Tasty surprises every race night

  The pool is expected to grow to $7,000 or more. The pick-6 carryover is $1,379.  At Woodbine, the pick-6 carryover is $34,000.


PALATE PLEASERS:  Food and beverage manager Manley Chan and chef Darryl have been exceeding themselves with constantly changing delicious entrees in addition to certified Angus prime rib at the race night buffets that I keep hearing good things about.  (You loved the chicken smothered in sausage gravy.) Still some openings for tonight. Phone 885-3330.


What horse is worth a $100 bet tonight?  In real money.  Or as your pick in my "bet a hun" contest.  Or in both?   Today is Win-more Wednesday--as are all Wednesdays this month--which means your $100 win or place bet on a live race is automatically bumped up to $105.  And all wagers you make today on simulcast or live races are worth double the player rewards points.  And there will be 10 draws for $10 wagering vouchers tonight to entrants in the Triple Q Challenge.



Bet a hun, hon!
(Bet $100, get $105)

Getting back to the $100 bet.  This is the kind of bet you make when you feel confident in your playing.  How confident are you?  Entering my contest will give you a clue.  If you find yourself making good selections, then that's the time to step up your play.


Okay, so which horse in races 3, 4 or 5 tonight is worth a $100 place bet?  Email your pick to theinsider@ASDowns.com by 7 p.m.  Please put the HORSE NUMBER and race number in your subject line. The prize:  If your horse finishes first or second, your name will get into a draw next Wednesday for a FREE $50 place bet.  That will be doubled to $100 if you prove you also bet $100 on your contest selection at the windows tonight.  (Ask the cashier to return your ticket to save as proof.)  One entry per person and per email address please.


LAST WEEK'S CORRECT ENTRANTS:  Last week, 21 of you entered my "Bet a hun, hon!" contest and nine of you picked a horse that finished first or second:  Blaine McLaren, Jeff Sargent, Ernie Dutson, Dave Blake, Eleanor Devlin, Debbie Richardson, Wayne Wolanski, Jim Cretney and Robert Dubois. If you are on this list, you are eligible for a free $50 place bet tonight, doubled to $100 if you played your pick at the windows last Wednesday. NOTE:  A  DRAW FROM THESE NAMES WILL BE MADE AT GUEST SERVICES AFTER THE FIRST RACE TONIGHT. The name will be announced. Please have your place horse decided so you can indicate your choice for your free bet if your name is drawn. It can be on any horse from races two to eight. You must be present to win.



Maybe this will help:  My first $1,000 bet

First, as a horseplayer, let me say this.  There's something very satisfying about setting a goal to make a much bigger bet than you're used to, then doing it.  Very thrilling.  And memorable.  Going into the 1990's, I was used to making $150 to $300 bets on horses I was confident in. (Just as you may be developing confidence in $20 bets.)  So I decided to aim very high:  I planned to make my first-ever $1,000 win bet on a horse.



$1,000 bet wins by a head 

It was July 29, 1994. Just about everyone on the third floor of the grandstand knew about it that night.  The bet was on a race televised from Northlands Park in Edmonton.  How do I know the precise date?  Because I later ordered a picture of the race finish from the Northlands track photographer to save as a souvenir--the picture you see accompanying this article.


I used one of the best angles in racing:  Dropping speed.  The race was for $5,500 claimers.  Two horses in the race had a history of flashing early speed:  The #1 horse--which previously had been racing at the same $5,500 level--and the horse I liked, #6, WHICH HAD BEEN DUELING with tougher horses in $8,000 claiming company.  The "dueling" part is important.  That meant the horse had been trying hard against classier rivals, although he had tired late and finished up the track in those previous races. All he needed, I figured, was a bit of class relief. 


Bettors couldn't get enough of #1. The odds hovered between 4-5 and 6-5.  Meanwhile, I kept betting a hundred or two at a time on #6 to keep it in the 9-2 odds range.  


Predictably, the #1 horse got the lead on the rail on Edmonton's bullring 5/8ths mile track.  My horse raced just off his haunches and, in the far turn, made a move on the leader and eased past him. He then withstood a late closing bid from #5 coming down the short stretch to win by a head.  Was this a huge rush for me?  Guess.


My $1,000 bet netted me $4,600. There had been $18,000 in the win pool.  The money, of course, was important but just as important was the satisfaction of setting a target and aiming for it. I had been yakking about it, I felt confident, I made the move, it was a milestone.


And that's the thrill that awaits any of you who challenge yourself to set a target--whatever amount that may be--that is higher than your usual comfort level.  Maybe $20 is your target, maybe $50.  By playing my contest each week--Bet a hun, hon!--you'll have some way of getting the feel for when you're ready.  If you're already confident with $100 bets, then obviously aim higher.  Who knows?  Maybe you'll be ordering a picture from track photog Gerry Hart!


HOTTIES OF THE PAST WEEK:  Wednesday to Saturday


“Bragging rights” special:  The Dorchesters (trainer Dennis and owner Gwen) lighting up the toteboard Saturday with back-to-back boxcar victories--Russian Storm in the third ($18.10) and Heidi's Rosette in the fourth ($57.90)

Most thrilling race:  Clayton Gray's Cherokee's Goal emerging from the pack Saturday in a perfectly-timed move by jockey Juan Crawford in the Harry Jeffrey Stakes. 

Hottest jock:  Vicky Baze (four wins)

Hottest trainers:  Tim Rycroft, Shelley Brown, Rob Atras, Clayton Gray, Dennis Dorchester (two wins each)

Biggest win payoff:  $57.90  Heidi's Rosette (Saturday's 4th)

Biggest 20-cent superfecta:  $1,195 (Saturday, race 2, #5-9-6-1)


COUNTDOWN:  Closing in on milestones

Trainer Gary Danelson:  One more win to #1,100.  He has three chances to do it tonight.

Zenyatta: Two wins away from equaling the 19-race winning streak of Peppers Pride. Zenyatta's next start is at Del Mar on Saturday, Aug. 7


             Remembering Bobby: A brilliant career, a tragic end
In the Winners' Circle Saturday with paddock host Kirt Contois (right) following the Bobby Stewart Memorial Stakes are Bobby's brother Wayne (left), daughter Lori, son Lance and brother Garylle, all who live in the U.S. Garylle recollects the 1960's and 1970's when his brother (inset) lit up the toteboard with 724 wins and bagged a record six riding titles. Later, son Lance, a former U.S. marine who now repairs X-ray equipment, talked about the demons that haunted his father after an ailing back ended his riding career in 1976. Bobby, he said, couldn't deal with "going from everything to being nothing" and in 1985, at the age of only 41, died from a police bullet after taking a gun to visit his estranged wife in Bronson Lake, Minnesota. Still, on the track, "Bobby had no peer" noted local legendary trainer Bert Blake. Brother Garylle, a lawyer in Fargo, N.D., now races six horses at the Downs with longtime friend Murray Duncan.



Alan Cuthbertson
Fights cancer

 Cuthbertson seriously ill

Sad to say, one of the greatest jockeys to ride at the Downs, Alan Cuthbertson, is in a Vancouver hospital with lung cancer that apparently has spread to other parts of his body. Cuthbertson was the local leading jockey from 2006 to 2008 and left the Downs last year on a glorious note, winning both the $75,000 Gold Cup and the $75,000 Matron and finishing second in the $50,000 Winnipeg Futurity in one weekend of riding.  At 62, he was the oldest full-time jockey in the business. Trainer Rob Atras, who is in touch with Cuthbertson's 18-year-old son Brad said Cuthbertson has refused chemotherapy but has agreed to radiation treatment.


ROYAL REWARDS:  Can the Downs borrow Queen Elizabeth II the next time she's in Canada?  She helped Woodbine generate its biggest-ever Queen's Plate Day handle--$6.8 million, reports Woodbine Entertainment's chief operating officer Sean Pinsonneault. More than 32,000 people came to the track and another 700,000 watched a 90-minute special on CBC-TV hosted by Ron McLean, he said. The track's $100,000 guaranteed pick-4 pool attracted $140,000 in wagering.  Interestingly, Woodbine's Polytrack surface, which doesn't normally favour speed horses, did so throughout the program, with the Plate being won in

Trigger: On the auction block

gate-to-wire fashion by Big Red Mike.  Will this lead to success at Fort Erie in 10 days when the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 Prince of Wales, will be run? Normally, Fort dirt chews up Poly Plate winners.


NO NEED TO FEED THIS HORSE:  The most famous movie horse of all time, Trigger, will go on the auction block this week at Christie's in New York.  If this doesn't sound like a normal horse auction site, you're right.  Trigger, the horse ridden by western movie idol Roy Rogers, has been dead for decades and what's for sale is his stuffed and mounted remains that were preserved through taxidermy in 1965.  Likely top bid?  $100,000 to $200,000.  Not a cheap claimer, he. Other Roy Rogers and Dale Evans memorabilia are being auctioned, too, because the museum where it was displayed in Branson, Missouri, has closed.



Quad elicits scream; "bus" rolls again

Customer service rep Robert Dubois was so excited he screamed when he landed quad 10's at Friday’s Molson Canada freeroll poker game to ice his win against 57 opponents. It was his first victory after many attempts. In Saturday's game, the player affectionately known as the Betty Bus (Betty Patteson) rolled over 59 players despite her complaints of being "card dead" much of the time.  The poker finale is Sunday, July 25 when a trip for two to Las Vegas and entry into a World Series of Poker event will be awarded.  Current rankings.


DOUBLE-POINTS SUNDAY:  Flush wipes out most of table.  Student Borden Moneyas's conversion of a seven and 10 of clubs into flush in the 10 p.m. game "should give him bragging rights for a long time" because that hand eliminated all players except two from the final table, said Kerran of the All-In Manitoba Poker League.  Pairing up a two in his final ace/two hand sealed his victory over  67 players.  Retired nurse Roz McLean "aced" the 7 p.m. game, winning every hand in which she was dealt an ace which was "countless times," said Kerran, including the final hand when she played through a "racing heart and rubbery legs" to oust her final opponent.  There were 77 players in that game.  .    


TRIPLE Q CHALLENGE:  Four share jackpot.  Congrats to four Triple Q entrants Friday who shared the $150 jackpot: painter Manny Medeiros, retired plumber George Newbury, customer service rep Robert Dubois (who also won at poker) and "horse whisperer" Rick Ball.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  "The tote board might blow up!"-- Paddock host Kirt Contois, substitute race-caller for Darren Dunn Friday night, captures the intensity of 20-1 Southern Alliance fending off favourite Vigilante Law in the sixth race. And Kirt got the crowd buzzing again--and loving it--when he announced the payoff price: "Bam! $43 to win!"  Listen to his race-call here.  (Friday, July 9, race 6.)


UPCOMING EVENTS:   Get ready to ogle the fillies Friday!


Fillies face-off for $80,000 Friday

How do you like your stake?  How about fast, rich and feminine?  See it all Friday night at the Downs.  Baby fillies (2-year-olds) vie for a $30,000 purse in a spirited 5 ½ furlong sprint called the Debutante Stakes. And 3-year-old Manitoba-bred fillies duke it out for $50,000 in the R.C. Anderson at a mile.  


SPEAKING ABOUT FANTASTIC FEMALES . . .  Reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra is scheduled to race at Monmouth Park Saturday, July 24, and Zenyatta puts her 17-race unbeaten streak on the line two weeks later on Del Mar's Polytrack.    



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