Mark Geiger grew up in Chicago where the great conflict he faced during spring, summer, and early fall afternoons was a tough choice between going to Wrigley to see the Cubbies or going to Sportsmans, Arlington, or Hawthorne to watch and bet on the ponies while listenening to Phil Georgeff call them “spinning out of the turn.” This was not always an easy decision back in the days when Nixon was President, dinosaurs roamed the earth, and off track betting in Illinois could only be accomplished through the telephone with accounts getting balanced to zero on Tuesday, or else, if you were on the losing side.
Life marched on but Mark’s love of the racing and the the Cubs carried forward even after he moved to LA in the late 70’s where Santa Anita, Hollywood, and Del Mar presented great racing to large crowds. He got to see Spectacular Bid, John Henry, and dozens of other great horses trained by Charlie Whittingham, Bobby Frankel, Neil Drysdale, Gary Jones and many other greats. He got to watch such master riders as Shoe, Pincay, McCarron and Eddie D work their magic. A weekday afternoon would often find crowds of 20,000 on track and close to 40,000 on the weekend. Nowadays, there’s a eerie silence as less than 3,000 take in a weekday card at Hollywood’s fall meet. They call that progress. What I call it can’t be printed in a family-oriented electron machine like this.
Mark with the assistance, prodding and undying support of his wife, Belinda, published the well-received Sherlock’s Trainer Report from 1996 – 2001. A biweekly newsletter that concentrated on trainer moves on the California circuits, the report concentrated on short-term profitable trends and little gems and nuggets of useful information for serious players of all economic means.
A soon to be former attorney, who, in the words of Neil Young, won’t retire, but might retread, Mark still believes that one way to find value is to study the people behind the horses who know them best. By discovering their strengths and weaknesses you can gain some insight into when a horse that may not look too good on paper is ready to run a big race. This may be a jockey switch, a barn switch, surface or distance switch, or just a freshening. Just as importantly, you can also know that you can safely throw a horse out.
Love him or hate him, Mark can be witty, bitter, funny, and stupid – sometimes all in the same sentence.
He got his nickname “Sherlock” from his mentor, Dominic Fortelli, who used the pejorative phrase “No Sh_t Sherlock” when Mark, as a smart assed 23 year old, with the excitement of a discovery that he, and he alone had ever made, noted that the whole idea was to see which horse was going to get the lead and whether any could catch him. Even with all the computer programs, fancy-shmancy toys, and plethora of exotics (we used to call them gimmicks), that basic idea still is true today.