It is Saturday…the final day of Hawthorne’s third racing week. Blinkers Off is back for another day at the races. Today’s card features two maiden events, two allowances races, and a range of claiming races. Racing has been washed off the turf again today; three races were originally carded for the grass. Still, as it was announced yesterday that races would be off-turf again today, the selections and analysis for all nine races are for the dirt. Scratches have also been taken into account, as of publish time.
Without further ado…let’s dive into the card!
Race 1: Maiden special weight ($20,000 purse), two-year-old fillies, Illinois-bred, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Swanky Princess (3), Melody Lane (6), Cooper’s Keeper (2)
For my full analysis of this race, read this weekend’s Chicago Railbird.
Race 2: $15,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, three years old OR N3L, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt (originally one mile on the turf)
Selections: Forafewdollarsmore (9), Dos de Bastos (8), Red Wings (2)
Forafewdollarsmore drops to the lowest level of his career. Though the race was originally carded for turf, one can only think that this was what his connections were hoping would happen — he has only ever hit the board on the dirt. He is versatile pacewise, and will probably want to run a more closing style given the plethora of early speed types here. Trainer Steve Manley and jockey Santo Sanjur have combined to win five of their last twenty, with eleven in the money, for a small positive (+$0.54) ROI over hte last two months, and he could be a price again today. Dos de Bastos is another who drew into this turf race as a regular entry, but has only won on the dirt. The rain should help him here — he is a perfect two-for-two on off going. He is another who can go to the front, or come from midpack; there is a lot on the front here, but he has shown he can handle a fight there. He takes a slight drop in class here, understandable given the slightly subpar effort he put out on October 4. Finally, he switches to hot rider Emmanuel Esquivel. Red Wings drops in from starter optional company to straight claiming, and has been running almost exclusively on dirt recently. He was reliably in the money at Assiniboia through the summer, and won his last start. He shows no real hankering to be on the early speed, preferring to come from a few lengths back. He has a decent work at Hawthorne on October 2, and if he can bring the speed figures he fired in the Great White North down to Chicago, he fits right in here.
Race 3: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, five and a half furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Eight Shooters (2), Proud Comet (7), Moment of Clarity (6)
This an ALL button sort of race: $5,000 N2L is one of the least formful levels in racing, and the edges that any horse may have over the others are slight at best. Eight Shooters has the most gossamer threads on which to grasp. he takes a drop from $16,000 N2L company last out and $7,500 N2L a few times before that. Pacewise, he can rate, as he showed in his maiden win; though that was two years ago,o he also showed a decent second over the summer from a few lengths off the pace. He switches to streaking apprentice Rolando Aragon, and cuts back from a mile to six furlongs. These changes may kick him into gear for a good price. Proud Comet broke his maiden just ten days ago at Hawthorne, and gets jockey Julio Felix back from that effort. He comes back to the same distance here, as well. The light may well be on with this one. The biggest drawback is the fact that so much of the field likes to be on the front end; he hasn’t shown quite enough early zip to be surely the speed of the speed here, though he is the most credible option. Finally, Moment of Clarity is an off-pace type who comes in here second off the lay. His form has been abysmal lately, but in a race with so many horses who want to be on the front, he has a chance to pick up the pieces. He broke his maiden at this distance in the mud at the Mountain, so the rain may help him today. Still, when a horse like him looks like the third best option…the ALL button may be your friend, in multi-race wagers.
One who looks a bit suspicious here is Native Hatches (5). He won at first asking at Arlington, was up for $16,000 last out, and then claimed into the Michael Reavis barn. Reavis runs him back today for $5,000. His performance last out was not good; he was a distant last. Between that and the huge drop off the claim, this suggests something may be wrong.
Race 4: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, five and a half furlongs on the dirt
Selections: No Barneys (8), Little Elhayq (2), Blade Unbridled (5)
You do not have double-vision here: this race has exactly the same conditions as the third. This was a popular condition this weekend.
No Barneys is the morning line favourite, and deservedly so. He drops in class here from $16,000 N2L company at Del Mar last out, to the lowest level of his career. He has two works at Hawthorne since shipping over, and the last was quite sharp. He hit the board at this distance against $20,000 maiden company at Santa Anita, showing at least some affinity for it. Finally, trainer Clay Brinson is strong in these types of races: 29% over the dirt and 30% in sprints. Little Elhayq drops from $7,500 N2L company last out. He broke his maiden at this very distance three starts back, albeit on the polytrack. This is another Steve Manley/Santo Sanjur production, a combination who has won tow of their last seven and five of their last twenty. He cuts back from seven furlongs here, and should like the short sprint. Blade Unbridled broke his maiden two starts back at Fairmount, and drops in here off of an attempt in $7,500 company at Arlington. That one win was in the slop, so he should be helped if it continues to rain over the course today. Though his win was a wire job, he showed in a June outing, in which he crossed the wire first but was disqualified to third, that he could rate a bit off the pace — helpful given the pretty heavy concentration of early speed here. He also gets jockey Juan Molina, Jr. back; Molina rode him to his maiden win
Race 5: $5,000 starter allowance, three-year-olds and up, starters for $5,000 claiming price or less in 2013-2014, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt (originally carded for turf)
Selections: Tall Grass Cat (3), Purest Form (1), Hapman (6)
Tall Grass Cat ran on turf and all-weather this summer, but should appreciate the return to the dirt if last winter and spring were any indication: he went through a period where he won four of five on dirt, and the only loss was by a nose. He had a creditable run on grass against state-bred allowance company three back, finishing just half a length behind promising Block trainee Bold Rally. His speeds are strong, and he is 10-3-2-1 on dirt. Pacewise, he is versatile; he has run well anywhere from contesting the lead to coming from mid-pack. Purest Form showed good dirt form last winter, and returns to that surface for the first time since then. His speeds have been decent for the field, and he has a good chance of being the speed of the speed. His form has been consistent this year: in seven starts, he has only missed the board once. Though he is a speed horse, he does not fold and die if he is headed, or things do not go completely his way. If he keeps that up on his return to the dirt, he could be tough. Hapman comes in from the Charles Livesay barn, with Carlos Montalvo aboard. This combination has won five of its 19 starts over the last two months, with an excellent +$4.74 ROI over that time. He is an off-pace type, and could be coming on late if the front end gets too frisky. He won at this level at Arlington two back. Though that was in poly, he is 9-2-1-2 on dirt: creditable, since turf is his primary surface. He has worked twice since his last race, and should be ready to go here. One final note on Hapman — if you are watching the livestream and see him acting up in the paddock, he is one you can put on your “paddock head case” list. Such behaviour would not be uncommon for him, and he can race well despite some paddock antics.
Race 6: $17,500 maiden claiming, two-year-olds, five and a half furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Bahnke (7), Fort Lewis Rivers (8), Karmic (3)
For my full analysis of this race, read this weekend’s Chicago Railbird.
Race 7: Allowance ($21,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $8,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt (originally one mile on the turf)
Selections: Depart Dover (14), Shakesperian Dream (9), Zes T Cat (2)
I had my fingers crossed the entire way to the track today that Depart Dover would draw in off the AE list. She did, and she is the top selection. Pacewise, she can force the issue or rate a few back. She has won her last three, including a one-mile allowance on dirt at Fairmount two starts back. Last out, she dispatched with state-bred N1X company on the Arlington poly. She has been ultra-consistent: she missed the board in her debut back in March, but has hit the board in every race since. Her recent speed figures are strong compared to what the rest of the field tends to muster on dirt. Finally, she races for the red-hot Stiritz/Becker/Emigh triumvirate. Becker and Emigh have taken 42 horses postward in the last two months: ten have won, and the ROI is +$1.45. She has speed, class, and connections — and may be a nice overlay due to folks who ignore the AE list. Shakesperean Dream was starting to have the looks of a Career Maiden™, but finally put the pieces together last out at Arlington. This is a class jump, especially since that last-out win was in $25,000 claiming company. Still, she has hit the board in eight of her twelve starts, and that maiden win was at a mile. She has only won on dirt once, but that was a third-place finish going longer in the slop. Though there has been some rain today, the track is currently rated fast, and will doubtfully be taken any lower than good unless it really picks up. She should be able to handle the dirt, and the distance won’t be a question either. Pacewise, she is a closer, and with as many runners in this race as like to be on or near the front, she could have something to attack late. Finally, look at Zes T Cat. The Manley “B” entry, she has been solid on the dirt, with a win and two seconds in five starts over dirt. Manley is 19% with horses who were beaten favourites last out, suggesting that he knows where to place them. She has worked twice since her last race, and those have been sharp. Finally, Rolando Aragon rides — it will be his first time on Zes T Cat, and he has been riding sharply this meet.
Race 8: Allowance ($21,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $8,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Silky Sami (3), Smiling Gambler (8), Talk About Me (9)
There is a ton of speed here: Fayreen, W W Concerto, Pinkchampagneonice, A Shot Away, and Loya all like being up on the front. It looks ripe for a closer, and the aptly named Silky Sami fits that bill. She is a closer on whom you can depend on to fire. She also loves this distance: she is 34-12-3-5 at six furlongs. The Hawthorne track is a pretty good place for her as well; six of her fifteen career wins have come over it. This is a class rise for her, since she has spent the summer in starter optional company. Still, she runs speeds that fit right in with this field. Trainer James DiVito, who has three wins in eight starts this meet, also wins at an excellent 37% when moving horses from the all-weather to the dirt. Jockey Emmanuel Esquivel, who leads all jockeys at Hawthorne this meet with nine, is her regular rider, and he has the call again here. Smiling Gambler is an off-pace type, able to run well either stalking just a bit off the pace or closing from far back. She won a state-bred N2X allowance at this distance at Arlington last out, first off a claim back by her old trainer, Anthony Mitchell. She has run significantly better in the Mitchell barn than she did in the Louie Roussel barn; if that form continues, she fits right in here. The biggest question is the surface: she has finished no better than second on dirt, but she has only ever run on dirt twice. Still, she should bet a pace setup here, and should be a strong price. Finally, Talk About Me comes in here on the cut-back from seven and a half furlongs in her last two outings. She does like going six panels; two of her three career wins have come out of her four six-furlong starts. Maria Thornton, a five-time winner at the Hawthorne meet, rides here; she rides well on horses with mid-pack styles. The pace setup should be good, too, with all that speed in front of her.
Race 9: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races in 2014, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt
Selections: Piralu (6), True Test (8), Gold Legion (4)
Piralu tries dirt for the first time today. His breeding suggests a dirt route should be right up his alley: he is by Slew City Slew out of a Pleasant Colony mare. The distance is a known quantity; he has a win and a second in four starts over 1 1/16 miles, and both of those came this summer over the Arlington poly with regular rider Constantino Roman (who rides today) up. He drops from $5,000 starter allowance company last out. Pacewise he can go to the front or rate a bit off, helpful given the balanced pace here. If he handles the dirt as well as his breeding suggests he will, he could get home at a bomb price: he is 20/1 on the morning line. True Test is a closer, but even if the pace does not get extremely hot, he has shown the ability to close well off of less-than-snappy paces. Emmanuel Esquivel has the call, and finished second by a neck with him two back at Arlington. He has won once on dirt: in his only attempt at Hawthorne, a $5,000 N1Y this past April. If he handles the track that well again, he will be tough. Finally, Gold Legion comes in here second off the lay. He finished an even fourth last out, and should be sharper today with that race under him. Six of his eight career wins have come over the Hawthorne dirt, and seven of his eight wins have come at this distance. His stalking to mid-pack style should keep him in contention, and if he can improve at all on his performance last out, it puts him right in the thick of it with this field.