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HRN Original Blog:
The Dark Horse

Chicago Dark Horse – 2012 Breeders’ Cup Selection Analysis

This is such an exciting time for us all! I can’t wait for the Breeders’ Cup to begin! Here is the analysis of my selections. I can tell you that NONE of these were easy… My son Gabriel (aka the Little Dark Horse) also chimed in with his picks and analysis as well…


Alas, two year old races…here we have the bain of my existence! While many of my colleagues are adept at picking juvenile races, I am not as gifted. With that being said, I landed on Super Ninety Nine here. I realize that he just broke his maiden, but if his first race is any indication of what’s to come, any kind of improvement should be able to win this race. Bob Baffert is dangerous with the two year olds and even on the cut back to 6 furlongs, I really like his chances here. I don’t think we’ll get much of a price though.
Also considering #3 Merit Man.

Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick Ceiling Kitty – she has a grade 1, a grade 1, and a grade 2. That’s pretty good grade. She got first place a couple of times. “
 
I think this race is the most difficult of them all to handicap. My criteria for selection here was an older horse that has run at least at a distance of a mile and a half and won at least once at that long of a distance. Worth Repeating fit that description and is a perfect 2-for-2 on dirt. Good enough for me here in a race that is extremely difficult to decipher.
Also considering #7 Not Abroad.

Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick Atigun – because he ran in pretty good grades. Bullet work outs, yeah those are good. His number is fast, ooh 94 is fast too.”
 
 
Well we all are aware of the European dominance on the grass in the Breeders’ Cup (and all of North America for that matter) and I think the Euros take another one here. Sky Lantern has yet to miss the board in five starts and should have a great trip just setting off the pace early. Her main downfall is that she has yet to run a full mile; yet I think her pedigree suggests that she can handle it.
Also considering #5 Spring Venture.

Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick Sky Lantern – He has the fastest speeds. That’s the most speed. 100 can go pretty fast but I don’t know if 111 can be beat. Just because he is from Ireland doesn’t make him that fast though.”
 
As my good friend BSM always says, “winners win” and I think that will be the case here. Executiveprivilege is a versatile horse that can win on the lead or coming from behind. She is a perfect 5-for-5 in her life and has one win on the dirt (a 1/16 mile victory in the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita). She dominated that race and there’s nothing to make me think she can’t take this one too.  See her victory at Del Mar HERE.
Also considering #3 Spring in the Air, #5 Dreaming of Julia, #8 Kauai Katie.
Little Dark Horse says…, “Executive Privilege – because all of the HRN bloggers picked her and her speed is good. She has two grade 1’s and a grade 3.”
 
 
It’s really tough to go against Marketing Mix here in my opinion, but I think Nahrain is truly the one to beat here. She has raced well here in North America in two starts, winning the Grade 1 Flower Bowl back in September. She has five wins of nine lifetime starts on the grass and I also believe the addition of blinkers will keep her extra focused and sharp for this race.
 
Also considering #6 Lady of Shamrock, #9 Marketing Mix, #10 Ridasiyna.
 
Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick Marketing Mix – I saw her run at Arlington, and I also pick her because she has really good grades and her speeds are pretty good too. “
 

 
 
To me this is by far the best race of the two-day event. The class of Grace Hall, the undefeated record of My Miss Aurelia, the speed of Questing, the power of Royal Delta, and the heart of Awesome Feather all come together to create this one of a kind event. The stars sure have aligned!! I give the nod to Awesome Feather here though. She has proven herself at 1 1/8 miles and she has just dominated all of her opponents. I think the Nasty Storm stakes was just a minor tune-up for this race and I truly expect her to win this going away.
 
Also considering #6 Royal Delta.
 
Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick Awesome Feather – She has never lost ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, and ever.”
 

 
 
This was also another difficult race to handicap however I’m giving the edge to Tim Ice and Tri-Star Racing’s Brown Almighty. This horse needs just a little pace to chase and I think he’ll get it here. He had a very impressive run in the Bourbon Stakes considering he was behind by quite a bit early. With a couple of good work outs at Keeneland in before shipping to California, I think he’s in very good form and can definitely win this race (and at a 20-1 morning line price too!).
 
Also considering #6 Dundonnell and #9 Noble Tune.
 
Little Dark Horse says…, “Brown Almighty – He’s my favorite horse almost. He’s like my favorite horse and I hope Tim wins.”
 
 
 
 
Yes I know, Groupie Doll will be extremely hard to beat. No doubts about that at all. However, people that know me know that I rarely eat chalk and I’m expecting the Doll to go off at ridiculously low odds. So why Turbulent Decent then? I don’t know…maybe 4 for 6 at seven furlongs on dirt is good enough for me.
 
Also considering #3 Dust and Diamonds.
 
Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick Groupie Doll – because she has awesome speeds. She has lots of wins.”
 
 
 
 
Even if Shack gets some pressure from #2 Delegation early, I think he has the class to run away from this field. I like the fact that he is coming back to the one mile distance and has a Grade 1 victory on dirt in 2012. Shack around two turns? Well that I’m not so confident about, however after all he did win the Preakness. I just don’t care much for the other runners in the field and I’m sure Shack will go off as a prohibitive low-odds favorite.
 
Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick Shackelford – Most of the HRN bloggers picked him and he has a lot of grade 1’s and grade 2’s. I can ride faster than a 115 Beyer on my bike.
 
 
 
 
I landed on California Flag here and that was almost by default. What stood out to me were his recent workouts, his 11 wins on turf, and his love for the downhill course at Santa Anita. He has six wins on that turf course, five of which are at the 6 ½ furlong distance. At eight years old too I will say that he is the oldest and wisest in the field.
 
Also considering #13 Unbridled's Note.
 
Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick California Flag – He had good “bulletin” workouts, good speed, and he loves Santa Anita.”
 
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: #9 Power Broker.
 
Here’s our first look at potential contenders for next year’s Kentucky Derby. Though Shanghai Bobby is both impressive and undefeated, my pick will be Power Broker. The 1 1/6 miles will be the longest that Bobby has gone, and Power Broker already has a Grade 1 victory at Santa Anita and at this very distance. I like his improving form pattern and I think he wins big.
 
Also considering #4 Shanghai Bobby.
 
Little Dark Horse says…, “Shanghai Bobby – He’s never ever lost, he doesn’t have any bullet work outs but that’s ok. “
 
Breeders’ Cup Turf: #5 Shareta.
 
This is a very good field and tough race to handicap. Point of Entry is in great form and looks unbeatable. St Nicholas Abbey won this very race last year and is following a similar pattern coming into this race. Triple Contenders Dullahan and Optimizer make an appearance and we even have the Arlington Million winner, Little Mike. My pick here however is Shareta. I have to go with the Europeans on grass going a mile and a half and Shareta has already proven she can get that distance. She will sit off the pace and should be in a great place to strike coming down the stretch from the downhill start.
 
Also considering #1 Point of Entry.
 
Little Dark Horse says…, “Little Mike – He has good speeds and stuff and he won the Arlington Million this year with good speeds.”
 
 
 
Coil is a perfect 3-for-3 at the 6 furlong distance, so what’s not to like? I’m expecting plenty of pace to chase in this sprint and I expect Coil to strike from the second flight of horses. I believe in Bob Baffert at Santa Anita! I think my friend Dub owes me a drink from my victorious selection of Amazombie in this race last year, right?
 
Also considering #11 Amazombie.
 
Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick Fast Bullet – Because his name is Fast Bullet and he has a lot of bullet work outs!”
 
Breeders’ Cup Mile: #6 Excelebration.
 
It’s really tough to go against the AMAZING Wise Dan here, but I’m going with the only other horse that I think has a shot, and that’s Excelebration. If you look at this horse, the only horse that he has lost to in recent history is, oh I don’t know… could it be FRANKEL??!! So he’s basically only recently lost to arguably the best horse in the world right now. That’s good enough for me.
 
Also considering #2 Wise Dan (a lot).
 
Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick Wise Dan – My dad’s photo from Keeneland shows he was happy and his ears were perked up! “
 
Breeders’ Cup Classic: #5 Game On Dude.
 
Lone speed kills and I don’t see any other horse that will challenge Game On Dude up front. If he can slow down the pace early, he wins easy. He is a perfect 5-for-5 at Santa Anita and his hit the board 5 of 7 times at this distance. I worry a little about the return of Mucho Macho man a bit, but he will need to save some ground early from an outside post. It would be silly to discount Pool Play here as well as he is a perfect 2-for-2 in Grade 1 stakes races on dirt. Sure it seems he’s a bit up against it here, but who knows!!
 
Also considering #1 Pool Play.


Little Dark Horse says…, “I pick Pool Play – He has no bullet work outs but he won the Gold Cup at Hawthorne!”


Well there’s my analysis of this very good two-day Breeders’ Cup card!! Who do you like in these races? 

 

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Older Comments about Chicago Dark Horse – 2012 Breeders’ Cup Selection Analysis...

All around the Breeders' Cup scene everybody was asking, "Where's the Dark Horse?"
the Euro filly last year was also trying dirt for the first time
Ceiling Kitty is trying dirt for the first time and, during training, broke out of the gate super slow... maybe something to think about? =/
Those Euros will be tough in the F/M turf, but the more I look at Marketing Mix the more I like her. She'll be in front of the Euros & can handle the 1 1/4, so she'll be tough to run down.
JOHA, JOHA, JOHA wins the Juvenile Turf....as grown up sooooo much the last 2 months or so. Sitting on a huge race
I like your choices DH. I like I'm a Dreamer to win the BC F&m Turf and Royal Delta in the Ladies Classic. I'm with you on the 2yo races. Too tough to call. Gonna be two great days of racing!

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