11/11/2014 1:00PM

Jerardi: Look under the radar for deserving local Horse of the Year candidates

Coady Photography
Chrome Mine, a West Virginia-bred filly by Mineshaft, has been favored in all seven of her career starts.

Jeff Runco (112 wins) and Tim Kreiser (85) clinched the trainers’ titles at Charles Town and Penn National, respectively, months ago. Dana Whitney (126) is going to win the jockeys’ title at Penn. Jockeys Jose Montano (121) and J.D. Acosta (120) are in a near dead heat at Charles Town as we head into the final weeks of the year.

Defining Horses of the Year at the tracks is a bit more complicated as no mere number can give a definitive answer. Is it Bobby’s Kitten at Penn National for his drive-by win in the Penn Mile, the track’s biggest race of the year? Is it Imperative at Charles Town for shipping in from California to win the Charles Town Classic?

I prefer the horses that have raced multiple times at the local tracks and have been winning all year. You really could not go wrong at Charles Town with Down Town Allen or Lucy’s Bob Boy, but I like the under-the-radar everyday horses that just keep showing up and running hard every time.

The 3-year-old filly Chrome Mine made her debut at Charles Town on May 15. She was not a secret, being bet down to 3-5. She won by 11 1/4 lengths under Montano for trainer David Walters.

The West Virginia-bred filly by Mineshaft has been favored in all seven of her starts, odds-on five times. Owned and bred by Michael Miller, she has won five starts with a second and a third for earnings of $115,560. She has raced exclusively against West Virginia-breds, with Beyer Speed Figures that began at 53 and have gone as high as 82. Her last four Beyers were 74, 82, 81, and 77, suggesting there are many more statebred wins in her future. She was second by a neck most recently in a West Virginia Breeders’ Classic race on Oct. 18.

Not sure if 2-year-old Hear the Chatter is going to be the next West Virginia-bred star, but he is off to some start. The Mass Media gelding won his debut on July 30 and, after dominating the Tri-State Futurity Saturday night with a 77 Beyer, is now 4 for 4 at Charles Town, winning his races by a combined 17 lengths. His only defeat was in his second career start when he was a distant second in an optional claimer at Delaware Park.

Stephanie Beattie claimed Missdixieactivist for $7,500 on July 10 at Penn National. The 3-year-old filly won by 14 lengths that day. Since then, she has three wins and two seconds, all at Penn, making her 5 for 9 on the year, with two seconds and two thirds.

Some horses just need a change of scenery, a change in competition, or both. Missdixieactivist ran three times last year, once each at Indiana Grand, Mountaineer, and Churchill Downs. She was 49-1, 16-1 and 124-1, showed no speed in any of the races, and was beaten by a combined 49 1/2 lengths, with Beyers of 3, 13, and 10.

The filly appeared at Penn in May, was bet down to 3-1, won by a nose, and has not stopped running well since, getting a career-best Beyer of 72 on Sept. 26.

Silent Spin made her debut way back on Sept. 17, 2010, at Hoosier Park. She was 64-1 and ran like it. She got better – way better.

The now-6-year-old mare got the best Beyer (77) of her life in her 55th start when she beat $8,000 claimers by five lengths on Oct. 1 at Penn. Just to prove that was no fluke, she beat another field of $8,000 claimers by nine lengths on Nov. 5. She got only a 65 Beyer that day, but she did not need to run that fast to win. The point had been made.

After being claimed for as much as $16,000 and as little as $4,000, Silent Spin is having the best year of a career that includes 16 wins and earnings of $203,132. She has raced 12 times in 2014 with six wins and earnings of $70,396.

Silent Spin started her career in six sprints. Her seventh race was around two turns at the Fair Grounds. She won by seven lengths at 19-1, and nobody has tried to change her since then. Of her last 50 races, all but three have been route races.

Find something that works in this game, and do not try to complicate it. And when you find a horse that wants to win, give that horse every chance and enjoy what you see.