live from Hawthorne, it’s Sunday morning!

It’s another Sunday morning, and once again, I’m here for a cold, snowy, beautiful day of racing at 35th and Cicero.

Race 1: $8,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, 5.5 furlongs on the dirt

In this race, almost the entire field either likes to be right on the early lead, or stalk just off it: not exactly surprising for a five and a half furlong sprint.  The only one who likes coming from much off the pace is Surf Cast, although he is probably a little slow for this field, and unlikely to catch up to the pace that will likely be set by Enemy Fire or Silver Rock Star.  Silver Rock Star is who I like here.  He raced during the winter at Turfway, so he has a fitness advantage.  Even though his last race was back on February 21st, a week ago Friday, he won at Hawthorne off a ten-day lay back in November, so he has proven an ability to come back off a short layoff and win.  He is also dropping in class, which helps his case even more.  If I do an exacta, I would fill the place slot with Enemy Fire and Angel Talk.  Enemy Fire is moving up after racing in $5,000 claimers last fall at Hawthorne, but has the speed to do well in this field.  Even though most of Angel Talk’s races are a bit slow for this field, he has been working extremely well this month at Hawthorne, which suggests he may be fit and ready to run.

Race 2: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, 6.5 furlongs on the dirt

In this race, expect Ms. Heavenly Hash or Bring Me Love to set the early fractions, Givem Hell Harriet to stalk behind, and then Link Card and Angel Over Me to be further back early.  Angel Over Me is the only horse who didn’t race just last weekend, which I would normally like, but she is also the one horse in this race who absolutely screams “professional N2L”.  She broke her maiden at Beulah in October of 2012, on her fifteenth start, and has been repeatedly well-beaten since.  This is enough to outweigh her being relatively fresh compared to the field.  Link Card is a closer, and given this field she’ll have a pretty good shot of catching up.  Her recent speeds are consistently good for this field, and she has hit the board in both of her attempts at six and a half furlongs.  The drawback to her is that she is also strongly flirting with professional N2L status, but she’s so much better on paper than her competition here that she’s worth the risk.  Among the speed horses, Ms. Heavenly Hash is likely to be fastest among them, and looks to have the best chance of holding on, though there looks to be some question of whether she’s going to like going six and a half furlongs, instead of the five or six she has been racing lately.  I will probably exacta box Link Card and Ms. Heavenly Hash here, or use those two as a leg if I bet a Daily Double or a Pick 3.

Race 3: $22,500 claiming, three-year-olds OR four-year-olds and up who are N3L, 1 mile and 70 yards on the dirt

There is very little early speed in this race; the only horse in this race who has shown success from being on that early lead is Super Twenty Three.  He likes this distance, and the track has been playing fairly well to early speed this weekend.  The disadvantage is that he is rising in class from his previous races ($10,000 N2L claimers), and unless he runs the race of his life, he will be caught no matter how favourable the pace situation is.  Morning line favourite Seeking Love is the horse to beat here.  He is dropping in from state-bred allowance company and being ridden by Tim Thornton — who is not only red-hot in general, but 5-4-1-0 this meet on horses trained by Michael Reavis.  It would be nice to beat him in this race, since the price on him stands to be terrible, but there doesn’t look to be a horse likely to do so.  Kingwood intrigues me just because it’s his second race off a ten-month lay, and might have a chance to come from just off the pace if he returns to his old form.  However, even his old form may not be enough to beat Seeking Love, and Kingwood just raced on February 21, finishing 4th beaten 10 lengths in a 5 furlong $25,000 claimer.  Unless one of the horses really impresses me in the paddock here, the best betting use for this race seems to be Seeking Love as a single in a multi-race wager.

Race 4: Maiden Special Weight ($26,000), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, five and a half furlongs on the dirt

In this race we see the return of Holy Classic, everyone’s favourite professional maiden.  I want to give her a hug, I want to give her a carrot, and I want to see her find something that she is better at than horse racing, since she’s 53-0-6-5.  Other than the aforementioned six-year-old mare, the rest of the horses in the race are three- and four-year-old fillies, including three first-time starters.  Among the first-time starters, I do like Fayreen here.  She is four years old, and sired by a graded stakes winning sprinter.  She has been working consistently through the winner, so will likely be fit to race.  Among the ones who have raced before, Skylarbdancing is extremely interesting.  Her only start on dirt was her last one, a race that was pulled off the Hawthorne turf back in November.  That race was at a mile and seventy yards, and it didn’t look like she liked the distance.  She’s dialing back to a sprint her, and also switching jockeys, so this may be enough to get her on the right track.  Also, Rushin’ Emerald looks like she may be a live longer shot.  She raced twice at Prairie Meadows last summer, but has taken what looks to be a much-needed layoff since then, and has posted some nice works at Hawthorne through February.

Race 5: Allowance ($28,000), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $8,800 other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state bred allowance OR N2L, five and a half furlongs on the dirt

In this race there is not a ton of early speed; it will basically be Roses Plus and Annie Bellum up there early.  Roses Plus is probably the better of the two, assuming she comes off her six month lay ready to run.  Her workouts suggest she may well do so. She also looks like she’ll like cutting back to five and a half furlongs; Roses Plus has won two of her three attempts at this distance.  If she can dictate the pace, then she has a chance to take this race.  Silky Sami is the 1-1 morning line favourite, though as a closer the pace scenario won’t be too likely to help her out here.  What will help her is her speed; her speed figures are much the best in this field.  She has only posted one work since the winter hiatus, which gives me pause on her, though the one she posted was quite sharp.  Speaking of fitness, the only horse in this field who raced through the winter was Distinctive Review, who raced twice at Turfway in January.  Between that and the nice five-furlong works she has been putting up at Hawthorne, she looks like a good one to use to fill out exotics.  However, she just doesn’t look like she needs to win come race day, so betting her to win isn’t such a good idea.

Race 6: $8,000 Starter Optional Claiming, four-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, started for a claiming price of $5,000 or less since September 30, 2012 OR claiming price of $8,000, 1 mile and 70 yards on the dirt

I was looking so forward to this race, since one of my favourite horses, Mischief N Mayhem, was slated to run.  However, she was scratched this morning.  I am bummed out that I don’t get to see her run today, though she just returned to the worktab at Fairmount this week, so all in all it’s probably good that she’s scratched today so she can get a few more works in.  I do miss her, though, and hope she returns to the track soon.

Dani Nikki is likely to take the early lead here, with Blooming Flower and Tribute To Momma not too far behind.  Afleet Abaco, I Turned Outlaw, and Suspended Moon, on the other hand, all like to close from farther back.  The entire field has been on a layoff over the winter except for I Turned Outlaw.  She raced at Turfway once in January, and also raced last Sunday at Hawthorne, finishing last in a five furlong $5,000 claimer.  The dirt at Hawthorne isn’t her thing; she fares far better on the polytrack out at Arlington and Turfway.  Blooming Flower is the more consistently fast among the speed horses in this race, especially since being claimed by her current barn early in last fall’s Hawthorne meet, and will be a threat here.  She also faces easier company here than she did in her last three races, all state-bred allowances in which she hit the board.  If anyone is going to catch Blooming Flower, it will probably be Suspended Moon.  She prefers to close deeply though has also had some success from a stalking position; versatility is always nice.  She likes the track at Hawthorne, and that bullet six furlong work she fired on February 13 combined with her regular presents on the worktab suggest she’s coming back from her layoff fit.  If Suspended Moon races well today, she has a good shot.  I like an exacta box with Blooming Flower and Suspended Moon here.

Race 7: Allowance ($31,000), Illinois-bred, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $8,800 twice OR two state-bred races other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N3L, five and a half furlongs on the dirt

There is a ton of early speed in this race.  The entire field, save Radiant Day, likes to either be right on or stalk very close to the early lead.  This leaves a very favourable pace scenario for Radiant Day to pick up the pieces.  Combine this with the fact that Radiant Day has been racing in state-bred allowance company his last four races, and has finished either first or second in his last six races, and he looks like a very solid choice here.  Among the speed horses, there is no one I clearly like.  Hotpepper Please probably has the best chance among the speed horses, having wired a six furlong open allowance last fall at Hawthorne, but his last two races haven’t been good.  If he returns to form he may have a shot here.  Magna Fortuna has posted some really nice works recently, but he’s coming in off a very long lay and has done his best racing work in routes, not sprints.  Gita’s Mahal would look like a contender except that he’s coming back on just one week’s rest.  Last time he came back a similarly short time after a win, he bounced badly.  Solar Flair is interesting here; he’s the one horse dropping in class to meet this field, but he’s also the only three-year-old here, and could be in over his head facing older for the first time.  Lassell looks like a good horse for filling in lower rungs of exotics, since his speeds generally fit the field, but he doesn’t look like he has much in the way of really wanting to win, as he hasn’t crossed the wire first in almost a year and a half (the 2012 Sun Power Stakes, as a juvenile).  All that said, I’d single Radiant Day if I do a multi-race wager that covers this race, and would likely fill lower rungs of exotics with Hotpepper Please, Lassell, and maybe Solar Flair on the class drop.

As an aside, if you have not read the Louisville Courier-Journal blog series about Magna Fortuna, I suggest it.  His story is a fascinating one, and after reading it a few months ago, I was hoping to see him at the races sometime this year.  Seeing him on the card today was a pleasant surprise.

Race 8: $8,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, 1 mile 70 yards on the dirt

Ballistic Tim, In Red’s Honor, and Eben Zabeel all scream professional maiden.  Maragon is getting there — and has never even hit the board in eleven starts.  Among those four, at least Ballistic Tim is racing second off a class drop from higher-priced maiden claimers down to the $8,000 level, which suggests he may have a glimmer of chance here among the professional maiden set; the others have raced multiple times at this level, enough to show they’re probably not likely to succeed.  I may consider Ballistic Tim to fill out a lower run in an exacta or a tri.

Among the horses who haven’t polished their professional maiden resumes, Dittysunbridledboy is just too slow to hang with this field, and Wooly ‘N Wild is coming off of a weeklong layoff, which he probably won’t handle well.  Thunderhawk is probably the fastest horse here, and has hit the board in three of his four races.  He has the best chance to graduate today.  Mop is also interesting, having only raced once last April.  It wasn’t exactly a good race, but he was only three years old then, and he has had some time to grow up.  He has been a regular on the work tab, and is facing slightly easier company here.  He has a legitimate shot.

And, that’s it from Hawthorne today…just in time to go down to the paddock and take a look at the field for the first race.  Good luck!

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