DO THE DOWNS
This afternoon: $37,000 Super High 5 jackpot at Churchill. Churchill has 20-cent supers and 60-cent pick-4 and pick-5 wagers.
Personal pizza & Coke $4.99
Tonight: $40 buy-in poker at 7:30 p.m. in aid of the Winners Foundation. New! Players' special: Personal pepperoni pizza and Coke for $4.99.
--Live racing 7:30 p.m. preceded by Ivan Bigg's program-reading tips at 7 at the stage just inside the main entrance.
--Buffet: Still room. Phone 204-885-3330. Couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary dine free when reserving for four others.
--Free VLT tourney and freeroll poker after the races to earn points toward a trip to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas
--Pimlico begins 9:45 a.m. Preakness Stakes runs late in the afternoon. Will Orb double up on his Derby win?
--Live racing at 7:30 p.m. (Bigg's tips at 7.)
--Buffet: Still space. Golden anniversary couples dine free (see above)
--After the races: Free VLT tourney and freeroll poker
--Live racing at 1:30 p.m. (Bigg's tips at 1.)
--Brunch: Almost sold out. Book quickly. 204-885-3330
NEXT WEEKEND: It's a holiday weekend in the U.S. (Memorial Day) which means top racing from major tracks on Monday, May 27.
COUNTDOWN: Wednesday live racing begins May 29--which means you will receive The Insider Wednesdays instead of Thursdays.
--Saturday, June 8, third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes.
--Sunday, June 16 is Father's Day which means brunch and afternoon racing. The brunch is close to full. Phone 204-885-3330.
--Sunday, July 7 is Queen's Plate Day at Woodbine, later than usual.
Hat tricks fly on Mom's Day weekend
An astounding five hat tricks were scored on Mother's Day weekend. (Does anyone remember that happening at the Downs before?) Rob Atras ( top right), fresh from victory in the last race of the Turf Paradise meet, won three on Friday, then trainer Gary Danelson (middle) got into the act with a natural on Saturday and jockey Paul Nolan (bottom right) bagged three that day, too. But jockey Christopher Husbands (above) outdid everyone with hat tricks both Saturday AND Sunday. Amazing stuff, guys!
THE WEEK THAT WAS
HOW TO PAY THE BILLS 101: As ASD's new paddock host, Rob MacLennan has consistently been picking horses that produce an overall profit even when a player bets the same amount and bets every race. Here’s proof: If you blindly bet combo #1 ($2 win/place/show) on his top pick in every single race in the first four days of racing, you would have turned $192 into $244.70 (27 per cent profit). If you bet combo #2 (a $1 exactor box on his top three horses) on every race, you would have turned $192 into $307.95, a 60 per cent profit. And if you made a $20 win bet on his top choice every race, you would have turned $640 into $945 (48 per cent profit). Any day traders out there taking notes? He makes picking horses a better investment than trading companies.
TWO TRICKS SENDS HUSBANDS TO THE TOP: What a difference a year makes! Last year, Barbadian jockey Christopher Husbands logged one win every three days. But in only four days this year he has won seven races including back-to-back hat tricks Saturday and Sunday, making him the leading jockey at this point. Those seven wins came from just 22 starts.
His hat tricks Saturday included Gary Danelson's Justcallmetater ($2.60), Danelson's Stormin Arvin ($4.60) and Chad Torevell's Blind Magic ($12.70). And his hat tricks Sunday were on Torevell's Artic Fire ($9.20), Lorna Gray's Grace O'Malley ($17.30) and Danelson's Magical Powder ($5.30). Husbands has one more win than Jennifer Reid and two more than last year's riding leader, Paul Nolan, both of whom have ridden more mounts than Husbands. Nolan also scored a hat trick Saturday.
DANELSON GETS A NEEDED LIFT: Life hasn't been easy for Gary Danelson, who's been saddling horses at ASD almost as long as the track has been open. The 75-year-old has been battling bone cancer. So it was great to see big smiles in the Winners' Circle on the weekend as his horses scored a hat trick Saturday and he picked up an additional win Sunday to make him the early leading trainer with four wins from eight starters. His four wins included Justcallmetater ($2.60), Chris Husbands riding; Stormin Arvin ($4.50) also with Husbands; Vee Voom Rhules ($14.70) partnered by Paul Nolan and Magical Powder ($5.30), Husbands up.
WINS LAST IN PHOENIX, FIRST THREE AT ASD: Trainer Rob Atras made some sort of history (take note, Bob Gates) when he won the very last race of the 2012-2013 Turf Paradise meet on May 7 with Flexiplus ($10) and then returned to the Downs to win his first three starts. In his final race at the Phoenix track, the $35,000 Hasta la Vista at 1 7/8 miles, the longest turf race in racing, his Flexiplus made what appeared to be a premature move to the lead in the final turn under Adolfo Morales (who now is riding at the Downs) but battled gamely to hold off all challengers to win by three-quarters of a length to race favourite, Porfido. Rob's Turf Paradise stats were 43-9-5-5, a 21 per cent win clip. Included in those stats was a five-race winning streak near the end of the meet.
Then he returned Friday to make three trips to the Winners' Circle with Flying Bob John ($4.30) ridden by Paul Nolan, Sis Draper ($6.10) with Adolfo Morales in the saddle and Sweet Margi ($7.90) partnered by Janine Smith.
R.I.P. HOLLYWOOD PARK: Ah, memories. Bay Meadows, the very first track I bet a pick-6 at, bit the dust. Now it's Hollywood Park, the very first U.S. track I went to as a 19-year-old (and got thrown out because I wasn't 21) that is going the way of the dodo bird. Its fall meet will be its last as the track is being razed for commercial and residential development. Walt Disney and Bing Crosby, two original founders of the track in 1938, must be spinning in their graves. But Santa Anita owner Frank Stronach couldn't be minding much. Racing days at his track will be doubled.
His track to be razed
AND WHAT IS ASD? Are people who work at the Downs not part of families? Is Assiniboia Downs not a business? That's what has to be going through the minds of people watching the NDP government's TV ads boasting about "helping families and business" yet that very same government got lashed by a judge for seemingly doing the opposite--flouting a law that requires the government to support the industry by rebating taxes on bets. How hollow does that make their ads sound?