After Saturday’s sloppy stakes bonanza at Oaklawn, racing around the country quiets down a bit on Sunday. Even so there is a full card of eight races ready to go at Hawthorne, and Blinkers Off happily returns its focus to the local track. The weather has warmed up considerably in the last few days: the turf course is no longer covered in snow, the ice covering the infield pond has begun to melt, and the temperatures feel positively vernal.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the card!
Race 1: $25,000 allowance optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $8,800 twice other than maiden, claiming, starter, turf, or state-bred allowance OR N3L OR claiming price $25,000, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 1:50pm CDT
Selections: Creative Art (4), Jazzy Sun (1), Right Now Richie (5)
For my detailed analysis of this race, read this weekend’s Chicago Railbird.
Note that A. P. Corsair has scratched from the race. There is still enough early speed that Creative Art remains the top selection, though the scratch should help Right Now Richie and Azeg notably. With a field of just four, everyone is in with some chance, and it is worth going ALL in multi-race wagers if you can.
Race 2: $4,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of two races in 2014-2015, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:20pm CDT
Selections: Eileen Evelyn (1), Salutethehero (2), Shesmorethanatiger (3)
Eileen Evelyn drew the rail, and gets a switch back to rail dynamo Vicente Gudiel. Gudiel rode Eileen Evelyn three starts back, and kept her up to finish second beaten just a head against beaten $5,000 company. This is an easier group, and though there is other speed in the race, she has enough early pace to clear most of them. She should also be a square price. If Eileen Evelyn somehow doesn’t fire out of the gate, something that happens on occasion, Salutethehero has a shot from the 2 gate. It will be her first race back after the winter break, but she has two sharp works in the interim. She also takes a drop to the easiest company she has faced since Fairmount last summer. Finally, Tim Thornton has the call; few know how to get a speed horse home at Hawthorne as well as he does. Shesmorethanatiger drops to $4,000 company for the first time, and has had success at this distance in the past. Her form last meet was not quite up to par, but the class drop and the rider change to Dick Cardenas suggest that she might improve.
Race 3: Maiden special weight ($22,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:50pm CDT
Selections: Turbulent War (1), Crenobbio (4), Van Lier (6)
Turbulent War steps up from $25,000 maiden claiming company, but despite its “special weight” designation, this race is about as strong as a maiden 25 at Hawthorne. The rail continues to be good despite the warm-up, and he gets rider Chris Emigh back. Last time Emigh rode Turbulent War he finished 3rd, just a head out of second. The winner finished 20 lengths ahead, but there’s no Dadtaughtmewell in this bunch. Crenobbio starts for the second time in the Clay Brinson barn, and second off a winter lay. He was third against similar last out, and Brinson’s horses tend to improve second off the lay. Carlos Montalvo returns to the irons, and he has been winning a quarter of the time this meet. His speeds are good, and he should contend. Van Lier performed well last out on the step back up into maiden special weight company, and has been solid in his last four starts. He is not a strong win candidate given his 19-0-3-5 career line, but is a strong key for underneath Turbulent War and Crenobbio.
Race 4: $15,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:20 CDT
Selections: Can’t Be True (1), Care for My Hardt (5), Council Thrill (3)
Can’t Be True, third last out against similar, gets a rider change to Maria Thornton. Thornton has been winning at 21% this meet. Furthermore she is an apprentice – and the seven-pound break could help Can’t Be True carry her speed along the rail better than she did last out. Care for My Hardt and Council Thrill are both racing for the first time since being reported as gelded. Care for My Hardt gets the nod between the two because of the other positive changes he is making. He is dropping in for a tag for the first time, and going first-time Lasix. He also gets a rider change to Diego Sanchez, who hasn’t ridden much here this meet but booted Tactics Best home yesterday. Council Thrill comes in second off the lay, but got an inside draw with Gudiel aboard. He did not love staying as close to the pace as he was last out, but if Gudiel can rate him inside near the pace of Can’t Be True, he can try to pounce down the stretch if the rail opens up turning for home. In a dodgy race with a short field,
Race 5: $5,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races since May 15 OR non-winners of three races in 2014-2015, six and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:50pm CDT
Selections: Commando Kat (1), Gamblin Jack (5), He’s Got to Run (2)
Commando Kat drew the rail, and gets Maria Thornton back in the irons. He faltered last time, but has a better draw this time, and also faces weaker company: down from open $8,000 to $5,000 beaten. Maria Thornton has the call, giving her a seven-pound bug allowance, and he comes in second off the winter layoff. Gamblin Jack notches up slightly from last out, but this field turned up on the weak side for a $5,000 beaten. He should be forwardly placed, but can be off the pace early and run well as well. He has started once already since his winter lay, and trainer Michael Reavis fires at 18% second off. He does have four of his five career wins at Hawthorne, and three at the distance. He’s Got to Run makes his first start of the winter meet for a Terry Young barn that is 20% with runners off of similarly long lays. It is also his first start with streaking apprentice Vicente Gudiel in the irons. He’s Got to Run is a horse for this course, with four of his six career wins over it. He tends to come from off the pace, but if Commando Kat and Gamblin Jack get into it on the front end, he may have some pace to attack.
Race 6: $5,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:20pm CDT
Selections: Take What You Can (3), Lydia’s Angel (6), Lady Scruffy (1)
Take What You Can drops from open $8,000 company last out to open $5,000 here, and defeated company at this level two starts back. She is 5-2-1-1 at Hawthorne, with that only off-board finish against tougher in the slop. She gets a fast track today. It will be her first start of this meet, but trainer Ray Tracy, Jr. fires at 18% off of similar-length layoffs. Lydia’s Angel starts for the second time this meet. On February 20, her first start back, she walloped a $5,000 beaten field going five and a half furlongs. She keeps rider Edgar Perez from that start, and trainer Doug Matthews wins at 18% (with a positive ROI) with runners who won last out. Lydia’s Angel did draw outside, but should be able to sit off the speed from Lady Scruffy, and take advantage if she falters. Lady Scruffy drew the rail and has Vicente Gudiel aboard. Take What You Can and Ib’s Mystery have sent in the past, but Lady Scruffy’s only really good races come on the lead. Gudiel will send her. Though she faltered as speed along the rail last time, it was her first race in about two months. She should be a bit fitter here, and is worth another shot without any other true one-way speed in the field.
Race 7: Allowance ($23,100 purse), three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, non-winners of $8,800 OR non-winners of a state-bred race other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N2L, one and one sixteenth miles over the dirt, post time 4:50pm CDT
Selections: Prince Who (4), Archybdancing (8), Wildwood Nafir (1)
For my detailed analysis of this race, read this weekend’s Chicago Railbird.
Race 8: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, one and one sixteenth miles over the dirt, post time 5:20pm CDT
Selections: Ballistic Tim (4), American Piasa (2), Show’em Pop (5)
Show’em Pop is the best horse in this race by any reliable measure. His speeds are sharp, he has run well from either near or off the pace, and the humans behind him are as strong as it gets. Trainer Scott Becker fires at 25% in claiming races, and Vicente Gudiel has been an ace at getting his mounts to the rail and on the wire first. The problem with Show’em Pop is that he has one of the more prominent cases of second-itis in all of Chicagoland. He is 9-1-4-0 career, and 6-1-4-0 at Hawthorne. He likes the track, but likes to finish second. The nightcap can be a Longshot Special anyway, so let’s swing for the fences with Ballistic Tim. Ballistic Tim is the closest to the inside of any of the speed horses. After breaking his maiden three starts back he has been running against slightly tougher, but drops down to $5,000 N2L for the first time. In his only career win he prevailed as inside speed, so with only the slower Dontforgettofloss and the outside-drawn Affirmed Once More possible to send, he could get a comfortable lead. American Piasa also appeals. Though he is an off-pace type, there is some chance there will be a fight on the lead. If Dontforgettofloss or Affirmed Once More give Ballistic Tim more than he can handle on the front end, American Piasa is in a great spot to make a rail run late. He drew gate 2, comes in second off the lay, and fits right in with this crowd if he returns to similar form as last meet.