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  •  Better Lucky rolls late in the Shine Again!Posted 1 day ago
  •  Fashion Alert outduels Take Charge Brandi in the Schuylerville!Posted 4 days ago
  •  Enterprising flies late to win the Oceanside!Posted 5 days ago
  •  Belle Gallantey shocks Princess of Sylmar in the Delaware Handicap!Posted 10 days ago
  •  Finnegans Wake defeats Admiral Kitten by an eyelash in the Arlington 'Cap!Posted 10 days ago
  • There will be a Pick Six carryover of $167,021 when racing resumes Friday at Los Alamitos.Posted 12 days ago
  • There will be a Pick Six carryover of $42,460 when racing resumes Thursday at Los Alamitos.Posted 13 days ago
  •  Assateague goes wire to wire in the Dr. James Penny Memorial!Posted 14 days ago
  •  Assateague goes wire to wire in the Dr. James Penny Memorial!Posted 14 days ago
  • Clearly Now breaks the 7f track record at Belmont - 1:19.96.Posted 17 days ago
HRN Original Blog:
The Dark Horse

The Dark Report – July 13, 2014

 
This week’s DARK REPORT contains a fee, a princess, a filly, a correct answer, a philosophy, a rake, and a pick four!
 
Let’s go!
 
PAY ME FOR WHAT?
 
OK I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. Could you? So the story goes like this. Multiple reports spoke about Del Mar’s desire to feature Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome on Pacific Classic day. And why not?




 
After all, the horse was only the 13th since 1978 to win the first two legs and have a legitimate shot at the Triple Crown. Horses like that should be celebrated. Only the ownership group including Perry Martin and Steve Coburn declined the offer.
 
Why, you ask?
 
Well they demanded a $50,000 “appearance fee” from Del Mar to ship the horse to the track. Martin stated via multiple reports, “It costs money to ship him; it’s a day off from the horse’s training and other things that affect the horse. We bought the horse to race him, not parade him. Yuba City (where Martin is from) wants to do the same thing, parade him up here. We don’t own the horse to parade him. He’s a racehorse.”
 
 
(This made one Facebooker very upset)
 
 
OK yeah I get it; you have a horse taking a rest that will begin training again soon. Most active race horses don’t usually parade around other cities and tracks while preparing for another race. However this is not where I have an issue. If I read between the lines, I see that they still would have shipped the horse for $50,000. So it is really about the horse’s training schedule, or is it about making a few extra bucks?
 
 
(thanks Google Maps)
 
 
As you can see by the map above, it’s really only an hour and fifteen minute drive from Los Alamitos (where Chrome is stabled) to Del Mar. That’s $333 per minute, round trip, the owners wish to receive to transport the horse. And would that 150 minute round-trip drive really take that much out of the horse’s training schedule? Just for one day? Really?
 
To me it seems a bit greedy and not very helpful for a sport that needs all the help we can get to regenerate a fan base.
 
NO SURE THING
 
We all know it, yet sometimes we choose not to believe it. Yes folks, there is really no sure thing in horse racing. Even a horse at 1/9 or 1/5 odds isn’t guaranteed to win, or even hit the board sometimes (don’t get me started on bridge-jumping). Yesterday’s Grade 1 Delaware Handicap proved this once again.
 
The mighty daughter of Majestic Warrior, Princess of Sylmar, pretty much towered over this short 6-horse field yesterday. She is a horse that won many Grade 1 stakes already including the Kentucky Oaks, the CCA Oaks, the Alabama, and the Beldame. Though she finished 6th in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, she came back with a stakes win at Aqueduct and two second place finishes in 2014 Grade 1 stakes thus far. No other horse in the field had as much success as her versus that type of competition. So she was a sure thing in yesterday’s race, right?
 
Well in this case all it took was a horse setting sleepy fractions (24 2/5, 49 2/5, 1:13 3/5 to be exact) on the lead to have plenty left in the tank to make it impossible for the others to catch up, and that’s exactly what happened yesterday as Belle Gallantey took hold of the lead and never looked back.
 
Sure, I won’t take anything away from Princess of Sylmar; she is a great horse! On some days horses just don’t fire. All I’m saying is that for as much talk as I saw on social media, and as the odds reflected, how Princess of Sylmar couldn’t possibly lose the race…well she did; proving once again that there is no sure thing in the sport of kings.
 
PASS THE PLATE, PLEASE
 
I’m still buzzing over Lexie Lou’s strong victory in last week’s Queen’s Plate Stakes at Woodbine (the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown). Sure this may not have been the strongest field as there was even a maiden, a few one-time winners, and some horses that faced tougher competition. But in a race where Breeders’ Futurity winning, Spiral winning, Kentucky Derby running, and polytrack dominating We Miss Artie sure seemed like a sure thing, a filly prevails once again as Lexie Lou crushed her competition.
 
Check out this replay and a perfect ride by jockey Patrick Husbands:




 
Wow what a performance! Trainer Mark Casse sure had her ready to go. I hope we will see her at Fort Erie for the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown! It’s been four years since the Queen’s Plate winner advanced to the next race. Stay tuned…
 
P.S. Fox Sports 1 and America's Best Racing did a phenomenal job of covering racing last Sunday!
 
CORRECT ANSWER
 
My brother sent this to me when he was playing one of those iPhone app games:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Well of course it’s the right answer, duh!
 
INTERESTING PHILOSOPHY
 
This post on Facebook certainly opened my eyes:
 
 
 
 
 

 
In response to my review of Canterbury’s largest win payout ever in last week’s DARK REPORT, this gentleman stated that people can’t make intelligent and correct wagering decisions based on the racing form alone. He claimed that horse wagering was still “poke and hope” after all of these years. He says to “look beyond face value and accept the obvious.”
 
Whoa.
 
That really got me thinking. Sure, we’ve seen it time and time again, Princess of Sylmar yesterday, We Miss Artie last week, countless others in history… are we just guessing, or does anyone actually know who will win any given race? I mean, if we knew who was going to win, our pick four tickets would all look like 1 x 1 x 1 x 1, right? We wouldn’t need to spread in any race, right?
 
Most of you have probably seen my exhaustive analyses on wagering and even I, someone who has studied racing for many years and constructed computer formulas and the like, still only win 21% of the time. Am I just guessing? Shouldn’t I have a higher win percentage? Does anyone REALLY have a winning percentage over, say, 33%?
 
These comments have haunted me since I read them. I’m really going to step back and take a look at things.
 
CAN’T “RAKE” ANYONE HAPPY
 
OK so a lot of you are aware of the dramatic effect the HANA boycott had on the spring 2014 Churchill Downs meet. Being aware of this, and attempting to appease fans, Del Mar announced this week that they are lowering the track takeout on rolling daily doubles from 22.68% to a flat 20%. So that’s a good thing, right?
 
Even though Del Mar took a step in the right direction, they are still being blamed for not reducing the “rake” enough. Both the now defunct Hollywood Park and Santa Anita have (or had) a track takeout of 18% on daily doubles, so some folks view this as an increase. Del Mar is also offering a pick five with a 14% takeout and are seeding pick six wagers with $50,000 each Sunday and guaranteeing $100,000 on weekdays and $200,000 on weekends.
 
So what again are they doing wrong exactly?
 
Listen, I completely see both sides of the takeout issue. It’s no different than owners and players in a major sport negotiating contracts so that the split on money seems fair. In our case, the fans want higher payouts and the track wants additional revenue. So who wins?
 
It’s a dicey issue. Frankly, from a fan’s perspective, I wager based on what I see on the tote board and whether or not my selection offers any value. If I think I have a pretty good chance with a morning-line long shot and the horse is 5/2 on the board, I won’t make the wager. The track takeout is already factored into my decision.
 
Yet, the cycle could play out like this: the payouts would be higher if the track rake was lower. With higher payouts could come more fans, and with more fans comes more handle, and with more handle comes bigger purses, and with bigger purses comes better racing and fuller fields, and with better racing and fuller fields comes even more fans and happier horsemen and… well you get it.
 
Still, in comparison to one of horse racing’s biggest competitors, casinos, I really don’t recall anyone asking the Vegas sports book what their rake is on football betting, or too many people researching the odds on the table games or slots they are playing. In terms of the sports book it’s the same thing, people make the wager on the perceived value, regardless of the house takeout.
 
ARLINGTON PICK FOUR
 
What a great day of racing at Arlington Park yesterday, for what they call “Million Preview Day.”
 
Yesterday’s all-stakes pick four included some very tough races to handicap, and the rain held off for the fans who attended in person.
 
Starting off, the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap (preview race for the Arlington Million) was won by Donegal Racing’s Finnegans Wake and jockey Victor Espinoza. In a short, yet salty, field, Finnegans Wake (son of Powerscourt….hmmm…) simply stalked the leader Avanzare through one loop of the expansive turf course before taking the lead at the top of the stretch. Though he was forced out a few paths, he held on to win by a head over a hard charging Admiral Kitten. Post-time favorite War Dancer finished third.
 
 
(Finnegans Wake wins! Photo by Four Footed Fotos)
 
 
“I was really close to the pace” winning jockey Victor Espinoza said to Arlington public relations. “I wanted to be able to put him in the race. I was worried about the other horse (Avanzare). He was drifting down the lane, but other than that everything went well. It was a very close but he hit right on time at the wire but you never know because you can’t see far inside. I just got lucky.”
 
(Does anyone else get confused by Donegal Racing and Team Block’s silks? They seem identical!)
 
Anyway, he was the only jockey not named Florent Geroux to win any of the remaining stakes races. Affectionately called “Frenchie” by fellow jockeys and fans, Geroux swept the remaining three stakes races on the card.
 
Next up in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes (preview race for the American St. Leger), a 12 furlong jaunt over the pristine Arlington grass, post-time favorite and Chicago-based lawnmower The Pizza Man uncharacteristically took the lead early, held off Keeneland-grad O’Prado Ole, and survived a jockey’s objection to win the mid-summer classic by a neck. Though this was The Pizza Man’s 11th career victory, it was his first in graded stakes fashion.
 
 
(The Pizza Man!!  Photo by Four Footed Fotos)
 
 
The objection was unfounded as it appeared The Pizza Man was spooked both early on in the race, and near the finish. “There was a camera on the rail and my horse shied away from it,” Geroux explained to Arlington’s public relations. “It wasn’t my horse’s fault or his horse’s (Channing Hill on O’Prado Ole). I got him back straight and we were a mile away from the finish line, so I think his horse had plenty of time to recover.”
 
This horse has certainly dominated turf races at Arlington and I hope to see him take on some world-class competition on Million Day!
 
The following race tested the mettle of the up and coming three-year-olds as the Grade 3 American Derby (preview race for the Secretariat Stakes) saw fourth-place finisher of the Penn Mile and Todd Pletcher-trained horse, Divine Oath, capture the victory by a half-length over stretch-leading Our Channel. As noted above, once again Florent Geroux helped bring this horse home to victory.
 
 
(Divine Oath in the Arlington Handicap! Photo by Four Footed Fotos)
 
 
“There was plenty of pace in the race,” Geroux said to Arlington’s public relations. “It worked out good and we were able to go through. (Our Channel) kicked away from me a little bit, but I caught him at the end.”
 
I’m expecting to see a lot of these runners back on Million Day in the Secretariat Stakes! Can Divine Oath do it again?
 
Finally, in the most wide-open race of the day, I’m Already Sexy won at Arlington yet again in the Grade 3 Modesty Stakes (preview race for the Beverly D. Stakes). A lukewarm 4/1 second choice, Geroux didn’t keep the horse too far off the pace as in the other stakes races and guided I’m Already Sexy to the winner’s circle, only by a neck. In fact the end of this race was very close as Gulsary lost by that neck and finished ahead of third-place finisher Street of Gold by a neck as well.
 
 
(This horse was already sexy! Photo by Four Footed Fotos)
 
 
I thought local favorites I O Ireland and Kepi both finished well against this tough competition only losing by a length and 1 ½ lengths respectively. It was a very tight finish!
 
"I'm glad I got the opportunity from Mr. Catalano, Anna Seitz and (Hit the Board Stable)," Geroux said to Arlington’s public relations. "I've had a lot of success with I'm Already Sexy here. She's four-for-four on this turf course. She loves it and I hope she can keep on going and get a Grade I win. She ran great for me." As to winning three graded stakes, "It worked out great. When you have the horses it can be easy."
 
"I thought she had the controlling speed and would be wherever she wanted to be," noted Chicago-based trainer Wayne Catalano to Arlington’s public relations. "The 13-hole didn't bother me; I thought she'd have enough speed to get over. She didn't break exactly perfect, but it was good enough."
 
The Florent Geroux pick three paid $82.80 for a buck.
 
And more exciting…HRN’s very own Coast to Coast Ashley had the all-stakes pick four twice in her blog! Congrats!!!
 
That pick four paid $387.40 for a mere $0.50.
 
 

 

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 (Whoa - it's me - the DARK HORSE)
 
Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
 
While finishing school in Chicago, I spent every possible moment at Arlington Park with my dad.  We took the time to develop computer programs (on the ever popular Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS) to try to find patterns and handicap races more accurately.  My dad taught me a lot about handicapping races, paying particular attention to class moves!

Since then, I have become more involved with horse racing each passing year through a variety of different media-based roles. Once deemed the "second best racing ambassador in Chicago" (hey I've been called worse), 
I now reside in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the USA and will be covering many different aspects of racing - in my unpredictable DARK HORSE STYLE!  
 
My favorite tracks are:
Arlington
Canterbury
Del Mar
Gulfstream
Hawthorne
Keeneland
Woodbine
 
Some of my all-time favorite horses include: 
 
Feel free to contact me anytime and I will respond! 
Twitter: @GoDarkHorse <---Preferred
Facebook: GoDarkHorse
 
Here are some fun things to check out! 
Saturday Morning Radio Program: Click Here
My Main Web Page: Click Here
Speaking on Derek Simon's Show: Click Here
First time hosting radio - Hour 1: Click Here
First time hosting radio - Hour 2: Click Here
Second time hosting - Hour 1: Click Here
Second time hosting - Hour 2: Click Here
With Derek Simon again: Click Here

Here are some of my racing photo albums!

And here are all of the tracks I have visited in person!

 
This blog is eternally dedicated to the memory of Tim "Tiznow" Reynolds.