Congrats, Jim!You "showed" 'em!Yes, Red RiverCollege math prof Jim Roberts disposed of a whopping 2,832 entrants in a free HollywoodPark online contest called Show Me the Money and has won the $5,000
Jim Roberts Beats the world
U.S.) winner-takes-all prize.Some feat!The contest required entrants to pick one show horse at Hollywood each day of its current meet.After 31 days of picks, Jim won Sunday when his pick won the second race and his opponent's horse finished fourth in the fourth race.So the prize money isn't going to some player in California or New York or Kentucky or Ontario.It's coming to the modest prairies!You've done all local horseplayers proud, Jim!What was his strategy?He tells you here.
But Jim has also shown that you, too, could be on the lookout for similar online contests that offer free money for thoughtfulness on your part.The Insider will search out these contests and tell you about them.Santa Anita usually holds a similar contest but I haven't seen anything on its website yet.
JANINE GETS LAST LAUGH
Aggressive local rider wins top apprentice award
Janine Stianson Top apprentice
Local stewards found reason to frown on apprentice jockey Janine Stianson's riding, fining her three times for "excessive use of the whip," but people in the industry showed they have high regard for her, rewarding her with a Sovereign Award for top Canadian apprentice jockey of 2008 at the annual awards banquet last Friday in Toronto.The last time a local jock won that honour was Todd Kabel in 1986 and he went on to become leading jockey at Woodbine.The other two finalists for top apprentice were Catherine O'Brien who rode at Woodbine and Melanie Pinto who rode at Fort Erie.Will Janine, who instantly captured fans' hearts by winning the first four races on opening day last May, return to the Downs from her native Alberta despite the penalties for aggressive riding?She hasn't ruled it out.Keep your fingers crossed.
Did Simon Husbands "stiff" horse at Woodbine?
The severe one-year riding suspension handed Simon Husbands at Woodbine for not trying hard on Bug's Boy to beat his brother's horse in a race on Nov. 30 has elicited strong opinions on all sides.The horse's trainer, as you'll note below, states Simon rode according to instructions.Watch race here.
READERS WRITE:Ivan: "Give me a break!Granted this is the kind of controversy that is almost impossible to prove but to me it just plain stinks. The "evidence" is simple. Look at the top five finishers.The second place horse was the only one that was given a "hand ride" to the finish. -- Bob Gates
Ivan:"I went through the videos of Bug's Boy's previous four races in which he was ridden by three different jockeys--Chantal Sutherland, Slade Callaghan (2) and Simon Husbands. In all four of them, when Bug's Boy was in contention and the jockey went for the whip, he regressed. Obviously, he did not like it." -- Alex Sidor
Ivan:"It looked like an O.K. ride to me. All jocks don't have the same style." -- "Mtwain"
Ivan:"Simon's horse had lots of gas left in the tank and he didn't do much to get the horse going. He definitely did not try his best to win the race." -- Eric Bayer
Ivan:"Wow! Watched the race video for the first time and it was so easy to tell that he never, ever asked his horse for the good stuff. Two thumbs up for the stewards on that one." -- Dave Boehmer
THE HORSE'S TRAINER WRITES (in Jen's ThoroughBlog):"Bug’s Boy was ridden by Simon exactly as I instructed him and as we discussed. This horse dropped in for $16,000 last start and hit a brick wall and stopped as soon as Simon began to get aggressive with him. I wanted to try something different. I told Simon to keep him covered up as long as possible.Tap him on the shoulder, and DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT PUSH HIM, or HIT him, but rather hold him on the bit and nudge him.As you can see Simon’s attention to the instruction resulted in the horse’s best finish yet.This horse also did not switch leads down the stretch once again until he crossed the wire, compromising his late burst. Galloping him every morning, I can tell you he is a very quirky horse. While we were ecstatic with the improvement Bug’s Boy showed on Sunday, still he did not win, and make no mistake, that’s what he, Simon and our family went there to do." -- John LeBlanc, Jr., trainer of Bug's Boy
WHOOPS!I got it wrong; you made it right Yes, you're right, JIM McAleney, not PETER McAleney, competed against Patrick Husbands for top riding honours this year at Woodbine (Patrick won).Peter, in fact, rode at Assiniboia Downs in the 1980's.It was crazy that didn't register with me in the story I wrote last week and, yes, I'm doing humble penance. And thanks to all who straightened me out. "As much as Peter would of wanted to be leading rider at Woodbine, he has retired," wrote Debbie Richardson. Of course, I could pretend I purposely used the wrong McAleney to see if you were paying attention but you'd catch me on that charade, too.
POKER WINNERS:House appraiser on a poker roll
Bob Dunn: On a poker roll
Real estate appraiser Bob Dunn (no relation to Darren Dunn, the Downs' track announcer and director of operations) may find business a little slow at this time of year but he's on a bit of a roll with his poker smarts at the Downs Friday nights.Two Fridays ago, he won $50 for winning a poker hand with terrible 2 and 7 cards (that was the "prop" of the week) and he came right back last Friday to win the entire game and $100 in betting vouchers plus the title of Poker King. His straight knocked out the two pair held by Ed McKenna, an assembly technician at Boeing.But McKenna did win $50 cash for winning a hand with a one-eyed jack, last Friday's poker prop. Get into the draw tomorrow night yourself!
Tomorrow's prop has a seasonal twist:the first player to win a hand with a pair of snowmen (eights) wins $50 cash.But a player with eights must hum "Frosty the Snowman" to win the prize.Hmm, maybe not.If no one wins with eights, the $50 cash is added to the Dec. 26 prize.
LIGHTNING ROUND WINNERS:Fast caller sets record
Who knew anyone could call that many $2 tickets in a mere one-minute!Businessman Rick Dow placed an amazing $134 in bets Saturday night.His winnings amounted to $155. Previously, no one has been able to reach $100 in bets.Did he practice?The other winner of a betting spree Saturday night was retired electrician George Newbury but he couldn't connect.None of $92 in bets paid off.
Friday's Lightning Round:
Ed McKenna (see poker above) also won a chance at the Lightning Round.His $82 in wagers earned him $52.70.Robert LeBrun, also an assembly technician at Boeing, was able to call $74 in tickets.His winnings were $16.40.Get into the Lightning Round draw yourself tomorrow and Saturday and see if you can beat Rick Dow's record!The top two this month get to do it again Saturday, Dec. 27 for more money and title of Zeus.
SPINNING FOR CASH:"Mrs. Claus" spreads holiday cheer
General Manager Sharon Gulyas played the role of Mrs. Claus last Sunday, spreading holiday cheer (and cash) in the Clubhouse, handing out SunlandPark merchandise (in celebration of the winningest horse Peppers Pride racing that day) and giving players 13 spins on the Wheel of Fortune. Biggest winner:Dave Janaway who won $105 and a Sunland golf shirt, cap and pen. Other winners.
QUICK BITS:Stampede Park gone for good:With Stampede Park closed and the new Calgary-area track at Balzac experiencing delays, Northlands Park will run all "A" racing in Alberta in 2009, with the meet beginning May 1 and ending Oct. 25 .....Whatta mare!Peppers Pride, the winningest horse in history, notched her 19th straight victory on Saturday, probably her last lifetime start says her trainer.She did it oh so impressively.... Synthetic leader resigns:A leading proponent of synthetic race tracks in California, Richard Shapiro, has suddenly quit his chairmanship of the California Horse Racing Board.In submitting his resignation to governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he simply said he felt it was time to move on.There had been calls for his resignation last year over his synthetic inflexibility.
TIP O' THE WEEK:Boxing horses is bad strategyYou read right.If you had attended last Thursday's "Climb the Ladder" workshop in the Finish Line, you would have heard horseplaying experts tell you how wrong you are if you box horses in exactor or triactor tickets or play pick-4 and "gorilla" pick-6 tickets that simply wheel all the horses you like in all legs.This is a lazy way of betting that doesn't give you a chance at a really big score, they said.You need to take a stand, keying horses you really like, and you need to develop alternative scenarios for races you like, perhaps concluding that extreme longshots DO have a chance at winning a leg--and play that ticket as well, keying horses in other legs.
FREE XMAS PUDDING SATURDAY! If you're in the Race Book this
Saturday, Chef Cheryl will have a special treat for you: delicious Christmas pudding with hot caramel/rum sauce. After sampling some last week, I'm really looking forward to some again. The sauce is spectacular. And, of course, you may want to grab a cup of coffee, too. It's always free.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT! Reserve now for New Year's Eve.Enjoy a memorable night featuring an amazing multi-course dinner (see menu here), dancing, party favours and Champagne at in the unique ambience of the Terrace Dining Room only $39.99 per person.Call 885-3330.Limited space available.
UPCOMING EVENTS:Treasure trove of baby races Sat.
The countdown to the Kentucky Derby in May kinda starts this Saturday with the running of many rich races for 2-year-olds. Hollywood features the $750,000 CashCall Futurity,Fair Grounds has the $100,000 Sugar Bowl and the $100,000 Letellier Memorial, Golden Gate features the $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes, Turfway Park has the $50,000 Gowell Stakes and Charles Town showcases the $45,000 Eleanor M. Casey Stakes.Great races to watch!Get a head start on predicting a Derby winner!
WATCH FOR NEXTINSIDER TUESDAY:Because Christmas and New Year's Day fall on Thursdays, you'll be receiving the next two Insiders on Tuesday, updating you on holiday racing and special events. You may be surprised to discover there's a connection between the opening day at Santa Anita and the sad death of a Winnipeg jockey in 1927.Watch for that story in next week's Insider.