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The Dark Horse

The Dark Report – May 25, 2014

Items in The Dark Report could almost always be featured on some A&E Channel ‘strange & unusual’ documentary, or perhaps even the nostalgic “Ripley’s Believe it or Not.” Some very strange and/or unexplainable items have entered this week’s report. Then again, it’s the same ol’ activity that you’d always expect to find here. This week’s Dark Report features nasal strips, Polytrack, traditions, wild animals, and finally a social media frenzy!












Let’s go!


California Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman had threatened to skip the Belmont Stakes and forego the chance at the first Triple Crown in 36 years if the New York stewards would disallow the use of breathing strips on the horse. The stewards quickly made the right decision and reversed a state rule that banned the use of the breathing strips.

I think the stewards made the right decision. Besides there are other pieces of equipment that aren’t noted in the Racing Form that could give an advantage to a horse such as shoes, shadow rolls, different bits, size of the blinker cups, etc. Dr. Palmer of the New York Gaming Commission in a statement said that nasal strips fall into the same category as tongue ties (also not noted in the Racing Form) and do not have a performance enhancing effect. That’s a little strange to me because why use it if there wasn’t a performance enhancing effect? However, it’s the trainer’s choice and along with the other items mentioned above, I’m fine with the decision.

In honor of the nasal strip rule being suspended, we at ESPN 950 AM yesterday in our weekly “Off to the Races” show donned the nasal strips to attempt to enhance the performance of the radio program! You know what? I think they did the trick!
("Derby" Bill)
(Nick Hahn)


(Dark Horse) 

…or more like Polytrack. Videos surfaced this last week of equipment removing the Polytrack from Keeneland to prepare for the re-installation of dirt.

That got me to thinking, what will they do with the cubic acres upon cubic acres of the synthetic surface? Where will it go? I took to social media to find some answers…























I’m actually very curious as to where it will be put, honestly.


I think if California Chrome wins the Triple Crown then this becomes a non-issue, however there has been some discussion about changing the schedule of the Triple Crown races so that the schedule favors fuller fields in the Preakness and perhaps the Belmont, and their undercards as well.
I think it starts with the Preakness as many runners skipped the middle jewel this year and opted to freshen up for the Belmont. Same goes for the Black-Eyed Susan for the fillies which is run only two weeks after the Kentucky Oaks as well. To bolster some continuity between the races, suggestions were made to add at least one more week between Kentucky Derby day and Preakness day. It kind of reminds me of college where you had a lot of classes with a similar group of folks if you were in the same major. It would add a bit more continuity between the races as fans of a particular horse would be more apt to see him run in all three of the big races.

However I am a traditionalist and I think the schedule should remain the same. Ok OK, I know that the current schedule has only been in place since the late 1960’s and before then they used to run the Preakness before the Derby or on the same day, etc. and that only three of the eleven horses that have won the crown have won it in this current format, but the Triple Crown isn’t intended to be easy to win. There is a reason why it is such a special accomplishment.

I think back to an article I read from Derek Simon, and he’s right.
(Graphic made by Derek Simon

I think all athletes used to either have more stamina and durability or were just really sore. I was watching an old Cubs game on YouTube a few months ago and some Reds pitcher had thrown all ten innings. Horses used to run every two weeks and that was considered a strength. Fast forward and pitchers go about seven innings before bringing in the relief pitcher, yet they didn’t shorten baseball by decreasing the number of innings played did they? So why change the triple crown schedule?

I say, if you want to have more continuity each year with the crops of three-year-olds, turf horses, fillies and mares, and horses in the older divisions for the undercards, why not leave the triple crown series alone yet create new division series? There has to be better ideas out there, just don’t mess with a tradition that was established over 45 years ago.



I also discovered that there is a difference between a possum and an opossum. I had no idea. Thanks to JJ Hysell for the information!


Yes, the power of social media cannot be underestimated.

OK, it’s Thursday night. The dark family had just finished dinner and the dark wife and I were sitting at the kitchen table talking. I grabbed the smart phone to check on issues at work, and I decided to open the Twitter app. As I’m looking at the Twitter feed, I was thinking about something funny to put out there. I thought it might be fun to come up with new race horse names as if they came from the 1980’s. So I started a #hashtag called #80sRaceHorseNames. And I threw a couple out there like The Reflex and Swatch Watch. My wife and I were coming up with more ideas and throwing them out there. Within an hour or so, more and more folks started chiming in with their ideas. I was having fun with this!

However the unexpected happened.
I get a message from the one and only Penelope Miller saying that the #80sRaceHorseNames was trending. I had heard that term on the Jimmy Fallon show before however I wasn’t aware of the significance. Until then…

A little later the #hashtag was trending at #3 in the country…
Then finally it made it all the way to the #1 trending topic in the entire USA. Just like on the Jimmy Fallon show. #whoa
It was truly amazing! Just goofing around at the kitchen table turned into a national phenomenon even if it was just for a few hours! Even today, there are still responses coming in. Wow. Go check them out…CLICK HERE.

They are all very good ... and here are some of my favorites!









































































































































But my favorite of all......






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So, is that a picture of a possum or an opossum? The #80sRaceHorseNames was a lot of fun the other night!

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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:
Del Mar
Kentucky Downs

Some of my all-time favorite horses include: 
Feel free to contact me anytime and I will respond! 
Twitter: @GoDarkHorse <---Preferred
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.

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