378. Tomlinson numbers are based on turf breeding and are a must when handicapping young horses just starting out on the turf. See that DRF race page here. The Rainbow pick-6 paid $20,000.

Jeff Arthur
Denied $35,145 jackpot despite having only winning ticket
A BIG SHOUT-OUT to the Oklahoma Racing Commission for suspending betting on Remington’s Jackpot pick-six, the Sooner 6ix, after receiving a complaint that a bettor who had the only winning ticket on the jackpot wager wasn’t paid the entire $35,145 because one of his horses finished in a dead-heat with another horse which he also had on his ticket.

Because he essentially had TWO winning combinations, instead of one which the Jackpot requires, he was only paid the consolation payoffs totalling $8,920. There was a flurry of email locally and many online essentially saying: “Pay the guy! He had the only winning ticket so pay him!” Let’s see what the ORC decides. The player, Jeff Arthur, had spent $403.20 on his ticket with 2,016 combinations.

Who's the famous Canadian colt in this picture?
Hint: He won the Kentucky Derby in 1964 before becoming a prodigious sire

Northern Dancer’s maiden win at Fort Erie on Aug. 2, 1963 ridden by Ron Turcotte (autograph)
So, I joked with track historian Bob Gates last week: “What do you have to complete your historic hat trick after you regaled Insider readers these past two weeks with stunning flashback photos?”
  • Two weeks ago, we saw his Polo Park race program from Sept. 10, 1927, the day a jockey was crushed by a horse rolling over him, leading to his death and the ultimate creation of the Jockeys’ Guild in 1940 to protect riders.
  • Last week we saw his “lull before the storm” photo of a race that was run shortly before the Downs was ravaged by Thor’s might wrath.
And what did Bob come up with for his hat trick? Just a jockey-autographed black-and-white photo of, I would say, the most important horse in Canadian history: Northern Dancer in his maiden victory at Fort Erie on Aug. 2, 1963.

The following year the colt became the first Canadian horse to win the Kentucky Derby in record time (Sunny’s Halo became the other Canadian to win the Derby in 1983) and became one of the most successful sires in racing history. And to think his trainer wanted him gelded because he was such a handful--but thankfully was prevented from doing so by the horse’s owner.

Neat stuff, Bob. Now we look forward to your future finds.


This year’s Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial didn’t go so let’s pretend those Kentucky Derby prep races were held this past weekend by looking back at the BEST editions of those prep races as picked by ASD’s former paddock host Rob MacLennan who now is race secretary in Alberta:

What an exciting effort by Bellamy Road who equalled the track record!

Holy Bull
shows why he deserves to be remembered by an annual stakes race.


There’s no online video, can you believe, but Point Given was a memorable winner.


WILL TAMPA EXTEND ITS RACE MEET? As one of only a handful of tracks racing in these COVID-19 times, Tampa Bay Downs has told horsemen it is “seriously considering” extending its race meet beyond  Sunday, May 3. Safety protocols at the track have included disallowing ship-in jockeys and permitting only two persons in the pre-race saddling area which includes the trainer. Fonner Park in Nebraska has already won approval to add 12 more race days to its meet which was to end in early May but now will extend to the end of May.

Newest ARC purchase, Gemagine, winning a dash at Golden Gate Fields a year ago
ASSINIBOIA RACING CLUB BUYS SECOND HORSE: The 59-member Assiniboia Racing Club has purchased a second horse, Gemagine, who had been racing at Golden Gate Fields (16-3-3-2). The 4-year-old filly was bought in a private sale at Turf Paradise, reports ARC coordinator and HBPA director John Field. She joins a 4-year-old gelding, You’ll Like It, the Club bought in Florida.

Both horses now are stabled in the barn of Club trainer Shawn Morin. Club members cannot visit their horses because of coronavirus protocols but may watch them work out on the ASD website or MTS racing channels. (See above.) Each Club member ponied up $500 as the total costs of buying, training and racing those horses during ASD’s 2020 live race meet.

Newsworthy events often lead to horse names. From the recent political world we have Cofefe and Stable Genius. And, I wondered, are any names connected to the pandemic? There’s no Covid or Shelter in Place yet but The Virus was a 1997 New York-bred horse (probably named more for the video game than for the Hong Kong avian flu) and many horses through the years have been named Corona. The most interesting find, though, was a horse named Quarantine in 1960 when the Asian flu killed more than a million people around the world before a vaccine was developed. Sound familiar? So why, one wonders, wasn’t the world better prepared for the current pandemic?

with the Winnipeg Jets facing the Nashville Predators tomorrow at 6 p.m. on TSN radio in the second round of the 2018 playoffs? (The Jets obliterated the Minnesota Wild in the first round.) Even though we know the results, the games are exciting to listen to because most of us saw the games on TV and radio play-by-play represents a new experience.
THE BEST OF BOB: He was a super super for two decades

Keith Trenholm was the Downs’ track superintendent for two decades and by all accounts was a special guy. Click here to read Keith Trenholm's story. (First published in August 2018.)
Group will play Tampa on Saturday and Fonner on Wednesday
  • This Saturday: “I won bigger” online group play--late pick-5 at Tampa
  • Monday, April 27: 5% rebate on your bets totalling $100 or more
  • Tuesday, April 28: 5% rebate on your bets totalling $100 or more
  • Wednesday, April 29: “I won bigger” online group play on the mandatory pick-5 payout at Fonner Park
  • 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.
TGTR, eh?

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