With so many eyes on Meydan, Fair Grounds, and Gulfstream, it may be hard to remember that there is racing going on elsewhere today. However, there is: and significant racing, with today being the first of four stakes days on the Hawthorne meet.
The centerpiece of today’s card is the pair of stakes races, carded as the seventh and eighth of the nine-race card. Exquisite Lady, the only horse to be nominated for both the open Molaro and the sex-restricted Third Chance, took the highweight and opted to run against fillies and mares in the third chance. It will be her stakes debut, but her form this meet has been sharp. Luv Bandit highlights the field in the Molaro. Though he has been routing for most of his career, Luv Bandit scored an upset victory in the Lightning Jet Handicap last fall, beating state-bred company at the same distance as this race. The ninth race is also a solid race for the Illinois set, a full-field maiden special weight for state-bred fillies and mares.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the card!
Race 1: Starter optional claiming, four-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $4,000 or less in 2014-2015 OR claiming price $8,000, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt
Selections: Greytap (2) Malbros (5), Looks to Spare (1)
Greytap looks to be the inside speed in this race, and is the only one in the field who looks certain to send. Priceless Shore and Malbros have shown speed in the past, but he has the most consistently good early pace, and could take advantage of the rail. He comes in second off the lay for rider Tim Thornton, and is a horse for the course and the distance. Malbros has won his last two, and has the versatility to either send or sit off a bit. He will likely sit off her, as he wired his last race more out of a lack of other good speed than out of being a true speedster. He can fight on a contested pace if he needs, and looks like the only other in form to take it to Greytap today. Looks to Spare drew the rail, and comes in second off the lay for trainer Tammy Domenosky. Dick Cardenas has the call again, and he got this horse home second against similar company last out. He should be able to sit just off the lead, and save ground inside.
Race 2: $17,500 maiden claiming, three-year-olds, six and a half furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Edging (5), Running On Ethel (3), Flasha (6)
Edging drops down to the easiest company he has faced; though he races for a bit higher tag here than last time, the waters are a bit deeper at Oaklawn than they are at Hawthorne. His speeds are significantly better in his sprint tries than his route, and those were done without Lasix. Here, he takes his first sprint try with Lasix. Trainer Brian Williamson hits at 17% with maiden claimers, and looks to have placed his horse well here. Running On Ethel was a well beaten fourth on debut, and notches a bit up in level here. However, he has made the ultimate equipment change: this is his first race since he was reported as gelded. He gets a seven-pound weight break with Vicente Guidel, and trainer Joel Berndt is 6-15 on the meet and 24% with beaten favourites. In a questionable field such as this, taking Gudiel and Berndt at a price may be worth it. Flasha puts on blinkers for the first time since August, and is the only one on the field who is on The Drop to face claimers for the first time. He has not raced since December, but has a solid worktab through the winter, including a six-furlong move on March 19.
Race 3: Starter optional claiming, four-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, starters for a claiming price of $5,000 or less in 2014-2015 OR claiming price $12,500, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt
Selections: Grayrock (6), Dani Nikki (4), Reality Star (3)
Grayrock and Dani Nikki are the only two horses in this field who hold much interest to win. Grayrock is probably just a bit better horse: faster, more consistent, and has shown she will fire even from outside posts. She comes into this race second off the lay for the blazing-hot Joel Berndt, and gets Maria Thornton back in the irons from his win two weeks ago. She will not likely set the earliest fractions, but should be stalking to the outside and ready to fire late. Dani Nikki also comes in here second off the lay, and one of her better races puts her near the league of Greyrock. She will likely strike the front early, and has a solid record at the course and distance. For undersides, Reality Star holds the most appeal. She comes in second off the lay, and keeps rider Vicente Gudiel aboard. She finished fourth against a similar group last out, but a step forward from that last race should be more than enough to hit the board.
Race 4: Allowance optional claiming (purse $24,200), three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $9,800 twice other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N3L OR starters for a claiming price of $10,000 or less in 2014-2015 OR claiming price $25,000, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt
Selections: Indy Awesome (1), Broome Street (2), Ballyjamesduff (3)
Indy Awesome just missed against tougher last out, when he jumped a shadow in the shadow of the wire. Had he not done so, O T B Bob probably would have come up second yet again. Before that, he was game as could be: headed by Broome Street, and able to come back. He has found his form since moving into the Clay Brinson barn, and draws the rail again today. With the cooler weather, that should help. He will likely be the speed, and may not be caught. Broome Street is Indy Awesome’s toughest competition. Third off the lay, he was a decent third last out against a bit tougher: made a run, but just ran out of gas late. He should have more here, this being his second race since shipping back from Gulfstream. He has won eight of fourteen starts at this distance, and Larry Rivelli has a strong 10-3-2-2 line on the meet so far. The top two outclass the rest, but Ballyjamesduff has a chance to hit the exotics at a price. He takes a rise in class here, but has shown in recent races the ability to put up speeds that contend with this crowd. Rider Vicente Gudiel returns to the irons after winning in $8,000 starter optional company last out, and trainer John Haran is going for the gusto. Why not? Haran has been hitting the board far more often than usual this meet (77-9-8-18), and Ballyjamesduff is a consistent 30-3-4-9 at the distance. For a price, toss him in underneath.
Race 5: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, three years old OR N3L, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt
Selections: Revelation Bowl (4), Roolynn Ruler (5), Magic Moonlight (3)
This race is wide open, and the ALL button (or, at risk of tempting the ghosts of London Lane and More Class, the ALL-but-Summer-in-Montana button) might be your friend here. In the balance, Revelation Bowl has the most to recommend him. Though Roolynn Ruler is the only dyed-in-the-wool speed in the field, there are enough others who could try to force the issue (rail-drawn Forafewdollars more, Summer in Montana, Magic Moonlight) that he could get some pace to attack. He also drops in from facing harder company; since clearing N2L, he has raced twice against allowance foes and then last out against open $12,500 types. This group is more realistic, and an improvement second off the lay could get him home. If no one else sense, Roolynn Ruler definitely will. He has shown improvement in his two starts this meet, trouncing a state-bred N2L two back and then getting necked out at this same level after a contested pace all the way around. He stretches from a sprint to a route here, but in case there’s a game of chicken on the front end, he could slow it down up front. Magic Moonlight is a three-year-old facing older, but he beat older company last out. He has won his last two starts: both of which were over two turns at Hawthorne, and both of which featured Tim Thornton in the irons. Thornton returns today. he will have to take another step forward to be fast enough to beat this group, but he has shown himself to be game on a contested pace, and able to stalk back a bit if necessary.
Race 6: $5,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races since May 28 OR N4L, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Angel Talk (4), Life At Sea (2), Exactness (6)
Angel Talk loves this distance: Ten of his fourteen victories, and another twelve on-the-board finishes, have come at six panels. He also has nine wins over this track. He is not the most consistent horse in the field, but no one is. He often enough turns in the kinds of performances that hit the board against harder, and should win against these. Life At Sea comes in second off the claim by trainer John Haran. After trying him against open $12,500 company last out, he settles back down to a more realistic level here. Two starts back he beat $5,000 N3L, and should be the inside speed. If the rail is good today, Life At Sea appeals strongly. Exactness gets a rider change to Vicente Gudiel. Two starts back he was second beaten just a head against open $5,000 company, and faces significantly easier here. If the likes of Valley Fog or Senor Tremendo fire well enough early to make Angel Talk or Life At Sea tired late, Exactness could nave enough left to threaten late. The distance is a bit of a worry, since he typically runs better at five or five and a half furlongs, but a seven-pound break, a hot rider, and softer company give him appeal at a square price.
Race 7: Third Chance Handicap, four-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, Illinois-bred, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Scarletridgerunner (2), Exquisite Lady (5), Dolly Peach (4)
For my detailed analysis of this race, read this weekend’s Chicago Railbird.
Race 8: Robert S. Molaro Handicap, four-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Right Now Richie (1), Luv Bandit (4), Creative Art (3)
For my detailed analysis of this race, read this weekend’s Chicago Railbird.
Race 9: Maiden special weight, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, Illinois-bred, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Tam (3), Wildwood Kantharos (7), All That Jazil (6)
Tam finished second beaten a dozen lengths by the promising Wildwood Silk in her debut. Still, the margin was not as bad as it looks on paper, given how golden inside speed was that day. For a horse bred to go longer (and, given the underside of her pedigree, possibly even turf), she acquitted herself well at six furlongs last out, and stamped herself the one to beat here. Wildwood Kantharos comes in for trainer Scott Becker, and finished second against open maiden special weight company last out. She drops in against state-breds for the first time here. She improved between her start at Oaklawn and Hawthorne, showing she likes a fast Hawthorne track, and has fired a bullet since. All That Jazil flopped on debut, but takes the blinkers off and drops from open maidens to state-breds. She is also four years old facing a field of mostly sophomores, so may have a small edge there. Trainer Jim DiVito wins at 29% with second-timers; he knows what he is doing. One solid horse is left out here, Dayin Deauville. Leaving a Becker/Guidel production, especially one with as much promise as this one, could be a questionable proposition. However, the outside post does her no favours, and the colder weather should be better for horses inside and closer to the front. She is a better prospect to wait on her, and look harder at next time.