The Inside Track | Issue #71 | March 17, 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
  • Spring Training in Full Swing
  • Call for Foal Photos
  • 2023 Shipping Incentives
  • 2023 Live Racing Dates/Purses/Stakes
  • ASD Condition Book #1 Download
  • Road to the Kentucky Derby
  • Remembering Richard Bonnycastle
  • Xtra Heat: Horse of a Lifetime
  • Steve Haskin's Derby Dozen
  • Snapshot in Time: Whittier Park
  • Carryover Watch
  • The Best of Bob: Alberta Horsemen
  • 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

  • This 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, 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
Spring Training in Full Swing
Equicizer busy, training track to open this weekend, excitement begins to build
Horses arrive at the Equicizer. It's a social occasion! The training track is expected to open this weekend.
If it weren’t the Equicizer in March it could have been a garden party in July, on Thursday morning in the Assiniboia Downs backstretch.

It was a social occasion for people and horses, but the horses were also there for some serious early prep work. The live race meeting is just over two months away and the training track is expected to open this weekend. The horses can socialize on the track too, but it’s a little different than talking to each other at the Equicizer.

The grooms meanwhile, have a tough job ahead of them, getting these furry beasts all cleaned up and ready to roll for opening day at ASD on Monday, May 22. Almost all the early arrivals are local horses who have spent their winters outside enjoying all the mental and physical benefits that sunny cold days and deep snow can provide. For horses that haven't had a break from racing for a while, a winter off in Manitoba can do them a world of good.

Numerous trainers including Devon Gittens, Shelley Brown, Wendy Anderson, Blair Miller, Steve Gaskin, Mike Taphorn and more have already moved horses in and the grooms are hard at work preparing their charges for opening day.
Equicizer Socialites. L to R: Trainer Mike Taphorn, jockey Arthur Budhu and operator extraordinaire Janine Rivard.
There’s a lot of work to do over the next 60 days, for both the horses and the grooms. The horses will train from 45-60 days before doing any real speed work, while the grooms will be doing serious work already, meaning lots of heavy-duty brushing, leg work and clean up. When the warmer weather comes, they can give their horses a bath with soothing warm water, which makes their brushing job much easier.

Most horses love their first bath of the year, and all that follow. Some trainers add liniment to the bath water, which soothes the horses’ muscles, makes them feel good, and puts a little frisky in their step.

Someone commented on the Assiniboia Downs Facebook page last week that grooming horses sounded like a lot of hard work, based on what we wrote in the Insider. It is! But it’s also one of the most satisfying and rewarding jobs you’ll ever have. And when you get to the winner’s circle, it gets even better.

There’s a real art to preparing a horse for their first start of the year, especially when you’re doing all your spring training in Manitoba. Trainers have to make sure they don’t under or over train their horses, the latter of which is generally tipped off by a horse not eating or the development of minor physical issues.
The joy of winning! Groom Meadow McLean leads Yola and jockey Jorge Carreno into the winner's circle for trainer Wendy Anderson and owners Wind Dancer Stable and Bill Meikle after Race 5 on August 1. (Jason Halstead photo)
Careful attention must be paid to everything a horse does both in and out of their stall. How they walk, jog and gallop. How they act. How they eat. Are they eager to trainer? Are they happy?

The groom’s job is to keep their horses in the best physical condition possible through grooming and massaging and sometimes soulful one-on-one conversations. It makes a difference.

Some of the best trainers and grooms in the world will take horses out at afternoon feed time, walk them around the shedrow and give them pep talks. Some even do it before a race. For some horses it makes a world of difference. It gives them confidence and makes them feel good about themselves. This can be done throughout the season, if a horse responds to it, but mental preparation is especially important early in the year.

Anticipation, excitement and hope will build over the next 60 days, and when opening day arrives, trainers and grooms will find out if they’ve done their jobs. They have to work together, it's a team effort. Win or lose, if you’re horse gives their best, you’ll know you got the job done. And that...

Just plain feels good.
Jockey Nirone Austin in trainer Jennifer Jordan's barn with the 6-year-old mare Evade. "She's one of the top Indian Relay horses, and she means the world to her owners," said Jordan, who had a breakout year in 2022 with 18 wins (23%). A three-time winner, Evade is owned by Denise and Tanya Stone of the Mosquito First Nation in Saskatchewan. Jordan will also be training horses again for Andy Stronach, who helped her to a big year in 2022. Good luck to all!
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.
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 and Tampa Bay 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
From romance novels to racehorses, Dick Bonnycastle was successful and just last year, a horse he bred in Manitoba produced a Kentucky Derby winner.
1972 - Dick Bonnycastle (third from left) celebrated a big win by his Nice Dancer in the Manitoba Derby.
Richard ‘Dick’ Bonnycastle bred and raced dozens of top horses under his Harlequin Ranches banner in the nearly 50 years he was involved in horse racing, but one of his most famous achievements last year was when a top filly he bred in his home province of Manitoba, Gold Strike, produced a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner.

Rich Strike, the longshot winner of the 2022 Derby, is out of Gold Strike, a Manitoba-bred daughter of Smart Strike who won the Debutante and Buffalo Stakes at Assiniboia Downs in 2004 for trainer Blair Miller. Gold Strike went on to win the Selene Stakes (G3) and Woodbine Oaks for trainer Reade Baker in 2005 and was named Canada's Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in 2005.

Bonnycastle passed away at his home in Calgary, Alberta on March 7 after a lengthy illness. He was 88. More from Jennifer Morrison at the Canadian Thoroughbred here.
Scheinman: Remembering Hall Of Famer Xtra Heat
Xtra Heat, with Rick Wilson aboard, and co-owner Kenny Taylor, right. (NYRA photo)
One of the best horse racing stories you'll ever read: They got her for a nickel ($5,000) after a vet told her owner she'd probably never make it to the races, the lesions in her stifles were so bad. She looked runty and was named cheap, after a gas company – not exactly Princequillo, Round Table or Secretariat – but it proved apt. Xtra Heat ran like she was lit by rocket fuel. More from John Scheinman at the Paulick Report here.
Steve Haskin's Derby Dozen - Week 8
Steve Haskin of writes one of the best Derby Dozen pieces on the Web.
In addition to his take on the Tampa Bay Derby, Steve Haskin has a number of changes to the rankings order with a focus this week on the various speed ratings to get an idea of how fast…or slow the horses are. Next week he'll have to somehow plow through the annual dead March weekend with no stakes before the main attractions begin with the Louisiana Derby, the first of the 100-point races. In the meantime enjoy Big Red’s March to the Derby, his column on Secretariat’s winter and early spring races of 1973, and Haskin's first of several columns celebrating the 50th anniversary of Big Red’s Triple Crown campaign. More from here.
A Snapshot in Time
by Track Historian Bob Gates
This week’s Snapshot in Time is the next leg in our “Time Tunnel” journey and takes us to Whittier Park, which was built in 1924. All evidence of the track is gone, but if you visit Fort Gibraltar in St. Boniface today, you’ll find yourself in the spot where the racetrack was located. 

Look for the baseball diamond and the old Elm tree, which now provides the only shade for the ball players as they await their turn to bat. This tree is the same one that graced the infield of the old racetrack with its infamous tight turns. (Assiniboia Downs Archive).
Carryover Watch
  • Gulfstream (March 17) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover - $244,391
  • Charles Town (March 17) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover - $123,993. Mandatory payout on Saturday, March 18.
  • Santa Anita (March 17) - Jackpot Pick 6 carryover - $81,877

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

Bob thought it was time for a story on some out-of-towners. You know the people who travel from other parts of Canada and the US to race in Winnipeg. The subject of this week's blog is a trio of men from Alberta. These men raced at both Polo Park and the Downs. And there's even a special treat this week.

Bob was able to find a personal connection to one of the men. Not bad when you consider that the horseman last raced at the Downs 60 years ago and won the Canadian Derby 71 years ago. Who’s the connection? Who's the horseman? Click here to find out. (From September 2020)
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
  • 4% cash back every Monday in March (20 & 27) - more info
  • 3% cash back on the Dubai World Cup - Saturday, March 25 - 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
Did you know that past issues of The Inside Track are available on our website? Click here to read them now.