a less rainy Sunday than expected…

Sunday was a big day: I hosted my day at Hawthorne Race Course, as well as did my first set of guest picks for Danonymous Racing!  I already talked a bit about what an awesome experience the day at the races was, and about everyone who made it so fantastic…but before we soldier on toward the Illinois Derby this coming Saturday, it’s time to take a look at how the races on Sunday, and how my selections fared.

I handicapped the card for rain, since the forecast called for a ninety percent chance of rain, and for the rain to start before the races.  However, the rain didn’t come until a couple of races into the card.  By the fourth and fifth races it was raining a bit.  It briefly stopped, and then rained a decent amount through the last few.  It was never a deluge, and the track was never downgraded from fast.  However, fortunately, there weren’t major changes between who I wanted in those conditions, and who I wanted with more rain.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the races!

Race 1:  $5,000 claiming, fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, N2L, 1 1/16 miles on the dirt

In this race, my top choices were Mutually Exclusive (1), Sarah’s Splendor (2), and Angel Over Me (4).  Nothing in the paddock knocked me off these horses, so I did a $1 exacta box of these three.

It actually turned out not to be Chicago Ruhls (6) who set the lead; she could do no better than a couple lengths off the pace, and faded badly late.  Angel Over Me set the early fractions, with Che Serai just off her early.  Mutually Exclusive was a few lengths back on the rail; she ran the stalking trip early that I had been hoping to see.  Sarah’s Splendor, the Oaklawn shipper, started closer to the back.

Sarah’s Splendor steadily gained ground, and made a wide move as the field turned for home.  She caught up to Angel Over Me, and pulled away to win by daylight.  Angel Over Me held on for second, 2 1/4 lengths behind Sarah’s Splendor.  Mutually Exclusive never really fired.  She didn’t fade badly late, but didn’t pick up the pace the way she’d have needed to challenge the top two.  Mutually Exclusive finished third, 6 1/4 behind the winner, though still over four lengths clear of the next horse.

Race 2:  $8,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles on the dirt

In this race, the only horse I wanted anything to do with was Dittman Thunder (8).  I had Junk Yard (3) and Moe’s Favorite Cat (2) as second-level picks, but would have only considered them as lower rungs, such as an 8/2,3 exacta.  However, I decided against an intra-race wager here, and instead did a Pick 3 for $6 total, 8/3,6/5,6,7.

That Pick 3 didn’t last long; I was nowhere near right on this race.  To be fair, though, the race was a lot more exciting, and a lot closer, than most $8,000 maiden claimers.  Galway Shore (1), beaten 16 lengths at this level in early March (as well as twice beaten over thirty lengths at maiden $17,500), shot to the lead early, and held it for most of the race.  Walker My Boy (4), who had twice failed at short odds in $3,200 maiden claimers at Beulah, managed to split between Galway Shore and Dittman Thunder, come from behind, and get ahead of Galway Shore.  Ballistic Tim (7), a Career Maiden in his twenty-sixth career start, came close this time.  He got ahead of Galway Shore, but fell a head short of sniping Walker My Boy as well.  Galway Shore held third, a length back.  Dittman Thunder, far back early, did zig-zag through horses to make a closing run.  However, it fell short; he finished fourth, 1 3/4 lengths back.

Junk Yard ran a very, very odd race.  He was a dozen lengths back early, and dropped back to a more Donnaguska-esque two dozen lengths as the field came into the far turn.  He couldn’t muster a truly epic stretch run, but made up far more of that ground than I expected.  He ended up last, but beaten only 6 1/4 lengths.  Moe’s Favorite Cat, my third selection, stalked closely through most of the race, but lost some ground late.  He finished four lengths behind the winner — but that still put him sixth in the field of seven.

Race 3: $12,500 claiming, fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, N2L, six and a half furlongs on the dirt

In this race, I liked Lordliness (6), Cartiac Arrest (3), and Reba’s Set (1).  The only one who jumped out at me as looking not particularly good was Lucidity (4); she came off as quite anxious.  This didn’t affect my choices, however, and I played a $1 exacta box, 1,3,6.

Just like in the first, I had the correct top three horses, just in not quite the right order.  Lucidity and Lady Scruffy (2) set the early pace, as expected.  They also faded out, as expected.  Cartiac Arrest stalked a few lengths back, but moved right around them to take the lead through the far turn.  She steadily widened her lead coming down the stretch, and won by a convincing 5 3/4 lengths.  Both Lordliness and Reba’s Set were mid-pack early.  Lordliness has more late punch, and got up for second.  Reba’s Set kicked in a little later and passed the tiring leaders; she was third beaten 8 lengths.

Race 4:  $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L, five furlongs on the dirt

In this race, I liked B S Wildcat (7), Millionaire Storm (5), and Romance the Devil (6) going in.  However, in the paddock, my third choice Romance the Devil looked extremely anxious.  It went beyond the “on your toes and ready to race”, into looking like he was using energy in the paddock that he should have kept for the race.  Little Kick (4) looked better, so I did a $1 exacta box 4,5,7.

This was the race after which I got to explain to my friend, who is not nearly the racing fanatic that I am, that judging paddock behaviour is not a perfect science.  One of my selections managed to hit the board, and of course, it was the one I set aside based on his appearance in the paddock.

Total Package (1), a horse coming into this race off of a two-year lay, took the early lead, and held it until the field turned for home.  He faded through the far turn, though, and dropped completely out after his jockey lost the whip.  Reddick Township (8) stalked, with Romance the Devil behind him.  Romance the Devil made his move approaching the stretch, though, and got his head in front as the field started down the stretch.  Reddick Township, though, fought back.  He had shown no ability to rate, but managed to find that in this race.  Possibly more surprising, though, was Still Grey (2).  A Fairmount shipper in his first race off a six-month lay, Still Grey normally raced either on or just off the early lead.  This time, however, he was a dozen lengths back early.  He was still half a dozen back as the field turned for home.  However, he made up ground, split horses, and hustled up just in time to catch Reddick Township for the dead heat.  Romance the Devil held third, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winners.

Millionaire Storm did the best among my selections.  He didn’t get the lead, from whence he normally performs best.  Instead, he ran from midpack, and made up ground coming through the far turn.  He did have energy late, enough to gain ground on the leaders; he finished a length and a half behind the winners, just a head short of the show.  Little Kick, normally a speed horse, had a bad start and ended up about a dozen back early.  He found a late run, but had trouble finding racing room to sustain the run.  He was fifth, finishing 2 3/4 lengths behind Still Grey and Reddick Township.  B S Wildcat was in mid-pack for most of the race, about half a dozen lengths back.  He never made a serious challenge for the lead, and finished sixth beaten 4 1/4 lengths.

Race 5:  Starter optional claiming $12,500-$8,000, fillies and mares, four-year-olds and up, start for a claiming price of $8,000 or less in 2013-14 OR $12,500 claiming price, 1 1/16 miles on the dirt

In this race, Sweet Teri K (3) was my top choice, especially because of the rain in the forecast.  By this race, it was starting to rain: exactly what I was hoping to see.  I also thought Coyote Breeze (6) and possibly Tonzie (4) had a shot, as well as Lewderhoo (7) for hitting the board, though not to win.  I bet a $1 exacta, 3,6/3,6,7.  Tonzie wasn’t a terrible choice, but I didn’t like her as much as the others, so I left her off.

Sweet Teri K did exactly what I expected her to do.  She stalked the pace set by Dani Nikki (1) and the close-stalking Coyote Breeze.  She was a bit farther back than expected early, but steadily made up ground on the speed duo, and got her head in front as the far turn became the stretch.  With plenty of energy left, she pulled away.  Tonzie, who tracked the pace a handful of lengths back for much of it, closed strongly for second, and got within 1 3/4 lengths of the winner.  Tonzie was still another 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Afleet Abaco (2B), who came from near the back early to claim third.

Coyote Breeze was just off the lead early, but didn’t handle the stretch back out to route distances all that well.  She dropped out of contention in the far turn, and crossed the wire fifth beaten 6 1/4 lengths.  Lewderhoo, who I thought was a good bet to hit the board given her ability to do so in tougher company, didn’t sustain a run.  She started making up some ground going through the far turn, but couldn’t keep it going.  She finished sixth, a nose behind Coyote Breeze.

As much as I screwed up the lower rungs of the exacta, it was still exciting to get the top pick right, particularly in this race.  The fifth race was the one for which we got to be in the winners’ circle picture, so it was particularly excellent to be in the picture with the horse I picked!

Race 6:  $5,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, non-winners of $4,000 since August 12, six furlongs on the dirt

In this race, Cavanaugh (2) was my pick to try and beat the inevitable chalk that was Ravin About Riv (4) (3-5 morning line, 3-10 final odds).  The rain was letting up a bit, but there was still some moisture, and therefore some hope that Cavanaugh could find his decent wet track form.  Tanna Gold (1) was another one who had shown aptitude in his six starts over off tracks.  I felt good about this trio, good enough to not only bet a $1 exacta box, but also a $0.50 trifecta box, 1,2,4.

Ravin About Riv held up his end of the bargain, behaving like a 3-10 shot ought to.  He got up front early, fought a close duel with Cavanaugh and Good Guy Larry (6), and opened up down the stretch to win by 5 1/4 lengths. Nafir’s Best (5), a lightly-worked Fairmount shipper in his first race off a six month lay, was mid-pack early, which is farther back than he normally likes.  He gained on everyone but the winner late, though, and got in for the place.  Blushing Preacher (3), a horse who had shown absolutely nothing in his four starts off the winter lay, showed improvement in cutting from a mile and seventy yards down to six furlongs.  He was far back early, but fired especially well in the final furlong to get up for the show, 3/4 length behind Nafir’s Best.

Cavanaugh was a bit of a risk since he was coming off a lay, and unfortunately that rustiness showed.  He chased, and held in second through part of the stretch, but faded back to fourth.  He crossed the wire 11 1/2 lengths behind the winner.  Tanna Gold never got anything going.  He was a dozen back quickly, and never made any kind of mark.  This was atypical for him, as he has previously come off layoffs with relatively sharp races, even as recently as last year.

Race 7: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, N2L, six and a half furlongs on the dirt

In this race, I liked Community Property (5), Rycon (1), and then Evil Image (7) for lower rungs.  Evil Image looked like a career N2L, but had hit the board enough at this level that she was good for lower.  Nothing in the paddock knocked me off of these choices, so I did a $1 exacta of 1,5/1,5,7, as well as $2 on the 5 to win.  I opted for the win bet on Community Property instead of Rycon because he had done less wrong in the past, and would be getting a better price.

This ended up being one of those uncommon times where a career horse at a certain level broke through without a real change like a class drop or altered distance.  The most likely description is improving form as he proceeds in his four-year-old year.  Evil Image ran to the lead early, opened up to a wide margin coming into the stretch, and just barely repelled the late-closing run by Rycon.  Rycon, a dozen lengths back early, improved to second position in early stretch, but was still about half a dozen behind the leader.  He fired strongly past the eighth pole, and checked in a narrowing neck short of Evil Image come the wire.  Plains Warrior, who stalked close behind Evil Image early, faded after a few furlongs and finished 9 1/2 lengths behind the winner.  However, that was still good enough for the show.

Community Property, the fourth-time starter, never got going.  He broke poorly, had no speed, and spent the entire race over a dozen lengths off the lead.  He finished fifth, ahead of only the seriously overmatched C C and Moonlight.

Race 8: $25,000 claiming, fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, N2L, 1 mile and 70 yards on the dirt

In this race, I liked Meghan’s Faith (6) and My Deposition (3), out of the horses who run.  I was also interested in Oaklawn shipper Sparkling Ruler (5), but she scratched the morning of the race.  I didn’t actually end up betting on this race at all; the 4-5 I was going to get on Meghan’s Faith wasn’t enough to get me to end the conversation I was having.

Meghan’s Faith did not bounce from that last start, and ended up much the best here.  She was the lone speed, and had daylight between her and her competition from the time the early pace settled all the way past the wire.  Maggie McSwain, who I thought was a bounce risk after her maiden win last out, proved she had something left.  She was back along the rail early, but closed well enough down the stretch to cut into the lead and finish 3 3/4 lengths behind Meghan’s Faith.  Spirit of a Nation, in her thirty-first lifetime race (and her first against winners!), never fired from her position near the back, but didn’t fade badly either.  She finished a steady but distant third, 13 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

My Deposition settled midpack early, and never got the stalking place that would have served her best.  She then faded out as the race progressed.  She dropped back to last coming into the far turn, and was only able to pass the badly fading Wicklow Gray Lady (1) late.  My Deposition finished fourth, 20 3/4 lengths behind Meghan’s Faith.

Race 9: Maiden special weight ($27,000 purse), Illinois-bred, fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the dirt

In this race, I liked the coupled entry of So Good To Go (1) and Over Again (1A), Scarletridgerunner (6), and Kana (8).  Nothing in the paddock knocked me off of these initial selections, and in fact Kana (8) appeared to have particularly good energy: on her toes, and ready to go.  I did a $1 exacta box, 1,6,8.

In her second start, the Roger Brueggemann trainee Scarletridgerunner ran the day.  She came out to the lead quickly, repelled a challenge from Over Again as they entered the stretch, and pulled away down the stretch to win by 6 1/2 lengths.  Over Again, though no match for the winner, was far better than the rest of the field; she crossed the wire 10 3/4 lengths ahead of third-place Shadow Valley.  Shadow Valley, a first-time starter coming off a sharp five-furlong work on April 5, had tried to stalk the pace early.  She faded out of contention with the top two, but still always stayed a few lengths ahead of the rest of the field.

Kana, my third choice, finished fourth.  She started a few lengths off the lead, had no challenge to the top three, but was able to run steadily enough to hold onto fourth position from wire to wire.  So Good To Go, the other half of the combined entry, brought up the rear early.  She had enough of a run late to improve to sixth (and miss fifth-place Best Kiss Yet by just a nose), but never made any serious bid to even hit the board.  This was her first career start, though, so she could improve next out.

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