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Memories & Memorabilia – Written by Michael Beychok

Roll On Chocolate

It was 1999 and I had been handicapping for a few years – ok a lot of years – and hadn’t really found that much success other than the occasional Derby score. My friends thought I was a pretty good handicapper and I guess I was as good as they knew but deep down I knew I wasn’t a winning player – yet.

I had started to chart workouts meaning I would look at workouts and compare the relative ranking of the workout to stakes horses or known quantities to see if a maiden or first time starter revealed some quality.

Somewhere along the way a horse named Roll on Chocolate had shown up as meeting my criteria – not once but twice. This had usually signified a pretty special horse usually trained by known gatherers of expensive horseflesh – the D Wayne Lukas’ or Frank Brothers or Lynn Whitings of the Midwest/Kentucky circuit.

So I kept looking for Roll on Chocolate to show up at Churchill Downs over the summer meet but no such luck. Then one day looking through the entries at Turfway for some reason – eureka – there he was entered on a Wednesday night.

Ugh. How was I going to get out of the house on a Wednesday night with a new baby and a wife at home? I’m not sure how I did it, maybe I told the truth, but I did convince my brother, Ben, and my best horse racing buddy to meet me at the OTB in Port Allen to bet this sure thing. I honestly had never heard of the trainer and really didn’t know much about the jockey but I was determined to bet on this horse.

So, the three musketeers show up at the local OTB on a wayward Wednesday night and the place knew something was up. The regulars immediately came over trying to figure out why we were there on a night when Turfway and Penn National were showing on the TVs. So, I told them and after a quick glance at the form and program we were dismissed as young, dumb kids who didn’t really like their money if they planned on betting it on Roll on Chocolate.

Now, I must explain that this OTB was small and its clientele even smaller. The only reason it existed was to house the video poker machines that made the place money. One a Wednesday night in September they had two tellers and one reason for being there – to collect a check.

We however were there on a mission from God. To bet Roll on Chocolate and bet we did until we had most every combination covered in the exacta/trifecta and I thought the superfecta.

The horse opened up at about 6-1 because of the money we had placed on him and he steadily drifted up to a juicy 26-1 at post at which point he broke out of the gate, got bumped and dropped back to 31 3/4 lengths behind at the quarter mile point in a one mile race around two turns. Our prospects of cashing didn’t get much better after a half a mile as he was a woeful 30 lengths behind. But then something magical happened – and I mean I’ve never seen anything like it in my life before or since. Roll on Chocolate started…well…rolling. He ran a 23 second 3rd quarter to “pull” within 16 lengths with a final quarter mile to go. He ran a 24 and change final quarter and you would have thought he jumped in at the eight pole as these low level horses were running in place and he got up at the wire to win by a long neck.

He was so far out of the race that Mike Battaglia didn’t call his name until he was about 50 yards from the wire but I can still hear his beautiful call in my head, “and on the outside ROLLLLLL ONNNNN Chocolate gets up”..

My brother and my friend and I were screaming, because we hadn’t said a word most of the race knowing we were beat. We were all probably trying to figure out the story we were going to tell our wives or girlfriends about where we were but Roll on Chocolate saved the night. It was an amazing performance from an otherwise unamazing horse.

Chocolate paid over 50 bucks to win and the exacta paid about 500. The trifecta, which we all had, paid 3500 and the super paid an ALL in the 4th spot because no one had it right except we cashed that ticket too. In fact, we cashed so much that night that the OTB ran out of cash to pay us. That’s right – we busted the OTB. Now, they knew us from our regular semi-frequent – okay daily – visits so we agreed to take some of the tickets back and come back tomorrow when they had some cashed shipped in. It was a beautiful moment.

I went home with the money I did have – well over 6000 – and gave it all to my wife. (Of course she thought it was all I had won but I had that superfecta ticket to cash the next day – whaddya think I’m stupid?) We were building a house and we bought a Viking stove, oven and top of the line GE refrigerator with the money.

That win using some of my own research to make a big score was a turning point in my gambling education. I would use it later to score a couple Pick 6’s at Santa Anita and of course, win the National Handicapping Championship in 2012.

Winning the NHC was certainly one of my proudest moments in my career but the Roll on Chocolate score ranks right up there at the very top.

Equibase race chart Beychok saved from September 8, 1999

Equibase race chart Beychok saved from September 8, 1999

We thank Michael for sharing his story! You can follow him on Twitter at @BeychokRacing and check him out at

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