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The Dark Horse

Derby Preview - Dark Horse Style

Orb FoY 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
It’s almost here! The first Saturday in May where millions upon millions of dollars are wagered on the biggest race of the year! As my friend Eric always says, there are many ways to slice up the handicapping pie. Are you a pace ‘capper, a trip ‘capper, a speed ‘capper, or do you just pick by name? Do you prefer gray horses or jockey silks colors? Well I’ll give you my analysis of this year’s Kentucky Derby – Dark Horse Style! Here we go (and good luck to all!)

(Run For The Roses - Dan Fogelberg... a nice way to set the tone)
First, before we get into the race analysis, I’d like to mention hOw prominent the letter ‘O’ is in this year’s derby. WhOa. Look, we have Orb, OxbOw and Overanalyze. Then we have VerrazanO, Black Onyx, RevOlutiOnary, GOlden SOul, NOrmandy InvasiOn and GOldencents. Play all of them in a $0.10 superfecta box and that will only cost you $302.40.

Now the extended weather forecast is also calling for a bit of rain. And when I say a bit, there could be as much as one inch of rain throughout the day on Saturday. Sure the track has an amazing drainage system but I am expecting a good to muddy track come post time. There isn’t a lot of data on these horses previously running in the mud so an off track could break things wide open. A $1 exacta ALL over ALL will cost you $380.


#16 – Orb. I really think Orb is the real deal and deserves to be the morning line favorite. He has won four in a row, and as my good friend BSM always says, “winners win.” He was impressive in both the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby and seemed to have a lot left in the tank afterwards in each race. Joel Rosario has been ON FIRE so far in 2013 absolutely dominating the Keeneland spring meet and is already hitting at 47% so far at Churchill. Orb has the jockey, the pedigree, and the shortest name in the field. With only three letters he’s not carrying that much weight.

#8 – Goldencents. Here’s a horse that has a ton of graded stakes experience. In fact, the only time this horse did not run in a graded stake was in his maiden race…which he won. The 1:48.3 time he posted in the Santa Anita Derby was most impressive. Trainer Doug O’Neill has been working this horse at six furlongs for some time, attempting to build up the stamina to go the full ten furlongs. And for the type of year that co-owner Rick Pitino has been having, a win here would be the icing on the cake.

#5 – Normandy Invasion.  In 1944, allied forces invaded the shores of Normandy, France in Operation Overlord in what would be one of the larger amphibious landings in World War II. The allied forces…oh, you mean the horse? This lightly raced three year old has just one victory out of five races. Don’t let that deter you from putting a few bucks on him though. He juuuuust missed in the Grade 2 Remsen late last year and hasn’t missed by much in his two races this season. He is coming into his third race off the layoff and the extra distance should suit him well.  

#6 – Mylute. So 60 Minutes just did a special on jockey Rosie Napravnik so you’d think that would give Mylute an even better chance to win, right? I mean, what a story! Well she and trainer Tom Amoss team up to win at an amazing 33%. The horse was very game in the stretch battle with foe Revolutionary in the Louisiana Derby, losing just by a neck. I expect to see some improvement from Mylute in this race and I wouldn’t be surprised if he hits the board. A $10 win bet on Mylute will cost you $10.


If the track comes up muddy or sloppy, you have to give considerations to the following horses:
#2 Oxbow – 424 Tomlinson.
#3 Revolutionary – Bo”rail” - near the rail - in the mud. Also has an off-track victory.
#5 Normandy Invasion – 418 Tomlinson. And he is one of my picks.
#20 Vyjack – Already has an off-track victory.


In recent history there have been two horses that have paid more than $100 to win. Giacomo in 2005 and Mine That Bird in 2009 both had enormous payouts and made some people quite wealthy. In the 2013 version, a horse that I expect to out-run his odds is #1 Black Onyx. While his time in the Grade 3 Spiral wasn’t too impressive, he has improved in each of his last few starts. His only run on dirt wasn’t so great, but if you draw a line through that race, he has three wins and one place in four other starts. That’s not too shabby! He is running third off the break and trainer Kelly Breen is no stranger to winning a triple crown race in the mud (see Ruler on Ice in the Belmont). I know it’s been tough to win from the rail as of late, but with an anticipated faster pace scenario, Black Onyx can sit off the pace and try to squeeze through traffic. At 50-1 it’s certainly worth a shot.


Here are a few horses that, unless they run the best race of their life, really don’t have much of a shot to win…
#4 Golden Soul – In over his head here. Maybe 4th place in a superfecta.
#7 Giant Finish – Probably won’t have a giant finish. Would be a surprise.
#11 Lines of Battle – European-ish runner on dirt? No.
#13 Falling Sky – More of a sprinter, could have trouble with the distance.
#15 Charming Kitten – Good pedigree…for turf…
#18 Frac Daddy – Maybe could get a piece, would need to run huge.
…but then again it’s the Derby and ANYTHING is possible!

For years people have been attempting to develop systems and methods to pick derby winners. I say, when in doubt, always pick who Drive On’s Garnet Barnsdale picks! In this case he picks Orb over Revolutionary ($4 for a $2 exacta box). The Little Dark Horse likes Orb, and the Dark Wife likes Golden Soul (chosen by the name only). All of the HRN team’s picks can be found HERE. If the Derby is too difficult for you to pick, and you can spare $20, perhaps try a pick 3 with two singles and an ALL in the Derby. Hey, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea!

Getting some Oreos also seems like a good idea. OreO alsO starts with O. 

Well there’s your Derby preview, Dark Horse style! Who do you like in the most classic of all American races?



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Older Comments about Derby Preview - Dark Horse Style...

I love hindsight, actually I hate it but just trying to catch up Great call on Orb!!
Looks like the dark horse hit the 10cent superfecta betting all horses with an o in there name
The Dark Horse and Dark Wife teamed up for the exacta!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Dark Horse and Dark Wife teamed up for the exacta!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for the analysis Dark!
I appreciate the likes, you all. Not feeling well these days, but I'll bounce back sometime soon. Watching the Oaks and Derby are tonic for the soul.
I like this one! 'Course I got a shout-out...but, still, a very cogent summary and analysis, Dark Horse!
The Dark Horse and the Florida Filly apparently thing a lot of like. Must have something to do with the Dark Horse transplanting to a more southern clime.
Classic Dark Horse for the first classic of the year.
Love it & some of those horses with O's!

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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.

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