The Inside Track | Issue #69 | March 3, 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
  • New Value Added Chef's Specials
  • Manitoba Writers Nominated for Sovereign Award
  • Horses Begin to Arrive in ASD Backstretch
  • Call for Foal Photos
  • 2023 Shipping Incentives
  • 2023 Live Racing Dates/Purses/Stakes
  • ASD Condition Book #1 Download
  • Road to the Kentucky Derby
  • Champion Forte Returns in Fountain of Youth
  • National Treasure Seeks San Felipe Riches
  • Snapshot in Time: 1969 Kentucky Derby
  • Carryover Watch
  • The Best of Bob: Audrey's Cowboy 
  • 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, March 18, 2023
  • 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

  • MONDAY MARCH MADNESS: Earn 4% cash back on all eligible wagers on Mondays, March, 6, 13, 20 & 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.

  • 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.
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
Two Manitoba Writers Nominated for Sovereign Award
George Williams, Ivan Bigg among five scribes nominated for prestigious award
The 48th Annual Sovereign Awards showcasing excellence in Canadian horse racing will take place on April 13, 2023 at Universal Eventspace in Vaughan, Ontario.
Two Manitoba writers are among the nominations for the 2022 Sovereign Awards!

Congratulations to Winnipeg Free Press horse racing columnist George Williams and Canadian Thoroughbred contributor Ivan Bigg, who are listed among the five finalists in the Sovereign Awards Writing category for 2022! 

The prestigious Sovereign Awards celebrate outstanding human and equine achievements in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding each year and are awarded annually by the Jockey Club of Canada in a range of categories, including horses, trainers, jockeys, writing, photography and digital audio/visual and broadcast, in recognition of excellence in Canadian thoroughbred racing.

Williams (pictured above) has won four Sovereign Awards (1992, 1995, 1998, 2000), but it was the first nomination for Bigg, who said he was pleasantly surprised by the nomination.

Williams has been writing about horse racing for 30 years, first for the Daily Racing Form at Assiniboia Downs and Woodbine, with select pieces in the Blood Horse and Thoroughbred Times, then on to a regular column in the Winnipeg Sun, and finally to the Winnipeg Free Press, where his weekly horse racing articles have appeared for the past nine years.
Rich Strike, out of the Manitoba-bred mare Gold Strike, wins 2022 Kentucky Derby. (Jeff Roberson / The Associated Press photo)
“It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this for 33 years,” said Williams. “To be nominated 30 years after winning my first Sovereign Award is very satisfying. The writers that are nominated this year are excellent and I congratulate all of them.

“To be part of a list of winners that includes Canadian writing icons and Hall of Famers like Milt Dunnell and Jim Coleman always felt special to me. I’m thankful to all the horsepeople, organizations and horses who have helped me along the way. I couldn’t have done any of this without them. It’s been a great ride!”

Williams’ story was about Manitoba-bred mare Gold Strike, the dam of 2022 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, the second longest shot ($163.60) ever to win the Derby. Williams interviewed the owner/breeder of Gold Strike, Winnipegger Dick Bonnycastle, the former owner of Harlequin Enterprises, the world’s largest publisher of romantic fiction, and talked about how Manitoba was a place where you could raise a world-class racehorse.

Bigg is no stranger to most of you. As a marketing consultant to Assiniboia Downs in the early 2000s, he started the predecessor of this column, The Insider, which he wrote for 16 years before becoming a freelancer for the Canadian Thoroughbred. His weekly “Bettor’s Edge” column will resume in the Canadian Thoroughbred in April.
Ivan Bigg's “Bettor’s Edge” column will resume in the Canadian Thoroughbred in April.
Bigg said his Sovereign-nominated piece -- about two full-brother horses winning their first starts just two days apart -- was submitted to the Jockey Club of Canada at the urging of his Canadian Thoroughbred editor.

Bigg’s proudest moment last year, he said, was being the sole public handicapper to predict the top three finishers in the Queen’s Plate, including 16-1 second-place finisher Hall of Dreams, which prompted Woodbine to invite him to write a column predicting the outcome of the Woodbine Mile.

Both Williams and Bigg said they knew they were up against tough competition this year, including previous Sovereign Award winners Dave Briggs and Chris Lomon, and veteran Daily Racing Form handicapper and columnist Ron Gierkink. Links to all the nominated stories appear below.

The winners will be announced, along with the other Sovereign Award winners and Canada's Horse of the Year during the 48th Annual Sovereign Awards Ceremony on the evening of Thursday, April 13, 2023, at Universal Eventspace in Vaughan, Ontario.

Pick your favourites and see if you’re right!

2022 Sovereign Awards – Nominated Media Stories

Horses Begin to Move Into the ASD Backstretch!
Groom Roy Fedee takes 2022 J.W. Sifton Stakes winner Lucky Chuckee out for a walk in trainer Shelley Brown's barn as fellow stakes winner Orange Theory looks on. (George Williams photo)
Manitoba HBPA Groom School Application Information
For more information, or to apply to the HBPA Groom School Program, please email a resume along with a cover letter or summary to the attention of Shannon Dawley at Deadline for applications is March 10, 2023. And if you know someone who might be looking for a job working with horses, please share! Thank you!
Shelley Brown's assistant trainer Scott Creighton shares a moment with 4-year-old stakes-placed filly Favorite in the ASD backstretch. (George Williams photo)
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.
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.
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 are coming to an off-track location near you! 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!

  • Quest Inn - Saturday, March 4
  • Green Brier Inn - Sunday, March 5
  • Nor-Villa Motor Hotel - Saturday, March 11
  • Rookies (Central Hotel) - Sunday, March 12
  • Canad Inns Windsor Park - Saturday, March 25
  • Club 3D - Sunday, March 26
Road to the Kentucky Derby

  • Mar. 4 - Gotham (AQU)
  • Mar. 4 - San Felipe (SA)
  • Mar. 4 - Fountain of Youth (GP)
  • Mar. 4 - John Battaglia Memorial (TP)
  • Mar. 11 - Tampa Bay Derby
  • Mar. 25 - UAE Derby (MEY)
  • Mar. 25 - Jeff Ruby Steaks (TP)
  • Mar. 25 - Louisiana Derby (FG)
  • Mar. 26 - Sunland Derby

See Kentucky Derby prep winners here.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Dates
  • 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
  • Pool #6 - Mar. 30 to Apr. 1
"I Won Bigg" Wagering Group

The "I Won Bigg" wagering group is back at it this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse Plaza. Veteran handicappers Ivan Bigg and Larry Liebrecht lead the group discussions.

The group will be playing Santa Anita and Tampa Bay this Saturday. $20 gets you a share in the ticket. Can't make it to the track? Email Larry for a share.
In The News
Field of nine chase 100 Kentucky Derby points on stakes-laden Saturday card
Forte, the Eclipse Awards Champion 2-year-old male of 2022, schools in the Gulfstream Park paddock on March 1 in preparation for Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). (Gulfstream Park photo)
Forte is slated to make his three-year-old debut in Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The 2022 Eclipse Award 2-year-old champion is the 7/5 morning-line favourite in the 1 1/16-mile stakes which will headline a program with eight graded stakes and $1.85 million in purses. More from the Canadian Thoroughbred here.
Key stepping stone to Kentucky Derby attracts packed field of 11
National Treasure in the paddock ahead of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile. (Anne M. Eberhardt photo)
The San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park has proved time and again to be a key steppingstone on the path to the Kentucky Derby (G1). The March 4 edition of the 1 1/16-mile stakes drew a field of 11 that will try to get their share of the 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points available to the top five finishers. More from the Blood Horse here.
A Snapshot in Time
by Track Historian Bob Gates
This is the final photo in our four-part remembrance of Bobby Stewart. Above we have a shot of Bob, who once again was grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat. This photo was taken in 1969 at the Kentucky Derby! Yes sir, 25-year-old Bob realized the lifelong dream of any jockey, to have a mount in the "Run for the Roses."
Bob rode a speedster by the name of Ocean Roar and true to his reputation Stewart and his horse led the way for the first five-furlongs, but then faded badly and finished sixth in a field of eight. One thing was certain, Bob made sure his mount was in the call for the first-half of the race. Does it get any better than that for someone who rides horses for a living? (Stewart family photo)
Carryover Watch
  • Gulfstream Park (March 3) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover $1,140,323. Mandatory payout of the Jackpot Pick 6 on Sunday, March 5.

  • Santa Anita (March 3) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover $214,356. Mandatory payout of the Jackpot Pick 6 on Saturday, March 4.

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

Who made the following statement? "All in one day, I had seven horsemen tell me the track was too slow, too fast, too cuppy, too loose, too hard, too wet and too dry.” Hint: He also delivered a touching eulogy at old Bobby Franklin’s funeral service. Click here for more. (From August 2018)
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
  • Live Pro Wrestling at ASD - Saturday, March 4 - more info
  • 4% cash back every Monday in March (6, 13, 20 & 27) - more info
  • 3% cash back on the Dubai World Cup - Saturday, March 25 - more info
  • Easter Brunch - Sunday, April 9 - 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.