Dec 162015

Phil and every other pun maker across North America were rather pleased to see that the Pizza Man will be returning for the 2016 season.


The Globe and Mail – Taylor – The Force Awakens: Lukewarm Skywalker

ESPN – Hale – Can Clemson Deliver?

TwinSpires Blog – Hanson – Eagle looking to soar again in Tenacious

Fly Like an Eagle

Is that rumble we hear the The Fat Lady gearing up.

The southern end of the campus, including Borden Park could be home to festivals, and not just K-Days, as well as other concerts and entertainment events. Horse racing looks like it’s on the way out. “I think the provincial government’s position on it is that they don’t see a big future for continuing subsidy of that activity,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

“Clearly that could have impacts for Northlands but you know that also creates some different opportunities as well for the land to be used and the facilities to be re-purposed so I think we’ll be resilient no matter what.”

CKNW – Johnston – Northlands to reinvigorate entire 160 acre campus after Oilers move downtown

Thoroughbred Racing Commentary – Ehalt -Wake up Racing – Daily Fantasy Sports are a real threat

Legal Sports Report – Grove – Daily Fantasy Sports Grabs Victory From Jaws Of Defeat In NY Court Battle

Legal Sports Report – Grove – Daily Fantasy Sports Face Dim Future In New York After Judge Hands Win To Attorney General

Phil has a question:

Threat or opportunity.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

Henry Ford


TwinSpires Blog – DeRosa – At the track with grandpa memories linger

Bloodhorse – The Pizza Man Gearing Up for 2016 Campaign

 It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
John Wooden

TwinSpires Blog – Pugh – Is Another American Pharoah Too Much to Ask for Christmas?



TwinSpires Blog – Hanson – Top stallion Scat Daddy dies suddenly at Ashford

Bloodhorse – Hammonds – Top Sire Scat Daddy Dies at Age 11

National Post – Cole – Serena Williams winning Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year results in (gasp) controversy

Bloodhorse – Mitchell – ‘Pharoah’ Bypassed for Sportsman of the Year

Lady and the Track – Hammer – Sport’s Illustrated’s Backlash Video in Poor Taste

Bloodhorse – Hangin with Haskin – SI Pharoah Snub Much Ado About Nothing

Thoroughbred Racing Commentary – MacDonald – American Pharoah vs Secretariat vs Seattle Slew vs Affirmed: how they actually measure up



This is Horse Racing – Homecoming for a ‘rock star’

Horse Racing Insider – Indulto – Adventures in Horseplayer Advocacy

Horse Race Insider – Jicha – Once upon a time, stewards looked out for fans

TwinSpires Blog – Powell – Handicapping Insights – When the same distance can vary greatly

Monster Hospital

DRF – Grening – Pick five carryover of $162,853 for Friday

TwinSpires Blog – DeRosa – Horseplayer Holiday As Aqueduct Finally Delivers Pick 5 Carryover


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Delta Downs
Super High Five     $894.00
Fair Grounds
Pick 5 Jackpot    $55,340.00
Super High Five Jackpot    $254,123.00
Pick 6 Jackpot    $5,471.00
Laurel Park
Pick 6 Jackpot    $66,931.00
Pick 5    $3,805.00
Los Alamitos Race Course
Pick 6    $49,750.00
Super High Five     $29,755.00
Los Alamitos
Pick 6    $2,936.00
Sunland Park
Super High Five     $497.00
Pick 6 Jackpot    $157.00
Tampa Bay Downs
Super High Five     $3,580.00
Turf Paradise
Pick 5    $5,495.00
Pick 6    $3,540.00
Turfway Park
Pick 5    $5,905.00
Super High Five     $1,662.00


Guaranteed Pools

Equibase Carryovers and Guaranteed Pools

ESPN – Finley – More than meets the eye

Horse Race Insider – Pricci – For Pletcher, Castellano, Stewards and Bettors, Just Another Day at the Office

Bloodhorse – Angst – Tommy Macho May Be the Man in Queens County

Bloodhorse – Mitchell – Lady Eli Jogs for First Time After Recovery

ESPN – Duckworth – The tale of Top Ten List

Upcoming  Stakes

Dec 18
Delta Downs
Lookout $65,000 3&up Fillies & Mares State/Prov 7.5f Dirt

Dec 19
Queens County handicap $100,000 3&up 9f Dirt
Delta Downs
B-Connected $65,000 3&up State/Prov 7.5f Dirt
Fair Grounds
Blushing K.D. stake $60,000 4&up Fillies & Mares abt 8.5f Turf
Buddy Diliberto Memorial stake $60,000 4&up abt 8.5f Turf
Letellier Memorial stake $50,000 2yo Fillies 6f Dirt
Sugar Bowl stake $50,000 2yo 6f Dirt
Tenacious stake $60,000 3&up 8.32f Dirt
Tiffany Lass stake $50,000 3&up Fillies & Mares 8.32f Dirt
Gulfstream Park
Mr. Prospector Stake GIII $100,000 3&up 6f Dirt
Tropical Park Derby $75,000 3yo 8.5f Turf
Tropical Park Oaks $75,000 3yo Fillies 8.5f Turf
Japan Racing Association
Turquoise Stake (L) $633,000 3&up Fillies & Mares 8f Turf

Los Alamitos
Los Alamitos Futurity GI $350,000 2yo 8.5f
Sunland Park
KLAQ handicap $65,000 3&up 5f Dirt
Tampa Bay Downs
Inaugural stake #$100,000 2yo Colts & Geldings 6f Dirt
Lightning City Stake (L) #$100,000 4&up Fillies & Mares 5f Turf
Sandpiper stake #$100,000 2yo Fillies 6f Dirt
Turfway Park
Prairie Bayou stake #$60,000 3&up 8.5f AW

Dec 20
New York Stallion Series (Fifth Ave. Div.) $150,000 2yo Fillies R 6f Dirt
Japan Racing Association
Asahi Hai Futurity Stake GI $1,274,000 2yo 8f Turf
Sunland Park
Johnie L. Jamison stake $85,000 3&up State/Prov 6.5f Dirt
Sunland Park
New Mexico State Racing Commission handicap $85,000 3&up Fillies & Mares State/Prov 6f Dirt

Dec 26
Damon Runyon stake $100,000 2yo State/Prov 8.32f Dirt
Gravesend handicap $100,000 3&up 6f Dirt
Fair Grounds
Pago Hop stake $75,000 3yo Fillies abt 8f Turf
Pan Zareta stake $60,000 4&up Fillies & Mares 6f Turf
Woodchopper stake $75,000 3yo abt 8f Turf
Gulfstream Park
La Prevoyante Handicap GIII $100,000 3&up Fillies & Mares 12f Turf
Sugar Swirl Stake GIII $100,000 3&up Fillies & Mares 6f Dirt
W.L. McKnight Handicap GIII $100,000 3&up 12f Turf
Japan Racing Association
Hanshin Cup GII $1,173,000 3&up 7f Turf
Laurel Park
Dave’s Friend stake $100,000 3&up 6f Dirt
Jennings handicap $50,000 3&up State/Prov 8f Dirt
Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship $50,000 2yo Fillies State/Prov 7f Dirt
Maryland Juvenile Futurity $50,000 2yo State/Prov 7f Dirt
Thirty-Eight Go Go stake $100,000 3&up Fillies & Mares 8f Dirt
Santa Anita Park
Daytona Stake GIII $100,000 3&up abt 6.5f Turf
La Brea Stake GI $300,000 3yo Fillies 7f Dirt
Malibu Stake GI $300,000 3yo 7f Dirt
Mathis Brothers Mile GII $200,000 3yo 8f Turf
Sunland Park
La Senora stake $85,000 2yo Fillies State/Prov 6f Dirt
Turf Paradise
Arizona Juvenile Fillies stake $35,000 2yo Fillies 6.5f Dirt
Lost in the Fog Juvenile stake $35,000 2yo 6.5f Dirt

Dec 27
East View stake $100,000 2yo Fillies State/Prov 8.32f Dirt
New York Stallion Series (Great White Way Div.) $150,000 2yo Colts & Geldings R 6f Dirt
Japan Racing Association
Arima Kinen GI $4,530,000 3&up 12.5f Turf
Hopeful Stake GII $1,173,000 2yo 10f Turf
Portland Meadows
Bill Wineberg stake $15,000 2yo Colts & Geldings State/Prov 6f Dirt
Janet Wineberg stake $15,000 2yo Fillies State/Prov 6f Dirt
Lethal Grande Oregon Sprint Championship $12,000 3&up State/Prov 6f Dirt
Oregon Distaff Starter handicap $7,500 g 3&up Fillies & Mares State/Prov 6f Dirt
Oregon Fall Starter handicap $7,500 g 3&up State/Prov 6f Dirt
Oregon Hers stake $12,000 3yo Fillies State/Prov 8f Dirt
Oregon His stake $12,000 3yo Colts & Geldings State/Prov 8.5f Dirt

ESPN – Cronley – Seen worse

Bloodhorse – Johnson – Baffert Duo Looks Strong in Los Alamitos Futurity

Lady and the Track – Macatangay – Mor Spirit a Standout in Los Alamitos Futurity

Louisville Courier-Journal – Lintner – Baffert considers three for next Derby prep

Bloodhorse – Shulman – Futurity Looks Bright For Toews On Ice

TwinSpires Blog – Scully – Baffert well-represented in Futurity with Mor Spirit & Toews on Ice

DRF – Jerardi: Baffert duo capable of winning Beyer in Futurity

TwinSpires Blog – Caldwell – Discreetness gets head-bobbing win in Springboard Mile 

TwinSpires Blog – Caldwell – Li’l Meatball closes out juvenile campaign in Inaugural at Tampa Bay Downs

Bloodhorse – McCoy – Two-Year-Olds Focus of Tampa Bay Stakes

DRF – Hovdey: Mora looking forward to another shot at Derby

2016 Road to the Kentucky Derby

The 142nd running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) will be run Saturday, May 7, 2016, and for the fourth consecutive year, a tiered point system in select races will determine who qualifies to America’s greatest race.
Race    Track    Date    Points
Los Alamitos Futurity Los Alamitos Race Course Dec 19, 2015 10-4-2-1
Jerome Aqueduct Jan 9, 2016 10-4-2-1
Sham Santa Anita Park Jan 16, 2016 10-4-2-1
Smarty Jones Oaklawn Park Jan 18, 2016 10-4-2-1
Holy Bull Gulfstream Park Jan 30, 2016 10-4-2-1
Withers Aqueduct Feb 13, 2016 10-4-2-1
Robert B. Lewis Santa Anita Park Feb 13, 2016 10-4-2-1
Southwest Oaklawn Park Feb 15, 2016 10-4-2-1
El Camino Real Derby Golden Gate Fields Feb 20, 2016 10-4-2-1
Fountain of Youth Gulfstream Park Feb 27, 2016 50-20-10-5
Risen Star Fair Grounds Feb 27, 2016 50-20-10-5
Gotham Aqueduct Mar 12, 2016 50-20-10-5
Tampa Bay Derby Tampa Bay Downs Mar 12, 2016 50-20-10-5
San Felipe Santa Anita Park Mar 12, 2016 50-20-10-5
Rebel Oaklawn Park Mar 19, 2016 50-20-10-5
Sunland Derby Sunland Park Mar 20, 2016 50-20-10-5
Spiral Turfway Park Mar 26, 2016 50-20-10-5
UAE Derby Meydan Racecourse Mar 26, 2016 100-40-20-10
Florida Derby Gulfstream Park Apr 2, 2016 100-40-20-10
Louisiana Derby Fair Grounds Apr 2, 2016 100-40-20-10
Wood Memorial Aqueduct Apr 9, 2016 100-40-20-10
Blue Grass Keeneland Apr 9, 2016 100-40-20-10
Santa Anita Derby Santa Anita Park Apr 9, 2016 100-40-20-10
Arkansas Derby Oaklawn Park Apr 16, 2016 100-40-20-10
Lexington Keeneland Apr 16, 2016 10-4-2-1

2016 Belmont Stakes Festival Logo Unveiled

Bloodhorse – 2016 Belmont Stakes Festival Logo Unveiled

TwinSpires Blog – Mucciolo – Street Fancy shines in Starlet, Futurity on tap for closing weekend at Los Alamitos

Bloodhorse – Hangin with Haskin – Turf and Sport Digest Days

2016 Road to the Kentucky Oaks

Race    Track    Date      Points
Santa Ynez    Santa Anita Park Jan 9, 2016 10-4-2-1
Busanda    Aqueduct Jan 16, 2016 10-4-2-1
Silverbulletday    Fair Grounds Jan 23, 2016 10-4-2-1
Forward Gal    Gulfstream Park Jan 30, 2016 10-4-2-1
Martha Washington    Oaklawn Park Feb 6, 2016 10-4-2-1
Las Virgenes    Santa Anita Park Feb 6, 2016 10-4-2-1
UAE Oaks    Meydan Racecourse Feb 25, 2016 50-20-10-5
Busher    Aqueduct Feb 27, 2016 50-20-10-5
Davona Dale    Gulfstream Park Feb 27, 2016 50-20-10-5
Rachel Alexandra   Fair Grounds Feb 27, 2016 50-20-10-5
Santa Ysabel    Santa Anita Park Mar 5, 2016 50-20-10-5
Honeybee    Oaklawn Park Mar 12, 2016 50-20-10-5
Sunland Park Oaks    Sunland Park Mar 20, 2016 50-20-10-5
Bourbonette Oaks    Turfway Park Mar 26, 2016 50-20-10-5
Gulfstream Park Oaks    Gulfstream Park Apr 2, 2016 100-40-20-10
Fair Grounds Oaks    Fair Grounds Apr 2, 2016 100-40-20-10
Santa Anita Oaks    Santa Anita Park Apr 9, 2016 100-40-20-10
Gazelle    Aqueduct Apr 9, 2016 100-40-20-10
Ashland   Keeneland Apr 9, 2016 100-40-20-10
Fantasy    Oaklawn Park Apr 9, 2016 100-40-20-10
Beaumont    Keeneland Apr 17, 2016 10-4-2-1

Lady and the Track – Hammer – Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Grants $2.48 Million to Accredited Organizations

Bloodhorse – Conquest Typhoon Back in Tropical Park Derby

From the Derby Bar and Grill Newsletter






Hastings News by Greg Douglas


Bloodhorse – Familiar Faces for Santa Anita Jockey Colony

TwinSpires Blog – Mirahmadi, Wrona to share Santa Anita announcing duties 


TwinSpires – Blog – Highland Reel repels Flintshire to make Hong Kong Vase history

I Came To Dance

Decoupling would end a requirement that racetracks with slot machines or card clubs offer live racing. Before this year it was limited to the Greyhound racing industry.

Bloodhorse – LaMarra – Decoupling Option Part of Tribal Compact

The higher we are placed, the more humbly we should walk.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

INDIAN CHARLIE WORLDWIDE - We Never Let the Truth Get In The Way Of A Good Story

Bloodhorse – Jockey Berry Honored Upon Retirement

Bloodhorse – The Enduring Legacy of Darby Dan Farm

TwinSpires Blog – DeRosa – & Churchill team to offer $20,000 handicapping tournament 


January 15 – 17 2016

Sheraton Red Deer

3310 – 50 Avenue
Red Deer, Alberta, T4N 3X9 Canada

Bloodhorse – Angst – Trainer Kirk Ziadie Faces Six-Year Suspension

Thoroughbred Racing Commentary – Haigh – Does this rider have any equal for sheer brilliance?

Giving horseplayers a voice.

Last chance turkey tonight!
Wolf down turkey, stuffing, certified Angus prime rib and other good stuff tonight, your last Thursday all-you-can-eat buffet with a festive flair.  Call Samantha at 204-885-3330 ext. 0 to reserve. (It’s $26.95.) Book quickly as it was filling up fast. (Prime rib buffets resume Jan. 7)
The new HPIbet website has led to questions about new features and easy ways to access them.  So, to give you the most comfort in using the site, the Downs is offering two seminars–one this Saturday morning and, if you can’t attend that one, there will be another one Tuesday at 7 p.m. Here are the details:
Host Marshall Posner

Seminar topic:  “Tips and Tricks to Using the New HPI Website”

Hosts:  Web analysts and longtime horseplayers Marshall Posner and Glen Sirkis
Where and when:  This Saturday at 10 a.m. in the lower level Finish Line banquet room.
Second seminar:  (If you are unable to attend Saturday or want further help and advice) Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.
What to bring:  Your laptop (if you have one) and your questions.  The HPI site will be projected on a large screen
FREE to all attendees:  A free breakfast sandwich (sausage, egg and cheese on a toasted English muffin) and $20 will be deposited free into your HPI account.
SIGN-UP:  So the Downs knows how many will be attending, please email your intention to attend to
Bullet briefs . . .
Weekly cash bonuses continue for your bets.  Up to 5% cash back!
• Texting wrong horse number costs player more than $4,400
• Chantal making another comeback?
• Magazine provokes firestorm by ignoring Pharoah poll results
• Here’s your “best anywhere” Kentucky Derby countdown
• Witt Six takes on tough field at Fair Grounds Saturday
• Gift reminders:  ASD calendar, ASD gift card, horseshoe necklace
Two $100 horses had ’em buzzing
Did you catch either of these?  Would you have?
The Race Book was abuzz Friday and Saturday afternoon when two $100 horses won–one at Aqueduct and the other at Gulfstream.  One player had bet $10 win/place on the Gulfstream horse.  Did you?  Could you have?  See the program pages for those two races here.
• Aqueduct — Friday, race 7 — Taolseach paid $101.50 to win in an optional claiming
race for 2-year-olds.  See program page here.
• Gulfstream — Saturday, race 2 — Giant Cat paid $131.60 in a race for $6,250 claimers.
See program page here.
*       *       *
LOOKING TO CASH BIG SUPERS?  TURFWAY’S THE TRACK:  With horses shipping in from dirt tracks to Turfway’s Polytrack, just about anything can happen — which has been the case, with long shots being the name of the game and with superfectas paying in the many thousands of dollars (Canadians can play them for 20-cents).  Last Friday, $1 superfecta prices included $21,607, $11,755, $8,564 and $4,330. A couple others paid more than $2,000.  And on Saturday, a super paid $6,724 and three paid more than $3,000.  Generally speaking, look for horses that have excelled on synthetic tracks or shown some ability on the turf.



Click for schedule
Have you booked New Year’s Eve Gala yet?

GIFT REMINDERS:  Don’t forget the beautiful 2016-2017 calendar ($15), an ASD gift card with whatever amount you wish and the $45 sterling silver Alyssa Selman horseshoe necklace. All available at the VLT cage which is open from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day.

Free apple cider

FREE APPLE CIDER AND SNACKS ALL NEXT WEEK!  In celebration of the holiday season, Assiniboia Downs will offer complementary hot apple cider and snacks all day from 10 a.m. to midnight all next week in the Clubhouse starting Sunday, Dec. 20.  (Mmm, love that cider!)  Morning snacks will include mini-muffins, danish and croissants.  Afternoon and evening snacks will include dainties, pretzel mini-twists, bits ‘n’ bites, cookies and popcorn, with a different snack served each hour in the Race Book and Club West Gaming Lounge. Enjoy!

Cabbage rolls

NEW! ON-THE-GO NEW YEAR’S EVE CLUBHOUSE BUFFET:  Between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Clubhouse New Year’s Eve, dig into this amazing buffet featuring cabbage rolls, honey mesquite chicken, beef bourgignon, lemon-baked basa, various salads, chef’s cake and dainties and more — all for just $15.75 ($20.15 including taxes and gratuity). Some deal, eh? Load up and seat yourself.  Get your tickets now at the VLT cage and general office.

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

Cry me a river
Player’s texting mistake costs him more than $4,400

How big an oversight by a horseplayer Saturday night was this?  It was so big that other players in the Race Book were oozing real sympathy and were looking for a beach-sized crying towel for a player who had missed out on more than $4,400 simply because he had copied a wrong horse number into a text message.

What happened was this:  In playing the Woodbine harness pick-4 in races 4 to 7, the player was simply playing a 20-cent ticket using four horses in each race selected by one of the program handicappers.  It was a no-brainer:   4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 256 divided by 5 which made it a $51.20 ticket.  Occupied with other things at the time, the player texted those numbers to a friend to play the ticket for him.
The first leg was won by a 68/1 bombs-away long shot, #8, Amble Over Hanover, so the bettor knew he was looking at big money if he could complete the pick 4.  He won the next race and the one after that.  So it was down to the final leg.  Would one of the program handicapper’s horses win?   Yes, indeed!  #9, 15/1 Apprentice Hanover, crossed the wire in front, meaning the bettor was cashing a 20-cent ticket that was paying $4,460.
Except he didn’t.  In texting numbers from the program page, the player got all the numbers correct in the first three legs but, in the last leg, when he should have texted #9 as one of the four numbers, he incorrectly texted #7 instead.  He simply goofed up in his texting.
“Maybe this happened for a reason,” said the shocked player afterward, trying to put the best philosophical face on a sorrowful situation while other players just shook their heads in disbelief.  Now there was a lesson that won’t soon be forgotten.  Except that it was–almost immediately.  In the next pick-4, he got another number wrong.  At least that one could be ascribed to his still shaking from his previous loss.  Or was the fickle finger of fate messing with his mind and his fingers again?  Now THAT was truly unbelievable.

Jock talk
Chantal to make a second comeback?
Chantal Sutherland
Back in the saddle

Four months ago “former” jockey Chantal Sutherland was telling her online followers she was working toward becoming “The Queen of Real Estate” (her words and her caps) with an Orange County, LA real estate company but the Winnipeg native couldn’t resist her first love: horses.  So expect her to return to riding at Santa Anita when its meet begins on Boxing Day.  That’s what she was telling friends at Woodbine last month when the thoroughbred meet was coming to an end.

This will be the second time the popular jockey and model–who posed nude on a horse–will be attempting a comeback.  Riding since 2000, she retired in October, 2012, after being taken off her beloved “soldier,” Game On Dude–a horse she rode to victory in the Santa Anita Handicap–and then was suspended for five days at Woodbine for failing a breathalyzer.  That retirement only lasted until the following summer when she returned to riding at Betfair Hollywood then at Woodbine the following year when she won 13 per cent of her races (227-29-39-20). Then she pretty much disappeared, getting her real estate license in the meantime. Her home is in southern California with her husband, Dan Kruse, a meat wholesaler, whom she married in 2012.
Chantal is sounding a bit like the in-and-out Patrick Valenzuela who recently resumed his riding career at Fair Grounds after being absent since January, 2014.  She likely would be happy getting the kind of early results P Val is getting:  38-6-5-6.
YOU NAMED ME WHAT?  Bob’s Hope.  For everyone who remembers the great comedian, Bob Hope, how cute a name is this for a 5-year-old gelding (9-3-2-1) racing in Australia?  You would think the name of one of the owners would be Bob — hence, Bob’s Hope.  But the horse is owned by five women.
Leonard Anderson (1948-2015)

“He died in my arms”

As Carl and Leonard Anderson, two longtime ASD horse trainers, reached the top of a flight of stairs after returning home from the Downs last Saturday afternoon, Leonard, 67, suddenly collapsed. “He died in my arms (of a massive stroke),” a shaken Carl told The Insider as he described his brother’s colourful half-century of racing that began at the Downs on Aug. 6, 1966 with a $200 horse by the name of By Criminey that Carl still recalls was part of a boxcar double.  (Verified, to no surprise, by track historian Bob Gates, who showed it paid $1,331.)  That was the start of a career, said Carl, that took his brother fo Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, Arizona and Hastings Park in B.C. where he schooled his favourite yearling, Final Act, who would go on to win his maiden race in 1994 and then the Stampede Futurity in Calgary.
His last horse was a filly at the Downs four years ago. Leonard had three daughters who will be flying in from various provinces to celebrate Leonard’s life next Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the Eternal Grace Funeral Home at 1124 Logan Avenue. Carl, 70, who registered his 1,154th victory this past summer, will honour his brother’s memory in the best way he knows how:  to continue training winners to thrill ASD fans.  (See Leonard holding the reins of his first winning horse in 1964 here with brother Carl at his side.)


Edward Allred
Takes a stand on drugs

HAIR FOLLICLE TESTS REDUCING DRUG USE: LOS AL CEO  Los Alamitos CEO Edward C. Allred says the track’s efforts to “re-establish the integrity of racing” by introducing hair follicle testing to ferret out drug-use before stakes races is starting to pay off despite difficulties this year. He noted a significant drop in entries for two major quarter horse futurity races in 2015 because out-of-state horses racing on clenbuterol (a powerful bronchodilator) wouldn’t be allowed to participate in Los Al stakes. But now, he states in a news release: “Futurity payments have increased from owners east of California for the 2016 and 2017 Los Alamitos 2 Million futurities. This indicates acceptance of our clenbuterol-free racing rules.” Who could not applaud his stand on reducing drug use?

Pharoah wins in polls but
Serena makes cover

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED IGNORES POLL; ANNOINTS SERENA:  In on online poll by Sports Illustrated, American Pharoah was the overwhelming choice to be the magazine’s Sportsman of the Year.  Instead it chose tennis star Serena Williams, which has evoked a firestorm of criticism in the Twitter world: “Why have a poll if you’re going to ignore it?”  critics have tweeted. Pharoah was the first horse since 1978 to win a Triple Crown and the first Grand Slam winner ever (winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic, too).  Not sure the magazine’s cover does a huge amount of service to the tennis world, either.  Instead of a picture displaying on-court grit, Serena is shown flashing on-throne leg.

THERE’D BE A RIOT IF HE WEREN’T: At least, American Pharoah won this year’s Vox Populi Award for the people’s favourite horse. The honour was created five years ago by  Secretariat owner Penny Chenery.
LEG-SCANNER WINS KUDOS AT SYMPOSIUM:  Can you imagine every horse, before a race having his legs scanned to see if there are any hidden injuries?  Such a diagnostic tool and a three-track study on its effects would cost $1.7 million, delegates to the annual Global Racing and Gaming Symposium in Tucson, Arizona, were told — and they loved the idea so much, they voted it their favourite. At present, It takes 45 minutes to scan a horse’s leg and he must be given an anaesthetic to keep him still.  The proposed machine would scan two legs in 2 minutes without sedatives.  Sounds like a worthy project for funding!
INNER DIRT DEFEATS “BIG” GROUP:  Two weeks ago, it was rain that washed out tickets played by the “I won big” group.  Last Saturday, it was Aqueduct’s inner dirt.  Horses who had performed well on regular dirt were spinning their wheels on the inner dirt which is a mixture designed to withstand frosty days of winter.  As it turned out, one of the legs in the group’s tickets was won by a horse nobody liked (and 20/1 in the program) but after-race inspection showed it was one-for-one on Aqueduct’s inner dirt.  Now we know.  So this Saturday, armed with this knowledge, we’ll play the last six races at Aqueduct again with a view to earning Christmas money–or will we have to rely on Santa to fill our stockings?  Let’s hope it’s the former?
NOTE:  The “I won big” workshop will begin at 11 a.m., after the special HPI seminar which will be held at 10 a.m. in the Finish Line.  Everyone from the group is invited to attend the 10 a.m. session on “tips and tricks of using HPIbet.”  There will be free breakfast sandwiches and $20 will be added to your HPI account.
Horst Kaiser

PASSIONATE PLAYER PASSES:  Most players in the Race Book didn’t know him but, playing on his HPI account at home, Horst Kaiser was one of the Downs’ most passionate players for decades–and one of the gentlest souls you could ever meet. He died on Nov. 26 at 60. During a career of doing autopsies at St. Boniface Hospital, driving a funeral hearse, fixing old cars, painting (he painted my house with a design that I even asked him to autograph) and, near the end, repairing his deceased mom’s house to put on the market, he yearned to make the big score playing the races. “Horst had a very soft heart which, at times, did not beat to the world’s rhythm,” said an obituary in the Free Press which you can read here.  Gone … way too soon.

ARE YOU A SPORTS FAN? THEN YOU’RE WHIPSAWED: “Whipsawed.”  Is there a better word to describe the lot of the sports fan, especially those following the Winnipeg Jets?  They’re winning–finally beating a central division rival–then they go to the penalty box again and again and again. And suddenly they’re losing.  Whipsawed.  It’s our lot in life.

BEST KENTUCKY DERBY TRACKER EVER?   Notice the big countdown to the Kentucky Derby sign in the Race Book?  Players have been saying they love its simplicity and the story it tells.  Starting at the bottom, where horses are seen leaving a starting gate, you can follow each prep race up the road where a new horse silhouette will be placed on the road after each prep race has been won — with the winning horse’s name and best Equibase speed number. And, if that isn’t enough, how do you like this chart?  Note the next prep race is this Saturday, the Los Alamitos Futurity.

Where are they now?
by Rob MacLennan
Manitoba Derby’s Witt Six takes on tough field at Fair Grounds
Horse owner Henry Witt Jr. and trainer Jerry Gourneau are hoping for big things from Witt Six, the 3-year-old Texas-bred who had finished second in the Manitoba Derby.  The gelding drew the outside post seven in the $60,000 Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds this Saturday. It’s a tough field for the sophomore who was recently scratched from the Zia Park Derby. Major contenders include Eagle for W.S. Farish and Neil Howard, the well-traveled 8-year-old gelding Nate’s Mineshaft and the 2014 Preakness Stakes runner-up Ride on Curlin.
Witt Six’s stable mate, 4-year-old filly Witt’s Charm (33-4-3-2), will race Monday in a turf claiming race for older mares. The Gourneau barn also has a couple of runners at Delta Downs this weekend.
Meanwhile at Turf Paradise, the Don Schnell barn continued its winning ways with a maiden victory last Wednesday by 3-year-old Calex ($8.40).  The Ontario-bred defeated a highly-regarded 1/5 California invader, Blue Ratio, who finished second. Schnell has won an impressive 18 per cent of his starts since the meet began in October (38-7-6-10) and has spotted 6-year-old gelding Runaway Cal (56-3-8-13) in a turf race Wednesday. By contrast, Jared Brown has had an uncharacteristically slow start (25-1-5-4) but does have seven starters in the next three cards including Horse Feldhaus, Tom Kha and Master Master on the weekend. Will he hit his best stride heading into January?

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: The best of Bob
Did you know . . .   that the most memorable horse of the early 1990s, who came to be known as “the people’s horse,” was fiercely competitive on the track, providing race fans with some of their most thrilling finishes, but could be so gentle among children that they fed him carrots?   Who was he and what important stakes did he win?  Read about him here.

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