Today’s card at Hawthorne features the final stakes of the year here in the Chicago area: the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity. In addition to this two-turn stakes for two-year-old males, the card also features a pair of maiden races, and a pair of allowance contests. Also, if you like playing the “distance specialist” angle — all four sprint races on the card are six and a half furlongs, so ripe for finding those extended sprint horses.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the card!
Race 1: $4,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 12:50pm CST
Selections: Sale Notes (4), Salutethehero (2), Lady Scruffy (1)
Sale Notes returns to a far more realistic level than the allowance company she faced last out. She beat $4,000 beaten types at six furlongs two starts back, and has two wins in four starts at six and a half. Her speeds are right in range, and she can set herself in either a stalking or closing spot. Salutethehero is another six and a half furlong horse, with two wins and a second in five starts at the distance. She should improve on the stretch out from five and a half furlongs last out, and is another who can find a stalking spot. With the scratch of Chanceymeetinuhere, no one benefits more than Lady Scruffy. She drew the rail, and is third off the lay. With no other speed in this race, she could steal it if she sends. Demand a price, though, because the biggest question is *if* — Killian Hennessy is riding. He does his best work off the pace, and sometimes does not actually send one-way speeds.
Race 2: $25,000 claiming, two-year-old fillies, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 1:20pm CST
Selections: Red Hot Cherry (8), Andnowigottababy (4), Lilly’s for Who (1)
Red Hot Cherry debuts here, but has some sharp drills going into the race. She is mainly a play based on her people. Rider Edgar Perez rides maidens very well. Trainer Pavel Vashchenko has a 14% win rate (and +$2.47 ROI) with first-timers, and a 16% win rate (and +$1.83 ROI) when debuting at a mile or longer. Andnowigottababy improved last time out, her first attempt going a route of ground. She returns to that same distance and level here. That last outing was over good going, and with a bit of moisture from overnight rain, she could build on that effort. Lilly’s for Who has improved in her last two starts, her only two tries on dirt. She was second at this level last out, and gets Carlos Montalvo back in the irons. A run back to last out makes her competitive here.
Race 3: Allowance ($21,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 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 and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 1:50pm CST
Selections: My Moment (7), Three Tootsies (3), Heather’s Rose (1)
Three Tootsies, at 3/5 on the morning line, is clearly the one to beat. Her speed figures are consistently good, she has a lot of versatility in placement, and runs for 28% trainer Hugh Robertson. The only problem is, she has run second in her last five starts, all against this level of company. Perhaps the stretch from six to six and a half furlongs wakes up this daughter of Three Hour Nap, but the combination of second-itis and chalk make her the underlay of the day. Take a swing with My Moment instead. She can win from right on the lead or from a stalking spot — important, since Cocoa Bandita really only does her best on the front. She was second in her only try at this distance, and her recent form compares well with this field despite being against weaker company. Though the switch from Chris Emigh to Santo Sanjur may be a downgrade, Sanjur has been riding much better in recent weeks, and does well with forwardly-placed types. Heather’s Rose takes a big class drop here after an ambitious placement in the Pershing Handicap last out. This field lacks a Puntsville, and is a more realistic group for her to face. She gets Chris Emigh back in the irons, who turned in some strong efforts with her this summer, and should be rolling late if the speed gets feisty. She also has a win at six and a half panels.
Race 4: $15,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, six and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:20pm CST
Selections: Harry’s Last Comp (1), All American Man (7), El Nino B (8)
This race is an ALL-button sort, so let’s try and find a price with some upside. Rail-drawn Harry’s Last Comp gets Lasix for the first time. His career best effort was also at this specialist distance of six and a half furlongs, two starts back. Finally, he drops in among state-breds for the first time; though the tag is higher, these state-bred $15,000 fields tend to be even softer than the open $7,500, due to the restriction. All American Man has shown improved form in his last two starts, both going six and a half panels over the dirt at Hawthorne. He stretches to six and a half furlongs for the first time, but his breeding suggests an extended sprint could hit him right between the eyes. He has done his best work with rider Chris Emigh aboard, and Emigh returns today. El Nino B comes in second off a long layoff. He was well-beaten last out, but cuts back from a route to a sprint here. He should e fitter. E. T. Baird has the call, and Baird is extremely strong with maidens — as evidenced by his 26% win rate with Brisnet N/A types. Trainer Jeffery Lynn is known to send out the occasional bomb…and this could be another one, particularly with such a sharp maiden rider aboard.
Race 5: Allowance ($22,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, non-winners of $9,800 twice OR non-winners of two state-bred races other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N4L, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 2:50pm CST
Selections: Prado U (5), Tall Grass Cat (3), Paddybdancing (1)
Though Prado U will likely go off favoured, he looks like the stone-cold goods here. He will get some pace to chase with Giantstepsbdancing and Love You Mon likely to get locked up on the front, and even Lewis Cielo and Tall Grass Cat have shown speed at times. He scratched out of a tougher allowance to run here instead. He has hit the board in ten of 14 starts at Hawthorne, including three wins, and all four of his career wins have come at two turns on dirt. He closed into a not-especially-fast pace to beat better horses last out, and should be well set to win again today. Tall Grass Cat drops down from an open N1X last out, and has been in solid recent form. He was fourth in open allowance company last out, left to rally into a lone speed, but beat a state-bred allowance bunch at this distance two back. He has five wins over the Hawthorne dirt, and six going two turns on the main. Finally, Tall Grass Cat has solid pace versatility — he can send, rally from the clouds, or come from anywhere between. Rallying from off looks the smartest tactic here, though. Paddybdancing is another who should benefit from the pace setup here. The rail draw is not great, but he should be able to drop back far enough for rider Chris Emigh to find him a spot and get him clear sailing. He is a better horse on polytrack than he is on the dirt, but the pace setup should be good enough for him to hit the frame.
Race 6: Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity, two-year-old colts and geldings, Illinois-bred, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 3:10pm CST
Selections: Richie the Bull (1), Moonshiner (6), Mystic Preacher (7)
For my detailed analysis, read the latest Chicago Railbird. Note that Shogood, my original third choice, is a trainer’s scratch from the race. This suggests that Richie the Bull will be more likely to just send and wire than possibly have to rate — and makes my selection of Richie the Bull all that much stronger.
Race 7: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt
Selections: That’s a Kitten (6), Imperial Tea (2), Eben Zabeel (7)
Imperial Tea is clearly the one to beat in this race. His speeds are solid enough, and he has two wins over this course going a mile and seventy yards. However, he was quite well the one to beat last out as well — and could not sustain a run into lone speed Dark Humorista. He gets that problem here, too — a race without a ton of speed. No one in this field does their best work on the front end, but perhaps That’s a Kitten sends and holds. This runner takes a big class drop, into the easiest company he has ever faced. He also gets Chris Emigh aboard; Emigh is a rider who is both smart and intrepid enough to send a horse if no one else is going. Emigh has ridden this horse before, and got him home second this summer against significantly better company than this. He has hit the board in six of ten tries over the Hawthorne main, and perhaps he finds that again in this softer spot. Finally, Eben Zabeel has some appeal. He did not fired last out, but he typically gets back on the rails pretty quickly after a bad race. Two starts back, he closed into a slow pace in a short field, and won by daylight. A return to that sort of race here would make him a solid contender. He gets a rider change to Jim Bielby — who may be best known as a front-end rider, but has piled up a sneaky solid record (12% wins, 45% in the money) on dead-closer types like Eben Zabeel.
Race 8: $4,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races in 2014-2015 OR non-winners of a race in 2015, races where entered for $3,200 or less not considered for eligibility, six and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:20pm CST
Selections: That’s Mybuddy Boy (5), Nafir’s Best (11), Strategic Game (10)
That’s Mybuddy Boy comes in from Mahoning Valley, which is typically an auto-toss angle, even for horses like this who look like the fastest of the bunch. However, that was his first start off the lay — and he had solid Thistledown form in the summer. Thistledown form has been holding all over the place. He can send or rate a bit — expect to see the latter, with Bellodini, Hurricane Bay, and Name Dropper all doing their better work on the front. This will be his first try at six and a half, but the breeding suggests he is good for it. Nafir’s Best races for the first time in two months, but has fired well off of even longer lays than that. He has decent form in protected company at Fairmount over the summer as well, a positive sign against this lowest-level company here. In terms of pace, he is a mid-pack type, but could benefit if any of the speeds get locked up with each other. Strategic Game has a win at six and a half furlongs, and also finished second over the Hawthorne course two starts back. He is a condition book horse — he has a win this year and two last year, but enough in $3,200 claiming company to still fit the conditions of this race. He is one who may need a bit of pace help on the front end (some of which may come from stablemate Name Dropper), but has been in good enough recent form to make him worth considering against this weak crowd.