Friday, June 26, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 25 (Issue #744)

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


With a current carryover in Assiniboia Downs' Jackpot pick-5 pool of almost $400,000 and more growth expected next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the pool is likely to reach $3 million or more on mandatory payout day Monday, July 6. Live race post time 7:30 p.m.

THE MANITOBA NIGHT MARKET AND FESTIVAL RETURNS! Sunday, July 12, from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. with COVID-19 protocols in place. Admission $5, parking $5.


A brand new Kentucky Derby Future Pool Wager begins today and continues until Sunday from Churchill Downs! Tiz the Law, winner of the Belmont Stakes, is the obvious early favourite but there’s great value if you like a colt to beat him in the Derby. See Future Pool entries and odds here.

Charley Horse also reminds you there’s a $250,000 Rainbow pick-6 carryover at Gulfstream and the Stronach pick-5 starts at Laurel in mid-afternoon. But the big announcement is that Century Mile in Edmonton launches Friday night racing tonight at 8:15 CDT with ASD jockeys Rigo Sarmiento and Rafael Zenteno, Jr., among the riders on the seven-race card.

Remember, Manitobans may request race programs from Sheri at

Bullet briefs . . .

  • He's 11 and "the fattest horse I've seen in my life" but keeps right on winning
  • Look who's celebrating his 500th career win
  • Sleuthing out the chaos horse: Hits and misses
  • Who won the first Las Vegas Challenge tournament?
  • After two years of pain, former ASD jockey makes a comeback
TWO MORE DERBY COUNTDOWN CONTEST RACES: Congrats to Ken Faulkner for winning the two Kentucky Derby glasses in a draw in the Derby Countdown contest last Saturday when Tiz the Law easily romped to a win in the Belmont Stakes. Thanks to all who entered their picks but it should have been mentioned the contest is open now only to previous entrants. The final two countdown races are the Blue Grass at Keeneland on July 11 and the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 18. See leader board 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.

60 VLTs OPEN DAILY: From 9 a.m. - 2 a.m.

While the grandstand and taramac are still closed to spectators, you can watch and wager on live racing from the Terrace Dining Room, Club West Lounge and Racebook. Reservations are required for the Terrace Dining Room. Call 204-885-3330. See menu here.

From 9 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: 11:00 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day.
  • Canad Inns Windsor Park: open at 9:00 a.m. daily
  • Other OTBs--Quest Inn, Club Regent Casino and McPhillips Street Casino are scheduled to open soon.
  • 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 ASD lobby and at the above OTBs.
  • ASD LIVE PROGRAMS: Can be purchased from the program kiosks and at the VLT cage at ASD.
  • 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.

What a meet!

Gourneau chalks up win #500

Trainer Jerry Gourneau (left), next to owner/groom Manny Medeiros, after his 500th victory with Purrsibility on Monday (Jason Halstead photo)
Everything seems to be coming up roses for trainer Jerry Gourneau. His horses are winning more races than those of other trainers, he has the best older horse on the grounds thanks to his shrewd buy-back of Gold Cup Stakes winner Deep Explorer--and, in last Monday’s first race, he reached a significant milestone--his 500th win at a recognized race track. (His nephew says he’s actually closing in on 700 wins if you include races at unrecognized tracks such as those in his home town of Belcourt, North Dakota.).

Gourneau believes his horses have been doing so well because he got them fit at Fonner Park in Nebraska but they didn’t race much there because the race conditions didn’t fit many of them. And, even when they did race, the surface was “deep and cuppy and not as kind as Assiniboia Downs where there is a better cushion.”

And it was fortuitous that he was able to claim back Deep Explorer for $7,500 at Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma in May so he could bring him back up to his favourite haunts where, Gourneau said, “he got happier and happier and happier” and rewarded the barn with an exciting off-the-pace victory in the $25,000 Free Press Stakes.

And there’s more to come. Gourneau has 46 horses already and more are on the way, he says. Next stakes stop for Deep Explorer? The R. J. Speers.
EYE ON LIVE (cont'd)

"Fattest horse I've seen in my life"
Despite weight and age, Shelley Brown's claimed horse wins

Shelley Brown (right) after “the fattest horse I’ve seen in my life” wins fifth race Monday (Jason Halstead photo)
Not many trainers would be anxious to claim an 11-year-old. Especially “the fattest horse I’ve seen in my life.”

But Shelley Brown did so with a confidence she hasn’t felt since her father, Tom, died at 82 two years ago. “Now, I’m back 110 per cent,” she told The Insider, alluding to her biggest stable ever--40 horses.

The 11-year-old gelding, Unbridled Venture, whom she claimed for $3,500 and raised to $5,000 on Monday, rewarded her with a victory right off the hop and enriched his backers with a juicy win price of $37.60.

“I lost my heart,”
she said of her feelings after her father’s death. “After a bad race, he’d call and say ‘You’ll get ‘em next time.' He was my biggest fan.”

What finally brought her out of her funk, she said, was a yearling sale in Florida in the fall. “I bought seven horses. I thought this is what my father would want me to do: To push forward.”

“I thought Unbridled Venture would like the track,”
she said of the claim. “It’s soft and very kind to older horses.” And age wasn’t that much of a factor. “They’ll always be race horses,” she said. “He’s such a nice horse, too, and screams for peppermints, cookies, carrots, any treat will do.”

Dad obviously would approve of her move.

*       *       *

Hottest jockey: Stanley Chadee, Jr.
(4 wins)
Hottest trainer: Tom Gardipy, Jr. (4 wins)
Biggest longshot: Silver Spun $65.50 (Race 4 Tues)
Stakes champions: Dune D’Oro (Golden Boy), Dazzling Gold (Hazel Wright Sire), Honour Rules (Frank Arnason Sire)
Upcoming stakes:
Canada Day (Wednesday)
$392,927 in the Jackpot pick-5; $54,398 in the Super Hi-5

Has The Insider got you thinking about the chaos horse--which you SHOULD be thinking about because a “chaos” horse wins about 15 to 20 per cent of the time. Just looking for the most logical horses won’t cut it if you’re a pick-4, pick-5 or pick-6 player.

Here are some hits and misses on the chaos horse from the past week:

This is a classic. Marshall Posner of the ASD Live handicapping show spent $72 to win $3,948 in the pick-4 on Tuesday’s live card by doing a very simple thing: He had stand-out keys in two races and the other two races looked chaotic so he wheeled his keys with “all” horses in the other two legs. Here’s what happened:
     Race 4
-- He took all eight horses. Silver Spun won and paid $65.50
     Race 5
-- He keyed Dandy Dean ($3.80)
     Race 6
-- He took all nine horses. Witt Seven won and paid $19.40
     Race 7
-- He keyed Strong Arm ($3.20)

Trevor Tilston-Jones wins Vegas Challenge tourney with 17-1 chaos horse
HIT: Veteran player Trevor Tilston-Jones captured the first Las Vegas Challenge tournament of the year on Monday by looking beyond the logical horses in the fifth race and playing the 11-year-old Unbridled Venture who had won four races last year and was just claimed by one-time leading trainer Shelley Brown. “Confidence in the horse was shown by a capable trainer,” he noted and ignored the fact the horse finished sixth in his first start this year. The horse won and paid $37.60 to win.

An across-the-board wager on Unbridled Venture and winnings from four other races gave him a total bankroll of $85.80. The runners-up were Wayne Misko with $81.10 and Kathy Phelps with $74.90. See full results here.

Other players who liked Trevor’s horse above and played the pick-4 Monday had to be giddy with joy at the monster payout. Simply placing that horse into a sandwich of three heavy favourites paid a gigantic $1,016 for $1.

The “I won bigger” betting group on Sunday missed a chaos horse in both the Empire pick-6 at Belmont and the jackpot pick-6 at Santa. Missing out on $14,000 at Belmont may, in the end, have been inexcusable because the trainer had a 25 per cent win rate with a horse in its second start off a layoff. What this means is that we need to train our minds to look beyond the logical and obvious and look for possible chaos--horse by horse by horse.

Many players’ pick-4s and pick-5s were derailed in Wednesday’s live card when 25-1 Honour Rules won the fifth race. He was a total unknown because that was his first start and, on that basis, might have been added to tickets. His win resulted in a $1 pick-4 paying $2,366 and a 20-cent jackpot pick-5 paying $1,016.

Rocco Bowen
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR? With numbness and intermittent pain shooting up his left arm to his neck for almost two years after a fall from a horse--and gaining 30 pounds as he tried to recuperate in his native Barbados--one-time ASD jockey Rocco “the Jocko” Bowen, the two-time leading rider at Emerald Downs in Washington, made a triumphant return to racing early this month by riding and winning his first-ever start at Churchill Downs and setting a 26 per cent win rate at Indiana Downs. Remember him? He rode at ASD from 2008-2010. Read the touching story of his rise, fall and rise again here.
HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: Who am I?

This week Bob has the story of a horse that was responsible for helping build a racing empire at the Downs. Don Gray gets the credit for finding this horse and putting in a timely claim for a horse that ran for a tag only once!  Of this same horse Downs all-time leading jockey Ken Hendricks once said ‘They've got to pack 130 pounds on him... that’s the only way we’ll beat him!’ Hint: The horse conducted his ‘rein’ of terror from 1977 to 1979.  Bob reveals his identity here.
  • Tomorrow: “I won bigger” group play 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. Woodbine early pick 5 and pick 4. Charles Town mandatory payout of their jackpot pick 6. First post 6 p.m.
  • Monday, June 29: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Watch and wager in the Race Book and Terrace Dining Room
  • Tuesday: June 30: Live racing 7:30 p.m. (See above)
  • Wednesday, July 1: Happy Birthday, Canada! Live racing 7:30 p.m. (See above). Watch fireworks display over Parliament Hill celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday here.
  • Friday, July 3: Century Mile featuring ASD jockeys 8:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 4: Independence Day in the U.S. “I won bigger” group play 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza discussing Woodbine’s early pick-5 and pick-4, Los Alamitos Derby 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 5: Century Mile with ASD jockeys 6:15 p.m.
  • Monday, July 6: Mandatory payout of the ASD Jackpot Pick-5
After Wednesday night’s race card, watch the great fireworks display over Parliament Hill celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday here.     

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