Friday, July 3, 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 26 (Issue #745)

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


Pool expected to top $1 million
Assiniboia Downs to feature mandatory payout of Jackpot pick-5 on Monday

History is likely to be made Monday night at the Downs as the track offers a mandatory payout of its Jackpot pick-5 pool that is expected to grow easily to $1 million or more. The carryover is $447,361. First race post time is 7:30 p.m.

A special “I won bigger” betting group workshop will be held at 6:30 p.m. on the Clubhouse plaza to discuss and play the pick-5. Everyone is invited. If you plan on attending you must email Sheri at Each $20 share will be generously topped up with $5 from the Downs. (The regular “I won bigger” workshop on Woodbine races will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m.)



Take that, Hidden Grace!
Jockey Stanley Chadee, Jr., gestures to the camera in the Canada Day Stakes as his Miss Imperial ends Hidden Grace’s nine-race winning streak. See story below.
(Jason Halstead photo)

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.


Tonight’s Century Mile card at 8:15 is a must-play event. Why?

  • There’s a $14K carryover in the pick-5
  • There’s a $21K carryover in the pick-4
  • There are two quarter-horse races
  • An Insider reader points out that ASD horses shipping to Century Mile do well. Of eight ASD horses who raced at Century Mile last Sunday, two won (one paid $108) and two finished second, one at 17-1.
  • You get to follow top ASD jockey, Antonio Whitehall, who flies there to ride since Century Mile races Friday and Sunday and ASD goes Monday to Wednesday.

Manitobans may request race programs from Sheri at

Bullet briefs . . .

  • It's do or die time for yours truly in tomorrow's Los Alamitos Derby
  • Hidden Grace's 2020 debut better than many expected
  • Are you a stable genius? Take the "true or false" quiz and see
  • Q and A: Here are the answers to your recent pertinent questions
  • What horse picture was pinned for decades in the tack room of ASD's patriarch?
Click to enlarge.

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

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

WATCH LIVE RACING FROM THE TERRACE DINING ROOM, CLUB WEST LOUNGE AND RACEBOOK: While the grandstand and tarmac 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 1 a.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 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 remain closed at this time
  • 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.

Hidden Grace's winning streak ends . . .

. . . but filly ran a very credible second in her 2020 debut in Canada Day Stakes

Photo of these COVID times: Canada Day winner Miss Imperial with trainer Murray Duncan (left) and ASD CEO Darren Dunn at right “presenting” trophy (Jason Halstead photo)
It seems safe to say that Manitoba’s Hidden Grace, nine-for-nine coming into her 4-year-old season, ran a better Canada Day Stakes than many might have predicted.

In her first race since October, the filly dueled down the stretch with the highly-seasoned Miss Imperial, winner of five races already this year, and couldn’t quite get to her, finishing second.

With a late start to the season, a slow recent workout, her entry into a 7 ½ furlong event right off the shelf and a recent change in trainers (to Miss Imperial’s trainer, Murray Duncan), one might have felt there were issues in the Hidden Grace camp. That was erased by her effort Wednesday night.

Who does not think that in a similar match-up in the Escape Clause Stakes on July 22 that Hidden Grace nails the gal who ruined her perfect record?

*       *       *

Hottest jockey: Antonio Whitehall (5 wins)
Hottest trainer:
Jerry Gourneau (5 wins)
Biggest longshot: Mommy Witt $13.10  (Race 5 Monday)
Stakes champions: Miss Imperial (Canada Day)
Upcoming stakes: Jack Hardy
(Tuesday), R. J. Speers (Wednesday)
$447,361 in the Jackpot pick-5; $63,443 in the Super Hi-5

It's "do or die" time for yours truly
Will Thousand Words show he's worthy of my 47-1 support to win Kentucky Derby?

Thousand Words at Santa Anita where he worked 6f in 1:12.20 last Friday (Santa Anita photo)
Folded up in my wallet are two Kentucky Derby future wager tickets costing $140 that will earn me more than $6,000 if Thousand Words wins the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5. That’s because I got 47-1 odds when I put another $120 on the Bob Baffert trainee in last week’s Future Wager Pool.

Do you think, then, that I’ll be more than a bit interested when the colt races tomorrow in the Los Alamitos Derby, a new Kentucky Derby prep race? Thousand Words is currently 18th in point standings to make it into the 20-horse Kentucky Derby so he could use the 20 points for winning the race but, more importantly, he needs to show he has rebounded from his 11th place finish in the Oaklawn Park Stakes two months ago.

A 6-furlong workout from the gate at Santa Anita last Friday shows he’s ready. He stopped the clock at 1:12.20.

I’m not the only one who’s looking for big things from Pioneerof the Nile’s son. Alberta racing secretary Rob MacLennan, formerly the ASD paddock host, told me “I’ve liked that horse since Day 1” and Free Press racing columnist George Williams was high on him in early season, too.

It’s only a five-horse field, with another Baffert horse, Uncle Chuck, as one of the entrants. It goes to post at about 5:28 p.m. CDT. Baffert is looking for his fourth consecutive Los Alamitos Derby win. Game Winner won it for him last year.


Q: Why is there a night market at the Downs a week from this Sunday but yet no spectators are allowed in the grandstand to watch live racing?

Because provincial health authorities consider the Manitoba Night Market and Festival an “essential service,” given the food and exhibitor offerings, whereas watching racing is not considered “essential.”
*       *       *

When the last two live races were cancelled on Tuesday because of a lightning storm, why were holders of Jackpot pick-5 tickets given a consolation payout that included money that would usually be added to the Jackpot pool?

Because those are the regulations of the federal Canadian Pari-Mutuel Association. When you think about it, that makes sense. Why should players contribute to a Jackpot pool they have no chance of winning when races that are part of the bet are cancelled?

FYI: Here’s a quiz I ran last week in my At the Races column in the Canstar Community News paper in the Winnipeg Free Press:

As the Jackpot pick-5 pool at Assiniboia Downs grows toward half a million dollars, let’s have some fun this week with a true or false quiz. Get them all correct and you get to gallop among your friends, whinnying that you’re a stable genius. Even eight or nine out of 10 will earn you snorting rights.

1. T or F?
It’s better if horses start racing as babies (2-year-olds) than at 3.
2. T or F?
A horse will still recognize you after a seven-year absence.
3. T or F?
Apples are a horse’s favourite treat
4. T or F?
Only 3-year-olds can enter the Manitoba Derby.
5. T or F?
Horses are heavy sleepers.
6. T or F? Hoof Hearted is thought to be one of the funniest names ever given to a horse.
7. T or F?
A jockey’s weight is an important consideration in sprint races.
8. T or F?
Colts who have the same mother but different fathers are said to be half-brothers.
9. T or F?
A filly becomes a mare at 5-years-old
10. T or F?
Grey horses win more races than horses of other colours


1. True. The bone-strengthening process that occurs in 2-year-olds diminishes at 3. Horses that start at 2 have longer careers and suffer fewer injuries.
2. True. Horses retain the ability to recognize a person for about 10 years.
3. False. The herb Fenugreek (used in cooking in India) is a horse’s flavour favourite and bananas and cherries are ahead of apples and carrots.
4. True
5. False. Horses are dozers, often sleeping while standing.
6. True. If you say the first two words a few times, you’ll see why. The horse is a B.C.-bred mare who raced in Vancouver in the 1980s.
7. False.
8. True.
9. True.
10. False. But don’t blame this columnist when you don’t bet the gray horse and he wins at big odds.

Dueling opinions mark “ASD Live” show before live racing
WAS VALLENTAY THE BEST PLAY OF THE DAY OR THE WORST PLAY? Part of the fun of watching the “ASD Live” show before live racing is listening to the strong stands taken by the trio of race analysts. “I could never take a horse and jockey with a combined record of one for 59 wins,” Stretch told online and TV viewers before race 4 on Wednesday, speaking about #2 Vallentay.

“He’s my best bet of the night,”
track announcer Kirt Contois shot back, equally firmly. And Marshall liked him, too. So what happened? Jockey Shawn Samuel had Vallentay flying down the stretch, gobbling up ground like a locomotive. Would he get there? Would he get there? Oh, just missed by a head, posting his third second-place finish in a row. And Stretch, for this race at least, earned bragging rights and cashed a $122 pick-4 the other two missed.

Last Saturday featured no upsets among large fields of first-time starters at Woodbine so the “I won bigger” betting group collected only $277 for a pick-4 ticket that had taken ALL with ALL in those two legs of the pick-4. Tomorrow’s group play at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza will again concentrate on Woodbine’s pick-4 and pick-5 but WILL ALSO look at the Power pick-6.
There will be a second workshop Monday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss and play the mandatory Jackpot pick-5 at ASD. Shares may be obtained by emailing Sheri at .
HISTORY ON THE HOOF by Bob Gates: Pagan who?

This week Bob shares a memory of Downs’ late patriarch, Bert Blake who, by the way, would have been 101 this past Monday, June 29. Ten years ago, Blake gave our history guy a picture of a horse that had been pinned on the wall of his tack room for five decades.  The horse was Pagan Star who was the All-Time Western Canadian Money Winner in the early 1950s.  Pagan who?  In today’s flashback, Bob has the story of Blake’s gift and Pagan Star here.
Kicks off on Wednesday; Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday
  • Tomorrow: Independence Day in the U.S. “I won bigger” group play 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza discussing Woodbine’s early pick-4, pick-5 and Power pick-6. Kentucky Derby prep race Los Alamitos Derby 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 5: Century Mile with ASD jockey 6:15 p.m.
  • Monday, July 6: Mandatory payout of ASD’s Jackpot pick-5. First post 7:30 p.m. Special “I won bigger” group workshop at 6:30 p.m. on ASD pick-5.
  • Tuesday, July 7: Live racing 7:30 p.m. Jack Hardy Stakes
  • Wednesday, July 8: Keeneland meet begins 12:05 p.m. Live racing 7:30 p.m. R. J. Speers Stakes.
  • Saturday, July 11: Kentucky Derby prep Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. First post 12:05.
Happy Independence Day to our U.S friends!   

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
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