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Hmm what could this be?


The Holy Bull Stakes is coming and that only means one thing: TIME FOR ME TO TEASE WHAT IS IN THE SECRET ARMORY OF THINGS FOR THE DERBY HANDICAP CONTEST. Some rules will change to benefit [mostly] everyone, but it is largely the same beast if you’ve played before. Look for an announcement post next week regarding what’s new and how to play. (If you’re afraid of missing it, track the tag #derby handicap on Tumblr)

Oh yes, it’s back for a third year, and while I’m not done figuring out what’s behind curtain #1, things have begun accumulating for the top three finishers. Now what could this be? Hmm?

Other thingys:

  • I have unanswered asks a plenty. I’M SORRY I WILL GET TO THEM SOON.
  • It’s my last “real” semester of college starting in a couple of weeks— probably for forever. I’ll be under the microscope going through portfolio reviews, internship interviews, and the advanced documentary project I’m in charge of.
  • I’m looking into getting a new theme for this blog, preferably one with advanced updates like Facebook comments. It’s one of my minor goals to continue optimizing GHR to become a popular blog in general— not just on Tumblr.
  • Shameless self-promotion: I opened an Etsy shop.
  • For photo rebloggers of this blog: I might have some brand-new stuff coming down the pipeline this month/next month when open barns happen for regional stud farms.

In the meantime, high hoof to all, good luck to college kids with spring semester, good luck to the working peeps on their taxes, and hope to see everyone join the Handicap fray soon!


Another update? YES.


Trainer Heather Carlson with Stud Muffin, who desperately wants to join “his foal” outside.

Because hey, you can never have enough. I’ve entered the final sixteenth of the semester AND MAN DOES IT FEEL GOOD. I just can’t wait for this fall semester to be over… I just… really need that break… and then spring semester will be my last one spent in class and I only have to drive 3 hours a day for 1 day a week as opposed to 4 days a week. Anyway, on to pony and blog things:

  • Congratulations to Webuiltthepyramids on winning the Horses and Hope Calendar giveaway!
  • Tuesday, December 17 is the day the first “preview/essay-style cut” of Do You Know the Muffin Man? will be screened to a live audience at Ellis White Hall at Fitchburg State University. I intend to make the cut available to view on YouTube around this date, so do stay tuned. I slaved away for many an hour in pre and post-production and froze my butt off for two days on this piece.
  • Also in the pipeline: senior thesis film about rehabilitated kill lot/at risk horses of all breeds. I got picked to be director/producer.
  • As usual, I’ll be doing a “top 20” for the best races from 2013, the GHR awards, and churning out more stuff. Especially since I will soon be FREEEEEEEEE from school for a solid month.

I hope everyone is well and not buried beneath snow. High hoof!


Finals Week

Is the reason I’m going to be quiet yet again, yet some more, until probably the end of next week. I will admit I am totally doing this college thing Caleb’s Posse style and jumping in at the quarter pole after being lazy and doing minimal work for a while. FINISH STRONG!

I’ll still sneak in some minutes of photo editing time, but I’m trying to behave and be realistic about what I have to get done for my “real life” expectations. I still have to write up my “first trip to the Big A” post and the long delayed post about the Stud Muffin documentary. IT’S ALL COMING, I SWEAR!

Updates - Summer Racing and Such


When it rains and the “turf” goes soft, I scratch Harley from running outside in the yard. Sad face. And yes I’m rereading Seabiscuit on my nightstand.

With the trip to the Belmont Stakes in the books and the Triple Crown wrapped, I do have some future photo ops and features that are destined to appear on GHR:

  • Kickstarter hopes to launch this week, filming begins this week: The goal is $4,000 over three weeks, and I will be contacting racing media and blogs about spotlighting the Lipsticks & Longshots project to drum up funding and excitement for the movie. There will be photo and video updates as that project sprouts wings. When it launches, I will link it and if you’d like to help (and get a few exclusive early supporter rewards in return!) please do! For as little as $5, you can get a thank you in the credits!
  • Future NYRA appearances by me: Whitney (likely), Coaching Club American Oaks (possible), Belmont’s Super Saturday on September 28 (goal).
  • I am weighing if I can go to the Breeders’ Cup this year too. Ticket prices are fair right now, and if I can get a press pass I will become even more likely to go. I’m also thinking of the Florida Derby in 2014 since I do believe it’s during my spring break and I could use a real vacation from school, work, and whatever project I’m doing for Advanced Documentary class leading up to my internship.

Thanks everybody in the meantime! I know updates have been slow, but they should be getting bumped up as the big races and summer meets come alive and I can focus a little better.

High hoof!


Congrats to Orb, Shug, and Joel

I made a checklist— as I often do for the big classic-type races— listing all the qualities the Derby winner ought to have: 10 furlong ability (as judged by me), pedigree, in peak form, decent post position, how their last workout was, how they like dirt, class level, and mental tenacity. I knew it was a crappy field when I saw that only 2 horses had straight check marks: Revolutionary (3rd) and Orb (1st). Orb certainly deserved the win today, which he would have gotten whether or not Palace Malice decided to floor it from the start. On to the Preakness!

Also, I was kind of giddy to see Golden Soul get right up there, and I am quite happy with the top 7 or 8 finishers who all ran pretty well like I thought. I just had no idea what to expect in the mud when it came to the finish order. I made no money, but hey, I’m happy about being right about Verrazano and Goldencents! At least in the mud…

As all horse handicappers know, expecting big performances back-to-back is dreamer’s logic. With that said, I will be taking a short break from racing and handicapping starting today. Working, driving 3 hours a day 4 days a week, 5 classes during crunch time, filming productions, readying side projects for pre-production, and pouring over horse racing has worn me down a little and I think it’s time for a little hiatus.

I expect I should be back to normal in time for Preakness week. In the meantime, congrats to Orb! I plan to sleep on it before I decide whether or not I feel like Orb can win the Triple Crown this year.

2 Years (Yay!) and Updates

People who follow my life goings-on outside of horse racing already know this, but this week had me extremely busy with work, school, projects, and a horse show. No Thoroughbreds were in attendance, but my sister was competing with her new horse and they won!

Time for a new update!

  • Two days ago was The Galloping Hat Rack’s two-year anniversary. I was going to be all blubbery about it, but really, what more can I say about this place and all you nice people that hasn’t already been said? Thank you all for reading, responding, and all the support along the way!
  • The documentary that is about horse racing is still in pre-production, but has been submitted to receive a small university grant. I should hear back whether or not I won it in about 3 or 4 weeks. Things have been going slow on it otherwise, unfortunately. The working title for it is now Lipsticks and Longshots.
  • The Derby Dozen has been hard to whittle down to 12, since there are a lot of “maybes.” Then again, there always is, right? If time permits, how about an “Oaks Octet?” The Oaks is best this year.
  • 2013 Derby Hopeful tee is nearly done. NEARLY!
  • Derby Handicap winners… is Tumblr eating my messages? I haven’t heard back from anyone regarding shipping addresses. Message me or email me at dawnawood AT gmail dot com when you can!

As always, thanks for reading and have a production week!

High hoof!


On the Move

We all can’t wait for this snow shit to melt here in Massachusetts.

Howdy everypony! I’m here to break the Sunday lull with several updates!:

  • A big thanks to Derby Handicappers for making the first two rounds of the contest super interesting and entertaining! Round 3 will be this coming Saturday with the Risen Star (II) at Fair Grounds! I will try to have the submit form go live Wednesday and the analysis up by Thursday afternoon so you all have ample time to get your picks in. I will have the 2nd prize image up by Saturday on the Contest tab.
  • Pony documentary update: Still slowly being setup, but I will announce the super cool fundraising method in a few weeks. I’m sketching out equipment needs right now, but projected costs are a modest, doable $1500-$2000. For the web series, I am trying to decide on the format I think will work best, but hope to shoot this week.
  • Other upcoming posts: Memories of Winter Memories, a post about Tapit’s Derby contenders (waiting on how Mudflats runs today), You Comment I Respond, and the next alternative handicapping method suggested by a follower: my folks have a bunch of leftover fortune cookies!
  • Life update: I might slow up a bit some days on updating the blog due to some changes. I am giving up my rented room in Fitchburg and moving back home so I can take up another (better) part-time job here. I will have to commute a LOT while working 40+ hours a week and going to school full-time. It’s all a necessary evil.

High hoof!


Ting ding ding a ling ding


My mommy inadvertently added to the Fred Stone art gallery I have going on in my room away at school. Barbaro, Zenyatta, and a medley of champions like John Henry and Secretariat. My wall is full of pony.

Ehmmm… I’ve toppled off the wagon a bit with the start of spring semester. Forgivies. I still have a crapload of things to unpack from Christmas and a new schedule to adjust to, which I am trying to change around today. GOOD CLASSES. GIVE IT ME! I also gotta pick up a magical grant application that will hopefully give me $500 toward financing my pony documentary.

I haven’t forgotten about the video. In fact it is much of what I’ve been thinking about, but I’ve been lazy. I have decided to wait until after Eblouissante's second start today to comment further because that makes the most sense. Laziness + freakish control over how I want things + too many things going on + Netflix = delays. I'm a delay fish.

Better news? After class Friday (tomorrow) I’ll be announcing the Derby Handicap Contest process/guidelines/rest of info this year. For those who did it last year the Holy Bull is shaping up to be much, much deeper than the two-horse race between Hansen and Algorithms. DUN DUN DUN! Prepare thyself!

Instead of a typical stakes analysis, I’ll be doing the late pick 4 at Gulfstream Saturday, which has a very decadent card for the Sunshine Millions. Palace Malice is running in the first race, yeehaw! So… yes… like I said, late pick 4… hopefully done by later today as soon as I get my grown-up stuff done.

High hoof!


One More Update for 2012

Harley says “Merry Christmas GHR readership!” Santa Dawna got him [way too many] toys and his favorite kind of bone! If you get pony racing stuff for the holidays I wanna hear about it! :D

Moar update? Yes!

  • I hope the Christmas card peeps enjoy(ed) their cards. They were shipped outta Massachusetts on Monday!
  • Just finished with finals, so the Eblouissante video will be posted within the next day or two!
  • Coming soon are end-of-the-year posts: Top 20 Best/Most Exciting Races of 2012, my own personal Best Pony honors, and the Year-End Reflections & Goals for 2013, where I will announce super cool future project(s).
  • Because of the dumb Kentucky Derby points system, a lot of prep races got smooshed together on the same weekends or eliminated (the San Vicente for example is no longer going to be a real prep). Thus, the Derby Handicap Contest will span 10 weeks, not 12, starting with the Holy Bull (III) on January 26 and ending with the Arkansas Derby (I) on April 13. Look for an announcement next month… I’m slowly picking up cool prizes already for the top 3 winners! If you like racing memorabilia, you don’t want to miss this. I kind of don’t want to give away first prize which should be arriving in a few days…

And that about does it. Hope everyone has a safe, fun holiday and gets a little rest from the rigors of work and school!

High hoof!


A Crushing No Contest


It’s in my must-accomplish goals to visit Sea Hero again in 2013.

I’ve had some crushing moments this year. Union Rags was retired, Winter Memories bid the grass adieu too soon, Scoobers died, and now again I feel that unpleasant “smooshed” emotion.

It’s not like I thought I was guaranteed a spot on the ABRV, but when I applied, I felt I had a pretty darn good chance. Not many fans will run their own blog about the sport, raise money for its retirees, attract hundreds of followers, pick out some longshots, AND have a powerhouse education working in media. I had a chance, but at the same time no chance unbeknownst to me: apparently they never even got my application. Computer/email glitch I guess, what are the odds. For all I know I could have gotten in and someone else is going to be cruising around in my spot, but I’ll never know and trumpeting around in my current anguished mood probably won’t solve anything or make me look any good. I don’t know what burns me more… the missed opportunity, or the chances I’ll find even more reasons to scoff at ABR’s campaign this coming year. (I vociferously despise their website’s hackneyed message and design as well as their “experts” at the booths)



The interesting thing about destruction is that while one thing dies, it leaves room for another to begin. I intend on carrying out the web video series (I have it drafted out, just need to find time to shoot later this week when I’m done with most of my finals). Why? Not so much to get page hits, but because that’s what is needed. I had a whole laundry list of things I planned on hauling with me to Kentucky to dump out on the table, why can’t I do it from Massachusetts? I have so many ideas, and none of them necessarily require me to have a salary to go with them. The great thing about horse racing is that you can pluck things from it to go with anything in life: did Cigar yield to Soul of the Matter? No! He said hell no, I ran too good today to be bested by the likes of you! And came on again.

Maybe I’ll apply again next year… maybe that’s what’s even in the stars for me. For now, I have finals to work on and big dreams to dream. Thank you all for reading my sordid finger tappings, it will not have been done in vain.

Highest of hoofs!


The best Thoroughbred horse racing blog on Tumblr! Updated daily with handicapping analysis, photos, editorials, and things gathered 'round the web.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.

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