The Inside Track | Issue #27 | May 12, 2022
  • Open daily from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
  • VLTs, Race Carrels and Tables are sanitized between customer use.
  • Our fully immunized staff will continue to wear masks for the safety of all customers.
In this edition . . .
  • What's happening at the Downs?
  • Derby Winner has Manitoba Mom!
  • Live Season Start Moved to May 31
  • Snapshot in Time: Gold Strike
  • Can Derby Winner Take Preakness?
  • Partner Locations
  • Photo of the Week: Yesitsmejohnny G
  • Preakness Stakes Update
  • Bloodlines: An Upset Derby Winner
  • The Best of Bob
  • Upcoming Events
Do the Downs!
SPIN TO WIN THURSDAYS AND FRIDAYS IN THE CLUBWEST GAMING LOUNGE - Enter at the VLT cage every Thursday and Friday for a chance to spin the wheel for up to $100 cash! Draws will be made every 30 minutes starting at noon.
MONDAY MADNESS EVERY MONDAY IN MAY - 4% cash back on all eligible wagering Mondays in May. Minimum wagered $100 (each Monday). Maximum deposit $25 (each Monday). Wagers must be placed on HPI account to qualify. ($2.10 payoffs not included.)
Spring Showcase Market this Saturday & Sunday
Join us Saturday, May 14 & Sunday, May 15 at Assiniboia Downs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Spring Showcase Market will feature:
  • 70+ amazing local Artisans!
  • Mini donuts & lemonade
  • Free henna tattoos
  • A beautiful three tier photo wall from @event.zy
  • Grand Prize draw for shoppers!
  • Gardening area
  • Vendor list and booth locations - click here
  • Admission $10. Get your tickets here
At The Post with G.S. Thompson
Rich Strike, a 3-year-old colt by Keen Ice out of the Manitoba-bred, born and raised mare Gold Strike, wins the 148th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at 80-1! ( Photo)
148th Kentucky Derby winner has Manitoba Mom!
Broodmare Gold Strike was born, raised and raced in Manitoba
When Rich Strike roared down the stretch to win the 148th Kentucky Derby (G1) last Saturday, he had the nutrient rich environment and tough cold winters of Manitoba coursing through his veins. His dam, Gold Strike, was born, raised and raced here. 

And his was no ordinary stretch run. Watch it again here. It was as if the famed Calumet Farm had combined golfer John Daly, boxer Muhammad Ali and linebacker Lawrence Taylor into a single horse and planned it all: Get in off the also eligible list, float like a butterfly and sting like a rhinoceros. If there was a brick wall at the wire in the Derby, Rich Strike would have gone right through it.

Golf fans will remember how John Daly fluked into the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate and won it with “an awesome display of power,” according to Sports Illustrated. Rich Strike did the same in the Kentucky Derby.

Stuck on the also eligible list, 15 minutes before the scratch deadline, his trainer Eric Reed received a call telling him Rich Strike would not get into the Derby. Ten minutes later he received another call informing him that Hall Famer D. Wayne Lukas had scratched Ethereal Road from the Derby, and that Rich Strike would indeed be running. And run he did!

Receiving a beautiful trip under first-time Kentucky Derby rider Sonny Leon, Rich Strike was masterfully floated through the Kentucky Derby field with only minor trouble. Back in 17th place early, he moved up between horses on the final turn and dove inside for the stretch drive. Deftly dodging the stopping Messier in front of him at the 3/16ths pole, he responded to Leon’s enthusiastic rousing and laid it down with everything he had for the final eighth of a mile, taking over late to win by three-quarters of a length over favourite Epicenter.

It was an exhibition of explosive power and class under pressure, and it was just what Calumet Farm was looking for when they bred Travers Stakes (G1) winner Keen Ice to Manitoba-bred Gold Strike to produce their 10th Kentucky Derby winner.

Bred by Winnipegger Dick Bonnycastle’s Harlequin Ranches, Gold Strike was born on March 30, 2002, in Petersfield, Manitoba on Janet Cruz’s farm, where former top Assiniboia Downs trainer Tom Dodds was standing the stallion Shrike. Gold Strike was then moved to Dodds’ farm in Brunkild, Manitoba, where she was raised by Tom and his wife Jane. She was the last horse Dodds broke before his knees gave out on him.

In 2004, at the age of two, Gold Strike was sent to trainer Blair Miller at Assiniboia Downs. Under Miller’s tutelage the big bay daughter of Smart Strike-Brassy Gold by Dixieland Brass won the Debutante Stakes and romped by 15 ¾-lengths in the Buffalo Stakes under a shocked Jerry Pruitt, who couldn’t believe how much horse he had under him.
Trainer Blair Miller stands in front of Gold Strike's former stall while being interviewed by CBC Reporter Sheila North and filmed by videographer Jeff Stapleton. Click image to watch the interview. It starts at 11:08. (George Williams photo)
Interviewed by CBC Winnipeg (starts at 11:08) in front of Gold Strike’s former stall in the backstretch at Assiniboia Downs on Wednesday morning, Miller recalled that Gold Strike “was just a really classy horse from day one. Just a really nice, smart filly. We knew she was going to be a good one.”

Gold Strike was named the CTHS Manitoba-bred Champion 2-Year-Old in 2004 and was sent to trainer Reade Baker at Woodbine for her 3-year-old season. Gold Strike continued to live up to her breeder’s dreams at Woodbine, winning the Selene Stakes (G3) and the Labatt Woodbine Oaks. She also finished third in the Queen’s Plate and second in both the Hendrie Stakes (G3) and the Star Shoot Stakes.

Gold Strike was named Canada’s Champion 3-Year-Old Filly and CTHS Manitoba-bred Horse of the Year for her exceptional 2005 season and retired with earnings of $564,500 (US) from a record 4-3-1 in nine starts. It was then off to the breeding shed to begin her career as a broodmare.

Gold Strike produced five fillies for Bonnycastle, the best being 2013 Natalma Stakes (G2) winner Llanarmon, before being sold at the age of 13 in foal to Hopeful Stakes (G1) winner Sky Mesa at the November 2015 Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale for $230,000 to Calumet Farm. The resulting foal, a full sister to Llanarmon, was unraced. Bred back to Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Oxbow, Gold Strike produced a 2017 filly named My Blonde Mary that won three times. Gold Strike’s next foal in 2019, was 2022 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, by the aforementioned Travers Stakes (G1) winner Keen Ice

Gold Strike lost her expected foal by Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) winner Ransom the Moon prior to arriving at the November 2019 Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale, where she was purchased for just $1,700 by Tommy Wente, who has made a career out of rehabilitating older broodmares. Every possible avenue is now being explored to get Gold Strike in foal again.

Rich Strike (80-1) was the second longest shot in history to win the Kentucky Derby behind only Donerail (91-1) in 1913. He was also the first claimed horse ever to win the Kentucky Derby. He was claimed from Calumet Farm for $30,000 by trainer Eric Reed and RED TR-Racing, LLC at Churchill Downs on September 17, 2021, out of a race he won by 17 ¼-lengths at 10-1. Interestingly, the fourth longest shot to win the Kentucky Derby, Canadian-bred Mine That Bird (50-1), was, like Rich Strike, also out of a Smart Strike mare.

Rich Strike is inbred 2x3 to Smart Strike. His sire, Keen Ice, is by Smart Strike’s champion son Curlin, and his dam, Gold Strike, is a daughter of Smart Strike. Both Manitoba’s Bonnycastle and Kentucky’s famed Calumet Farm saw something beyond the ordinary in Smart Strike. The now successful sire of sires is a half-brother to multiple Canadian and American Champion filly Dance Smartly, out of Classy 'n Smart, one of four champions produced by the mare No Class, by Nodouble.

“If you look back at history, it’s the best way to take the genes, move them forward and concentrate them,” said Bonnycastle in Monday’s Winnipeg Free Press. “You just don’t breed that way with horses that have negative traits.”
Manitoba-bred Gold Strike wins the 2005 Labatt Woodbine Oaks. (Woodbine photo)
Bonnycastle was born and raised in the Fort Garry area of Winnipeg. His Harlequin Ranches was named after his former company, Harlequin Enterprises, the world’s largest publisher of romantic tales. Now 87, he campaigned numerous stakes winners over the course of his adventures in horse racing and breeding, including 1972 Manitoba Derby winner Nice Dancer and 1978 Classic 1,000 Guineas winner Enstone Park in England.

When Calumet Farm bought and bred Gold Strike, they were thinking well into the future. And they weren’t just buying a broodmare, they were buying a piece of Manitoba, Canada, which is now connected to some of the best horses in the world including Manitoba-bred millionairess and Canadian champion Escape Clause, dual Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Goldencents (out of the Manitoba-bred mare Golden Works) and Rich Strike, the winner of the 148th Kentucky Derby.

The whole world knows now, what we already knew.

This is horse country. 
Assiniboia Downs 2022 Season Start Moved to May 31
Local horses need more time to prepare due to unseasonal weather
The start of the Assiniboia Downs live thoroughbred racing season has been moved to Tuesday, May 31, a week later than originally planned.

While things are starting to thaw out in Winnipeg, as they should in May, the late winter storms and other related weather issues experienced in April have shortened the training window for horses. As the track quickly approached their original start date, it became apparent that the horse colony is simply not ready to start in full.

“We have been listening to some concerns coming out of the backstretch,” said Darren Dunn, chief executive officer. “Everyone rightfully wants to be able to come out of the gate to compete in top form and with just a little more time they will be ready. For the sake of a week, we felt it was the right decision to make as we want the same thing as it relates to field size and maximum wagering options for our valued customers.”

The days that were removed at the start of the meet will be added to the end of the racing schedule to ensure that the track continues to offer all 50 days of racing. The 2022 racing season will start on Tuesday, May 31 and conclude on Tuesday, September 27. See full schedule here.

First race post for Assiniboia Downs racing will be at 7:30 p.m. (Central) on all race days. Stay tuned for more announcements on some player-focused features coming to this year’s programs.
A Snapshot in Time
by ASD Historian Bob Gates
The 2022 Kentucky Derby is in the books and by now most of you know about the Manitoba/Assiniboia Downs connection. This week’s photo has the Derby winner’s mom, Gold Strike as our featured star. Gold Strike had three starts as a 2-year-old here at the Downs, chalking up two wins and a second before moving east to compete with the blue bloods at Woodbine. Locally, Gold Strike won the Debutante and the Buffalo Stakes. 

Down east she won the Selene Stakes and the Woodbine Oaks and was third in the Queen’s Plate. The Manitoba bred amassed $564,500 in career earnings before moving to the breeding shed. And how is she doing you ask? Well her son, Rich Strike just won himself the Kentucky Derby – so she’s doing just fine, thank you very much!
Our own Tommy Dodds raised Gold Strike and she was the last horse Tom broke before getting his knees overhauled. Dodds summed up Gold Strike as a "great racehorse and now a great broodmare." We wholeheartedly agree with you Mr. Dodds! (Gerry Hart photo)
Handicapper's Corner
A Preakness Angle?
Will Derby Victory Lead to Preakness Win?
Rich Strike with groom Jerry Dixon Jr. at Churchill Downs the day after winning the Kentucky Derby. (Eric Crawford / photo) Click image for more.
Rich Strike can either go forwards or backwards in the Preakness Stakes off his big Kentucky Derby win. Some horses will be knocked out after their Derby prep races and from the Derby itself. The key is to figure out which ones. You can watch the replay of the 148th Derby from every angle possible including the overhead shot and have the same trip notes as everyone else, but can you figure out whether Rich Strike's effort will wake him up or push him the other way? Lots of new faces are expected in the Preakness and his odds should be excellent! Well worth trying to figure out!
Watch and wager at one of our partner locations:

  • Canad Inns Windsor Park - 1034 Elizabeth Road
  • Green Brier Inn - 1611 Main Street
  • Rookies at Central Hotel - 201 Melrose Avenue East
  • Quest Inn - 367 Ellice Avenue
  • McPhillips Station Casino - 484 McPhillips Street
  • Club Regent Casino - 1425 Regent Ave W
  • Wager 24/7 at

  • Club 3D - 3317 Portage Avenue
  • Nor-Villa Motor Hotel - 1763 Henderson Hwy
Photo of the Week
Groom Beth Penton gives Yesitsmejohnny G a much welcomed pat in trainer Tom Gardipy, Jr.'s barn on Tuesday morning in the backstretch at ASD. The 32-year-old Penton has now been grooming horses for five years for one reason. "The horses," said Penton. "It just feels good to be around them."
Do you have an interesting photo you would like showcased in an upcoming newsletter? Email your photos to
In The News
Longshot Kentucky Derby winner will have plenty of new faces to battle at Pimlico, but Canadian-bred Messier is not one of them.
Rich Strike and jockey Sonny Leon in the Kentucky Derby winner's circle. (Kentucky Derby photo)
The celebrating of a Kentucky Derby (G1) win by Rich Strike and his team has calmed down somewhat, handicappers are still scratching their heads, but the second jewel of the American Triple Crown is up on May 21 with the 147th Preakness stakes at Pimlico racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland. More from the Canadian Thoroughbred here.
Where The Ingredients Are Now: Could Dam Gold Strike Get In Foal Again?
Rich Strike and jockey Sonny Leon celebrate their win in the 148th Kentucky Derby last Saturday. (Skip Dickstein /Paulick Report Photo)
When Rich Strike swept under the wire a winner in the 2022 Kentucky Derby, he became the 10th winner of the race bred in the name of Calumet Farm. His Manitoba-bred dam Gold Strike has changed hands more than once since foaling the Derby winner, and there's a chance she may get in foal again. More from the Paulick Report here.
Carryover Watch & Programs
  • Parx (May 16) - Jackpot Pick 5 - $534,391
  • Santa Anita (May 13) - Jackpot Pick 6 - $244,931
  • Charles Town (May 12) - Jackpot Pick 6 - $159,221
  • Gulfstream (May 12) - Jackpot Pick 6 - $135,184
  • Woodbine (May 12) - Jackpot Hi-5 - $79,258
  • See all carryovers here.

MANDATORY PAYOUT ALERT: Charles Town will offer a mandatory payout of their Jackpot Pick 6 on Friday, May 13. The current jackpot is $159,221.
"I Won Bigg" Betting Group
Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the Clubhouse
The group will be back to Woodbine and Santa Anita this Saturday. Join the discussion this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the plaza. Everyone welcome. Can't make it to the track? Email Larry for a share.
The Best of Bob
by ASD Historian Bob Gates

We lost this week’s honoree in April 2021. This man trained horses here for 35 years, retiring from training duties in 2009 and leaving the business altogether in 2012. He had some really nice runners! Who remembers Frieda’s Blazer, Lord Little Rock and Cache Lake? Click here to learn the identity of the “little guy” who had pluck, a kind soul and a good heart. From August 2021.
Upcoming events at ASD

  • Spring Showcase Market - Saturday, May 14 & Sunday, May 15 - more info
  • Indian Horse Relay Races - Monday, May 23 - more info
  • MB Food Truck Battles - Saturday, May 28 & Sunday, May 29 - more info
  • ASD Live racing starts Tuesday, May 31 - full schedule
  • Summer of Sound - Friday, June 10 - more info
  • Manitoba Night Markets - Sundays, June 12, July 24 & August 28 - more info
  • Canada Day Fireworks & Festival - Friday, July 1 - 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.