back to the track!

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m finally back at Hawthorne to tackle this afternoon’s card.  After being elsewhere last weekend, it feels so good to be back at the local track.  It’s warm enough to wear a t-shirt (in other words, about 40 degrees outside at the moment…), there are nine races on the card today, and the ninth race features my favourite grey state-bred sprinter, Sweep E Prado.  Today will be a good day at the races, so let’s get started!

Race 1: $15,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, five and a half furlongs on the dirt

Between Kid Cruz in the Wood and now here, the theme of my weekend is starting to be scratched choices.  I was all ready to discuss why J C Fifty (6) had the best chances to win here, but he scratched out of the race this morning.  This, of course, leaves him with no chance to win.

Shanghai Red (8) is the 2-1 favourite, and raced through the winter at Oaklawn.  He has no recent works, but he raced all the way through the winter at Oaklawn.  He ran in maiden claimers there, but went back up to maiden special company on returning to Hawthorne.  This is his lowest level to date, and he may just graduate on class alone.

Adobe Springs (4) has raced at approximately this level three times already this meet, hitting the board twice.  Last time out, he was third beaten 14 1/2; He only lost the place by a length, but Rose’s Hombre had run away with it.  Timothy Thornton has the mount again, and he has a good shot to hit the board again.  He isn’t as fast as J C Fifty or Shanghai Red, at least not yet, but he does get a weight break since he is three and not older.  I don’t love him to win, but an exotic would be lacking without him in the lower rungs.

One interesting first-time starter, more for curiosity purposes than for betting purposes, is Herunsfornanny (4).  You don’t often see a six-year-old first-time starter — at least, nowadays at Hawthorne, unless it’s from Shamrock Farm, who seems to be starting a lot of older maidens.  This horse runs for a different outfit, and is trained by Roger Brueggemann.  That’s probably the most interesting betting aspect to this one, since Brueggemann does well at this track.

Race 2: $5,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, non-winners since October 5, 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.

With the scratch of Frank’s Time, this race becomes a fairly wide open field of just five.  In this race, I expect to see Star of Paradise (6) on the lead, with Travelin Home (5) and El Deputy (2) close behind.  Grind (3) and Covert Mission (4) will likely come from farther back.

Star of Paradise shows the most consistent speed of the bunch, and is coming off two on-the-board finishes in dirt routes this meet at Hawthorne.  If anyone is going to catch him, it will be either Travelin Home or Grind.  Travelin Home has raced three times this meet, and is showing some improvement as the meet progresses.  Against this relatively weak field, he should at least hit the board.  Grind is in his second race off of a six-month lay, and has shown some races within the last year that would be good enough to beat this group.  The jury is still out as to whether he’s going to like this track, though, since the first race off the lay was also his first race here.

Race 3: $10,000 claiming, three year olds and up, fillies and mares, N3L OR three years old, six and a half furlongs on the dirt

This race, with the scratch of Alaskan Paradox, has another field of five.  Supermane (5) and Walkabout Molly (4) like the early speed, though Walkabout Molly is very likely to fade out early.  Defiant Susie (6) does best from a stalking place, and Link Card (3) will try to close from further back.  The real question mark pacewise is Abby’s Slew (2), since she has had some success from a closer stalking place, or further back.

I like Abby’s Slew (2) a lot here.  She has the inside gate, and has been able to run well in multiple pace scenarios.  Stephanie Slinger, who has ridden her last three races (all on the board), rides again here.  She’s also second off her winter lay, and has put up a decent five-furlong work since her last race.

Link Card also interests me here.  Last out on March 15, against a $7,500 Starter Optional Claiming field, she bounced.  However, the race before that, she won going away.  Even though she gets in mid-pack early, she tends to make up distance pretty quickly, which will be advantageous given the pace scenario here.  She is also coming in off of a six furlong work on March 23: both the length and the bullet bode well for her to race well today.

Race 4: $17,500 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the dirt

There’s only one Career Maiden here, and it’s everyone’s favourite: Holy Classic (3).  Six years old, she is now a 56-race maiden.  The rest of the field has only raced 31 times combined.  One of these days, I want her to either win or retire, but if she does somehow win, I’m letting her beat me.

Raced twelve times, Baby Face Nelson (5) is approaching Career Maiden status, but there’s enough recommending her here that I’m not giving up on her today.  She has dropped from MSW to maiden $50K to maiden $17.5K in her last three races; last out, she set the pace at this level, but faded to third beaten less than two lengths.  However, that was a 1 mile 70 yard race — she cuts back to six furlongs here, which should suit her better.  Best Kiss Yet (4) is only racing her second time, but drops from maiden $25K at Fair Grounds last time out into this race.  She also switches from turf to dirt.  She is facing easier company here, and may improve on the surface change.

Finally, I’m interested to look at Lena Love (6) in the paddock.  She is coming back from a layoff since last October, and has only raced twice (both times at Indiana Downs) before today.  She put up a decent work at four furlongs on March 26, however, and is the only one in this field who is on the drop from maiden special company to maiden claiming.

Race 5: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N3L or non-winners since October 15, 1 1/16 miles on the dirt

Ten Little Pins (2) and Run Mama Beare Run (7) are likely to set the early pace here, and if either one of them can stay well, the closers probably won’t be able to catch up to them.  I like Ten Little Pins a little better here.  She has the 2 gate, outside of only Arrested By Duffy, a horse who runs okay on synthetic, but has shown no recent dirt form whatsoever.  Ten Little Pins will get the rail.  The drawback on her is that she is coming in first off her winter lay, but she is working decently enough at Fairmount: which, odd as it sounds, has been a pretty good recipe for success this meet.  Run Mama Beare Run has raced twice at Hawthorne this meet, , being near or on the early speed both times, but finishing third both times.  The 7 post won’t be great for her, but she’s just one of the faster horses in this relatively weak field.

If one of the horses from farther back is able to get her nose up there, it will probably be Golden Road (3).  She ships from a busy winter of racing at Fair Grounds and Delta, and is on a class drop here.  She will likely relish the return to dirt, as the winter win over the Delta dirt suggests, though she is stretching out to the longest race of her career.  She has had enough success (and widening lead margins late) at 1 mile 70 yards, however, that it bodes well here.

Race 6: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, 1 mile 70 yards on the dirt

This is a race full of professional N2Ls, with a side of horses who are far back early, usually don’t fire as closers, and don’t have enough early speed in this race to even set up a favourable pace scenario if they did fire.  That said, there are three horses in this race who interest me at all.

Two of them are the ones with some likelihood to be on the early speed: Slew City Sin (3) and In Red’s Honor (6).  Slew City Sin will likely get the inside, with the two horses inside of him preferring to be farther back.  He was right on the pace last time out before fading late, but his last race was at 1 1/16 miles, and his first route run this meet.  That should get him a bit fitter for this second route of the meet, and the cut back to 1 mile 70 yards should help as well.  In Red’s Honor broke his maiden last time out, so he’s on a class jump here.  He has shown better races this spring than in the past, and has more speed than most of this field.  This field is a bit better than the maiden $8K fields he has been hitting lately, but if he can at least stay close to Slew City Sin early, he has a shot.

W W Distinction (2) comes from pretty far off the pace, but doesn’t get quite as far back early as others in the field.He is coming off two straight fourth place finishes this meet, but is dropping from $12,500 N2L to here.  This easier field might be exactly what he needs.  A bit more early speed would help him a lot here, but if either of the speed horses fades late, he is fast enough and consistent enough to pick up the pieces.

Race 7: Maiden special weight ($26,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, five and a half furlongs on the dirt

This is a big, pretty competitive maiden special field.  The field includes three first time starters, and a couple more horses who are coming in for their first race off a layoff.  Some of them are working very well coming into this race.  It’s a tough one to pick, but it should be a fun one to watch, and the field is big enough that if an opinion bears out, there’s likely to be good betting value.

Rushin’ Emerald (7) returns for her second start at Hawthorne, and her fourth race overall.  On March 2, she came in first off an eight-month lay to finish 2nd at this level and distance.  She has put up two pretty sharp works since that race, and should be fit and ready to go here.  She’s running at the right level, and may graduate.  Bella Ann (4), at six starts the most heavily raced horse in the field, returns to dirt for the first time since her first career start.  She hasn’t raced since last September, a maiden route race at 1 1/16 miles on the Arlington turf where she finished third beaten 1 1/4 lengths.  She is four, so may very well have grown stronger over the winter break.  She worked very well at Fair Grounds over the winter, though did not make it out to the track to race.

Finally, the most interesting first time starter here is Im Moneyinthebank (9).  She is three year old, a May foal, so youngest in the field.  However, she has been working very nicely and consistently at Hawthorne leading into this race — including a bullet four furlong work (best of fifty at the distance!) on March 29.  The outside post makes her a bit of a risk, but she’s working well enough to suggest she could run well.

A long shot I want to look at in the paddock is Lady Poet (2), at a morning line of 20-1.  From the same barn as Rushin’ Emerald, she comes here in her first race off the lay since July, when she raced twice at Prairie Meadows.  She has put up a string of solid works at Hawthorne coming into this race, so if she looks ready to run in the paddock, she could come in, or at least hit the board, at a very nice price.

Race 8: Allowance optional claiming ($25,000), three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $8,800 twice other than maiden, claiming, starter, turf, or state-bred allowance OR N3L OR $25,000 claiming price, six furlongs on the dirt

There is quite a bit of early speed in this race, so the pace may set up very well for Ifoundmymojo (6).  Last time out, he finished second by a nose at this level, behind Chatfield Road.  Chatfield Road was just lugging in down the rail that time out, but this finish was flattered by Chatfield Road’s next time out, where he finished fourth in an allowance behind the classy trio of River Bear, Hogy, and Four Left Feet.  Assuming Ifoundmymojo is able to fire down the stretch, he has more than enough speed to take this bunch.  I’m also interested in the coupled entry of Domain’s Rap (1) and Royalrap (1A).  Domain’s Rap is coming in off the winter lay, but has a lot of speed, and is versatile in style.  He has had good races while setting the pace, stalking just off of it, or closing from far back early.  This versatility makes him a threat here.  His entrymate, Royal Rap, is a pretty clear early speed horse, maybe not the best speed in the field, but is coming off a bullet work at Fairmount and is in his second race off the winter lay.  He could improve from his fifth place finish last out.

Finally, Helooksthepart (7) is on a massive class drop here.  He raced at Gulfstream over the winter in some higher-level allowance optional claimers.  He didn’t hit the board, but two starts back he finished fourth, 5 3/4 lengths behind Happy My Way, who absolutely blasted Dad’z Laugh and Ribo Bobo in the Sir Shackleton last weekend.  He fired a bullet five furlong work on March 26 here at Hawthorne, and is 4-3-0-1 career at the track.  The 5-1 morning line on him would be a gift; I expect it to drop precipitously before post.  Helooksthepart has speed and class, and

One I really want to look at in the paddock, who may be a good value play, is Rushin’ Rubietta (5).  She raced at this level on March 15, but was pulled up on the backstretch and vanned off.  However, she has posted a good work since that race, suggesting that she’s fit to run again.  That was her first race off of a layoff since late August; before that, she was racing with success in state-bred stakes company in Iowa.  She’s probably not going to take a lot of money due to the result in her last race, but if she looks good in the paddock, I’ll be getting the right price to punt on her staying up with the leaders for six furlongs.

Race 9: Allowance ($29,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, non-winnders of $8,800 once OR non-winners of a state-bred race other than a maiden, claiming, or starter OR N2L, six furlongs on the dirt

Easy Solution (11) is tempting in a way, since he’s dropping from running tougher races in the past.  However, there’s a ton of early speed in this race, and he has shown a major inability to rate.  If he gets the early speed, he will likely win…but if he doesn’t (and the pace figures on Pale Hose (2) and I’m Old School (3) suggest he won’t!), he’s toast.  This 7-2 morning line favourite (in light of the scratch of I Got It All) is vulnerable, and I’m taking a stand against him.

With all the horses who like the early speed and have shown such inability to rate, a duel seems an inevitability here.  As such, I like a horse in from off the pace to take this race.  Sweep E Prado (1) is the best of that category, and does his best work closing.  Last time out, at this level, he overcame an absolutely terrible start to finish second at this distance and level, only three quarters of a lengths behind Right Now Richie.  He is one of only two three-year-olds in the field, but he gets a six-pound weight break for it, and showed some class last out against older, as well.

Aside from him, a couple of longer shots caught my eye.  Even Fever (8), 2nd last out at a lower level but beaten only 4 1/4 lengths at this level in the race before, is the only other horse in the field that shows a consistent ability to come from far off the pace to make any kind of impression.  If he looks good in the paddock, I may include him in my ticket, just because the pace is so likely to be favourable.  Moreno’s Mine (7) is attractive for his versatility.  Last time out he got right with Pale Hose on the early speed, but stayed on while his counterpart faded.  In other recent races he has seen success stalking and closing; though it was against weaker fields than this, he has at least shown that he’s gritty enough not to give up if he can’t get the early lead.  That’s something that can’t be said for the speed horses in this field.

If any of the speed horses has a chance to take this race, it would probably be I’m Old School (3).  He is on a class rise from his last few races, but is coming in having won his last two, and running very consistent speeds in his last three.  If he doesn’t get the early speed, he’s not likely to win the race, but his 3 gate and his early pace figures suggest he might get it, especially if Pale Hose (2) misfires.  It’s not a lot to go on, and I prefer the horses who can come from behind, but he’s who I’ll go to if I need a speed horse for a box.

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