Here ends the first year of the Chicago Dark Horse
blog. Let’s recap what happened in 2011
and find out what we can expect in 2012.
I can’t believe I had so much fun this year in and around
the race tracks. I’ve always been a fan
of racing and this is the closest I’ve ever been to the action. So what have I learned in 2011? I'm glad you asked.
1. I learned that there are more race tracks in America other than Canterbury
and Arlington. This year I visited two new race tracks:
Hawthorne Race Course and Churchill Downs. Watch out Brian Zipse, I’ll be catching up to your count of race tracks
visited. Or maybe not… that would
require approval from the finance committee (and I know you know what I mean).
2. I learned that both Chicago
race tracks, Arlington and Hawthorne, offer great value to their
customers. Not only is my personal ROI
at Hawthorne very high, but the payouts at both tracks aren’t chalky at all.
3. I learned that Jim Miller, Assistant General Manager at Hawthorne, has to be one
of the tallest (and hardest working) men in the racing business. He puts on a great show and really works hard
to appease the owners, trainers, jockeys, gamblers, Chicago Dark Horses, and
4. I learned that being on TV can be difficult. It makes it more difficult on yourself when
you forget who you write for while on live TV. (MUCH thanks to Jim Miller for bailing me out on that one)
5. I learned that Jim Miller is actually beatable as I
somehow narrowly defeated him in his weekly contest. He even gave me the experience of previewing each race in the paddock with him. I
already feel a little more prepared for next time.
6. I learned that Arlington
Park is still the most beautiful race track in the country. The
grounds are pristine and facility is amazing.
I always feel like I’m at home there, and I can’t wait to visit again in
2012! (On a side note, if anyone reading
this is planning on visiting from outside of the area please let me know!)
7. I learned that going to morning workouts is actually
very, very awesome and I look forward to attending more in the future. I know it’s so early in the morning, but I
highly recommend checking them out sometime. Also, that “loose horse on the track” horn is very, very loud!!
8. I learned that Gio Ponti had a phenomenal career. This horse will always be a champion in my
eyes and I can’t wait to see his progeny run.
I am fortunate to have seen him in two of his final stakes races ever
(Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile).
9. I learned that there are some great up and coming owners
in the industry. Chris Szulc’s Horizon
Racing is a fine operation with a bright future. I’m sure we’ll see him in the winners’ circle
some first Saturday in May…
10. I learned that Helicopter can win just about anywhere. He is a great race horse and we’ll see if he
comes back in 2012! I hope he does.
12. I learned that Hawthorne Race Course has some very good
stakes races. The fall meet consisted of
the Hawthorne Gold Cup (won by Headache) and the Hawthorne Derby (won by local
favorite Willcox Inn). This is when I
started taking exclusive video coverage for HRN.
13. I learned that Chicago
was well-represented during the Breeders’ Cup weekend. Mister Marti Gras, Stephanie’s Kitten,
Pachattack, Giant Oak, and Caleb’s Posse all had good races. Chicago
14. I learned not to let people whose names start with the
letter “Wes White” talk you out of your winning bet. (See Amazombie in the Breeders' Cup)
15. I learned what a Hot Brown was (yum). I also learned that this is a staple of eating in Louisville.
16. I learned that the “Sorenson factor” will ruin all of
your wagers, and apparently Tim Ice’s chances to win too. If you’re putting together a multi-race
exotic wager and want to win, do not include me.
17. Most of all, I learned that there are a bunch of
GREAT people in and around racing. I am
so fortunate that I have had a chance this year to meet most everyone. Having the chance to meet the people I speak with using Facebook in person was a special treat!!
To recap the year 2011:
The 2011 Arlington meet winners included trainer Larry Rivelli with 39 wins and jockey James
Graham with 82 victories. For Hawthorne’s 2011 fall
meet, with a week to go trainer Roger Brueggemann has pretty much locked up the
title with 45 mins and jockey Florent Geroux has an amazing 67 wins!
The winners of the big races of the year included:
And as this was my first year of writing anything since I
finished my master’s degree, I learned a lot about the time it takes to
research, type, and find links for the blogs.
Some of my favorite blogs during the year were (in chronological order):
So, what am I most looking forward to in 2012? I’m glad you asked!
1) Hawthorne’s spring meet
and the great three year olds that will grace our presence at the Illinois
return of the Sixty Sails Handicap.
Inn’s four year old campaign.
on Jim Miller in his weekly contest again (this time with my fellow Black
5) Arlington Park’s opening day.
great stakes races that Chicago
has to offer.
to finally win some multi-race exotic wagers.
more Easter Eggs (aka funny links) all over my blogs and providing even more
exclusive coverage of Chicago
racing for HRN.
to meet and interview more of the personalities of the Chicago racing circuit.
more of the racing experience with my children.
Most of all let us never forget the loss of a true friend of
racing in 2011. Tim Reynolds, you are
sorely missed, yet thanks for continually looking out for all of us from up
What did you remember most in 2011? What do you look forward to most in 2012?