The Inside Track | Issue #118 | February 9, 2024

140 VLTS

ASD Hours

  • Open daily from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
  • VLT machines are sanitized between use

2024 Live Race Dates

  • Monday, May 20 to Tuesday, September 17 - click here for schedule

In this edition . . .

  • What's happening at the Downs?
  • Valentine's Dinner & Dance
  • There's always a Deal at ASD!
  • Owner Profile: Henry S. Witt, Jr.
  • 2024 Shipping Incentive Program
  • Tender Touch by Tim Cox
  • TravyFootball Super Bowl
  • Road to Kentucky Derby 150
  • Looking For a Special Photo?
  • Carryover Watch
  • Off-Track Betting Locations
  • "I Won Bigg" Wagering Group
  • A Snapshot In Time: Brass Ruhler
  • Dark Horse Bets Download
  • Sovereign Awards Finalists Announced
  • Sam F. Davis Stakes at a Glance
  • Pletcher Facing Challenges on Road to Derby
  • Steve Haskin's Kentucky Derby Rankings
  • The Best of Bob - The Rivalry
  • Upcoming Events
Do the Downs!

Upcoming Handicapping Tournaments

Player's Choice Tournaments:

  • Saturday, February 17
  • Saturday, March 16
  • Saturday, April 13
  • Saturday, May 11

Tournament Winners:

  • Player's Choice - Saturday, January 20 - Winner: Ron Phelps

Club West Gaming Lounge

140 VLTs are available daily in our spacious Club West Gaming Lounge from 10 a.m. through 1 a.m. Enjoy complimentary coffee or tea. We also have fantastic deals on daily drink specials, happy hour specials, daily lunch and nightly food features. Please note that our VLTs are sanitized between play.

Free daily draws take place for your chance to win cash!

  • Break Open Bonanza! Draws to win $10 plus 20 break-open tickets! Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.
  • Lucky Spins! Draws for $20 in FREE VLT Spins Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. 

Valentine's Dinner & Dance

We invite you to join us for our Valentine's Dinner & Dance featuring our renowned Certified Angus Prime Rib Buffet. Savour the exquisite taste of our prime rib buffet, specially prepared for this special occasion. Menu.

After dinner dancing will be available or simply relax and listen to the music. We have something for everyone. Don't have a date? You can still enjoy this special evening with family & friends!

Tickets are $54.95 per person and available by calling Samantha at 204-885-3330. We look forward to seeing you!

There's Always a Deal at ASD!

$11.95 Daily Lunch Specials

Enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks from our Club West Dining Room menu or try our ever changing $11.95 lunch special.

  • Club West Dining Room & Lounge menu
  • Daily Happy Hour specials

Daily Drink Features All Day Long

  • Monday - Margarita $6 (lime, peach or strawberry)
  • Tuesday - Corona $5
  • Wednesday - Wine $4.50 (6 oz. glass of house white or house red)
  • Thursday - Beer $4.75 (house pint of beer)
  • Friday - Trifecta Tea $6 (Absolut peach vodka, lemonade, sweet tea)
  • Saturday - RazDerby Lemonade $6 (Absolut raspberry vodka, lemonade)
  • Sunday - Caesar $6

Daily Evening Chef's Specials

Monday - BBQ Ribs $19.95: Smoky char-broiled ribs with our signature BBQ sauce. Served with french fries and coleslaw.

Tuesday - Tacos $9.95: Two flour tortillas stuffed with taco beef, chicken or fish, lettuce, green onions, cheese and diced tomato. Served with a drizzle of avocado cilantro lime sauce and taco chips.

Wednesday - Two Topping Pizza $14.95: Thin crust pizza with mozzarella and tomato sauce. Choose from pepperoni, bacon, ham, spicy beef, chicken, tomato, mushroom, peppers, black olives or onions.

Thursday - Chipotle Mozza Burger $14.95: Our signature sirloin patty and crispy bacon smothered in melted mozzarella. Topped with fresh sliced tomato, fried onion rings, chipolte mayo and sweet bold barbeque sauce.

Friday - Steak & Suds $24.95: 8 oz. Sirloin steak charbroiled and seasoned with our smoky dry rub. Served with fresh vegetables and a 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 a choice of mashed potatoes or french fries, horseradish, and Yorkshire pudding au jus. Plus a complimentary 6 oz. glass of house wine.

Sunday - Fish & Chips $14.95: Two pieces of beer battered cod with tartar sauce and lemon. Served with french fries and coleslaw.

Reservations are not required. The above specials are available from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Everyone who purchases one of the above specials will receive a coupon to play our free "Pick to Win" game in the VLT lounge for a chance to spin our lucky cash wheel where you can win up to $100 cash!

At The Post with G.S. Thompson

Owner Profile: Henry S. Witt, Jr.

Six-time leading owner at Assiniboia Downs won Manitoba Derby in 2023

Six-time leading Assiniboia Downs owner Henry S. Witt, Jr. (left) and five-time leading trainer Jerry Gourneau celebrate after winning the 2023 Manitoba Derby with Mano Dura. (Jason Halstead photo)

Henry S. Witt, Jr. has been the leading owner at Assiniboia Downs for the past five years in a row, culminating with his first win in the prestigious Manitoba Derby in 2023 with longshot Mano Dura.

It’s been a long journey from growing up on a farm in Texas to roaring car racing championships and on to the Assiniboia Downs winner’s circle, and Witt has loved every minute of it.

Born and raised on a farm in Axtell, Texas, Witt’s early life was defined by hard work, from milking cows before dawn to hauling hay in the summers. This work ethic translated seamlessly into sports, where he excelled in football, basketball, and rodeo, and earned all-state honours at Hill College in Texas.

Witt always had a love for horses, but his enthusiasm for the four-legged runners would have to wait as he pursued his original passion of car racing while also building his business, Affiliated Auto Glass in Waco, Texas, which he started in 1983.

Transitioning from rodeo to race car driving, Witt quickly rose to prominence in the IMCA Modified racing scene, amassing an impressive record of wins and championships over a decade of dominance.

“I was racing cars when I first started the business,” said Witt in a Winnipeg Free Press article after winning the Manitoba Derby. “I’d drive out to the track at night 4 1/2 or five hours away. I’d come back, drive over to the glass shop, park the truck, put a little pallet down on the floor in the office, sleep until about 6:30 and get up, get ready to open up.”

“It’s pretty lucrative now,” said Witt. “I have depots in Waco, Temple, Copperas Cove and Gatesville, 14 trucks and 24 or 25 guys. We do 400 windshields a week. But it wasn’t always like that.”

Witt won multiple IMCA Modified championships from 1988 to 1997 and in 1998 he started driving for the 701 Racing Team and won more feature races in the shortest period of time than anyone in the history of IMCA racing. He won 258 features, eight consecutive regional championships, six consecutive state championships and one national championship. He retired from racing in 2007 after winning his final race.

“I quit racing cars on July 21, on my birthday,” said Witt. “I was in a race and I got a lap down. I came back and I got back on the lead, and they tried to put me in first place, but I just said no. I knew I was a lap down.”

After retiring from car racing in 2007, Witt ventured into the world of thoroughbred horse racing, a decision that would mark the beginning of another illustrious chapter in his life. He met trainer Jerry Gourneau in Nebraska, and the partnership they formed would lead to unprecedented success at Assiniboia Downs, where they have dominated for five consecutive seasons.

From 2019-2023, Witt teamed up with 5-time leading trainer Gourneau to compile a record of 180-175-177 from 1,014 starts for purse earnings of $1,769,306. And that doesn’t include the years from 2015-2018. Witt finished among the top three owners at Assiniboia Downs in 2015, 2017 and 2018, and also led the standings in 2016. Simply put…


He knows how to win. 

ASD 2023 leading rider Antonio Whitehall celebrates aboard Mano Dura in the winner's circle after winning the $125,000 Manitoba Derby for owner Henry S. Witt, Jr. and trainer Jerry Gourneau. (Jason Halstead photo)

Condition book #1 is now available. Click here or on the image above to download.

Tender Touch

Original painting by Tim Cox

"Every horse deserves, at least once in its life, to be loved by a little girl." ~ Unknown. See more original paintings from Tim Cox here.

Top NFL Picks by TravyFootball: Super Bowl

Niners over Chiefs: Do I think San Fran can win this game? Yes. Do I think San Fran can just as easily lose this game? Also yes. But I can’t in good faith pick against my own team. This really is a pick’em as I really don’t feel strong one way or the other.

Kansas City definitely had the tougher route to get here, having to play the Dolphins in -35 degree weather, and then two tough road games against the Bills and Ravens, whereas the Niners had to come from behind twice against the Packers and Lions.

The argument can be made the Chiefs will face the most talented all-around offense that they’ve seen so far in the playoffs, but on the other side, the Niners haven’t faced the entity known as Patrick Mahomes yet either. One thing I do know is the Niners cannot fall behind and start off slow like they did against Green Bay and Detroit otherwise this game will be over before they know it.

A healthy dose of Christian McCaffrey should help them control the clock and keep Mahomes on the sidelines. A lot is riding on this game for the Niners as an organization. A win will silence the criticisms of Kyle Shanahan not being able to win the big one, but another loss will have some people questioning whether he is the guy to get them over that hump.

Road to the Kentucky Derby

  • Sam F. Davis (Tampa Bay) - Feb. 10 - 20 points
  • Risen Star (Fair Grounds) - Feb. 17 - 50 points
  • Sunland Derby (Sunland) - Feb. 18 - 20 points
  • Rebel (Oaklawn) - Feb. 24 - 50 points

Looking for a Special Photo of Your Big Horse or...?

Track Photographer Jason Halstead may have just what you're looking for

Apprentice jockey and 2023 Sovereign Award nominee Fraser Aebly receives congrats from trainer Elton Dickey after winning the 5th race aboard Shootin Money on July 18 at ASD. (Jason Halstead / Assiniboia Photo)

Looking for that extra-special photo of your big horse, one you might not find in your win pictures? Track photographer Jason Halstead takes numerous photos during the races, and not all of them can make it into the win photos. If you’re looking for something frameable from your big race, or of your special horse, email Jason at Prices are excellent! Almost as good as his photos 😊

Wager on Top Tracks

Watch and wager on world class racing from the comfort of your private carrel in our race book located on the 2nd level of the grandstand. The race book is open daily at 10 a.m. Can't make it to the track? Visit one of our partner locations listed below or wager at Click here for a list of tracks to wager on during the month of February.

Carryover Watch
  • Tampa Bay (Feb. 9) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover $94,934
  • Golden Gate (Feb. 9) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover $58,749

See all carryovers here.

Can't make it to the track to wager?

Watch and wager at one of our off-track betting locations:

"I Won Bigg" Wagering Group

Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (2nd floor plaza)

Join the "I Won Bigg" wagering group this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The wagering group is open to everyone. This week they will be playing Tampa and Santa Anita. $20 per share. If you would like more information please email Larry.

A Snapshot in Time
by Track Historian Bob Gates

Brass Ruhler won a modest dozen races from 54 lifetime starts, but none was more important than his pace score 20 years ago on August 10, 2004. Ruhler’s victory was trainer Gary Danelson’s 1,000th win at the Downs. Gary is the Downs all-time leading trainer, and his 1,250 career wins has him light years ahead of his nearest active rival. His 1,250th win came last year on September 12th when his Kate’s Princess overcame a bad break and pretty much won as she pleased over a field of $10,000 claimers. (Gerry Hart photo)

49th Sovereign Award Finalists Announced

Former ASD trainer Martin Drexler and jockey Fraser Aebly among finalists

Sovereign Award Trophy

The Jockey Club of Canada has announced the finalists for the 2023 Sovereign Awards honouring Canada’s champions and recognizing their outstanding achievements in Canadian Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding, and former ASD trainer Martin Drexler and jockey Fraser Aebly are among the finalists! Well done! More from the Canadian Thoroughbred here.

2024 Sam F. Davis Stakes at a Glance

Change of Command (3-1) the pick for Hall of Fame trainer McGaughey

Fans intently watch the action at Tampa Bay Downs. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

The Sam F. Davis Stakes this Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs may be a Kentucky Derby prep, but it also serves as a valuable stepping stone to the richer March 9 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, which offers 50 qualifying points to the winner. Change of Command (3-1) is the pick from America's Best Racing in a packed field of 12. Full analysis here.

Kentucky Derby 2024

Pletcher has yet another case of prep hiccups

Trainer Todd Pletcher is facing challenges on the road to the Kentucky Derby (Barbara D. Livingston)

Having started more horses in the Kentucky Derby than any other trainer, and attempted to get even more to the race who didn’t make it, Todd Pletcher knows the pitfalls of the Triple Crown trail as well, if not better, than most. This year, the perils of the Derby trail have developed early for Pletcher. More from the Daily Racing Form here.

Kentucky Derby Rankings by Steve Haskin

The Road to the Derby, February 5, 2024 – Week 3

"It took about two minutes following the Holy Bull Stakes for it all to sink in. There is no No.1! After giving it some thought I had no choice but to start psycho-analyzing Fierceness in order to keep him on top. Otherwise, where do you put him and who do you replace him with? Then I heard the news from owner Aron Wellman about Locked, and I started wondering if we still have a No. 2. Well, it’s all been sorted out so sit back and enjoy the week we almost started the Rankings with No. 3." ~ Steve Haskin. Read more at here.

Best of Bob

by ASD Historian Bob Gates

Bob recounts a rivalry from 1979 and 1980 when a pair of young ones challenged each other to the max. One was a copper bay gelding and the other was a grey. They put on a clinic in the Derby Trial where they ran one/two and in the Manitoba Derby they ran second and third. Who were they? Find out here (From June 25, 2017).

Upcoming events at ASD

  • Break Open Bonanza - Draws for Break-Open tickets - Monday to Friday - more info
  • Lucky Spins - Draws for $20 in free VLT Spins - Friday to Sunday - more info
  • Manitoba Tattoo Expo - Friday, February 9 to Sunday, February 11 - more info
  • Valentine's Dinner & Dance - Wednesday, February 14 - more info
  • Player's Choice Handicapping Tournament - Saturday, February 17 - more info
We would love to hear from you! Email your comments and/or suggestions to
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