Another Saturday rolls around, and Blinkers Off is back at Hawthorne for a day at the races. The third is a short but classy allowance for the older filly and mare set, and the fifth is a maiden special weight for the Illinois-bred two-year-old set. That should particularly be an interesting race, as so many of them are trying the dirt for the first time. Carrying on from opening weekend, field sizes are strong — six of the nine races have fields larger than ten horses, so it stands to be a good day whether you’re wagering or just watching.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the card!
Race 1: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners since April 27, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Eileen Evelyn (5), Take What You Can (3), Link Card (1)
Eileen Evelyn is the only credible front-end horse here, since Shannon’s Power is too slow and Mirka can’t stand dirt. She is taking a class drop here, and cuts back from a route last time out. She does have two wins over the distance, and all three of her career wins have been over the Hawthorne main. She has been on the shelf since late August, with one very fast work in the interim. Finally, Santo Sanjur rides: he’s 15% with speedy types, with a +$1.27 ROI. Take What You Can drops in here from $7,500 company last out, and returns to the dirt. Her stalking style should suit the race. She has never raced at Hawthorne, but two of her three career wins are on dirt. She is first off the claim for Stan Seagle here, but was recently claimed and re-claimed by Anthony Granitz. Given how long she was in the Granitz barn before she was claimed away the first time, this suggests there’s something to recommend her. Link Card absolutely adores this track: she is 31-3-3-2 career, and all of those times hitting the board have been in her 13 starts on the southwest oval. She has two works since her last race, and her last one was a sharp gate work at Hawthorne. She is usually a mid-pack type, but does not have to be too far back. That will help given the lack of truly credible speed.
The morning line favourite is Mirka (7), and she’s a pretty easy toss. She has run fifteen times on dirt, eleven of which have been at Hawthorne. She has no wins, a second, and a third. She a sharp polytrack horse, but has shown she wants no part of dirt.
Race 2: $17,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, Illinois-bred, N2L, one mile on the turf
Selections: Kana (5), Silvikova (3), Wind Dust (4)
Kana takes a drop in class from open to state-bred here. There aren’t any need-to-lead types in this race, but she can take the lead or stalk off of it and still race well. She does get jockey Israel Ocampo back, who rode her to both her maiden win and to a a second place finish beaten by just a nose. Her win was at this distance on good turf. This will be her first shot on firm turf, but as she has done better on “good” grass than “yielding”, she has a chance to like firm going. Silvikova is another dropping in from open to state-bred company, and the other possibly credible speed. Still, just like Kana, she can rate if necessary. She has never won on the grass, but has a second and a third in her two tries over the green stuff. Last out, she was a close second at the open $16,000 N2L level, and she gets jockey Maria Thornton back from that effort. Wind Dust drops in here from open $16,000 N2L company as well. She has only raced four times, making her the least experienced of the field. Her win was in a poly sprint. However, she is just plain bred to go turf miles: she is by Fort Prado and out of the Lord Avie mare Grand Crossing — making her half to Sweet Luca. She tried going on the lead last out at a turf mile, and that didn’t work out so well. If Eduardo Perez reverts to rating a bit, she has a good shot to improve here.
Race 3: $40,000 allowance optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $8,800 three times other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N4L OR non-winners of a race in 2014 OR claiming price $40,000, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt
Selections: Go Go Lolo (3), Phaniebdancing (5), Sydneyrella (2)
Go Go Lolo ships in here from Assiniboia, where she saw success on the filly and mare stakes circuit there. All ten of her career wins have been on dirt, and five of those have been in her eleven attempts at this distance. She cuts back from a nine-furlong try last out. There looks to be enough pace in front of her to give her something to close into late — Ciaran’s Prize is one-way speed, and some combination of Distinctive Review, Phaniebdancing, and Sydneyrella will likely ensure she doesn’t get a free ride. Her speeds are strong for this field. She has had a work over the Hawthorne track, and if her form is anything like what she had in the Great White North this summer, she will be tough here. Phaniebdancing returns to dirt after a series of attempts on turf and poly over the summer. Those were more than a little fraught, but she is strong on dirt. She is 9-3-4-2 on it — never missed the board. She (like the vast majority of these “bdancing” types…) runs for the barn of Terrel Gore, which is particularly a dirt barn. She will be near the front, but has had the ability to rate a bit, which is helpful since there are a few other speedy types here. She is just three, but she has beaten older at this distance earlier this year at Hawthorne. Sydneyrella is an extremely consistent type: dirt, turf, or poly, she brings it. She really likes this distance, boasting a 6-3-2-0 record at it. Regular jockey Tim Thornton gets the call again, and she can either take the lead or rate. She races well even on a contested lead, or can rate a bit back.
Imposing Grace (6) is a classy runner, but this is her first race since the Sixty Sails (GIII) back in April. She has historically needed a race to get her hooves under her. This time she is returning in an allowance, and not a stakes race. Still, with her one-for-nine record on fast dirt and her tendency to be a bit flat off of layoffs, she seems wise to take a pass on here.
Race 4: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners since April 11, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Go Doug Go (11), Papa Smitty (8), Our Silver Pegasus (6, for undersides)
For detailed discussion of this race, read this weekend’s Chicago Railbird.
Our Silver Pegasus is noted here for undersides only. His speed is pretty good for the field, but he has a severe problem with coming in second: he has done so in all five starts out at Fairmount this year. Even though he is up for a bit lower tag here, the company here is a bit tougher on a whole than the crowd at Fairmount. If he can’t close the deal there, there is little to say he will close it here. Still, he has every chance to hit the board, especially with the red hot connections of owner William Stiritz, trainer Scott Becker, and jockey Chris Emigh behind him.
Race 5: Maiden special weight ($20,000 purse), two-year-olds, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Market Rad (7), Boom Box (11), Armando’s Star (3)
Market Rad races for the second time, and his first on dirt. He was second at this distance in a state-bred maiden special weight over the Arlington poly last out, closing powerfully into front-running My Man Richie (another Rivelli/Baird production). There doesn’t look to be another My Man Richie; if he finds another explosive late run like he did last out, he is tough here. He also has some pedigree suggesting he will win early: out of his three half-siblings to race, two won first out (Devil’s Halo, Heart Thief), and the other one won second out (Montana). Boom Box comes in from the same race as Market Rad; he finished third, after pressing the pace for much of the race. He may end up the speed here. He has put up two solid works since that race, and adds Lasix for the first time today. Trainer Brian Williamson and jockey Edgar Perez have a strong 62% in-the-money rate over the last two months, suggesting Perez is getting the live ones. Armando’s Star is a first-time starter from the Mark Cristel barn. His breeding (by Road Ruler out of Flashdance Star, making him full to stakes-placed Flashdance Road) doesn’t scream precocity, but his trainer is 15% with a small positive ROI (+$0.27) when debuting runners at maiden special weight level. He has been working out since June, including some five-furlong moves, and put up a strong work from the gate on October 2. Assuming he looks good in the paddock, he looks like he could debut nicely, for a nice price.
Race 6: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt
Selections: Corinthians Secret (4), Soldier’s Home (1), American Piasa (9, for undersides)
For detailed discussion of this race, read this weekend’s Chicago Railbird.
Race 7: $12,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, three years old OR N3L, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt
Selections: Archybdancing (7), My Crafty Friend (6), Road Trippn (12, undersides), Courtmaster (2, undersides)
Archybdancing returns to dirt, and not a moment too soon. He ran eight times at Arlington over the summer. He was second last out — his first time hitting the board on any surface other than dirt. He is 6-2-1-0 over the Hawthorne dirt, all of which on fast conditions like today. He does his best work stalking, and stays out of early speed duels. That will help him today, with as many horses as there are who like to be up front. This is a class rise from last out, but it’s also a move back to his better surface, suggesting that class rise to be warranted. My Crafty Friend has won from the front end, but has also won from just off the pace early. With all the speed types in this race, if he can rest off the pace a bit like he did when winning the Crown Ambassador Stakes at Indiana Grand last year, that could help him here. He won last out in state-bred $15,000 company at Indiana Grand — Maria Thornton shipped to ride him there, and she gets the call again today. This will be his longest race to date. His only one-mile attempt to date, but that was over the slop — and he didn’t race well in his sprint over the slop, either. He will likely fare better trying a route in fast conditions. They are really the only two who stand out on top — in a multi-race, either just use these two or be prepared to spread massively.
Road Trippn (12) and Courtmaster (2) are undersides-only options. Road Trippn is in good form, and taking a class drop. However, he has tried the dirt ten times, and never won. He isn’t terrible on dirt — he has two seconds and three thirds over those ten starts, including on second and two thirds in four starts over the Hawthorne dirt. Still, there seem better options here than a horse who has never won in ten starts on dirt. Still, consider this runner for the undersides, since he does frequently hit the board on dirt. Courtmaster is another undersides-only type. Even though he takes a bit of a class drop here, he has taken some other drops over the course of the year, and kept coming very, very close. He has had enough chances he proves he wants to win, and never seems to get it done. There is no clear reason today should be any different.
Race 8: $25,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf
Selections: Ptolemaic (6), Mec Dancer (4), Ratatat (9)
Ptolemaic is the only horse in this field who really likes the speed. He has a good chance to get away with slow fractions, and if that happens, he could be home free. If someone else decides to try the speed, he has also shown the capacity to duel for the lead and hold up, or even rate a bit early. He drops in class to the lowest of his career, and does have one win in three starts at this distance on grass. He has never started over the Hawthorne dirt, but has done his better running in firm conditions, like he will get today. Mec Dancer drops from allowance company last out. He has been second in his last two outs, but that hardly implies second-itis: he won the two starts before that. Last out he just ran into a better horse in Mac West, and the time before, all the speed scratched and Mr. Mischief got a free ride on the front end. His recent speed is good, and jockey Emmanuel Esquivel returns. Esquivel rode him to his two wins earlier this summer, and has already racked up five wins this meet: tying him for the lead. He also loves this distance: he is 14-4-1-5 at this distance over grass. Ratatat drops from two attempts against tougher company. He does have a win at the distance, and speeds that are strong for the field. The biggest concern with Ratatat is the fact that he has not hit the board in four starts over the Hawthorne grass. However, all four starts were against far harder. The one race in which he was close, in which he was fifth beaten three lengths, Eduardo Perez rides — Perez returns today. He switches jockeys a lot, but his best runs are repeatedly with Perez aboard.
Race 9: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Langfurs Lightning (11), Rushin’ Rubietta (3), Jost Van Dyke (8)
Langfurs Lightning is taking a class drop here: a fairly big one, having faced $18,000 company last out. It was an ambitious placing, especially given that polytrack is not his best surface. He returns to dirt here. He drops in from far tougher at Arlington over the summer, but raced far better on the dirt at Oaklawn and Prairie Meadows than he did on the synthetic. He also cuts back in distance, from 1 1/16 miles last out to six furlongs here. He has shown success at six furlongs, having a 7-2-2-1 record at the distance. Pace-wise, he can rate: good, because it looks like Jack’s Big Fella is probably going to take any can’t rate types with him, burn them out, and set it up for someone just off them. That may well be the stalking Langfurs Lightning. Rushin’ Rubietta drops in class as well, having faced $7,500 company last out. That was on turf, and he finished a creditable fourth, just 1 1/2 back. That was particularly decent, as he is far more of a dirt horse than a turf runner. His speeds are strong on dirt, and 20% sprint jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr. has the call. He is another one who, like Langfurs Lightning, can either press right up on the lead or go from a couple of lengths back early. Jost Van Dyke is a consistent type: he has raced 18 times, and hit the board in 17 of those runs. These have been on dirt, turf, and all-weather — he just runs. He is more of a closing type: even though the pace is good for a closer, he is the only really creditable one in the field. The one drawback is his record at Hawthorne: the only time he did not hit the board was in his one race at Hawthorne this past November. However, that was for a different barn, and with a different rider. He is in the Tammy Domenosky barn, and has Emmanuel Esquivel aboard today. Esquivel has ridden him in his last three races, and has been very hot at Hawthorne thus far this meet.