The Inside Track | Issue #60 | December 30, 2022
  • Open daily from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
  • VLTs, Race Carrels and Tables are sanitized between customer use.
In this edition . . .
  • What's happening at the Downs?
  • 2023 Handicapping Tournaments
  • Dining at ASD
  • New Year's Eve Dinner & Dance hosted by CJOB's Kathy Kennedy
  • 2022 Season Recap
  • 2023 Shipping Incentives
  • 2023 Race Dates / Graded Purse Schedule
  • Dettori Steals the Show at Santa Anita
  • Chilean Import O'Connor Worth Watching
  • "I Won Bigg" Betting Group
  • Snapshot in Time: Merry's Hi Note
  • Road to the Kentucky Derby
  • Carryover Watch
  • TravyFootball Week 17 Predictions
  • The Best of Bob - Karen Louise Chysyk
  • Upcoming Events
Do the Downs!
NEW VLT MACHINES ARE HERE! Check out our new VLT machines in the Clubwest Gaming Lounge. Open daily from 10 a.m. through 1 a.m.

Special promotions in our Clubwest Gaming Lounge:

  • Thursday, Dec. 29, Friday, Dec. 30, Saturday, Dec. 31 & Sunday, Jan. 1 - Enter for your chance to spin the wheel for up to $100. Draws will be made every 30 minutes starting at noon. Please note that the VLTs will be open until 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve, Saturday, December 31.

  • Saturday, January 21, 2023
  • Saturday, February 18, 2023
  • Saturday, March 18, 2023
  • Saturday, April 16, 2023
  • Saturday, May 14, 2023

Entry fee: $25. Bankroll: $60. Place 10 ($2 WPS) wagers on any North American race that takes place on the contest day. You must have a Manitoba HPI account to participate. Deadline to enter is 4 p.m. the Friday before the tournament. For complete list of 2023 handicapping tournaments click here.

  • Monday, January 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30

Earn 3% cash back on all eligible wagers Mondays during the month of January. Minimum wager $100. Maximum cash back $25. ($2.10 payouts are not eligible.) See complete details at All wagers must be placed on your HPI account.
Dining at Assiniboia Downs
HAPPY HOUR - Daily from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close
  • 6 oz. House Wine - $4.50
  • House Spirits - $4.50
  • Domestic Beer - $4.50
  • Fireball - $4.50
  • Downs Caesar - $5.50
  • Pint Longshot Lager - $5.50
  • Poutine - $8.00
  • Onion Rings - $8.00
  • Chicken Fingers - $9.00
  • Cheese Nachos - $9.00
  • All Day NFL Sunday Special - Regular Wings $10 (all day Sunday only)

All of the above specials are dine-in only.
The Club West Dining Room and Lounge is open daily at 10 a.m. until 1 a.m. for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages. Our menu includes favourites such as chicken wings, pizza, chipotle mozza burger (pictured), steak sandwich or bacon and eggs plus much more! See the full menu here.
FRIDAY STEAK SPECIAL - $24.95 - 8 oz. top Sirloin charbroiled and seasoned with our smoky dry rub. Served with vegetables and choice of mashed potatoes or french fries. Served from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

PRIME RIB SATURDAY SPECIAL - $29.95 - Our signature Certified Angus Prime Rib (8 oz.) served with vegetables and choice of mashed potatoes or french fries, horseradish and Yorkshire pudding au jus. Served from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Reservations are not required.
New Year's Eve Dinner & Dance
Saturday, December 31 - Main Floor Ballroom
  • A fabulous buffet from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. featuring our renowned Certified Angus Prime Rib. See menu here.
  • Complimentary champagne toast at midnight
  • Late lunch served
  • Dancing until 2:00 a.m.
  • Door prizes
  • Photo wall
  • Party favours 
  • DJ music & lights
  • Free coat check
  • Free parking
  • Hosted by CJOB's Kathy Kennedy
  • Tickets $79.95 plus taxes & gratuities. Call 204-885-3330

Almost sold out!
Pre-purchased tickets are required by calling 204-885-3330.
At The Post with G.S. Thompson
Looking Back, Looking Forward!
Red Knobs wins the $100,000 Manitoba Derby on August 1, 2022, for trainer Robertino Diodoro and owner Rob Nokes, Jr. Jorge Carreno up. (George Williams photo)
In just over 60 days the horses will be back at the track prepping for the 2023 season, and all indications are that we’re going to have another fabulous season of live racing at Assiniboia Downs!

It will be tough to top 2022, but we (you) can do it!

The highlights of 2022 were many and varied, but let's start with the fact that fans wagered $55,326,730 on our gem of a track in the middle of Canada, which was second only to the record wagering of 2020. There’s no question Assiniboia Downs is flourishing, thanks to our loyal fan base (again that’s you!), a fantastic array of wagering partners around the world, and horsepeople who love it here and continue to spread the word.
Harvey Warner passed away at the age of 74 on March 9, 2022. The long-time Manitoba Jockey Club Board Chair put the building blocks in place for the success that Assiniboia Downs enjoys today. Harvey will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
Taking nothing away from our management team and staff led by CEO Darren Dunn and VP of Finance and Gaming Sharon Gulyas, we have to give major credit for our success to the late Harvey Warner, the long-time Manitoba Jockey Club (MJC) Board Chair who sadly passed away during spring training in 2022.

Harvey spearheaded the resurgence of horse racing in Manitoba from the time of the MJC’s formation in 1993 until his untimely passing at the age of 74 on March 9, 2022. Harvey will be fondly remembered by both horsepeople and fans, not only for his accomplishments and kind-hearted nature, but also for the fact that he put the building blocks in place that led us to where we are today – and that’s a very good place.

Purses and stakes for the class of horses that run at Assiniboia Downs are among the best in the industry, and owners and breeders are flocking back to the game here. There were over 200 horses claimed in 2022, and Manitoba-bred horses continued to prove they can compete anywhere -- all signs of a healthy local horse racing industry. 
2022 Champions. Leading trainer Jerry Gourneau (left), ASD CEO Darren Dunn and 2022 Leading rider Jorge Carreno. (Jason Halstead photo)
Trainer Jerry Gourneau won his fourth training title in five years in 2022 with 40 wins, and his top owner Henry S. Witt, Jr. won his sixth consecutive leading owner title at Assiniboia Downs with 35 wins and $378,429 in purses, both exceptional accomplishments.

Runner-up trainer Jared Brown also had a strong season with 33 wins, as did his main owners Ira Donald and Kane Kachur, who won 18 races and $171,693 in purses.

Rounding out the top five in the trainer standings were Shelley Brown (27 wins), Wendy Anderson (18), Tom Gardipy, Jr. (18), Jennifer Jordan (18) and Mike Nault (16). Jordan had a breakout year in 2022, backed by new owner Andrew Stronach, son of racing magnate Frank Stronach.

Also of note was trainer Devon Gittens, who was the season leader in the Manitoba Strong Program that rewards trainers who have the most success with Manitoba-breds. Trainers Lise Pruitt, Mike Nault, Fred Rawson, Carl Anderson and Larry Cizik also did fine work with homebreds to win stakes.

Jockey Jorge Carreno won his second straight riding title at the Downs with 65 wins, despite facing a tougher jockey colony in 2022, as a number of top jockeys returned to the fold after a pandemic forced absence. One of those jockeys was Renaldo Cumberbatch, who won 38 races, and like Carreno, always had his horses in a position to win.

Rounding out the top five in the standings were former leading riders Chavion Chow (39 wins), Antonio Whitehall (27), and Stanley Chadee, Jr. (20).
Manitoba-bred full sisters Hidden Grace (#1) and Melisandre (#2) made history twice in 2022 at ASD, with 1-2 finishes in both the Distaff Trial and the Manitoba Distaff. (Jason Halstead photo)
While there were many exceptional performances on the track, the highlight of the season was Red Knobs winning the $100,000 Manitoba Derby on August 1, for Alberta-born trainer Robertino Diodoro and owner Rob Nokes, Jr.

Diodoro set two new records winning the Manitoba Derby for the fourth time in six years, as the first trainer ever to win Manitoba’s most prestigious race four times, and the only trainer ever to run 1-2-3 in the race. And Nokes is a Manitoban who worked in the jocks’ room here early in life before going on to become a successful movie sound producer in Los Angeles.

While Manitoba-bred millionaire and Canadian champion Escape Clause put Manitoba on the map a few years ago as a daughter of the now retired Going Commando, new sires including Kentucky Bear, Vengeful Wildcat and Nonios proved they could sire good horses that can beat open company. The average at the Manitoba CTHS Yearling Sale was also up again, and Manitoba-breds filled six of the top 11 spots on the earnings list at Assiniboia Downs in 2022.
Hidden Grace walks into retirement with trainer Lise Pruitt and groom Richie Ricketts as one of the top Manitoba-breds of all time after winning the Distaff Stakes at Assiniboia Downs on September 7, 2022. (Jason Halstead photo)
Manitoba-bred 6-year-old mare Hidden Grace topped the earnings list at ASD in 2022 with $59,622 (US), and also became part of racing history when her and her full-sister, 4-year-old filly Melisandre, ran 1-2 in the Distaff Trial on August 24 and then repeated the feat in the $40,000 Distaff Stakes on September 7.

Trained by Lise Pruitt, the dynamic duo by Going Commando-High Pioneer by Pioneering, were bred by Cam Ziprick, Charles Fouillard and Barry Arnason. The sister-champions have earned over $500,000 from 34 victories including numerous stakes.

The Distaff Stakes was the final race of Hidden Grace’s amazing career, which began with nine wins in a row, all stakes, en route to compiling a record of 18-4-4 from 27 starts including 15 stakes and earnings of $309,7671 (US). The multiple champion was expected to be bred to Cam Ziprick and Charles Fouillard’s Manitoba stallion Speculating this spring.
Manitoba-bred McKague gave 110 percent every time he graced the track for trainer Carl Anderson and owner/breeder Nearco Ltd. Shown here after winning the Phil Kives Stakes on August 24, 2022. Stanley Chadee, Jr. up. (Jason Halstead photo)
If we had to pick just a few performances in 2022 that showcase everything we’ve come to love about the racing game, it would have to be those of two Manitoba-breds, 2-year-old filly Lady Cop and 5-year-old gelding McKague.

Lady Cop (Vengeful Wildcat-Agolo Bynoe by Successful Appeal) dug in with everything she had under jockey Renaldo Cumberbatch to win the Debutante Stakes by a neck over Russian Pearl (Nonios-Russian Jewel by Wildcat Heir) on July 25, after looking like she was going to get beat through the entire stretch -- best display of courage we saw all meeting.

Bred by Dr. Betty Hughes and trained by Mike Nault for A2 Thoroughbreds and True North Thoroughbreds, Lady Cop also won the Osiris Stakes and finished third in the Winnipeg Futurity after finding early trouble. We’re looking forward to watching her as a 3-year-old!
The same can be said for Russian Pearl, who was bred by Larry Falloon and Denis Huberdeau and conditioned by Devon Gittens for Falloon and partner Ron Wiley.

McKague (Secret Circle-Northern Cotton by High Cotton) won the $40,000 Phil Kives Stakes on August 24 for trainer Carl Anderson and owner/breeder Nearco Ltd., but it was his hard-trying third-place finish in the $41,000 Gold Cup on September 13 at 10-1 that showed us what he was really made of. Kudos to trainer Carl Anderson for persuading this game gelding to perform at 110 percent every time he entered the starting gate.

Bring on 2023!
Excellent Purses, Stakes Schedule and Shipping Incentives in Place for 2023 at ASD
Assiniboia Downs offers some of the best shipping incentives in North America, and an excellent purse and stakes schedule to match. If you're looking for a great place to race this summer, you won't find a more friendly and inviting track anywhere. We've also got one of the kindest racing surfaces in North America, complemented by numerous additional amenities.

The 50-day 2023 live race meeting begins on Monday, May 22, and runs through to Tuesday, September 19. We race Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings at ASD, which means you can take the weekends off and enjoy our fabulous Manitoba summer weather with family and friends! Links to the 2023 shipping incentives, racing and graded purse schedules here.
Watch and wager at one of our off-track betting locations:

In The News
Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori steals the show with three wins, flying dismounts
Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori was on top of the world after winning three races at Santa Anita on opening day, including the San Antonio Stakes (G2). (Benoit photo)
Three winners accompanied by flying dismounts gave legendary jockey Frankie Dettori an ideal start to his final season of riding at Santa Anita on Monday. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert won five races and jockey Juan Hernandez won four, but it was Dettori who stole the show. Arguably the most recognizable rider in the world with three riding titles in Britain, 14 Breeders’ Cup wins, and six wins in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Dettori still had some anxious moments in the hours before racing. More from Steve Anderson at the Daily Racing Form here.
Chilean Group 1 winner impressed in US debut, Pegasus World Cup beckons
Chilean-bred G1 winner O’Connor breezes at Palm Meadows. (Ryan Thompson photo)
Chilean Group 1 winner O'Connor was impressive in his U.S. debut at Gulfstream Park on Oct. 16, and now steps up in class to face seven rivals in Saturday's Harlan's Holiday Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park, en route to a possible run in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1). Could be a horse worth watching. More from the Paulick Report here.
"I Won Bigg" Betting Group
Join veteran handicappers Ivan Bigg and Larry Liebrecht Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the plaza to discuss group betting tickets and handicapping angles. Everyone is welcome. Can't make it out? Email Larry at

Please note that the group will be on hiatus for the month of January starting up again on Feb. 4
A Snapshot in Time
By Track Historian Bob Gates
Merry’s Hi Note sent out Christmas greetings on behalf of Mr. & Mrs. Billy Trevenen. The multiple stakes-winning mare won the Buffalo Stakes in 1969 and the Sifton Memorial in 1970, before moving on to the breeding shed. Breeder Lorraine Jackson (now McGill) was very proud of her mare’s daughter Picatune, and son Merry’s Jay. (Card courtesy of the late Eileen and Bert Blake)
Road to the Kentucky Derby

  • Jan. 1 - Smarty Jones (OP)
  • Jan. 1 - Jerome (AQU)
  • Jan. 8 - Sham Stakes (SA)
  • Jan. 21 - Lecomte (FG)
  • Jan. 28 - Southwest (OP)
Carryover Watch
  • Parx (January 2) - Jackpot Pick 5 carryover $247,404. Mandatory payout on Wednesday, January 4.
  • Gulstream (December 30) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover $208,636
  • Santa Anita (December 30) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover $126,787

MANDATORY PAYOUTS: All pools with a carryover at Aqueduct and Laurel will be paid out on Saturday, December 31.

See all carryovers here.
Top NFL Picks by TravyFootball: Week 17
Panthers over Bucs (Sunday noon): Well, I didn’t think I would be talking about the Panthers possibly getting into the playoffs at this point of the season, yet here we are. The NFC North is easily the worst division in football, every team has a losing record. Unfortunately one of those teams HAS to win this thing and host a playoff game. 

The corpse of Tom Brady will host the suddenly resurgent Sam Darnold and the Panthers in what will probably determine the winner of the NFC North. Carolina has won three of their last four games and have battled back into the playoff hunt after being left for dead a month ago. Meanwhile, Tom has been not so terrific as of late and might finally be showing his age. He's really struggling to even complete a pass more than five yards anymore. 
Packers over Vikings (Sunday afternoon): At some point, all this Vikings magic has to run out. Minnesota pulled off yet another last-minute victory after trailing the Giants in the final quarter of the game. Outside of maybe the Dallas Cowboys, the Vikings might be the most debated team in the NFL right now. Are they a good team? Or are they just a really lucky team?

If you go based off their record, than yeah, they look like a good team, but if you have watched all these miracle victories, they easily could’ve gone the other way if not for a bad penalty or a dropped pass. I believe their luck will run out this week against their division rival Green Bay Packers, who find themselves all of a sudden in the playoff hunt. A month ago, you really couldn’t fathom the Packers and playoffs being talked about in the same sentence, but they seem to have gotten hot at the right time and they've had a lot of luck with other teams losing. 
Seahawks over Jets (Sunday afternoon): Two teams battling for their playoff lives, the New York Jets will travel to Seattle to take on Geno Smith and the Seahawks. After missing the last two weeks with all sorts of injuries to his internal organs, Mike White will return as the quarterback for the Jets. We have probably seen the last of Zach Wilson in New York after another abysmal performance vs the Jaguars. He was SO bad that former Blue Bombers Quarterback Chris Streveler replaced him midway through the game and you would have thought Joe Namath was returning to the field based on the crowd reaction.

I do kind of feel bad for Wilson, but he's showing absolutely no signs of improvement as a player and even though he was the second overall pick in the draft last year, the Jets will just have to cut their losses and go their separate ways. For the record, I don’t think Mike White is any better, but at least the fan base doesn’t despise him like they do Wilson. Either way, the Jets will be looking for a new quarterback in 2023. And speaking of quarterbacks falling off the map, it’s been a tale of two halves for Seahawks quarterback, Geno Smith. The first half of the season, Smith looked very capable and competent, and didn’t have Seattle regretting moving on from Russell Wilson one bit. But the second half of the season things kind of fell apart, and the team was brought back down to earth.
Last week (3-0)
Overall (36-12) 
The Best of Bob
by ASD Historian Bob Gates

Karen Louise Chysyk may not be a name that is easily recognizable, but she left her mark at the Downs. She won a Powder Puff Derby and conditioned 33 winners in 1980, which was more winners than any other female trainer in the history of Assiniboia Downs. Her runners included A Lot of Ability, Mr. Mar J Mar, and Susans Turn to name but a few. Click here to reveal the life and times of this Saskatoon lass who made the Downs her home for most of the 1970s and early '80s. (From June 2021)
Upcoming events at ASD
  • Spin to Win - Friday, Dec 30, Saturday, Dec 31, Sunday, Jan 1 - enter in the VLT lounge for a chance to win up to $100.
  • New Year's Eve Gala - Saturday, December 31. Almost sold out. Pre-purchased tickets are required by calling 204-885-3330 - more info
  • 3% cash back Mondays in January (2, 9, 16, 23, 30) - more info
We would love to hear from you! Email your comments and/or suggestions to
The Inside Track Archives
Did you know that past issues of The Inside Track are available on our website? Click here to read them now.