catching up at Hawthorne: Sunday, March 23

Lately I have been spending so much time going to the track that I’ve had less time than normal to catch up with what has actually happened at the track.  As a result, it’s far past time for Blinkers Off to take a look back at what has happened on all those trips to the track…before the weekend rolls around, and it’s time to head back to the races!  First up?  Sunday, March 23rd.

Race 1: $12,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, 1 1/16 miles on the dirt

In this race, I liked Archybdancing (2), Thunderhawk (8), and Travel Required (7).  I expected Archybdancing and Thunderhawk to be better among the speedsters, and Travel Required to have a good chance off the pace.  However, I ended up making a game-time decision to omit Archybdancing from my ticket, and replace him with one of the other speedsters, Community Property (5).  Archybdancing did not look very good in the paddock — too nervous for my liking.  He wasn’t a bucking, ranting mess, but it was strike one.  Furthermore, he was the only three-year-old in the field, and was going to be racing four pounds over.  Strike two, and Archybdancing was off my ticket.  I bet a $1 exacta box, 5,7,8.

The race unfolded very little like I expected.  Dundalk Dancer (1), the lone filly in the field, set the early pace; I had expected her to be a just off.  Travel Required, who had raced back off the pace in his recent starts,  stalked just behind — a tactic he tried once as a maiden, before fading badly.  Both Archybdancing and Thunderhawk stalked early.  Dundalk Dancer faded; Travel Required briefly led, but ended up getting caught for second.  Who caught him?  Archybdancing.  The nerves didn’t matter, and the four pounds didn’t matter.  He rated from off the pace for the first time in his career, and I had talked myself right off of a decent exacta.  Thunderhawk chased close into the far turn, but faded back and finished seventh, beaten 16 3/4 lengths.  Community Property, who looked so good in the paddock, never got anywhere near the lead and lugged in a well-beaten eighth and last.

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

Here I liked Fishing Line (2), Lakota Wolf (5), and Windy City Leal (7).  I thought Fishing Line had a good shot of getting the speed along the rail.  Furthermore, Fishing Line looked good and ready to race in the paddock.  Lakota Wolf had shown good speed and was second off a class drop; Windy City Leal showed some affinity for the distance.  One other horse in the race looked good for this class level, Macho Matt (8) — but his performances at Turfway suggested he was better off on the synthetic than the dirt, so I wasn’t interested in him here.  I boxed a $1 exacta, 2,5,7.

One horse set the fractions, but it wasn’t Fishing Line.  It was the one I had pegged for a synthetic horse, Macho Matt.  He got straight to the lead; Go Jack Go stalked him fairly closely for most of the race, but never truly threatened.  Macho Matt wired the field; Go Jack Go held second.  Lakota Wolf was a few lengths off early, which was where he needed to be in order to threaten.  He didn’t kick and make up ground, but he didn’t lose massive ground, either.  He finished 9 1/2 lengths behind Macho Matt, good enough for the show.  Windy City Leal was in last early, almost a dozen lengths back, but made up a bit of ground by the far turn.  He was no serious threat, though; he crossed the wire 5th beaten 11 3/4.  For as good as Fishing Line looked in the paddock, he was out of it as soon as the race began.  C C and Moonlight bumped him at the start, and he got nowhere near the lead he needed.  He ended up a well-beaten sixth.

Race 3: Allowance ($31,000), three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $8,800 twice OR two state-bred races other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N3L, Illinois-bred, six furlongs on the dirt

In this race, I was most interested in two very chalky horses: Radiant Day (1) and Roarin Missile (4).  If speed held up Roarin Missile would take it; if not, Radiant Day had the best shot.  I thought Lassell (2) had a good chance of hitting second or third, but since I wasn’t confident enough in him finishing specifically second or specifically third to winnow out enough value in an exacta or tri, I just used this as the first leg of a $1 Daily Double (1,4/4,9) and a $1 Pick 3 (1,4/4,9/1,4).

My tickets survived into the next race.  Roarin Missile got up on the lead as expected, bobbing heads with Georgie My Boy (5).  Georgie My Boy started to fade coming into the stretch, though, giving Roarin Missile the lead.  Radiant Day was back early, though not quite as far back as he was in the allowance on March 2.  He steadily made up ground, and had the rail coming into the stretch.  He closed inside, Lassell closed from the outside, and Radiant Day just couldn’t keep up.  Radiant Day had the most of all late, and finished almost two lengths ahead of Lassell.  Solar Flair (3), who I expected to stalk, was even farther back early than Radiant Day early — but fired strongly late to overtake Roarin Missile for third.  After his lackluster performances in the Bourbon Stakes and the Jim Edgar Futurity I am loath to say that this means he wants more distance, but he definitely ran out of distance here.

Race 4: Maiden Special Weight ($27,000), three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, six furlongs on the dirt

In this race, I was alive to my pre-race choices in my Double and Pick 3: Bangthedrumsallday (9) and Susan’s Rap (4).  Bangthedrumsallday was the chalky choice: despite the outside post, this first-time starter was coming into this race with some very nice works, and had the red-hot Rivelli/Thornton combo going for him.  Susan’s Rap was my price horse, since the combination of some nice works and adding blinkers suggested he may improve.  Nothing I saw in the paddock made me regret my bets: both of these horses looked just fine.  Wompus the Tiger (1) looked to be expending a lot of anxious energy and Valiant Point (3) was rearing up, but I wasn’t particularly high on each of these horses coming in.  I placed no new bets in this race, just hung onto my live multi-race tickets.

Bangthedrumsallday romped.  Once the pace settled, he had taken the lead by a length.  Flashdance Road (8) and Disorderly Conduct (6) pulled to within a length through the far turn, but Bangthedrumsallday opened up as soon as the turn became the stretch.  No one got close, and Flashdance Road and Disorderly Conduct were left to fight for place honours.  Susan’s Rap, my longshot pick, did not have the race I hoped he would.  He was close for the first two furlongs or so, and then faded to last.  He has now lost three races in state-bred maiden special company, none by less than 28 1/2 lengths.  I would expect to see him drop to claiming company next out.

I cashed that Daily Double, though it was rather anticlimactic: the $1 Double only paid $3.40.  This was one of those bittersweet tickets where I was glad to get back something, but didn’t even get back the $4 I paid for the four combinations.  More exciting was that I was still alive on the Pick 3, to two of the six horses in the field.

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

In this race, I was live to two horses: Cassidilly (1) and A Shot Away (4).  Cassidilly was coming into this race off of five strong performances (including three wins) in $5,000 claiming races at Hawthorne.  This was a class jump for her, but it seemed like a very good time to do it.  A Shot Away was coming up from her last two races in $7,500 starter allowance company, though had raced in allowances at this level before that.  She was in her first race off the lay, but has raced well enough off the lay in the past to contend with this field.  In addition to hanging onto my live Pick 3, I also put $2 across the board on Cassidilly, who was 6-1 morning line and 7-1 by post.

I wasn’t too far off on the shape of the race.  Sunset Illusion (6) bolted to the lead as expected, and A Shot Away got the stalking place she likes.  Miss Lucky (7) was a bit closer to the pace than expected.  Seattle Train (3) took up her usual middle early.  Coyote Breeze (2) was a bit further back than expected, about a half dozen back early, and then Cassidilly settled about eight lengths back early.  Cassidilly’s early spot was perfectly typical for her.

As much as I got right early, all my tickets were destined for the dustbin by the end of the race.  Sunset Illusion faded into the stretch, but it wasn’t A Shot Away who made the truly strong move to overtake her.  Instead, it was Seattle Train: the horse who was firing bullet after bullet at Fairmount, but who I dismissed because she hadn’t previously been racing well off of lays.  A Shot Away finished ahead of the fading Sunset Illusion to get the place, but was no match for the big late energy of Seattle Train.  Cassidilly turned wide into the stretch and never fired.  She finished sixth and last, 11 3/4 lengths behind Seattle Train.

Race 6: $5,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, non-winners since September 23, six and a half furlongs on the dirt

I was so tempted to keep my money in my pocket this race because there weren’t any horses I particularly loved.  Instead, I decided to take a punt at it anyway with Commando Kat (9) and Zavill (7).  Commando Kat was working fairly well, and Zavill had put up better speeds than the field generally did.  They both seemed to me better on the synthetic — but I thought that about Macho Matt too, and he had won the 2nd.  Longest Shot (1) looked pretty good in the paddock and stood to improve from an already decent race second off the lay, so I put him in my ticket as well: a $1 exacta box on 1,7,9.

One horse I tossed pretty quickly for being outclassed in this already weak field was Shestoyoungforubro.  He was a speed horse in a race without a ton of speed, but he was first off the winter lay, and repeatedly unable to get the job done in $3,200 beaten claimers at Beulah and $3,500 conditioned claimers at Fairmount.  He was coming off a bullet at Fairmount, but that was his only published work since October.  Of course, it’s obvious where this is heading: he was yet another one of those lightly raced Fairmount shippers who showed up to Hawthorne and just romped.  Shestoyoungforubro wired the field, checking in 7 1/2 lengths ahead of second-place Zavill.  Zavill stalked early, and was best of the rest, but couldn’t get anywhere near the winner.  Longest Shot checked in third, having stalked more closely than was normal for him early.  Commando Kat, the horse I disliked least going into this one, stalked close early but faded back to sixth.

The best lesson from this race?  If the strongest opinion I have about a race is to keep the money in my pocket, then I ought to keep the money in my pocket!

The second?  It’s one that should have been drilled into my head by now, especially after Seattle Train’s win: stop underestimating Fairmount, especially in wide-open races for good prices!

Race 7: $4,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of two races in 2013-14 OR non-winners of a race since May 23, 2014, five and a half furlongs on the dirt

In this race, I liked Foxie’s Sly Won (1), Hallie Ruth (5), and Toast With Honey (4) going in.  Foxie’s Sly Won looked to have a good shot at holding up as inside speed, Hallie Ruth had been consistent against weaker last meet, and Toast With Honey was a closer second off the lay in a race with a decent amount of early pace.  I also got interested in I Want Out (2) in the paddock: she looked good there, her connections were hot, and I wasn’t about to get bitten by a live one from Fairmount in a third straight race.  I did a $1 exacta box, 1,2,4,5.

Foxie’s Sly Won got on the lead early, dueling with Causegood (8) at first.  Causegood faded and I Want Out engaged coming near the stretch, but Foxie’s Sly Won dug in and pulled ahead to win the race by 2 1/4 over I Want Out.  Both Toast With Honey and Hallie Ruth were near the back of the central pack early, but unlike the rest of the pack horses, they had strength left late.  The tiring horses faded.  Toast With Honey never threatened the top two, but dug in for third 4 1/2 lengths behind I Want Out.  Hallie Ruth, much farther back than usual, saved ground and passed enough tiring horses to check in fourth, just half a length behind Toast With Honey.

I cashed my exacta here — not a huge one, but for more than I paid for the ticket.  This race taught me something I should have probably internalized far sooner: if I have it down to four horses, consider betting a tri instead of an exacta.  Especially with the late addition of I Want Out to my list, I had a pretty clear division between the wheat and the chaff of the field.  The exacta box made a small profit, but boxing these horses in a trifecta would have been better.  There is the extra risk, of course, that one of the lower horses will garner the show, but once I’m covering that much of the field, I am sacrificing a decent amount of bigger scores for what may be a few more small scores.  I need to have some confidence, and bet those trifectas instead.

Race 8: $8,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, six and a half furlongs on the dirt

In this race, there were only three horses who really interested me: Leathers Slappin (8), Steel Vice (9), and Noble Leader (7).  Leathers Slappin and Steel Vice were both coming in from other tracks, and both on class drops here.  Noble Leader, a local second off the winter lay, had hit the board in his last two races off the winter lay.  I did a $1 exacta box on these three.

Leathers Slappin, dropping in from $25,000 and $12,500 maiden claimers over the winter at Gulfstream, ran exactly like I thought he would in an $8,000 maiden claimer at Hawthorne.  He was three wide on the lead early with Unchartedterritory and Jake’s Humor, but pulled clear through the far turn and moved inside.  The other pacesetters faded back into the pack, which chased him like one big swarm coming into the stretch.  Noble Leader and Steel Vice started to emerge out of the pack, and it started to look like I’d cash another exacta here.  However, career maiden Giacoslew (2) sprung a little surprise.  Far back early, he made up some ground through the far turn, and came charging outside down the stretch.  He made a later move than either Noble Leader or Steel Vice, but it was a stronger one.  He ran out of distance to catch Leathers Slappin, but made up enough ground on him to come in for the place, a length ahead of Steel Vice and only 2 3/4 behind the winner.

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