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HRN Original Blog:
The Dark Horse

The Dark Report – May 4, 2014

 
Wow, what a Derby! The Kentucky Derby never seems to disappoint, does it? California Chrome seems like the real deal and I can’t wait to see what he does in the Preakness! Anyway, this week’s Dark Report contains a new believer, dudes, tense moments, statistics and trends, and some lessons learned.




 
OK, now I’m a believer! Sure California Chrome was easily the one to beat on paper, which was quite obvious. He had the highest Beyer Speed Figures coming into the race, and had destroyed his competition in his last four races. The horse just seemed to be getting better and better with each race.


However the favorites in the Kentucky Derby, especially as low as 5/2 which C-Chrome was yesterday, typically are a bet-against play. I also wasn’t sure how the speed-favoring track at Santa Anita would translate at Churchill Downs for C-Chrome.




The Derby winner certainly answered that question and when the horses were at the top of the stretch, and I saw how C-Chrome was positioned, I knew the race was over. And when he drew away from the field as he was nearing the finish line, I was very impressed.
 
Others were not as impressed. The final time of 2:03 3/5 was relatively slow by Derby standards and as NBC’s Randy Moss tweeted earlier, “California Chrome's Beyer Speed Figure of 97 is the lowest for any Derby or Preakness winner since Andrew Beyer has been making figures.” Do you feel the time or BSF takes away from C-Chrome's victory?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regardless of the numbers, I think the Preakness is well within his reach, but the Belmont will be the ultimate challenge. Can he be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978?


DUDE
  
As some of you may have read, I was a bit bitter in my last report where I was upset about folks on social media repeatedly and frequently downing on posts where people were putting their Derby selections out for the ethersphere to see.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Apparently a blogging group called the Racing Dudes picked up on my tweet and wrote an entire piece on it! Great job fellas!

 
A VERY TENSE MOMENT


I’m certain many of you watching the Derby coverage on TV also caught the Woodford Reserve race right before the run for the roses. Wise Dan encountered a very tense moment near the beginning of the race; a moment which scared me half to death!


Immedately after the break as the horses were taking position, Wise Dan with Johnny Velazquez aboard came off the hedges and tried to establish position outside of the #2 horse Bright Thought right as #9 Skyring was coming by. Wise Dan bumped Skyring’s left side and tried to squeeze between the two horses. Velazquez immediately had to restrain Wise Dan’s attempt to slide through as the window closed fast.
 



 
It’s rare for me to criticize a jockey’s ride, in fact this might be my first time in doing so, but I truly feel that Velazquez should have just let Skyring go by versus attempting to punch through the tight spot. It looked like a dangerous moment and I certainly wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to the two-time horse of the year (let alone any of the horses for that matter).


While the move took Dan out of his rhythm and might have almost caused him to lose the race, he is a champion through and through and his class came through again!


THE MYSTERIOUS DOSAGE INDEX


The use of the Dosage Index to predict a Kentucky Derby winner may be a lost angle, or perhaps not the most accurate assessment of how a quantitative look at a horse’s pedigree translates to success on the track, but in this year's race, the three horses which finished in the last three spots had the highest three Dosage Indices of the bunch. Let’s take a closer look:


#1 Vicar’s In Trouble – 3-1-2-0-0 (6, 5.00) – this horse finished last in the Derby this year. Sure, jockey Rosie Napravnik was on the rail and would have had to dart out of the gate to have a shot. Vicar’s In Trouble was bounced around like a ping pong ball right off the bat, was rank, was asked for more at the 3/8 pole, and faded. Tough trip. I’m still not convinced that this horse had a shot at winning the Derby though. Of course the Dosage Index can’t predict a bad trip, or a bad draw, but it is what it is.


#10 Wildcat Red – 5-2-3-0-0 (10,5.67) – Again, with 19-20 horses in a Derby field, the jockeying for position early on in the race always has its consequences. Wildcat Red bumped with Dance With Fate early on in the race, steadied, and was shuffled back. It also seems that when he got bumped early he sustained a cut on his right flank as well. For a horse that needs to be on or near the lead to win, he really had no shot in this year’s Derby, yet I also didn’t think he had a very good chance anyway.


#9 Vinceremos – 3-3-2-0-0 (8, 7.00) – Vinceremos came in with the highest Dosage Index in the field with a 7.00. When you couple that along with his abysmal finish in the Bluegrass Stakes, this horse was an easy toss out for me. To no one’s surprise, the horse was shuffled back early and appeared to be tired with a few furlongs to go.


My point here is that while a majority of horses encounter some kind of trouble with such a large field, even if these horses had a clean trip, I’m not convinced they could get the distance anyway. Large Dosage Indices (5.00+) are an auto-toss for me in the Derby unless the past performances show me something otherwise.


OTHER DERBY THOUGHTS


I mentioned in my Derby preview, and on the radio program yesterday, that any descendants of Storm Cat, sire or dam side, no matter how far back, has never won the Kentucky Derby.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The trend continued yesterday as the Storm Cat ‘curse’ continued. Here’s how they finished:
 
2nd – Commanding Curve (if the race were longer he might have got it…)
5th – Samraat
7th – Ride On Curlin
9th – Chitu
12th – Intense Holiday
16th – Harry’s Holiday
18th – Wildcat Red
19th – Vicar’s In Trouble


I also believe that any progeny of Indian Charlie and Tapit will also have a tough time getting the 10 furlongs necessary to win the Derby. They were an auto-toss to win for me again this year. Here’s how they finished:


5th – Samraat (Indian Charlie)
14th – Uncle Sigh (Indian Charlie)
15th – Tapiture (Tapit)


LESSONS LEARNED


Sometimes the favorites just win. I was all around the 5/2 California Chrome horizontally and vertically. I even had tickets with Commanding Curve underneath in the exacta! Yet, I refused to accept, though C-Chrome was easily the best horse on paper, that the favorite would win the Kentucky Derby. Well Orb won as the 5/1 favorite last year, but that’s a fairly high price for the chalk. Yet this year most of us thought C-Chrome would end up at 2/1 or 5/2 and for that reason alone, I left him off of the tickets.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And those who know me well know that I rarely eat chalk.


However is that the best way to wager on a race like this with huge pools? To toss out the best horse on paper simply because he was 5/2 in the Kentucky Derby didn’t make a lot of sense looking back at it. There wasn’t much value in the Derby horizontals with Untapable, Wise Dan, and C-Chrome all winning, however the verticals were stocked with value as HRN’s own New York State of Racing alluded to earlier. What would have been the harm in playing an exacta or trifecta with C-Chrome on top thinking that Commanding Curve could hit the board? The $2 exacta paid $340.00, a missed opportunity for ‘easy’ money in my book.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Thanks Matt!)

Hopefully I will learn from this…


AND FINALLY...


I caught this tweet this morning:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Are you kidding? If I had a million dollars...
 




I certainly wouldn’t have bet it to win on a horse in the Kentucky Derby! I’d find other uses for that…




 

 

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Older Comments about The Dark Report – May 4, 2014...

by the way the one tapit that might have done it was the filly that won the oaks. we'll never know though.
well i think you will be making a mistake to automatically throw out tapit. i've said it before that tapit throws so many good horses that it's just a matter of time before one gets the distance. i mean he has both ap indy and unbridled in his pedigree. Now you might be on to something with indian charlie. i don't know what to make of storm cat except that it seems a lot of his progeny are better and more long winded on the turf.
Great article Chris! Thanks for pointing out that Dosage Index is alive and well when capping the Derby.
Dan won for one reason and one reason alone.He was simply that much better than the horse on the inside. Just goes to show that unfortunately,father time is catching up to the Star Turfer. Two races in a row now,2 horses that do not even belong in the same chapter ,let alone the same sentence as Dan . Both have put him to the test. One can hope that he will continue to win. The competition will get tougher. Like i said ,not Dans fault.The inevitable is catching up to him. He is still top notch.Just more vulnerable.
All kinds of ways to look at Dan's race. I saw much of what Matt did, but the difference I saw was not Dan getting ultra competitive to beat the horse but getting relatively PO'ed at the fact that Rocco kept trying to steer skyring straight into him. I personally thought JV did a great job of getting Dan off the rail. I have no clue if Rocco couldn't control his horse, didn't see Dan or was crossing the line in terms of intimidation, but either way, Dan was already in the hole, already had the position, and there was no reason for Rocco to keep steering his mount to the inside, when there wasn't any room left to his inside to go. On the Derby the time takes nothing away from his win to me. IMO he could have won by 7 lengths if Victor had kept riding, instead of deciding to gear him down, before waving to his adoring chrome loving crowd. Also, I don't believe one race, with 19 horses, going 10f for the first time in their life, can be a great reflection on most of these going forward. The Preakness will give far better indication of the talent level of this group, and I think we'll see that these are, in fact, an extremely talented bunch.
Andy. I agree. Dan and JV were having a little discussion about how to run the race.
Also I interpretted the start of Wise Dan's race differently. I saw Johnny V. starting to ease Wise Dan off the rail when Skyring sprinted up on the outside to trap him between horses. At that point Dan's super competitiveness kicked in and he decided he had to beat those two horses then and there. JRV then had to fight Dan to get him out of the speed duel. By doing that he probably kept Dan from losing the race right there and then.
Chris, thanks for using my chart and the Tri and Super payouts did not disappoint. I was lucky enough to end up with a really good day when I hit the tri for 50¢ with a 6 x 8 x 3 ticket that cost $45.

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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:
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Canterbury
Del Mar
Gulfstream
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Keeneland
Woodbine
 
Some of my all-time favorite horses include: 
 
Feel free to contact me anytime and I will respond! 
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This blog is eternally dedicated to the memory of Tim "Tiznow" Reynolds.