The Inside Track | Issue #72 | March 24, 2023
  • 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
  • Chef's Specials Continue
  • Nicole Baker Beats the Boys!
  • Saskatchewan-Breds added to Bonus Program
  • Sincere Condolences: Don Bell
  • Call for Foal Photos
  • New Baby for Nonios!
  • 2023 Shipping Incentives
  • 2023 Live Racing Dates/Purses/Stakes
  • ASD Condition Book #1 Download
  • Road to the Kentucky Derby
  • Japan vs. World in Dubai World Cup
  • 2023 UAE Derby Preview
  • Theft Attempt in Louisiana Derby
  • Snapshot in Time: Polo Park
  • Carryover Watch
  • The Best of Bob: Gold Cup
  • Upcoming Events
Do the Downs!
Club West Gaming Lounge

140 VLTs available daily in our spacious Club West Gaming Lounge from 10 a.m. through 1 a.m. Please note that our VLTs are sanitized between play. Click here for a full list of games available at ASD.

Win CA$H Every Day!

  • Draws to win up to $100 cash on our lucky wheel Monday through Friday from noon until 5 p.m.

  • Draws for $20 FREE VLT Spins Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
2023 Player's Choice Online Handicapping Tournaments

  • Saturday, April 15, 2023
  • Saturday, May 13, 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.
March HPI Cash Back Specials

  • DUBAI WORLD CUP SPECIAL: Earn 3% cash back on all eligible wagers on Dubai Racing on Saturday, March 25. Minimum wagered $100. Maximum cash back $25. ($2.10 payouts are not eligible.) Opt-in at All wagers must be placed on your HPI account.

  • MONDAY MARCH MADNESS: Earn 4% cash back on all eligible wagers on Monday, March 27. Minimum wagered $100. Maximum cash back $25. ($2.10 payouts are not eligible.) Opt-in at All wagers must be placed on your HPI account.
Dining at Assiniboia Downs
Club West Dining Room & Lounge Open Daily

Enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks plus Happy Hour food and beverage specials in our Club West Dining Room & Lounge! Open daily from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Friday & Saturday Value Added Specials
Friday Steak & Suds $24.95: 8 oz. Sirloin steak charbroiled and seasoned with our smoky dry rub. Served with fresh vegetables and choice of mashed potatoes or french fries. Plus a complimentary pint of ASD Lucky Lager.

Saturday Prime & Wine $29.95: Certified Angus Prime Rib (8 oz.) cut. Served with fresh vegetables and choice of mashed potatoes or french fries, horseradish and Yorkshire pudding au jus. Plus a complimentary 6 oz. glass of house wine.

Served from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Reservations are not required.
Easter Brunch - Sunday, April 9

  • Sliced Certified Angus Prime Rib in Mushroom Sauce
  • Carved Ham with Grilled Pineapple
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Omelette Station
  • Bacon and Sausage
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Hashbrowns
  • French Toast and Syrup
  • Assorted Salads
  • Croissant, Rolls, Flatbreads & Butter
  • Cheese Cubes, Kolbassa and Pickles
  • Smoked Salmon Pizza
  • Fruit and Assorted Desserts
  • Served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Tickets: Adults $39.95, 12 & under $19.95, 5 & under $9.95
  • Call 204-885-3330 to purchase yours today!
At The Post with G.S. Thompson
Nicole Baker Beats the Boys!
Wins Player's Choice Tourney with late surge to top rare 1-2 female finish
Player's Choice Tourney winner Nicole Baker also leads the Handicapper of the Year standings.
Nicole Baker finished with a late surge at Remington Park to win the third Player’s Choice Handicapping Tournament of the year on Saturday, topping a rare 1-2 female finish that also put her on the lead in the Handicapper of the Year standings.

Baker nailed Eye On Politics ($12.50, $6.90, $5.30) in the tenth race at Remington Park and followed up with Trademarque ($29.80, $10.60, $6.40) in the eleventh at the same track to secure the win, the $1,000 first prize and the trophy, with a total bankroll of $135.60.

Baker defeated Tanis Atras, mother of former Downs trainer Rob Atras, by $29.40. Atras built her bankroll to $106.20 to take home the $400 second-place prize, followed by Glen Gray ($95.10) Mackenzie Stewin ($90.10) and Joe Richichi ($83.60).

“I was quite surprised but also very excited,” said Baker, who was winning the tourney for the first time after three years of play. Her biggest winner of the day, Trademarque, was a result of two different handicapping angles.

“I was looking for horses who were successful when fresh,” said Baker. “Trademarque had two good races off a layoff and had an excellent workout from the gate. And finally, I thought he would be a decent price. Eye On Politics was somewhat similar. He had a poor race in his first start back but then several good races for a hot trainer.”
The 46-year-old Baker is a head administrative assistant at a local school, but grew up in Beausejour, Manitoba. She started learning about handicapping and playing in the Player’s Choice Tournaments three years ago.
“My boyfriend introduced me to handicapping,” said Baker. “And sort of showed me the general gist of things. I just kept going with it, trying to figure things out as I went. Honestly, sometimes I'm just guessing. Trainers are the most important thing for me when I'm looking at horses. I also like workouts and form cycle analysis.” 

Her plan for the winnings?

“I'm not sure yet," said Baker. "But it'll be nice to splurge a bit. And I'd like to say thank you to Sheri and all the ASD staff for putting on the contest and being so patient with me.”
So how does it feel to finish on top in a male-dominated tournament, and 1-2 with fellow entrant Tanis Atras? “I think it's great to see more women being successful horse players,” said Baker.

“The funny thing is I've been beating my boyfriend at this for a while now, so it's kind of fun."
Grooms Brittany Bergen (left) and Charlotte Johnston (right) lead trainer Mike Nault (right) and jockey Chavion Chow to the training track at ASD on Wednesday morning.
Saskatchewan-Breds Added to Manitoba CTHS Bonus Program
Horses bred in Saskatchewan now eligible for lucrative Manitoba-bred bonuses
Saskatchewan stallion Vindgari (Vindication-Garimpeiro by Mr. Prospector) is half brother to millionaire runners Geri and A. P. Arrow. He will now be eligible for Manitoba Stallion and Breeder Awards.
The Manitoba Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (CTHS) and Saskatchewan CTHS Board of Directors are pleased to announce the inclusion of Saskatchewan-breds into the Manitoba-bred Incentive Program.

Saskatchewan-breds have been participating in Manitoba restricted races since 2013, but they will now also be eligible for the lucrative Manitoba-bred purse supplements offered in those races, and will be eligible to participate in Manitoba-bred restricted stakes. Additionally, Saskatchewan breeders will be eligible for both breeder and stallion awards.

“Saskatchewan breeders had no venue for their thoroughbreds,” said Manitoba CTHS President Pat Wallace. “We’re hoping to have as many horses as possible racing here, and this will hopefully increase the number of entries in our races, and the number of foals born. With the lower horse supply, we have to work together with other provinces, and this is good for both Manitoba and Saskatchewan.”

"We are so pleased to see this progressive and collaborative 'big picture' strategy being introduced," said Assiniboia Downs CEO Darren Dunn. "Our congratulations go out to the many involved who created this important addition to the racing program here at ASD – we applaud their vision.”

“This is a real break for our Saskatchewan horsepeople,” said Saskatchewan CTHS President Rose Backlund. “We’ve had no racetrack for going on three years here. There was a little bit of meet last year, but it was just for a few days, and we didn’t have many horses. I’ve been talking to Grant Watson (Manitoba CTHS Director) for the past few years trying to get something going.
“Originally, we were able to race in restricted races while still running at Marquis Downs, but not many people from Saskatchewan took advantage of it. I could never figure out why. When we ended up having absolutely nothing here, people started shipping to Winnipeg. Now, with this program it’s a win-win situation. It’s good for both provinces.”
Breeders in Saskatchewan had already started shipping their mares to other provinces to foal so that they would be eligible for Alberta or Manitoba-bred bonus programs. With this new program they won’t have to do that, and they’ll still be eligible for stallion and breeder awards.
"When Saskatchewan racing came to a halt a few years ago, a number of their horsepeople left for other provinces," said Backlund. "Including trainers who moved their strings to Assiniboia Downs. We lost a lot of our trainers and workers, and the tax base from all the people that support getting a horse to the races.”
Backlund estimates there are probably 20 breeders in Saskatchewan and up to 12 stallions, including her own Vindgari, who locals might remember from his races here, and for his son Not Afraid, a six-time winner at Assiniboia Downs trained by Marvin Buffalo.
“We’re pretty excited about this new program, and about supporting your meeting,” said Backlund, who bought her first racehorse in 1980 and has been involved in racing and breeding ever since. “I’m going to have to get to know the road to Winnipeg. We’ll have a full brother to Not Afraid there with trainer Carl Anderson.
“It’s really a lifeline for all of us.”
Trainer Devon Gittens (center), jockey Prayven Badrie (inside) and Dwight Lewis put three youngsters through their paces on the training track. (George Williams photo)
Sincere Condolences: Don Bell
Assiniboia Downs is sad to announce that longtime horse owner Don Bell has passed away. Our sincere condolences to Don’s wife Gaye, his family and many friends.

Don campaigned a number of stakes winners during his many decades as an owner, including 2013 Matron Stakes winner Hello at Assiniboia Downs. (Shown here after that race between wife Gaye and Downs CEO Darren Dunn.)

Don owned several high class horses trained by Marty Drexler at Woodbine in partnership with his wife Gaye, Ken Lee and Dennis Mitchell, including Ballade Stakes winner Blurricane, stakes-placed 11-time winner Brass Compass, 12-time winner and $414,016-earner Casablanca Kiss, and 10-time winner and $332,887-earner Pugsley, among many others.

“Don and Gaye have been loyal and supportive members of racing at ASD for decades and this is a clear loss to our community,” said Downs CEO Darren Dunn.
Manitoba HBPA Groom School Application Information
For more information, or to apply to the HBPA Groom School Program sponsored by the Government of Manitoba, please email a resume along with a cover letter or summary to the attention of Shannon Dawley at Deadline for applications is March 27, 2023. And if you know someone who might be looking for a job working with horses, please share! Thank you!
Call for Foal Photos
The Jockey Club of Canada wants to showcase your foals and so do we!
The new Manitoba foals will soon be here and we want to see yours! (Manitoba CTHS photo)
The foaling season is upon us and the Jockey Club of Canada is looking for foal photos to share with their membership group. If you have a foal you'd like to show off, please email your photo to and include the province foaled, sire, dam, and photographer, as well as any additional information you wish to provide.

Any photos received will be included in the Jockey Club of Canada Newsletter through to the end of foaling season. And don’t forget to cc us on your email at

We’d love to showcase your foal photos here too.
Another New Baby for Nonios
Dam Strawberry Flash, a 9-time winner, already has second date scheduled
Thanks to Andrew Clarke for sending us this cutie by Nonios out of 9-time winner Strawberry Flash, who is by Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Alphabet Soup. Breeder Barry Arnason and trainer Lise Pruitt were very excited about their new baby, born at Arnason's Farm north of Winnipeg. Nonios is off to a great start as a Manitoba sire and Strawberry Flash will be bred back to him this spring. Congratulations!
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.
The first ASD Condition Book for 2023 is here! Time to get excited! Click here to download.
Reminder from the LGCA: Submit your licence applications

Don’t forget to submit your licence applications before the racing season starts! If you held a licence in 2022, you must apply for a renewal for the 2023 season.
A licence is required for all participants in thoroughbred horseracing:

  • Owners
  • Trainers and Assistant Trainers
  • Jockeys, Apprentice Jockeys, and Jockey Agents
  • Grooms
  • Exercise Riders

You’ll need to provide your name, prior employment history, financial history, criminal charges, and prior convictions. You must be honest in your application. Please note that bankruptcies, criminal charges, or civil proceedings do not automatically result in the denial of a licence.

A non-refundable fee is also required when submitting your application. If you are applying for more than one licence, you are only required to pay one fee, the highest fee among the licence types applied for.

Minimum processing time for applications is three business days. Incomplete applications will increase this time.

For application forms and more information:
Can't make it to the track to wager?
Watch and wager at one of our off-track betting locations:

60-Second Betting Sprees!

60-Second Betting Sprees continue at off-track locations! Visit any of the locations below on the corresponding dates and you could win a chance to make as many $2 wagers as you can in 60-seconds!

  • Canad Inns Windsor Park - Saturday, March 25
  • Club 3D - Sunday, March 26
Road to the Kentucky Derby

  • Mar. 25 - UAE Derby (MEY)
  • Mar. 25 - Jeff Ruby Steaks (TP)
  • Mar. 25 - Louisiana Derby (FG)
  • Mar. 26 - Sunland Derby
  • April 1 - Florida Derby (GP)
  • April 1 - Arkansas Derby (OP)

See Kentucky Derby prep winners here.

Kentucky Derby Future Wagers
  • Pool #3 - Jan. 20 to Jan. 22 - final odds
  • Pool #4 - Feb. 10 to Feb. 12 - final odds
  • Pool #5 - Mar. 10 to Mar. 12 - final odds
  • Pool #6 - Mar. 30 to Apr. 1

Kentucky Oaks Future Wager
"I Won Bigg" Wagering Group

Join veteran handicappers Ivan Bigg and Larry Liebrecht as they lead discussions for the "I Won Bigg" betting group every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the Clubhouse.

The group will be playing Santa Anita, Tampa Bay and Dubai this week. $20 gets you a share in the ticket. Can't make it to the track? Email Larry for a share.
In The News
Japanese contingent includes this year's Saudi Cup winner, Panthalassa (JPN)
Dubai Cup entrant Panthalassa (blue silks) holds off Country Grammar (far left) to win the Saudi Cup. (Edward Whitaker / Racing Post photo)
It looks like Japan against the world in the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) this Saturday, March 25 at Meydan Racecourse. Eight of the 15 entries are from Japan and they include some of that nation's most accomplished runners, both on turf and on the dirt, the surface for the 2,000-metre (about 1 1/4 miles) World Cup. Against that is a thin line of stars from the rest of the world, including last year's winner Country Grammer and 2022 Saudi Cup (G1) winner Emblem Road. More from the Blood Horse here.
Racing Dudes picks and longshots for Saturday's 100-point Kentucky Derby prep
Racing Dudes preview the 2023 UAE Derby (G2) from Meydan Racecourse in Dubai this Saturday, then give their top picks and long shots from this 100-point prep race for the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1). Japanese-based horse Derma Sotogake looks to build off of his good third last out in the Saudi Derby while taking on the likes of Cairo, from Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien, along with several other international hopefuls. Who wins the global showdown? Watch the video from Racing Dudes here.
Asmussen charge needs better break to top Cox trio in rich Kentucky Derby prep

Shopper’s Revenge, shown here breaking his maiden at Oaklawn Park, will attempt to pull off an upset for trainer Steve Asmussen in this Saturday's Louisiana Derby (G2). (Coady Photography photo)
Gold Square's Lecomte (G3) winner Instant Coffee, currently ninth on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with 32 points, headlines a full field of 12 3-year-olds in the 110th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) this Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course. Trainer Steve Asmussen, who has won the Louisiana Derby four times, is represented by a pair of upstarts in Saturday's race in Shopper's Revenge and Disarm. More from the Paulick Report here.
A Snapshot in Time
by Track Historian Bob Gates
This week we’ve set the “Wayback” machine (Sherman and Peabody, cartoon reference) to 1950 for a quick trip to old Polo Park Racetrack. Here she is in all her colourful glory! Doesn’t she look grand? Notice the grandstand roof with Polo’s name emblazoned in white, and the clubhouse on the far left, which was often the site for weddings, teas, and other Winnipeg social events. This majestic track was in operation from 1925 to 1956, and we all know where it was located – see you all at the mall! (Assiniboia Downs Archive)
Carryover Watch
  • Gulfstream (March 24) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover $489,184
  • Santa Anita (March 25) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover $205,612
  • Parx (March 27) - Jackpot Pick 5 carryover $128,525
  • Golden Gate (March 24) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover $95,472. Mandatory payout on Sunday, March 26.

See all carryovers here.
The Best of Bob
by ASD Historian Bob Gates

This week’s history blog features an up-close look at one of the premier events on the Downs stakes calendar – The Gold Cup. Click here to learn more about some of the special horses that have won Manitoba’s championship race for 3-year-olds and up, and a few more nuggets of Gold Cup trivia! (From September 2021)
Upcoming events at ASD
  • Spin to Win in the Clubwest Gaming Lounge - Monday to Friday - more info
  • Lucky Spins - Draws for $20 free VLT Spins - Friday to Sunday - more info
  • 3% cash back on the Dubai World Cup - Saturday, March 25 - more info
  • 4% cash back Monday, March 27 - more info
  • Easter Brunch - Sunday, April 9 - more info
  • Mother's Day Brunch - Sunday, May 14 - more info
  • MICEC Monster Bingo - Saturday, May 20 - more info
  • ASD Live Racing starts - Monday, May 22 - more info
We would love to hear from you! Email your comments and/or suggestions to
The Inside Track Archives
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