Saturday’s card at Hawthorne features a full day of nine races. The card includes a pair of stakes races on the turf for Illinois-preferred company. The Cicero Handicap is a two-turn turf stakes for the three-and-up set; the Stickney Handicap is the fillies’ and mares’ complement. The rest of the day features a mix of salty allowance and claiming races. The key word is salty, as neither maidens nor even straight N2L types have a race on this card.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the races!
Race 1: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, three years old OR N3L, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 2:10pm CDT
Selections: War News (1), Chosen Facts (3), Swift Closer (6 – underneath)
This looks like a bit of an ALL button race, but War News has a decent shot to pull the minor upset. She is the Kirby B entry, and rider Chris Emigh (the hottest on the grounds!) gets off Chosen Facts (the Kirby A) to get back on War News. She has a win in her only start at this distance on the main, as well as a win over the Hawthorne dirt. Finally, she has been able to win from the rail. Shorter-priced stablemate Chosen Facts has hit the board in three of four attempts at the distance, and in five of seven tries over the Hawthorne main. Her stalking style should keep her in range, and should also make new rider Tim Thornton a decent fit. Swift Closer loves to come in third — she has come in for show money (and only show money) in 11 of 22 starts lifetime, including seven of ten this year. She has also hit the board in six of eight over the Hawthorne main. Her rally may be too little, too late to win…but nothing suggests she can’t close swiftly enough for third once again.
Race 2: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:40pm CDT
Selections: Im a Southern Diva (5), Shame On the Night (4), Cassidilly (1)
Im a Southern Diva runs for trainer Clay Brinson. Brinson has been one of the hottest on the grounds, with five victories in eleven starts so far this meet. She beat $5,000 beaten company last out over the same course and distance, and her current form is competitive against this open field. She also gets rider Eduardo Perez back from that last-out win. In terms of pace, she should be forward, but does not need the lead. Shame On the Night drops from open $8,000 company last out, but was competitive in optional claimers through the summer at Fairmount. She has a win over the Hawthorne course, and has hit the board in half of ten starts at six panels, including three wins. Both Cassidilly and Lydia’s Angel can contend if they are in form, though recent efforts have cast doubt on whether they are in good form. The slight edge between these two goes to Cassidilly. She faltered last out, but drops from open $8,000 company then to open $5,000 here. She has solid lines over the Hawthorne main (16-4-4-1) and at the distance (28-5-7-5), and has run well from inside draws.
Race 3: $8,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:10pm CDT
Selections: Dustem Carolina (5), Life Is a Ride (6), Silky Sami (3 – underneath)
The likely frontrunners in this race are We We Cherie and Teach Me to Rule. However, We We Cherie is woefully out of form, and Teach Me to Rule is a Mountaineer shipper. (Repeat after me: Mountaineer form does not hold at Hawthorne.) Dustem Carolina has some solid early speed, and should be fast enough to keep that pair square in her sights early. She can rally from a few lengths off. Should one of those two early speed types not fire, perhaps Dustem Carolina sends and presses: she won at this distant in the spring while right on a contested pace throughout. This filly has won her last two, and though this is a step up in class, her consistent form at Hawthorne (13-3-6-1) and at the distance (10-2-4-1) make her attractive. Life Is a Ride was well in form through the summer at Fairmount. Her second-place finish last out at Arlington suggests she can take her form north with her, and she has been strong (14-4-5-1) at six furlongs. Pacewise, she may not be fast enough to grab the lead early, but should be rallying late from not too far out of it. Aptly named Silky Sami, the likely favourite, will be underlaid on top but a must underneath in the exotics. Like her putative namesake, she will be rallying from the clouds, but no one in this field needs the lead desperately enough to suggest that she will get the collapse she needs to win. Still, she has been in the money in seven of ten finishes this year, and should be close late again.
Race 4: Allowance ($21,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L, one mile on the turf, post time 3:40pm CDT
Selections: Oh Wise One (11), No Fighting (1), Blue Jean Baby (7)
Oh Wise One should be well overlaid here, given that she faltered at this condition last out. However, that was at a sprint distance; most of her racing has been at a mile or longer. Two starts back, she tried this condition at a mile on the Arlington grass, and finished second beaten less than a length by her stablemate Depart Dover. That stablemate closed from the clouds; Oh Wise One had done the dirty work duelling on the front. She has good speed form, an asset given how the turf has played recently, but can also come from a few lengths off, as she showed in her maiden win. No Fighting is another who could be well overlaid due to a disappointing last effort. However, that last race came at Keeneland against harder, going a mile and a sixteenth, with first-time blinkers. Here she cuts back to a mile and takes the blinkers off. She also gets Julio Felix back in the irons. Felix is trainer Ingrid Mason’s A rider this year, and rode No Fighting to a maiden win two starts back. That win came at a flat mile on the Arlington grass. She may need something to close into, but with the rain, the turf may play a bit more fairly than it did on speed-friendly Friday. Blue Jean Baby has been in solid orm lately, and is versatile enough to win a race on the front end, or to close. She has not missed the board in three starts at Hawthorne, and been in the money in four of six tries at the distance, including a win. Her speeds are solid for the field, and trainer Brian Williamson wins 20% of the time (and hits the board at 63%) with last-out beaten favourites. He places horses well, and he placed this one well.
Race 5: $12,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, three years old OR N3L, six and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:10pm CDT
Selections: Timetogivein (6), Friendly Ghost (1), Iker (7)
This race looks like an almost paceless affair. Timetogivein is really a close-pressing type, but has strong enough early pace and enough affinity to get near the lead that Francisco Torres could be well set to send him early and dictate the terms. The stretch to six and a half furlongs makes this the longest race he has ever run, but he should be able to handle it given his breeding and the likely favourable pace scenario. He seems the most interesting alternative to likely chalk Friendly Ghost. Friendly Ghost is the fastest horse in the field, on paper. He finished second on dirt against similar company last out, and beat better two back over poly. The biggest question is the pace (or lack thereof), since Friendly Ghost does his best running from anywhere between midpack and the clouds. Iker should not be far off the early pace. He has finished second twice in three tries at six and a half furlongs, and has a decent 12-2-4-1 career line over the Hawthorne dirt. His last race was a disappointment against similar, but he was bumped early and making up ground late. He was farther off the pace than he likes to be in that race, and should improve with a better start today.
Race 6: Stickney Handicap, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, Illinois-bred OR non-winners of a stakes race and who have raced in Illinois since August 15, 2015, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 4:40pm CDT
Selections: Lovely Loyree (3), Lots o’ Lex (4), Compelling Case (8)
Longshot: Wave of the Wand (1)
Race 7: Allowance ($21,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, non-winners of $9,800 once OR non-winners of a state-bred race other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N2L, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:10pm CDT
Selections: Chicago Son (2), Smokey Row Mac (5), I Am Another (3)
This race drew no shortage of speed, with both Vbreeze and Mr Double Standard being need-to-lead types, and Tall Grass Cat likely to be in the fray as well. Chicago Son showed speed in his maiden win, but has done most of his work rallying from off the pace. That should serve him well here. He finished third against similar last out, just a nose out of second. Though it was Mr Double Standard who beat him there, the latter had an easy lead for most of that race — something he will not get against this bunch. Both of Chicago Son’s wins have been at this distance, including one at Hawthorne, and he should prove best of the off-pace types. Smokey Row Mac is another who should be rallying late. Last out, he finished fourth in the same race from which Chicago Son and Mr Double Standard. He was too far off the pace to make an impact late against a lone-speed scenario as in last race. With more pace here, and possibly a slightly closer-in trip (think five or six lengths off the early pace, not ten), he should be in the picture late. I Am Another runs for the first time since January. Trainer Wayne Catalano wins at 18% with runners who have been laid off longer than three months, and he comes in with a long worktab. Though he was a vet scratch ten days ago, he has a bullet work since then, suggesting he has gotten over whatever set him back for that last race. His one win came over fast Hawthorne dirt at this distance, with a rally from off the pace. As long as he has grown into himself from two to three, the Cat Man should have a live one at a price.
Race 8: Cicero Handicap, three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred OR non-winners of a stakes race and who have raced in Illinois since August 15, 2015, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 5:40pm CDT
Selections: Crewman (7), Super Soldier (9), Peej (1)
Longshot: Nate the Natural (2)
Race 9: $8,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, six and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 6:10pm CDT
Selections: Dontchangetrainers (4), Lazylovin (6), Calmer Than You (3)
Dontchangetrainers scratched out of a route race on Friday to contest this one instead. He finished fourth against similar last out, going a flat six furlongs, but this start is his second off a three-month lay. He should be sharper. Trainer Scott Becker wins a quarter of the time with runners second off the lay — and he is +ROI in that circumstance, an achievement given how perpetually chalky Becker’s runners tend to be. He has versatility of pace as well as the hottest rider on the grounds (Chris Emigh), and should be tough to beat. Trainer Chris Dorris sends two out. Surf Cast probably needs a race, coming off the brief lay and the move back to the Dorris barn. However, Lazylovin looks stronger. He won at this same open $8,000 level on October 3, going a flat six furlongs. The stretch to six and a half remains a bit of a question, given that he has only hit the board once in four starts at the distance. Still, his recent form has been so consistent, and his speeds so good compared to the field, that he gets the benefit of the doubt. Lazylovin also gets Victor Santiago back in the irons. Santiago booted him home last out, and has won three of his last six starts for Dorris. Finally, Calmer Than You gets a look. He has not seen the starter since May, but trainer Jim DiVito wins at a respectable enough 16% off those three-month or longer lays, and this horse did muster a win off of a May-to-October layoff in 2013. The barn is also heating up, with two wins on Friday. Calmer Than You dials back to easier company than he has faced since February, and four of his five career wins have come over this Hawthorne main. He may slip under the radar due to the layoff, but he should be competitive.