Spring has officially sprung at Hawthorne. The weather is warm, the sun is out, and Hawthorne has a full nine-race card. Unfortunately, the turf is still very wet given the combination of recent rains and thawing out from the winter. In light of that, all selections and analysis are for dirt here.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the races!
Race 1: $12,500 claiming, four-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Batito (3), Prince Cheval (1), Hothalfone (4, for undersides)
Batito comes in off a third-place finish at Fairmount last out, but stretches out to his preferred six-furlong distance here. His speeds are strong, and he gets top rider Tim Thornton back in the irons. Pacewise, he has the versatility to do well from the front or from midpack; with a few possible speeds but no one-way speed, that versatility should help. Prince Cheval drops from allowance company. All three of his career wins have come over this course, and he can either take the lead or sit just off. He looks the only win-end threat to Batito. Hothalfone has only won once in sixteen tries at Hawthorne, but has seven other on-the-board finishes in fifteen starts on the track. He is third off the lay, and has hit the board in his last two starts against this same level.
Race 2: $10,000 claiming, Illinois-bred, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: Holyhoot (6), Kris Road (2), Raja Breeze (4)
Holyhoot will likely go off favoured, but is worth singling here. She puts on blinkers, a move with which trainer Scott Becker wins at 31%. She was second at Fairmount last out, but the winner of that race, Lady Kelia, won the Pretty Jenny Stakes yesterday. If she runs back to last out she will be tough; if she improves second off the lay she will be downright imposing. Kris Road graduated two back, and finished second against similar last out. She was right on a hot pace, but held on for second despite that early effort. She also comes in here third off the lay, a situation in whcih trainer Steve Manley wins at 23%. Raja Breeze drops from open company to state-breds, and reverts to rider Vicente Gudiel. Gudiel and trainer John Haran have hit the board 65% of the time in 26 starts over the last two months, and her speeds should be sufficient for a share here.
Race 3: $15,000 claiming, filles and mares, three-year-olds and up, N2L, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt (originally carded for one mile on turf)
Selections: Subtle Splendor (1), Miss Classy Girl (7), Melody Lane (3)
Subtle Splendor drops from $25,000 N2L company last out, and enters second off the lay. That first effort off was a sprint, and two back (her first N2L try) was over slop. The only time she has run two turns on fast dirt resulted in her maiden win, and she returns to that here. Tim Thornton returns to the irons, and in a race with very little early speed, she should be forwardly placed. Miss Classy Girl is the one most likely to take the front, and that may turn out to be enough. She has hit the board from farther off the pace, and has been taking back in most of her recent efforts, but her maiden win came on the front end. She has hit the board in six of nine starts on dirt, and comes in third off the lay. Melody Lane tries a route for the first time, and comes in second off the lay. She should be stalking fairly close to the pace, and an improvement from her last effort gives her a shot.
Race 4: $5,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, non-winners since October 12, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt
Selections: Winningcherokee (7), B L’s Tsumani (3), Spare Me the Drama (5)
Even with the scratch of speedy type Choctaw Drive, Winningcherokee should have enough to attack late. He can place himself either fairly close to the pace or far out of it and still get the job done, and he loves the course (13-3-3-2) and distance (13-6-3-1). His speeds are strong for the field, and he has shown an ability to win first off the lay before for trainer Clay Brinson, who wins at 23% off lays of three months or more. B L’s Tsumani benefits markedly from the scratch of Choctaw Drive, and should be forwardly placed early. He can either set the early pace or press it very closely, and has some back form from last year and earlier this year that would prove tough here. He ships in here from Oaklawn; this race is a massive class drop for him. He has won over the Hawthorne track before, and has a 17-6-4-1 career line at the distance. Spare Me the Drama should also be near the front. He comes in for his first race since November, but trainer Michael Reavis is a respectable 16% off long lays.
Race 5: $18,000 starter optional claiming, four-year-olds and up, starter for a claiming price of $7,500 or less in 2014-2015 OR claiming price $18,000, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt
Selections: Rocket Professor (4), Defiant Flyer (3), Duke of Del Rey (2)
Rocket Professor should own the front end in this race, and has a good chance to get an unpressured lead in this race of closers. The only one who may be forwardly placed near him is Costilla Range, but Rocket Professor’s early pace tends to be far better. Rocket Professor has a win and a second in three starts at this distance, and comes in second off the lay for Scott Becker, the hottest trainer on the grounds. Defiant Flyer drops from $25,000 allowance optional company here, and is third off the lay. His speeds are solid, and three of his four career wins have come at this kind of distance. Though he is an off-pace type, he does not have to come from the clouds, and should be running well late if the speed falters. Duke of Del Rey ships in from Fair Grounds; the FG shippers have been running well at Hawthorne this meet. He takes a bit of a class drop here, and his speeds are strong for this group. The one to take a swing against here is Costilla Range. He won last out, and never seems to run well right off a win. Pass on him here, and give him a long look next out.
Race 6: Maiden special weight ($22,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt (originally carded for one mile on turf)
Selections: Red Redemption (6), Nopalito (2), Drill Sergeant (3)
Red Redemption ran his best race to date last out, trying two turns on the dirt for the first time. He finished second despite his start not being the best. If he can improve out of the gate this time around, the sort of race he ran last out should prove tough against this bunch. Nopalito ships here from the Fair Grounds and faces easier company than he has in most of his starts. His speeds are sharp for the field, and this will be his first try over fast dirt. (He ran once over the slop last year, and finished second.) Drill Sergeant is a wait-and-see in the paddock. He is six years old, racing third off of a two and a half year lay. His speeds have not been the same as they were before they lay, but they were also in sprints. This will be his first route try since the lay, and if he looks fit and ready to run, he could be worth including. The rider change to Vicente Gudiel is also a positive move.
Race 7: Allowance ($23,100 purse), fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L, six furlongs on the dirt
Selections: My Italian Rule (1), A Gala Day (4), Doc Galore (3)
Doc Galore is the class of the field, but tends to do better without a lot of pressure on the pace. The price will be short on her after her stakes placing last out, so let’s try to upset her. My Italian Rule drew the rail, and can win from either the front end or just off. Her ability to handle a pressured pace makes her attractive with Doc Galore in the field, and she has a solid 3-1-2-0 line here at Hawthorne. A Gala Day is the “Becker B” entry, and should be able to stalk a length or two off the pace if things get hot between My Italian Rule, Doc Galore, and Mabee Able. He has never raced at Hawthorne before, but drops in from facing tougher at Oaklawn, and is 5-2-2-0 at the distance. Doc Galore may end up being fast enough to clear, and is slotted third because she should be used defensively in multi-race wagers.
Race 8: $25,000 claiming, fillies and mares, four-year-olds and up, five furlongs on the dirt (originally carded for five furlongs on the turf)
Selections: A Fitzing Reward (4), Kingston Terrace (3), Flint Hall (6)
This race has a ton of early speed, as is common in these dash-length races. A Fitzing Reward is the only one in the field who has typically come from off the pace, but does not have to come from the clouds. Her speeds are solid for the bunch, and she drops in here after facing tougher at Oaklawn last out. Kingston Terrace takes a big class drop from allowance company at Fair Grounds, and races for 19% claiming trainer Michael Stidham. She has been focusing on turf, but has a 4-0-2-1 record on fast dirt, suggesting ability. Her back speeds are solid for this field, even on the dirt. Flint Hall drops in from allowance optional company at Oaklawn last out. She faltered in the slop, but put in good efforts at Oaklawn against claiming company in her previous two starts. She has been able to sit just off the pace if need be, and all three of her wins have come on dirt.
Race 9: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, one and one sixteenth miles on dirt
Selections: Deja l’Etoile (4), Can’t Be True (3), American Piasa (8)
This race has very little in the way of early speed. It has Deja l’Etoile, Can’t Be True, and the rest wanting to come from midpack or farther back. Deja l’Etoile is the better of the two speed horses, and drops in class to the lowest level of his career. The worry is that he may be a slop monster, as his only on-the-board finish came over a sloppy track. However, his early pace is consistently the best, and that could hold sway. Can’t Be True is the only other runner in the field who looks likely to be forwardly placed. He broke his maiden last out, and showed there that he can stalk if Deja l’Etoile outguns him early. He stretches to a route for the first time, but the combination of the “light-on” factor, the pace scenario, and the five-pound weight break for having Maria Thornton aboard gives him a chance at a huge price. American Piasa never got it together in three starts for trainer Carl Bigelow, but moves to the barn of Otabek Umarov for this start. Umarov has started very few horses this meet, but the ones he does send tend to hit the board. He gets a change to rider Vicente Guidel, as well. Enough has changed to suggest he could come running late for a price.