Friday, May 29, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 21 (Issue #740)

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: THE ASD CLUB WEST LOUNGE IS OPENING starting Tuesday at 11 a.m. under these conditions:
  • The general public will have access to dining and wagering in the Club West lounge from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily EXCEPT ON LIVE RACE DAYS (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) when the Club West lounge will be closed to the general public at 5 p.m. Patrons must park in the lot behind the grandstand and access the 2nd floor from the west side door. Signage will be posted.
  • SPECIAL DINING PRIVILEGES FOR HORSE OWNERS: The Terrace Dining Room will be open only to horse owners and their guests on live race nights by calling 204-885-3330 ext. 221 for reservations. Priority will be given to horse owners who have a horse racing that night. Minimum dining charge: $20.


*       *       *
Wagering on 18 races hits historic $4.4 million
Dunn had a hunch betting would be huge; it was even bigger than predicted

Darren Dunn guesses right
CEO Darren Dunn had a hunch betting on ASD’s 63rd season of racing--with little competition in the Monday to Wednesday night time slot--would be huge and was he ever right. Online wagering hit $4.4 million on the 18 races which was $600K higher than he predicted in a little guessing game among various people involved in getting the show on the road.

My guess was $1.75 million; handicapper Glen “Stretch” Sirkis was lowest at under $1 million. I had dismissed Darren’s prediction as way too optimistic. But there it was: in a world absent of sports wagering, horse racing is occupying the void. The $244,000 bet per race was seven times last year’s $35,000 average.

About 100 online betting sites offered action on ASD races--from as far afield as Europe, Brazil and Mexico. Betting on Tuesday’s pick-4--with a “guarantee” of $10,000--hit $96,000. There is an expectation now that the Jackpot pick-5 pool will also be record-setting.

Which doesn’t mean, by the way, that the Downs is suddenly swimming in dough. Darren set the record straight with this comment: “Though the wagering totals are some of the highest in the history of Assiniboia Downs, the net margin return to the track as the operator is actually very small and much less than if the track had fans on-site to wager. In saying that, it’s still vital and important as the track has so few revenue streams at the moment.”


If you had the first three days of ASD race programs delivered to your home this past Sunday, the same thing will happen this Sunday without you lifting a finger. If you DIDN’T have programs delivered but would like the service from ASD staffers, email or phone 204-885-3330 ext. 225 by Saturday at 1 p.m.

*       *       *
THE PICK-4 GUARANTEE HAS BEEN INCREASED TO $25,000 for this upcoming Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday.

go to or phone 204-885-3330 ext. 225

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Big payoffs mark first three days of live racing
  • Meet the jockeys: thumbnail bios
  • Triple Crown hopeful Nadal suffers career-ending injury
  • An explosion of new meets begin next week including Belmont and Woodbine
  • Do you remember the times ASD stopped racing? Historian Bob reminds us

HAVE YOU QUALIFIED FOR A TOURNEY FEE DISCOUNT YET? It will cost you $50 to enter the Las Vegas Challenge horseplayer tournament on June 22 to earn a trip for two to Las Vegas--unless, of course, you predict three winners on race cards leading up to the tournament. Your first correct entry cuts the entry fee in half and subsequent correct entries reduce the fee by $5 each time. That makes the tournament one of the best deals in town. Who has already qualified for a discount? See qualifying list here. For general tournament rules go here.
Click to enlarge.

  • Gulfstream’s 20-cent Rainbow pick-6 closing in on $1 million
  • Santa Anita’s 20-cent Jackpot pick-6 is nearing $500K

Example of a fracture in a horse’s condylar bone
Bad news for Baffert
Nadal suffers leg fracture in morning workout

Bob Baffert’s Nadal, the winner of the Arkansas Derby and a serious Triple Crown contender, suffered a career-ending injury during a workout yesterday at Santa Anita. The colt suffered a condylar fracture that required two screws to repair.

That means his racing days are over and he will begin a new career as a broodmare sire. That news comes on the heels of a report that another top Baffert trainee, Charlatan, tested positive for a banned numbing agent. It’s unclear what impact this will have on the horse’s chance of running in the Belmont Stakes on June 22.

Those two horses were part of a powerful Baffert trio that included Authentic.

Big payoffs mark first three days of racing

Horses who already raced this year offer great value; will trend continue?

If you paid attention to point #2, you were a big winner
If you paid attention to point #2 in last week’s Top 10 Ways to Get Ready for Live Racing, you must have had a very lucrative three days.

“Pay attention to horses that have raced this year,”
handicappers Marshall and Stretch urged in the listing. “Even lower class ones have a fitness edge to start the year.”

Monday’s pick-4 was a perfect illustration. If you simply wheeled only the horses who started this year (in three legs) with the favourite in the race that had no 2020 starters--at a cost of $24--you would have picked up $1,726 (2 x 1 x 4 x 3).

Tuesday’s pick-4 paid more than $13,000 for a $1 ticket when two of the three legs with 2020 starters were won by horses with a fitness edge. The first leg, won by Broadway Dave at 14-1, hardly should have been a surprise. The 4-year-old gelding was ridden by 2018 leading rider Antonio Whitehall and his conditioner is Jared Brown who gave him a couple starts at Turf Paradise in February.

Even adding these horses to other bets paid off. On Wednesday’s card, a Fonner Park horse, More Than Stature, finished second in race 5 at juicy odds of 40-1, setting up a $1 triactor that paid $160 even though the even-money favourite won the race and a 4-1 horse finished third.

So what do you think of Marshall’s and Stretch’s advice now? Will you be playing closer attention to that kind of horse this coming Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday?
  • 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 are in place.
  • FREE ONLINE RACE PROGRAMS will be emailed to Manitoba players. Email your request to Sheri at Please specify which track you would like and 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.
*       *       *
An explosion of new meets begin next week

If you clicked on the Event Calendar under DO THE DOWNS you would have noticed there is a plethora of tracks that are starting up, spectator-free, next week: Fort Erie at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday, Belterra at 11:35 a.m. Thursday, Belmont Park at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, Mohawk harness at 5:40 p.m. Friday, Evangeline Downs at 5:50 p.m. Friday, Woodbine at noon Saturday and Louisiana Downs at 3:15 Saturday.

Hottest jockey:
 Rafael Zenteno Jr.
(5 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Tim Rycroft (3 wins)
Biggest longshot: Eye Catching $37 (Race 4 Tues)
Stakes champions: Miss Imperial (Go Go Lolo), Music At Work (Liz's Pride), Mr. Dazzle (IwouldifIcould)

*       *       *
NEXT STAKES: The Shanghied Overnight Stakes race for 3-year-olds will be run Wednesday as the first hint of possible Manitoba Derby contenders. The race honours an A.P. Indy colt who, in 2004, won the Golden Boy, the Derby Trial and the Harry Jeffrey stakes and finished third in the Manitoba Derby.

Nirone Austin, 27, who had raced in the Barbados for eight years came to Assiniboia Downs last year “to get some outside experience.” He had finished seventh at the highly competitive Garrison Savannah race track in Barbados and his favourite horse was Just U and Me. He also has his eye on becoming leading jockey.

Stanley Chadee, Jr
., 30, is a native Trinidadian who’s been riding for 14 years and was leading rider at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon in 2015. His favourite horse was Storm Street in Trinidad and his ambition is to “ride at the big tracks.” He came to the Downs a couple years ago with Marquis trainer Jamie Hartmann.

Sheldon Chickeness
, 38, is a prairie man, having started riding at Marquis Downs 18 years ago where he chalked up 33 wins in 2005. His favourite horse was Victory Call at ASD. He came to the Downs “for the opportunity at a higher-level track” and ultimately wants to train horses.

Nicole Hein
, 25, in just her first year as a jockey attained an enviable record of 47-7-12-7 riding at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon. Her favourite horse was the 13-year-old warrior gelding, Pacific Tsunami. Her goal is to become leading rider.

Richard Mangalee
, 33, who started riding 16 years ago in Trinidad and won 24 races in a season at Northlands Park came to ASD “looking for a new track to call home.” His favourite horse was Minmus in Edmonton and his goal is to win a Breeders’ Cup race.

Kayla Pizarro
, 29, who’s been riding at Assiniboia Downs for five years, said she followed her mother here. Her first win came on Indian Ancestry and her best record was 40 wins in 2016. She’s upfront about her ambitions: “I want to be leading rider in Canada.”

Shawn Samuel
, 30, who started riding in Trinidad 13 years ago, came to Assiniboia Downs “looking for improvement.” He finished fifth in the standings at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon and his favourite horse was Hardly Forgotten. His ambition? “Ride in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Rigo Sarmiento
, 44, who started riding in Venezuela 25 years ago and was a leading rider there, duplicated the feat at Century Mile in Edmonton last year. He was a veritable stakes machine, winning 11 of the rich races. He came to ASD with Alberta trainer Tim Rycroft and simply enjoys winning.

Neville Stephenson
, 52, is a seasoned rider from Jamaica, having ridden for 21 years. Lately he’s been riding at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon but his most memorable day came at Lethbridge where he won five races in one day. His favourite horse was Daughter’s Pride at Marquis. He came to ASD “for a new experience and challenge” and hopes ultimately to become “a top trainer.”

Antonio Whitehall
, 27, who started riding in his native Barbados 10 years ago, came to Assiniboia Downs on the recommendation of former ASD leading rider Chris Husbands. Whitehall himself was the co-leading jockey in 2018 and, last year, won a stellar eight stakes races. His favourite horse? Langara. His ambition? “To ride in the big leagues.”

Edgar Zenteno
, 21, came from Mexico with his older brother, Rafael Zenteno, Jr. to explore the possibility of riding at Canadian tracks. Their first chance came in Alberta and Edgar recalls with delight his first win at Century Mile in Edmonton. His favourite horse in Alberta, he says, was Letsdothedance. What are his ambitions? “To ride a lot and win a lot of stakes races.”

Rafael Zenteno, Jr.,
28, who started riding in Mexico eight years ago was leading apprentice rider at Northlands Park in 2012, one of nine tracks he has ridden at. His favourite horse was the quality stakes mare, Quality Lane. He came to ASD, he said, to try a new track with his younger brother, Edgar, and plans to race “until I can’t ride any more.”
New! HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: Which closures do you remember?

This week Bob looks back on historic events that led to closures and race cancellations at the Downs.  Which ones do you recall?  Hint: Some notable events took place in 1982 & 2004. Bob has the details here.
  • Tomorrow: Online “I won bigger” group play on the late pick-5 at Tampa and the Rainbow pick-6 at Gulfstream with about $1 million at stake
  • Monday, June 1: Manitoba rolls out Phase 2 in the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Will this result in the reopening of OTBs? Stay tuned. Online live racing begins 7:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 2: Online live racing 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 3: Online live racing 7:30 p.m. The Shanghied Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds
  • Saturday, June 6 : Online “I won bigger” play. Woodbine begins at noon.

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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