Overnight, we had the first snow of the Hawthorne meet…though there was also plenty of rain, leaving the track sloppy. The 2nd race, the only one carded for grass, has been moved off.
Without further ado, let’s dig into the card.
Best Bet: Race 8, Lagoon of Diamonds (5)
Race 1: $8,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 2:10pm CST
Selections: Rivery Hall (1), Part ‘n Parcel (3), Quittin Time (5)
Rivery Hall is a slop monster — two wins in two starts on off dirt — who has shown the ability to make up ground over off tracks. He also takes a drop in class, and has top humans (Chris Emigh and Scott Becker) behind him. Part ‘n Parcel races for red-hot trainer Chris Dorris, and has a solid 6-3-1-0 line over off dirt. Last out was an ambitious placing, but rider Jim Bielby booted him home against this same level last out. Bielby returns here. Quittin Time is in the best form of anyone here, despite having been racing against weaker all meet. His speed figures are strong, and he has been on the board in all three career starts over the Hawthorne dirt. The biggest question, and the one that makes him hard to take at a short price, is how he will handle slop, as he was off the board in his only try over off dirt.
Race 2: $15,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt (originally carded for turf), post time 2:40pm CST
Selections: Stevie Smoothboy (4), Warrior King (11), El Samurai (9)
Stevie Smoothboy looks to be the speed of this race, and in slop, that will not hurt him. Sire Stevie Wonderboy produces 15% slop winners, and he goes first time on an off track. His speeds are well in range, and he was fifth beaten only two lengths last out against a tougher set. Warrior King tries slop for the first time, but is by 19% off track sire Majestic Warrior. He has been competitive with horses similar to (and even better than) this set, and gets a seven-pound weight break with apprentice Killian Hennessy in the irons. Trainer Benny Olaivar also has a +$1.86 ROI in route races. El Samurai has shown nothing in seven starts, but he has never tried the slop. Being by 17% slop sire First Samurai, maybe he takes to it. He comes in third off a layoff, a positive-ROI circumstance for trainer Eduardo Rodriguez. He is not a horse you can take chalk on, but at 20/1 on the morning line and likely longer, the price justifies using him.
Race 3: $25,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N3L OR three years old, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 3:10pm CST
Selections: Sig K (5), Commercial Appeal (4), Academic Probation (1)
Speed tends to work well in the slop, and Sig K has that here. She stretches out from sprint to route for the first time,a nd should be fast enough to dictate terms. She races for trainer Scott Becker, 31% on the meet, and will be the longer priced of his two entries. Though Sig K does not get Chris Emigh aboard, Becker has been doing well with rider Santo Sanjur — 3-8 wins and 6-8 on the board over the last two months. Becker’s “A” entry, Commercial Appeal, also merits a look. She comes in third off the lay, and does get top rider Chris Emigh aboard. She is in strong form for this field, and comes in 3rd off the lay. Though she was off the board in her only try over slop, that was against $50,000 N2L at Woodbine, and she was a trip-troubled fourth. She can be close enough to the pace, and could get first and best run on Sig K. Academic Probation scratched out of an allowance-optional yesterday for this softer spot. She is a closer, but one who consistently fires and gets herself in the frame. She does lose regular rider Santo Sanjur to Sig K. She also lost initial rider E. T. Baird, who is not riding today, but new rider Jim Bielby has been riding well as of late. Slop is a bit of a question, since she has not tried it before, but a daughter of a Proud Citizen mare should be able to handle it.
Race 4: Starter optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $5,000 or less in 2014-2015 OR $12,500 claiming price, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:40pm CST
Selections: Luck With a Kiss (6), Oh My Todd (4), Barnyard Fiddler (2)
Luck With a Kiss is the standout speed in this field, and over a sloppy Hawthorne track, that could be enough for him to kiss them all goodbye. He did miss the board for the first time in four off track starts last out, but that was against tougher stuff at Indiana Grand. Here, he gets back to a track over which he is a shining 19-8-7-2, and stretches back out to a distance over which he is 20-8-7-1. Last out, someone else outgunned Luck With a Kiss and wired; here, this son of Trust n Luck should be fast enough to get that trip for himself. Oh My Todd has been in cracking form since the summer, having won four of his last five, and climbing all the way from $5,000 beaten to a last-out win in straight N1X company. This is a softer field than he faced last out. Though his four wins this year all came at Arlington (on either turf or all-weather), he does have a win at Hawthorne to his credit, and that came on an off track. He also has strong versatility of pace — he can stay close if no one sends with Luck With a Kiss, or rally from well off if there is a battle. The trainer change looks to be an administrative matter only. Barnyard Fiddler has some slop form, having hit the board in four of seven off-track tries. He races for blazing hot trainer Chris Dorris, a 26% winner this meet. His speeds are solid, and he should be stalking a couple of lengths off the early pace. It will be his first start off of a $10,000 claim, but his current form makes this look a fully reasonable rise in class.
Race 5: Allowance optional claiming ($22,000 purse), non-winners of $9,800 twice other than maiden, claiming, starter, or stat-ebred allowance OR non-winners of a race since June 21 OR N3L OR $30,000 claiming price, post time 4:10pm CST
Selections: Ciaran’s Prize (7), Cow Catcher (1), Congrats Honey (8)
For full analysis of this race, read the latest Chicago Railbird.
Race 6: $15,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, Illinois-bred, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:40pm CST
Selections: Fahionably Late (1), La Bella (6), Causemommasaidso (8, undersides only)
Fahionably Late drops in for a tag for the first time, for a trainer whose statistics with runners On The Drop are eye-popping. Doug Matthews has won five of his last 12 in that situation (for a +$2.53 ROI), with 10 of those 12 in the money. La Bella has shown little in five of her six starts — but, the one in which she finished second against maiden special weight company at Fairmount came over sloppy going, which she gets again today. Trainer John Cox has a strong positive ROI (+$1.66) in maiden claimers, as well as a slight positive ROI and a 22% win rate in both sprints and dirt races. Juan Molina, who rode La Bella that day in the slop, returns here. A note about Causemommasaidso: she fits this field on speed and form, and has hit the board in all three starts at the six-furlong distance. However, with a 27-0-6-5 career line, she is a Career Maiden™ best relegated to undersides of intra-race wagers.
Race 7: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races in 2014-2015, races where entered for $4,000 or less do not count for eligibility, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 5:10pm CST
Selections: Devil and a Half (8), Meadow Wise (7), Spectacular Act (6)
Lone speed in a short field is a beautiful thing. As originally drawn, the race had a tone of speed, but after scratches Devil and a Half should get his way on the front, as easily as he wants. He has an 8-2-2-1 career line over off dirt, as well as solid back form at the distance (32-6-6-8). Look for him to wire. Meadow Wise looks like the best horse on paper, in so many ways. his speed figures stand out, he comes in second off a freshening, and trainer Robert Gorham wins at 22% (with a +$1.26 ROI) in stretches from sprint to route. The Mahoning Valley lines give a bit of pause — say it with me now, Mahoning form does not hold. However, The 7-2-2-2 career line at Hawthorne suggests enough of a chance that he isn’t just your average Mahoning shipper, and he is the only thing even approximating speed other than Devil and a Half, after scratches. Spectacular Act looks like he is finally getting back into form. His speeds have been improving significantly in recent starts. He has a decent enough 8-2-1-1 record over off dirt. He hardly seems a win candidate here, but should clunk up underneath for a piece.
Race 8: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of a race since May 21, races where entered for $4,000 or less do not count for eligibility, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:40pm CST
Selections: Lagoon of Diamonds (5), Bank Account (11), Royally Outfoxed (1)
Lagoon of Diamonds is the best best of the day. He an honest-to-goodness slop monster: in ten starts over off dirt he has five wins, three seconds, and a third. He also has five of his six career wins at this distance. He is fast enough to get up on the pace, and game enough to win a slugfest. Tim Thornton leaves a live mount in August Day to ride him instead, and he has been firing well recently with trainer Tammy Domenosky. Bank Account has found his form again in recent times, with a win and a second this meet against tougher company than this. He has a respectable 9-2-2-1 line in the slop, and 11 of his 16 wins have come at this distance. He should be forwardly placed, and in the best spot to try to run down Lagoon of Diamonds. Though original rider E. T. Baird is off his mounts today, he does get a strong replacement in Chris Emigh. Royally Outfoxed comes into this race second off the lay. Though Belterra form does not typically hold here, he is worth a swing at a long price anyway. He has been on the board in eight of nineteen starts over the Hawthorne main, and his 10-4-3-0 line over off dirt makes him a horse who has a big chance for a piece in the slop. Rider Jim Bielby has been riding well, and pacewise, his stalking to midpack style gives him some chance of keeping the pace in his sights.