• How will jockey race end?Email your predictions by
• Wednesday means 3% rebate, prime rib steak, racing bingo
• Get perked! Fan Appreciation Days--Friday, Saturday, Sunday • Open an HPI account; get $25 and 25,000 player rewards points!
• Balooga Bull cements Horse of the Year status
• Horse loses at home for three years but wins yearly at ASD
• Singh wins Winnipeg Futurity for the fourth time--a record!
• Final Vegas trip up for grabs this Saturday
• Also Saturday:VLT tourney finale.Win $1,500--free!
• The Insider will now be published on Thursday
Be the best predictor and enjoy a fun night on the Downs
CONTEST:HOW WILL JOCKEY RACE END? You must enter by 7 p.m.With only four race cards remaining, who do you think is gonna win the razor-thin jockey race?Predict the final standings of the three jockeys below and email your predictions to theinsider@ASDowns.comby 7 p.m. tonight.Tie-breaker:Also predict how many victories leading trainer Shelley Brown will have at the end of the season (she now has 45).Prizes: A fun night for two at the Downs starting with the all-you-can-eat certified Angus prime rib buffet, then 16 free spins on the VLT game of your choice and $20 in wagering vouchers to play the races.Note:The buffet on Thursday, Oct. 4 will feature roast turkey and trimmin's in celebration of Thanksgiving. (Book reservations at 204-885-3330.)
And who will be smiling the most on Sunday? Heading into the final four live race cards jockey Rohan Singh (centre) has 70 wins, Paul Nolan (right) 69 and Jennifer Reid 68.Who wants it more?Singh wants to prove he hasn't lost a step since winning titles in 2000, 2001 and 2005. Nolan, with titles in Texas and Minnesota, wants to add his first Canadian title to his resume.And Saskatchewan native Jennifer Reid, who is young enough to be the daughter of either of the veteran riders, would love to become the second female in 54 years to have her picture mounted on the Jockey Wall of Fame. Especially since she's doing it as an apprentice although--take note--her apprenticeship ends tonight which means no five-pound advantage for the remaining three race cards. On the trainer side, meanwhile, Shelley Brown appears to have that title sewn up with 45 wins, eight more than Ardell Sayler.
REID HAS THE EDGE TONIGHT: Jennifer Reid has a chance to catch her two rivals tonight because she has seven mounts and Nolan has six and Singh has five.
TRIVIA TEASER:What horse comes to the Downs once a year, wins that stakes race, then heads back to her home track where she hasn't won a race in three years?See "$200,000 stakes weekend" below.Las Vegas or bust This is it:Your last chance to earn a $3,500 Vegas trip
If you've been holding back entering the Get Serious Las Vegas Horseplayer Challenge to the end, well, that time has come.You won't have another chance until next year.And where else do you have an opportunity to use your skills to earn a trip for two to Las Vegas and entry into a $1 million horseplayer tourney while you're there?
It's not complicated.You simply bet $2 win/place on horses you like in each race in Saturday's race card. If your bankroll is bigger than other entrants, get ready to pack your bags next February!If you don't win the trip, well, there are runner-up prizes of $250 and $100.And $50 in betting vouchers if you picked the highest-priced horse.And it's just plain fun.
The entry fee is $50 unless you earned discounts by picking three winners on race cards leading up to this Saturday.You can enter by phone (204-885-3330 ext 225) or at a mutuel supervisor's window at the track.You can enter right up to 7 p.m. Saturday unless you qualify for a discount which requires you to sign up by 9 p.m. Friday.Good luck, all!
THE $200,000 STAKES WEEKEND
Charlie wins third Futurity; Ardell bags first Gold Cup
Disappointed he couldn't win his sixth Debutante stakes in a row with Portales (she had finished second), at least trainer Charlie Smith could shake the hand of Rohan Singh for getting his 2-year-old filly up in the nick of time to win the $50,000 Winnipeg Futurity, the third time he’s won the storied stakes.And Balooga Bull's powerful performance in the Gold Cup with Paul Nolan in the saddle (seen above gesturing to who? See post-race interview to find out) gave 10-time leading trainer Ardell Sayler his first-ever Gold Cup to add to his first-ever victory in the Manitoba Lotteries Derby. What a year!
Bull cements Horse of the Year status
And Miss Victoriana wins third Matron—her only wins in three years
Balooga Bull The face of a champion
Weren't the four stakes races last weekend exciting?The word that came to mind was "powerful."
Balooga Bull powered away from Pleasant Closing despite a quick early pace in the 1 1/8th mile $50,000 Gold Cup, Miss Victoriana worked her way from the back of the pack to power away to win her third consecutive $50,000 Matron, Danger Rules kicked into overdrive in the $50,000 J.W. Sifton for Manitoba-bred 3-year-olds and, in the squeakiest finish of all, jockey Rohan Singh got Portales to surge past Hastings invader Tigger Town at the wire to win the $50,000 Winnipeg Futurity. (See Finish of the Week below).
The crowd sure got it right.Every horse they installed as a favourite won including Portales who, until Saturday, could only muster two second-place finishes. She paid a paltry $4.80 when she should have paid $10 considering the fact baby specialist Ardell Sayler had three horses entered in the 10-horse field and the program picked them to finish 1, 2, 3.As it turned out, none finished in the top three. Now that was a surprise.
Another surprise was how well Jon's Golden Run raced in the Sifton after dismal last-place finishes in his last two races.He was never out of contention and finished a credible fourth as the longest shot on the board.Maybe someone reminded him he was named for an Olympian's accomplishment.That performance should renew hopes for his 4th year.(NOTE: Jon's Golden Run is ambitiously spotted to race once more this Saturday in a $15,000 optional claiming race.Why not?The season's ending anyway.)
Bull's victory sews up his Horse of the Year credentials for next spring's awards banquet. And there should be a special "horses for courses" award, too, for Miss Victoriana.Have you seen any horse like her?She’s run 18 races in the last three years mainly at her home track of Northlands Park and her only wins—three of them—have been the Matron at the Downs in 2010, 2011 and 2012.Her connections probably can hardly wait for next year’s Matron already.
FINAL STAKES GOES THIS SUNDAY:There's one more race remaining in this year's stakes schedule:the $50,000 Buffalo on Sunday to determine the best Manitoba-bred 2-year-old.
BOB'S BLOG TODAY:As the sun sets on the Downs' 54th live season, Bob celebrates the 50th anniversary of the biggest race for Manitoba-bred babies, the Buffalo.And he's got trivia that will make your head swim--or explode. On Track with George, Rob & Bob.
ROB'S BLOG FRIDAY:Uh-oh. Rob's picks have slipped into negative territory for the first time and he's only got this weekend to turn it around. Can he do it? The pressure's on! See On Track with George, Rob & Bob Friday.
Quick bits . . . Death of jockey 85 years ago led to Guild formation Saturday is the first day of fall.It's also the 85th anniversary of the death of 16-year-old jockey Earl "Sandy" Graham whose death from injuries suffered at Polo Park in 1927 inspired the formation of the Jockeys' Guild 13 years later.Graham lay in the jockey's room after being trampled in a spill because not enough money could be raised to get him transported to a hospital.The jockey who spearheaded the Guild movement was Tommy Luther, the jockey who originally had been slated to ride the horse Graham was on. Graham was buried in a pauper's grave at Brookside Cemetery but now has a headstone erected in his honour by jockeys and the Downs.
INVESTIGATION OF STEWARDS COMPLETE:Former lawyer and racing commissioner Dan Williams who is a special investigator for the province into the stewards' wrong placing of horses in a race at ASD Aug. 22, said he has completed his investigation and will submit a report to the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission."They made a mistake.No mystery there," he said of the stewards.He watched a race in the steward's stand and observed their handling of a photo finish.The last time something similar happened (2004), stewards were penalized two days' pay and the Downs was reimbursed for half of the money they paid out on the wrong horse.
Bonnie Simmonds A perfect seven
SASKATCHEWAN HORSES CLEAN UP:Have you noticed how well Saskatchewan horses have been performing at the Downs?That's because they have been racing in tougher conditions at Marquis Downs and drop down to win at the Downs.Leave Saskatchewan horses off your pick-3 and pick-4 tickets at your peril.
BONNIE WAS PERFECT:Congrats to Bonnie Simmonds and any one else who had a perfect Vegas discount qualifying entry last Friday.She picked the winner of all seven races on her entry.I assume partner John Whitehill had a positive influence on her entry--or at least didn't try to interfere with her choices.I'll let you know Bonnie's Breeders' Cup pick-6 picks in November.
BLACK CAVIAR HAS LIGHT WORKOUT:The world's leading sprinter, Black Caviar, unbeaten in 22 starts, had a light workout in Australia recently after recovering from muscle injuries suffered in England in June while winning the Diamond Jubilee stakes.Her trainer, Peter Moody, said a decision on her continued racing will be made at the end of this month--the beginning of spring in Australia.
RACE-FIXING SCANDAL DOWN UNDER:Speaking of Australia, that race-crazy country is gripped in a major horse-racing scandal in which a leading jockey is alleged to have fixed a race in which his horse, Smoking Aces, won and family members collected $200,000.The race-fixing allegations emerged during an investigation into the shooting death of a horse trainer whose daughter had married the leading jockey--but is now separated from him--although the jockey is not a suspect in the murder.The jockey, who was still riding during the investigation, was suspended last week after allegedly telling a race steward:"We've all got families.We know where yours live." That's heavy duty stuff.
WANNA GET WEEPY?This Zenyatta/baby video has had almost 53,000 views.Watch it and see if your heartstrings don't feel at least a bit of a tug.
"Dear Ivan: I think that Trevor (in last week's Insider) might have something there (having a two-day horseplayer tourney), although you may get people who cannot commit to a two-day contest. It would be worth considering and trying next year."-- Larry Liebrecht Looking forward to . . . Action-packed weekend--then a big surprise!
Take a deep breath.Action and prizes and discounts and fun come at you from all directions this weekend:
-- Fan Appreciation perks:Discounts Friday, Saturday and Sunday on your program, tip sheet and food.And there's a 50 per cent blow-out on ASD merchandise
-- Best baby?Who's the best Manitoba-bred 2-year-old?Find out Sunday in the $50,000 Buffalo Stakes.
-- HPI deal: Open an HPI account today thru Sunday and receive $25 and 25,000 player rewards points!
-- Last trip: Who's gonna win the last trip to Vegas Saturday?Will it be you?
-- VLT championship tourney: Who's gonna win the free monthly VLT tourney for $500 and then the grand championship round for $1,000 on Saturday?Maybe you'll scoop it all--and it's all free!Just enter your name in the VLT lounge after live racing tonight, Friday and Saturday.Twelve entrants each night get $20 to play the 5 Times Play game.The biggest winner gets into the monthly round on Saturday to win $500. Then top monthly winners will play for an additional $1,000 on Saturday.And even entering Saturday can have you soar from zero to hero all in the same night!Where can you find value (and fun) like that?
-- Surprise! At precisely midnight Sunday, the VLT machines will be shut off and a work crew will invade the Clubhouse to begin round-the-clock renovations to give the Clubhouse a casino-like atmosphere with a big surprise being part of it.What's the surprise?Find out at the track!(During renovations, VLTs remain in play on the plaza and the Race Book and dining are available as usual.)
SIMULCAST THUNDER: There are two $1 million races Saturday at Parx, yes, Parx: the Pennsylvania Derby and the Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies.Charles Town features a $400,000 race for 3-year-olds as well.
FIRST "I WON BIG" WORKSHOP IS SATURDAY, SEPT. 29: Everyone welcome.Terrace Dining Room at 11 a.m. Everyone receives a free $5 share in a pick-6 and pick-4 ticket at Belmont Park.
NOTE:The Insider will revert to a THURSDAY publication schedule next week.