Friday, June 12, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 23 (Issue #742)

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

JUST ANNOUNCED: DOWNS TO OFFER FATHER’S DAY DINING from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 21. See special lunch and breakfast items here (including the Downs’ popular certified Angus prime rib) or you may order from the regular Terrace Dining Room menu.

Plus, all Dads can enter to win a round of golf for two plus cart at Breezy Bend Country Club. Two draws will be made. Reservations are a must (no walk-ups). Call 204-885-3330.


DIVE INTO TODAY’S GIANT POOLS AT GULFSTREAM AND SANTA ANITA! Gulfstream’s Rainbow pick-6 is closing in on $2 million and Santa Anita’s jackpot is about $700K! Leg one at Gulfstream (race 5) goes at 1:05 p.m. and leg one (race 3) at Santa goes at 4:09 p.m.

Also, don’t forget the Stronach pick-5 is back! Manitoba players can request programs for these tracks and the Stronach pick-5 from Sheri at

Note the time: 11:15 a.m. tomorrow in the Terrace Dining Room. Under discussion: The jackpot races at Gulfstream and Belmont in preparation for the Belmont Stakes a week from this Saturday. Let’s mark the return to the Downs with a big win!

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Why wasn't Hidden Grace in the La Verendrye Stakes?
  • Handicapping feature: How to nail that "chaos" horse
  • When will Alberta tracks open?
  • Suddenly, my Kentucky Derby longshot horse looks live
  • The greatest race that never was (See Bob's History on the Hoof)

COUNTDOWN TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY CONTINUES WITH GLASS SET WINNER: Congrats to electrician Larry Liebrecht who won a unique set of Kentucky Derby glasses after his entry was drawn from entrants to the Kentucky Derby Countdown Contest on the Santa Anita Derby. The ultimate winner will be awarded $200 to play the Derby on Sept. 5. See leader board here. Your next chance to play: Saturday, June 20, Belmont Stakes Day.

See list here. (Picking three winners on ASD cards gets you a discount on the $50 entry fee into the June 22 tourney that will send the winner and a guest to a rich Las Vegas tournament next spring. See rules here.)
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in June? Find out  here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.

WATCH LIVE RACING FROM THE TERRACE DINING ROOM: While the grandstand is closed to spectators, there is one place at ASD where you can watch live racing and that is in the Terrace Dining Room. Advance reservations required. No walk-ups. Call 204-885-3330. See menu here.

From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, you can dine and wager on simulcast races in the Club West Dining Lounge. The hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. See menu here.

  • Green Brier: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
  • Rookies Sports Bar in the Central Hotel: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day.
  • Pembina Hotel: 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
  • Other OTBs--Windsor Park Inn, Quest Inn, Club Regent Casino and McPhillips Street Casino--are awaiting the government go-ahead which may be confirmed in Phase 3.
  • HARD COPIES OF ALL PROGRAMS FOR ALL TRACKS: Equibase race programs ($2), DRF race programs ($2) and DRF Pro Picks (50-cents) are available at program kiosks in the lobby and in the Club West Dining Lounge at ASD and at the above OTBs.
  • ASD LIVE PROGRAMS: Can be purchased from the program kiosks and in the Club West dining lounge
  • EMAILED PROGRAMS: ASD program director Sheri will email programs without charge to Manitobans who email their request to her at Specify the track and DRF or Equibase program.
HOW TO OPEN AN HPI ACCOUNT FOR BETTING ONLINE: Go to or phone 204-885-3330 ext. 225 for assistance.

Alberta tracks to open next weekend
Marquis Downs in Saskatoon cancels meet this year

Woodbine opened to an empty grandstand last Saturday, Alberta tracks will start up in nine days (Michael Burns photo)
Century Mile in Edmonton will open for thoroughbred racing a week from this Sunday and Century Downs near Calgary will open for harness racing the following day, race secretary Rob MacLennan has told The Insider.

Spectators will not be allowed. The casinos at both tracks remain closed but other casinos in Alberta have been given permission to reopen this Friday, Rob said.

Century Mile will race Fridays at 8:15 CT and Sundays at 6:15 CT. Century Downs will race Mondays and Tuesdays at 3:15 CT.

Last year’s leading rider at Century Mile, Rigo Sarmiento and leading trainer, Tim Rycroft, have been racing at Assiniboia Downs where Sarmiento is currently third in the jockey standings and Rycroft is second among trainers.

Meanwhile, Marquis Downs in Saskatoon has announced it will not hold a race meet this year.

Hastings Park in Vancouver has yet to announce an opening date for live racing.

"Not quite ready"
Unbeaten Hidden Grace misses La Verendrye; Miss Imperial airs

Murray Duncan
Wins first major stakes of 2020
Although nominated for the La Verendrye Stakes on Wednesday, the Downs’ unbeaten filly, Hidden Grace, wasn’t entered because “she wasn’t quite ready,” her trainer, Michael Nault told The Insider.

But she’s ready now, he said, and he plans to run her in an allowance race next Tuesday “if it goes” as a tightener for the Canada Day Stakes on July 1 where she will likely face the filly who won the La Verendrye handily, Miss Imperial.

Miss Imperial was claimed for $25,000 U.S. at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas by owner/trainer Murray Duncan and has already won $19,000 U.S. by winning the La Verendrye and an overnight stakes, the Go Go Lolo. She set a 97 Equibase speed figure in both races.

*       *       *

Hottest jockey: Antonio Whitehall (5 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Jerry Gourneau, Steven Gaskin, Shelley Brown, Tim Rycroft, George Ron Scott (2 wins)
Biggest longshot:
Storm in Paris $36.30 (Race 6 Monday)
Stakes champions: Miss Imperial (La Verendrye)
Upcoming stakes:
Chantilly (Tuesday), Free Press (Wednesday)
Carryovers: $256,413
in the Jackpot pick-5; $24,802 in the Super Hi-5


Suddenly, my Thousand Words looks live again
Colt is fastest of 43 horses in Santa Anita workout

Thousand Words wins Los Alamitos Futurity (Eclipse Sportswire photo)
I was almost ready to rip up my 16-1 Kentucky Derby Future Wager on Bob Baffert’sThousand Words. He was outclassed, I thought, by about five other horses who were the most-favoured horses in future wagers. Then in the space of only a few weeks . . .
  • Bob Baffert’s Nadal was retired from racing after suffering a knee injury
  • Baffert’s Charlatan was removed from Derby consideration as a result of an ankle problem.
  • Brendan Walsh’s Maxfield was also withdrawn from Sept. 5 Derby consideration because of a knee issue
  • Baffert’s Authentic was run down by Honor A. P. in the Santa Anita Derby

And, just as suddenly, Thousand Words runs the quickest workout of his life at Santa Anita: five furlongs in :58.6, the fastest of 43 horses. All of which puts the colt firmly back on the Derby trail with Florida Derby winner Tiz the Law and Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A. P. Who would have thunk it just a few short weeks ago?

Yes, you deserve sympathy . . .
. . . when a "chaos" horse beats you but here's how to catch that kind of horse next time

I’ve been obsessed lately with chaos. More precisely, the chaos horse. A horse that doesn’t figure. A horse that eludes the best handicappers. A horse that upsets your pick-4, pick-5 and pick-6 wagers.

We are given various percentages and stats for horses, jockeys and trainers but have you ever heard of a statistic for chaos? Yet, the chaos horse is as much a part of racing as the favourite.

Let me throw this at you for consideration. In my estimation, the chaos horse wins about one out of five to seven times, depending on race conditions and the size of fields. And a chaos horse will figure into triactors and superfectas in one out of five to seven POSITIONS. In other words, you have three positions in a triactor and four positions in a superfecta and one out of five to seven of those positions will, on average, have a chaos horse.

For this reason, you shouldn’t be hard on yourself when you miss such a horse. You’ll twist your mind into a pretzel trying to figure out how you might have picked that horse--but, in the end, you can chalk up the loss to horses not being machines. Or, if you wish to be poetic, you can blame the racing gods.

So, you ask yourself, is there a way to add a chaos horse to your tickets--besides just guessing? Here are my suggestions:
  • Copper Chalice (#13) at 74-1 wins by nose in a heart-stopping drive
    Get to know what race conditions are more chaotic. At the Downs, a $1,500 claiming race and a non-winners of two races are races that tend to be more chaotic. So pressing the “all” button or looking for an equipment or jockey change or simply looking for the horses with the best LIFETIME speed figure may help.

  • Be open to chaos. The player you’ve frequently read about in The Insider, Les “Longshot” Buzzell, relies on chaos. He looks for little things; trouble lines are a favourite. But he caught a 74-1 first time starter at Belmont last Friday in a race for maiden New York-breds simply by saying to himself: “This is a pretty even field; he has as good a chance as any to win.” The horse, Copper Chalice, came flying down the stretch to win by a nose. Buzzell collected on a $60 win wager and picked up $11,000 for a $2 triactor. (See the program page for that race here and watch the heart-stopping race here. Click on June 5, race 4.)

  • Capitalize on wagers in which you can play “all” in various positions at relatively low cost--with the chance of a nice score. That’s why I like superfectas. One of my favourite wheels in maiden races with first time starters is “all” with favourite with “all” with second choice. An outlay of $24 netted me $2,300 when a 70-1 first-time starter beat the favourite in a race at Charles Town.

  • Play the percentages. For example, you know that roughly two of six horses in a pick-6 will be won by the favourite (favs win 33 per cent of the time) but you also know that 15 to 20 per cent of the time, one of the legs will be won by a chaos horse. What leg will it be? Will you press the “all” button? (This is how an “I won bigger” pick-6 ticket at Santa Anita last Saturday hit a 90-1 horse.)

  • Play hunches. It’s not what you think. It’s not a stab in the dark. Hunches are based on the fact you’ve watched tens of thousands of races and unconsciously absorbed thousands of bits of information and a hunch is simply your mind seeing something you can’t necessarily put into words.
The thing is, don’t beat yourself up for not having a chaos horse. It’s part of racing. By following the suggestions above, however, you may have fewer such misses.

If you wish to add to the “chaos” discussion, email (Please do!)
New! HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: The greatest race that never was

Bob must really be missing watching the races from the tarmac these days.  This week he looks at NBC’s “Triple Crown Showdown” virtual race of all Triple Crown winners and another such race that was “run” in 1968 – five years before Secretariat swept the Triple Crown. Does he dare to dream about a fantasy race at Assiniboia Downs?  You know he does!  Bob has all the details here.
  • Tomorrow: “I won bigger” betting group workshop AT THE DOWNS 11 a.m. (Tracks are Belmont and Gulfstream--last six races)
  • Monday, June 15: Live racing 7:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 16: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Chantilly Stakes
  • Wednesday, June 17: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Free Press Stakes
  • Saturday, June 20: Belmont Stakes, “I won bigger” betting group workshop at the track
  • Monday: June 22: Live racing 7:30 p.m. with Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament online.
     Hope to see you at the track tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. for bacon and “bigger” things

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