Thursday, May 7, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 18 (Issue #737)

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


Your morning WOW!

Assiniboia Downs will race every Mon-Tue-Wed without spectators
First race day: Monday, May 25, 7:30 p.m.

An empty grandstand will greet horses in the stretch but you may watch and wager online.
With no spectators, no buffets and no group get-togethers because of provincial restrictions due to the coronovirus concerns, Assiniboia Downs will stage its 50-day meet in front of an empty grandstand every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. starting Monday, May 25 and ending on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Of course, those races will be televised and you’ll be able to watch the races on your phone, laptop, computer and MTS TV channels 179-180 and wager on your HPIbet account just as you do for other tracks. So it’s obviously critical that you have an account which you can sign up for by calling the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225.

Said CEO Darren Dunn: “The schedule we have chosen is clearly and specifically based on running without spectators present.  We do not have to take into consideration live race dates that factor in selling out our Terrace Dining Room or attracting the largest onsite attendance possible.  As such, we reviewed the current and pending marketplace for racing signals and made our selection based on the intent to minimize competition during our live race time period.”  

TODAY'S TRACKS: Your chance to become a millionaire!

Are you Rainbow worthy? More than $1 million is at stake this afternoon
About 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. -- Click WATCH WORKOUTS atop the ASD home page at to watch daily workouts
12:00 p.m.
-- Gulfstream -- Rainbow pick-6 carryover more than $1 million. Get program pages here.
6:00 p.m.
-- Remington
8:00 p.m.
-- Australia.
Download racing schedule here.
  • TWICE-A-DAY HOME DELIVERIES, PICK-UPS CONTINUE: 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 ONLINE 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 account ( which you can open by calling 204-885-3330 ext. 225. Telephone wagering is also available at 204-885-9800.
(Assiniboia Downs remains closed to the public.)

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Some contest entrants thought Secretariat would lose! See Triple Crown showdown
  • Objection! Sir Barton, the Canadian-owned Triple Crown winner, gets no respect
  • True or false? It's better to race a horse at 2-years-old. (See THE WEEK THAT WAS)
  • Here comes a new prep race for the Kentucky Derby!
  • What tracks besides ASD are starting soon? See DATES TO CIRCLE.

CONGRATS KEN STEWIN AND ROBERT DUBOIS for winning the draw for a set of unique Kentucky Derby glasses by entering the Derby Countdown Contest on Saturday in which all entrants picked the obvious Bob Baffert favourites Charlatan and Nadal, Alan Hampton, a retired accountant and 2018 Handicapper of the Year, has a very narrow lead in winning the $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby in September. Watch this space carefully for future contest prep races. See leader board here.


Virtual race proves 1970s was Golden Age for 3-year-olds

Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed finish in top four in computer-simulated race

The 1970s was the golden decade of Triple Crown winners, a computer-simulated race from Churchill Downs showed Saturday. Using algorithms of the past performances of all 13 Triple Crown winners since 1919, a company called Inspired Entertainment placed Secretariat (1973) first, Seattle Slew (1977) third and Affirmed (1976) fourth.

The only outlier--placed second--was Citation (1948) despite the fact the colt ran the slowest Preakness of any of the Triple Crown winners. Mind you, he did win the race easily and it was just a four-horse field.

The best placing of recent Triple Crown achievers was fifth place by American Pharoah. Justify finished eighth. The complete order of finish (with the date of each Triple Crown victory in parenthesis):

Can you tell these are computer-generated horses? As expected, Secretariat wins Triple Crown showdown.
1-Secretariat (1973)
2-Citation (1948)
3-Seattle Slew (1977)
4-Affirmed (1978)
5-American Pharoah (2015)
6-Whirlaway (1941)
7-Count Fleet (1943)
8-Justify (2018)
9-Assault (1946)
10-War Admiral (1937)
11-Omaha (1935)
12-Gallant Fox (1930)
13-Sir Barton (1919). Don’t sell him short! See below.

*       *        *


Surely Canadian-owned Sir Barton deserved better than last!

The Canadian-owned Sir Barton was placed last in the Triple Crown showdown. What? Did he not deserve better?

There was probably no other placing for him because, back in 1919, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes were run at a different distance from those in following years. Admittedly, Sir Barton ran a slow Kentucky Derby (2:09.80) but that was his maiden victory and he didn’t need to go faster because it was a gate-to-wire effort in a field of 12 and he won by five lengths. And there’s a lot more to consider:
  • He raced in the Preakness Stakes just four days after breaking his maiden in the Kentucky Derby and set a U.S. track record for the fastest 1 3/8 mile in the Belmont Stakes (the distance at that time). Didn’t that count?
  • In just a 32-day span, Sir Barton won the three Triple Crown races and another stakes race, the Withers. Who could do that today?
  • He set a world record the following year for the fastest 1 3/16 mile race and was retroactively named Horse of the Year.
  • He was the only Canadian-owned Triple Crown winner. Ta-da! His Canadian owner, Cmdr. J. K. L. Ross, who commanded a Canadian destroyer during World War 1, was described in the U.S. media as “the best sportsman Canada has ever sent to this country."
  • Both the horse and his owner were inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1976 and Sir Barton was also honoured in the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame.
  • His prominent rider, Johnny Loftus, went from revered to despised later that year because he rode Man o’ War to the horse’s only loss and there was a feeling among some fans that the loss was deliberate. He was refused a riding license the following year and spent the rest of his life trying to explain away his bad racing luck to hundreds who asked him about it.
So did Sir Barton merit a better placing? You be the judge. At least he’s recognized in both the U.S. and Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. And visitors to Lexington, Kentucky can drive down Man o’ War Boulevard which connects with Sir Barton Way.

*       *        *


Not everyone picked Secretariat to win

Six of 41 entrants chose other horses

Of 41 entrants to The Insider’s contest to predict the top four finishers in the Triple Crown showdown on Saturday, six predicted Secretariat would finish second and even third in the computer-simulated race! Two-time ASD handicapper of the year, Brian McKellar, predicted American Pharoah would win. Citation, who finished second to Secretariat in the virtual race, was picked to win the race by three entrants. Incidentally, Citation was the choice, too, of NBC commentator and former Hall of Fame jockey, Jerry Bailey, who said he had high regard for Citation’s jockey, Eddie Arcaro. Here are the contest highlights:
  • Two entrants, Jeff McCullough, and horse breeder/owner Ed Pawluk, correctly predicted the top four finishers in the correct order: Secretariat/Citation/Seattle Slew/Affirmed. In a draw, Jeff won the $100 prize which was deposited into his HPI account. The superfecta paid $.00 because there was no wagering.
  • Six entrants had the correct triactor finish.
  • Six entrants had the correct exactor finish.

What now?

More questions than answers as Churchill announces new prep race

There are more questions than answers as the countdown to the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby continues with almost four months to go.

With the Arkansas Derby in the books, will there still be a Wood Memorial prep race in New York? Will there still be a Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita?

And what about the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes--is it possible that they will be held BEFORE the Kentucky Derby? There are unofficial indications that the Preakness will be run at Pimlico on Oct. 3. Questions, questions, questions.

Churchill Downs is heightening the intrigue by adding a new Derby qualifying race (worth only 10 points to the winner, though): the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes on Saturday, May 23, and the track suggests there may be more to come. And maybe even another Future Wager pool.

Hang on! This is going to be some ride before we get to the first Saturday in September.

Super(fecta) sweet!
"I won bigger" betting group notches third win in a row

Thanks to a superfecta win of $3,407--plus a pick-5 pick-up of $1,000--the “I won bigger” betting group chalked up its third win in a row Saturday, with each $20 share picking up $47.30. A 62-1 horse finishing in the “sandwich” of a superfecta that keyed odds-on favourite Nadal In Oaklawn’s Arkansas Derby with the second-choice horse and deep closer in a wheel produced a $1,000 superfecta that the group had three times.

The winning streak ended with a flourish yesterday when the group missed  a couple horses in Tampa’s late pick-5 and the sequence paid almost $20,000. So it’s “make amends” time this Saturday at Tampa which has been producing some very sizable payouts lately. Then, next Wednesday, the group will try to capitalize on the mandatory pick-5 payout at Fonner Park. Here’s hoping for a Tampa/Fonner double!
POCKET PLENTY IN '20: Is luck the key to winning marathon races?

Do you like handicapping marathon races? Neither do I. The first thing I do is circle horses that have run the marathon distance and then it’s pretty much a crap shoot as it was in Oaklawn Park’s last race on Saturday, a 1 ¾-mile event. The “I won bigger” group won a $1,040 pick-5 only because it took ALL horses in that leg--which was won by Take Charge d’Oro at odds of 18-1.

A group player said he spent two hours handicapping the race and only settled on #8 and #9 because they would be close to the lead. He guessed right. My only suggestion is to look for horses with running lines that suggest they could run at the same pace all day. See that race here.

Recording studio in these coronavirus times
CORONAVIRUS SENDS DUNN INTO THE CLOSET: As you listen to ASD commercials on TSN radio (or listen below), imagine CEO Darren Dunn reading from a script that’s sitting on an ironing board in his bedroom closet as his voice is being recorded on his Voice Memo smart phone app. Yup, that’s the new recording studio in the age of the coronavirus. “They wanted the clothes around me to absorb the sound and the ironing board put the script at the perfect height to read it from,” Darren said of the station’s instructions. “At least it’s a walk-in closet.” Listen to Darren’s 30-second closet-recorded commercials here and here.

On the final day of its meet Saturday--which was also Arkansas Derby Day--Oaklawn Park set a huge wagering record of $41 million. The track’s previous high was $19 million.

It may seem counterintuitive but research shows racing a horse at 2-year-olds makes it less likely the horse will suffer a career-ending injury later in life and is more likely to have a longer racing career than horses who start racing at 3. That’s because the bone-hardening process only lasts for a short period when the horse is young and dissipates by the time a horse is 3. A study of horses who raced between 1975 and 2000 showed those who started at 2 had DOUBLE the earnings of horses that started later. They also were more likely to win stakes races. Read more here.

Psst! Hey Mister, Wanna Buy a Horse? (From September 2013)

Why it’s one of Bob’s favourites: “Another staple of anyone who appreciates a good old fashioned, hard-to-believe racing yarn. After all, it's not every day that you get to buy a racehorse for 37 cents!” Read it here.
  • This Saturday: “I won bigger” betting group play likely at Tampa.
  • Wednesday, May 13: “I won bigger” betting group play at Fonner Park for a mandatory pick-5 payout
  • Thursday, May 14: Golden Gate meet begins
  • Friday, May 15: Santa Anita meet begins
  • Saturday, May 16: Churchill meet begins. “I won bigger” online group play.
  • Wednesday, May 20: “I won bigger” online group play.
  • Saturday, May 23: Kentucky Derby prep race--the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill. “I won bigger” group play
  • Monday, May 25:  First day of ASD’s new Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday race schedule. First post: 7:30 p.m. See race schedule  here.

© Copyright 1996-2020 All Rights Reserved. Assiniboia Downs.
3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Read our Blog  See us on Instagram  Watch us on Youtube