Dark Horse’s 2012 Illinois Champions Ballot!

In my final act in covering Chicago racing on a full-time basis, here are my choices for the 2012 Illinois Champions! Let’s see how my selections compare to that of Mr. Zipse at the Track! The way the voting works here is that you provide your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd best selections for each category. Then points are awarded on a 5-3-1 basis and totaled up to see who wins. Finally you write-in your vote for Illinois horse of the year! Here we go…

2-Year-Old Male: Chatfield Road

This gelding scored a perfect 2-for-2 in his rookie campaign in 2012. He obliterated a maiden claiming field by 14 lengths in mid-November then a month later won the Jim Edgar Futurity Stakes by a head over my second choice, Lassell. Chatfield Road has been resting since the stakes victory and I’m anxious to see what we get out of him in 2013!

(Other choices: Lassell, Emile)

2-Year-Old Female: My Option

Here, the gray filly dominated over the rest of the choices in my opinion. This granddaughter of Danzig just needed to stretch out after just missing in a maiden sprint at Arlington. She went to the turf and scored my stalking the pace in a one mile maiden breaker. Then taking a step up in class, and going to the dirt, she destroyed a decent IL-bred field by 4 ½ lengths in the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante Stakes as the post-time favorite. With over $103,000 in earnings already, I’m sure she will pick up more cash in 2013!

(Other choices: Julmae, Indygo Kiss)

3-Year-Old Male: The Pizza Man
































 (The Pizza Man - by Four Footed Fotos)


There is absolutely no doubt who wins this category, and it’s The Pizza Man easily! In 2012 he won 6 of his 7 races, all of them on the grass, with his only loss coming in the Grade 3 American Derby at Arlington. He won in open allowance company, state-bred allowance company, and took down two stakes races in the Tex’s Zing and the Bucks Boy. This son of English Channel should improve even more in 2013 and I’m looking forward to seeing his campaign!

(Other choices: Luv Bandit, Sandia Crest)

3-Year-Old Female: Leading Astray

Zipse was right. In this division it was difficult to separate Leading Astray and La Tia here. I chose Leading Astray because of her 5 victories on the year including rising through the IL-bred open allowance ranks and two stakes victories in the Hatoof and the Grade 3 Pucker Up. She also had good showings in the Grade 3 Valley Viey at Keeneland and the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere stakes at Churchill Downs, hitting the board both times.  Team Block certainly has a champion on their hands here! Since 2012 she also hit the board again in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River Stakes at Gulfstream Park and even turned in a four furlong work this morning (2/3/13)!

(Other choices: La Tia, Dolly Peach)

Older Male: Ioya Bigtime

Certainly is tough going against Team Block in the Illinois Champion awards and the Older Male category is no different. Ioya Bigtime towers over the rest of the division in my opinion. The horse raced against much tougher competition winning two graded stakes races (Stars N Stripes and the Kentucky Turf Cup) and hitting the board in two more difficult races in the inaugural running of the American St. Leger on Million Day (almost wiring the field) and the Grade 3 Sycamore at Keeneland. Certainly going into 2013 as a 6-year-old I can only assume that Ioya Bigtime will be participating in the endurance races and who knows, maybe we will see him in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon!!

(Other choices: Suntracer, River Bear)

Older Female: Third Chance

































 (Third Chance - by Four Footed Fotos)


Who can argue with a perfect 4-for-4 campaign in 2012? Well I can’t as IL-bred champion sprinter Third Chance gets my vote here for local TV personality Ron Magers. Dirt or synthetic, it doesn’t matter when it comes to this filly. In 2012 she won three stakes races and an open allowance race against a decent field. She scored victories in the Governor’s Lady, The Isaac Murphy, and the Addison Cammack stakes; the latter in impressive fashion winning by over 6 lengths! Though this filly was supposed to be slated for retirement, I did notice she published a workout on December 8th at Hawthorne.

(Other choices: Peyote Patty, Kepi)

Male Sprinter: River Bear









































I remember speaking with jockey Danush Sukie after River Bear’s victory in in the Robert S. Molaro Handicap at Hawthorne back in April. He said the owners were really hoping to gain a million dollars worth of earnings from River Bear in his career. Well they certainly made a good dent in that goal by earning over $200,000 in 2012 by taking home victories in the Robert S. Molaro, the Prairie Express stakes at Prairie Meadows, and the Tex’s Zing. With 4 wins from 7 starts in 2012, River Bear was the easy choice.

(Other choices: St. Maximus Gato, Signsealndeliver)

Female Sprinter: Third Chance

Again, no other IL-bred sprinters come close in this category in my opinion.

(Other choices: Dolly Peach, Algonquin Posse)

Turf Male: Ioya Bigtime































(Ioya Bigtime - by Four Footed Fotos)


This was the toughest decision to make of all of the divisions. I had to go with the graded stakes winner and that is Ioya Bigtime. Still, The Pizza Man is impressive and I would like to see him take on tougher competition in 2013.


(Other choices: The Pizza Man, Suntracer)

Turf Female: Leading Astray

Again, this filly had a very impressive 3-year-old campaign with good showings in graded stakes competition. I would also like to give some recognition to Peyote Patty as well. She had a great year in 2012 and had 11 victories in her career. She had always been one of my favorites to watch and I wish her the best in her retirement too!

(Other choices: Peyote Patty, Kepi)

















 (Leading Astray - by Four Footed Fotos)


I know that Ioya Bigtime was the probably the obvious choice, but I was very impressed with Leading Astray and her showings in the graded stakes not only in Chicago but outside of Chicago as well. I think she has a great future ahead of her and I’m looking forward to her 4-year-old season!

Who were your choices?


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Older Comments about Dark Horse’s 2012 Illinois Champions Ballot!...

the terms dark horse of horse of a different color go back to the days when ringer were actually dyed to try and fool racing stewards.
Right on the money!! Infamous Dark Horse!!
Tip of the hat to you, Mr. Dark Horse.

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