Friday, June 19, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 24 (Issue #743)

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

WELCOME TO THE LONGEST DAY OF THE YEAR since summer begins at exactly 4:44 p.m. CDT tomorrow! Make the most of it. The sun starts its journey back south on Sunday.

VLTs OPEN MONDAY AT 9 AM as part of the province’s Phase 3 relaxation of COVID-19 protocols. To maintain distancing, 60 of ASD’s 140 VLTs will be available for play. The usual hours will be in effect--9 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

HAVE YOU BOOKED A TABLE FOR FATHER’S DAY LUNCH? This Sunday, Terrace Dining Room from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 204-885-3330. Menu.


Charley Horse is wielding the megaphone today to remind you that Santa Anita’s Jackpot pick-6 is tickling a million bucks--which is certainly worth a play for mere 20-cent tickets. And the popular $1 Stronach pick-5 kicks off at Laurel in mid-afternoon.

Program director Sheri will once again email Manitoba players the Santa Anita or Stronach pick-5 programs with their request to Please specify whether you’d like an Equibase program or a DRF one. Ask for the DRF Picks supplement as well. It carries worthwhile comments from track analysts.

NOTE: MANDATORY PAYOUT OF PICK-6 AT SANTA ANITA SUNDAY so there will be TWO “I won bigger” group betting workshops at the track this weekend: the regular one Saturday at 11:15 a.m. (Belmont’s last six races and Woodbine’s early pick-5) and a special one on Sunday at the same time to pursue the Jackpot pick-6 that will likely reach $5 million or more.

Bullet briefs . . .

  • The topsy-turvy Triple Crown begins tomorrow with the Belmont Stakes
  • The first Las Vegas Challenge tourney on live racing goes Monday online
  • Hail Whitehall! Jockey almost sweeps an entire card
  • Tricky horses win Chantilly and Free Press. Asking this question might have helped you.
  • Surgical masks, good; surgical masks worn by gun-toting robbers, not so good
Win these in a draw Saturday
ENTER YOUR BELMONT STAKES PICK FOR THE DERBY COUNTDOWN CONTEST: Who’s going to win the Belmont Stakes Saturday? That’s a countdown race on the road to the Kentucky Derby so send your pick to by 1 p.m. Saturday to collect more points to win the $200 bankroll to play the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5. Also, a draw will be made for two unique Derby glasses. See current leader board here. Download the Belmont Stakes race here.

FIRST VEGAS CHALLENGE TOURNEY GOES MONDAY: To see who has qualified for discounts off the $50 by picking three winners on ASD cards, go 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. Call 204-885-3330. See menu here.

From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.

  • 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 and Quest Inn are scheduled to open soon. Club Regent Casino and McPhillips Street Casino remain closed.
  • 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 Lounge at ASD and at the above OTBs.
  • ASD LIVE PROGRAMS: Can be purchased from the program kiosks and in the Club West 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.

An Edmonton-Winnipeg circuit?

Phase 3 means westerners can enter Manitoba without quarantining

ASD’s top three jockeys will be riding at Century Mile race track in Edmonton on opening day there Sunday in what is likely to become a regular Edmonton-Winnipeg circuit for the riders.

The three jocks--Rigo Sarmiento (who was leading rider there last year), Antonio Whitehall (co-leading jockey at ASD in 2018) and Rafael Zenteno, Jr. have been booked to ride many mounts on the eight-race card that will have as many as 12 horses in a race. The first race goes at 6:15 p.m. CDT.

Century Mile also races Friday night at 8:15 p.m. CDT so the jockeys will ride at ASD from Monday to Wednesday then fly to Edmonton for Friday/Sunday racing before returning for Monday night racing at ASD. Monday's card will also see the addition of Edmonton based Rico Walcott, Wilmer Galviz and Shannon Beauregard.

The back-and-forth movement of the jockeys is made possible with the Manitoba government removing the quarantining period for travellers from western Canada.

Here's your first shot at Vegas
FIVE trips to the Horse Player World Series at the Orleans are on the line

Betting seven horses on Monday’s live race card could send you and a guest to Las Vegas next spring to play in the Horse Player World Series at the Orleans Hotel Casino where hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money is at stake.

It’s one of FIVE trips being given away by the Downs. A trip will be awarded to each winner of the four monthly tournaments on live racing and a trip will also be awarded to the Handicapper of the Year.

Entrants will play Monday’s tournament online, betting $2 win/place/show on their selected horses before each of the seven races is off. The entry fee for each tournament is $50 which some of you have whittled down by picking three winners in race cards leading up to the tournament. See the list of qualifiers for discounts here. You must have a Manitoba HPI account in order to enter the contest.


The fifth trip at the end of the year will be awarded to the person who accumulates the MOST POINTS in six out of 10 tournaments held during the year. Will betting a “chaos” horse stamp your ticket to Vegas? See article on chaos horses below and good luck!

Antonio Whitehall bags five races
A HUGE SHOUT-OUT TO JOCKEY ANTONIO WHITEHALL who almost swept the entire card on Tuesday, winning five of the six races and losing the sixth by a mere nose. His wins:
  • Race 1: Hilda $6.40
  • Race 2: Kickalittlebooty $34.40
  • Race 4: Witts Lucky Shoes $5.30
  • Race 5: Empirical Data $13.20
  • Race 6: More Mo for Me $2.50
A BIG SHOUT-OUT AS WELL TO TRAINER JERRY GOURNEAU who’s never had the kind of beginning to an ASD race meet as this year. The cherry on top--and what should have given him the greatest satisfaction--was the claim back of Deep Explorer, the winner of last year’s Gold Cup--for a mere $7,500 at Will Rogers Downs on May 19 and watching the 7-year-old gelding mow down the Free Press Stakes field at odds of 6-1, with track announcer Kirt Contois intoning: “Deep Explorer loves Assiniboia Downs and is gonna take the 60th running of the Free Press.”

Jerry Gourneau (left) with trophy after Deep Explorer wins Free Press Stakes (Jason Halstead photo)
Gourneau, of course, was leading trainer at the Downs in 2018. He’s the primary trainer for former race car driver and Texas cattleman Henry S. Witt, Jr. He races at the Downs in late spring and summer then heads to Louisiana, Texas and Nebraska for the balance of the year.

for his thoroughness in tracking down the breeding stats on first-time starter Cross Lake Proud for the last race Tuesday at ASD. How could a bettor not play the horse after Marshall revealed on the ASD Live show that three of his four siblings won their first lifetime race. That 75 per cent stat is almost unheard of and the horse would have trounced the field if it were not for a 2-5 bear, More Mo for Me, who had raced in a $95,000 maiden allowance race at Churchill Downs.

Marshall and his partners, Stretch and Kirt, have been providing all kinds of valuable insights into the races in the ASD Live show race nights at 6:45 p.m. as well as between races that prompted horse-owner and Assiniboia Racing Club coordinator John Field to remark: “ I think that Stretch, Marshall and Kirt are the best commentators in racing including Gulfstream.” 

First leg of the Triple Crown goes tomorrow
Tiz the Law favoured in 10-horse field

The topsy-turvy Triple Crown sequence begins tomorrow with the Belmont Stakes at a shortened distance of 1 1/8 mile compared to 1 ½ mile when the race followed the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

The Derby date now is Saturday, Sept. 5 and the Preakness has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 3. And the Belmont is now a prep race for the Kentucky Derby, carrying an exceptional 150 points for the winner--who oddsmakers say will be Tiz the Law who will emerge from post position eight.

That race is just one of multiple stakes races at Belmont which is racing without spectators. The “I won bigger” betting group will discuss and play the last six races as well as the first pick-5 at Woodbine. The workshop begins at 11:15 a.m. in the Downs Clubhouse.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT? We Miss Susie. Seinfeld watchers have to be chuckling at this name for a 3-year-old filly racing at Gulfstream who is remindful of a non-existent person in a Seinfeld episode (Susie) who seemed to be involved in relationships before dying a fictitious death and being eulogized at her funeral. Hence, “we miss Susie.” Hilarious.

Chaos horses win Chantilly and Free Press stakes
Playing those horses would start with the question: "Who might be the chaos horse?"

If you were like most handicappers including the trio who host the ASD Live show, you missed the winner of the Chantilly and perhaps the Free Press stakes because the races weren’t won by the most logical horses.

Deep Explorer mows down the favourites in the Free Press Stakes on Wednesday (Jason Halstead photo)
But you already know--from reading last week’s Insider--that about one in five to seven races are won by a “chaos” horse and we have to be very aware of that--just as we are aware that one-third of the races are won by the race favourite.

So how, you may ask, could you have added the “chaos” horse in each of those races to your tickets? How about by asking this question: “If a chaos horse were to win this race, who might that be?” That would orient your mind in a different direction from just looking for the most logical horses.

A player who doesn’t spend big money on pick-4s, pick-5s and pick-6s does that all the time. He’s not afraid to leave out race favourites and key a longshot. He has won many pools or a big chunk of those pools.

So how might you have taken the #4 Kickalittlebooty ($34.40) in the Chantilly when it appeared the one-two finishers would be the top two finishers from the Liz’s Pride Stakes? By asking that question: “Who could be the upsetter?” How about the horse being ridden by the leading rider, Antonio Whitehall? Dead on.

And what about the Free Press Stakes? After handicapping the logical horses on paper, who might cause you chaos? How about the leading rider again, riding last year’s Gold Cup winner, Deep Explorer (10-1 morning line) claimed back by his original trainer, Jerry Gourneau? Bingo again.

I suspect the winner of Monday’s Las Vegas Challenge tournament will be won by the person who keeps that question in mind. Statistics say favourites lose two-thirds of the time so, obviously, you have to look elsewhere.

Wearing surgical masks is a good thing, the wearer is protecting you from the virus. But when the mask-wearer is carrying a gun, that’s not so good. And that’s how Aqueduct race track employees were held up in March, with the masked robbers fleeing with $280,000. Investigators discovered it was an inside job and have made two arrests. Off came the masks for the mug shots, of course.

Assiniboia Racing Club members have tended to become very attached to their horses and, lucky them, Louise Townsend has collected retirement details on a couple of them including Spanish Fowl that was the subject of a “Hollywood” story in The Insider. Read Louise’s piece here.

Hottest jockey: Antonio Whitehall
(8 wins)
Hottest trainer: Jerry Gourneau
(5 wins)
Biggest longshot: Kickalittlebooty $34.40
 (Race 2 Tues)
Stakes champions: Kickalittlebooty (Chantilly), Deep Explorer (Free Press)
Upcoming stakes:
Golden Boy (Monday), Hazel Wright Sire (Tuesday), Frank Arnason Sire (Wednesday)
$304,403 in the Jackpot pick-5; $37,386 in the Super Hi-5
*       *       *

STORMY WEATHER SHORT-CIRCUITS ANOTHER GOOD DAY: Wagering after the first three races Wednesday was already $655,649, before having to make the required refunds, when stormy weather forced the cancellation of the balance of the card. Except for that night, only one other night with full six-race cards had less than $1 million in wagering out of the first 11 days of racing.

HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: This judge presided over a racing empire

Who was the man who ‘presided’ over Jimmy Speers’ racing empire from 1925 to 1956?  He was credited with calling the first horse race when he introduced the public address system at Agua Caliente in Tijuana in 1927. He also was the first presiding steward to oversee the use of the mechanical starting gate which made its debut at Whittier Park in 1939.  Hint:  He was known by many as simply the “Judge.” As always, Bob has the details here.
Belmont Stakes will be run tomorrow to an empty grandstand
  • This Saturday: Belmont Stakes, “I won bigger” betting group at Belmont (last six races) and Woodbine (first pick 5) at 11:15 a.m. in the Clubhouse
  • This Sunday: Happy Father’s Day! Treat Dad to lunch! Terrace Dining Room 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reserve at 204-885-3330. Special "I won bigger" workshop in the Clubhouse at 11:15 a.m. on the mandatory-payout Jackpot pick-6 at Santa Anita.
  • Monday, June 22: Live racing 7:30 p.m. with Las Vegas Challenge handicapping tournament online. Golden Boy Stakes, prep race for the Manitoba Derby. VLTs open at 9 a.m.
  • Tuesday, June 23: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Hazel Wright Sire Stakes
  • Wednesday, June 24: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Frank Arnason Sire Stakes
  • Saturday, June 27: “ I won bigger” betting group

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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