The meet at Hawthorne continues today with an eight-race card. On class, the highlight of the card is a maiden special weight, though Wildwood Dancer looks extremely tough to beat from a betting perspective. Early in the card are a pair of extremely salty races which stand to be even better betting affairs: a starter allowance for the fillies, and a wide-open open $12,500 for open company.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the card!
Race 1: $8,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 2:10pm CDT
Selections: War News (3), Saint’s Back (1), Nikaluk (5)
If Saint’s Back sets off the pace a bit, War News could get things all her own way on the front. She has a solid enough worktab going into this start, and has a strong record going two turns over a dry main track. Saint’s Back notches up a bit in conditions from last out, but her form is solid given what she actually faces. She can send to the lead, battle, or stalk. She can even get the lead, relinquish it, and take it again, as she proved at Arlington last year. She has a 4-2-1-0 record over the distance, and a win and a second in three tries at the distance. On form, she is squarely the one to beat, but trainer Patti Miller’s dull record off of layoffs make her worth trying against with War News, as Saint’s Back stands to be favoured. Nikaluk is a consistent type, and is running against the right class here. She makes her eight-year-old debut here, after a career year last year. She has solid form over the course (28-6-6-6) and the distance (23-4-6-4). Trainer change is in name only; Manny Perez is serving some days. Expect the same old Nikaluk, who is good enough for at least a share once more.
Race 2: Starter allowance, four-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $5,000 or less in 2015-2016, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:40pm CDT
Selections: Somali Byrd (1), Crissy Field (5), Elizabeth’s Fever (4)
Somali Byrd has already won once this meet, against an extremely salty $12,500 claiming field last out. That company was a bit better than this set — and she inverted her usual closing running style to do it. That time she sent, caught a challenge, and drew off to win easily. She could have some speed in front of her with Crissy Field and Lady Ice, so may go back to her more typical style here. Either way, Somali Byrd has outs, she’s the class of this bunch, and she’s the one to beat. Crissy Field scratched out of an allowance yesterday to run here instead. She is still protected, a good sign. She was well-beaten against tougher starter company at Oaklawn all winter — and, again, she has not run for a tag since being claimed by trainer Mark Cristel. She has two wins at Hawthorne, two wins at this distance, and has the form to outslug Lady Ice on the front. Elizabeth’s Fever is a consistent sort, in the money for her last five. Her speeds are strong, and she has some versatility to either stalk or rally from a bit farther back. All four of her wins have come at this distance, as well, including two at Hawthorne.
Race 3: $12,500 claiming, four-year-olds and up, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:10pm CDT
Selections: Leroidessioux (4), Thats Mybuddy Boy (1), Luck With a Kiss (6)
A case can be made for anyone here, and there would be no shame in hitting ALL here. Leroidessioux moves up in claiming tag, but has rattled off two straight wins against beaten $5,000 company at Fair Grounds, and his speeds are solid against this set. He also has a solid 13-3-3-2 line in dirt dashes. Thats Mybuddy Boy, along the rail, has the versatility to run well either form the front end or from closing. It is his first race since December, but he has had several solid workouts leading up to this start. He has also been in the exacta in two of three starts over the Hawthorne dirt, with both of those money finishes coming last meet. Luck With a Kiss is the speed of the speed, and could run them off their feet early. The fact that he lost as the favourite last out after having his way early gives some pause, but his speed remains dangerous.
Race 4: $4,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races in 2015-2016, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:40pm CDT
Selections: Garland’s Spirit (6), Valient Tenobob (2), Dashing Derek (3)
Garland’s Spirit is the only horse in this field who appeals much — either single him, or punch the “ALL” button. He stands to be the speed of the speed. He has done well enough on contested paces, good if Dashing Derek chooses to force the issue. The switch to rider James Bielby is also a positive sign, since he is doing well so far this meet, and succeeds with frontrunners. Valient Tenobob had looked off form for so long, but woke up with a second-place finish last out at a similar level. He had only started once before at Hawthorne, but won that day — perhaps he has a horse-for-course factor going for him here? He also has generally solid form at dash distances, with a 14-2-3-1 line. Dashing Derek is coming in off a second-place finish in a lifetime (N3L) condition, usually not a positive in a beaten condition, but he is probably just faster than the rest of the horses here. It has been long since has won, but he has won both over this track and at a dash distance, and he should be able to land a share under.
Race 5: Maiden special weight, three-year-olds and up, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:10pm CDT
Selections: Wildwood Dancer (2), Hay Dakota (7), Copper Hill (5 – undersides)
Wildwood Dancer will likely be a heavy favourite, but he deserves it. He finished a close third against maiden special weight company at Oaklawn last out, and just outclasses these. That last out came from a closing shape, but he has also finished in the frame form closer to the pace. He is one of two Scott Becker entries here — but stablemate Wildwood Stroll is a first-timer with little precocity in his pedigree, so the “Becker A” looks like the right Becker here. Hay Dakota, a second-time starter, ships from Delta. He was well beaten on debut, but has been working very well at Hawthorne leading into this start. He won’t face the likes of Mick here, and if he likes the cutback to five and a half furlongs, he has a shot at a price. With the scratches of Mafia Muscle Man and Wildwood Stroll, no one else appeals much for the win. Copper Hill, however, should get a share under. He has hit the board in his last four starts, his speeds are strong for the field, and he has some early speed. He is a dodgy win proposition at best, and will be underlaid there, but your exactas, trifectas, and supers are incomplete without him.
Race 6: $4,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races in 2015-2016, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:40pm CDT
Selections: Coolride (6), Legend Forever (5), Half Foxy (3)
This race is full of a lot of horses who at least try to get the lead. Let’s give one more shot to Coolride at a price. He has run some decent races from stalking places, and even further back. Though he was nowhere last out, he started poorly, and Toro Grande ran away with it on a speed-biased day. With the track playing a bit fairer, Coolride has a better shot. Legend Forever was third against similar last out, and also has some versatility to race either close to the lead or a ways off of it. He is second and third a lot, which is the big worry, but he consistently runs well enough to compete against this set. If speed holds, Half Foxy looks the best of it. He can turn in a good effort even when challenged, and should be sharper today than last out, as he comes here second off the lay. Though he loses rider Edgar Perez to Legend Forever, he gets Noel Vigil in the irons, who has been quietly having a solid meet.
Race 7: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 5:10pm CDT
Selections: Rampent Rumour (2), Dontforgettofloss (6), Lexian (8)
There is so little speed in this race, and so many horses out of form, why not swing for a price? Rampent Rumour is 15/1 on the morning line, but should be the speed of the speed, should get the rail (with only deep closer Eben Zabeel inside him), and has some back form competitive with this set. Dontforgettofloss comes in second off the lay, and should be fitter here than he was last out. He stands to get a stalking slot, and should get first run if longer-priced stablemate Rampent Rumour can’t hang onto the lead. Lexian, the likely favourite, is the new face in this crowd. He drops to the lowest level of his career, and makes his first start on the Chicago circuit. Most of his work has been sprinting, but at least the pedigree suggests that he should be able to handle two turns. With the rest of the field being closers, Lexian shoudl at least be fairly close to the pace, and may just outclass this bunch.
Race 8: $7,500 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:40pm CDT
Selections: Eye to Thrill (9), Aces Over Kings (5), U S Fever (1)
In a field full of career maidens with no form against similar, at least Eye to Thrill is a new face. He raced three times in lower-level maiden company at Oaklawn; this is a serious class drop from that set. His best speed figure to date has come in his one previous try at five and a half furlongs, and he cuts back to that today. Aces Over Kings comes second off the ship, and made up ground late last out against this set. He keeps Denny Velazquez in the irons, and should like the extra half-furlong. Though he was defeated as the favourite last time, trainer Joel Berndt wins a quarter of the time with last-out beaten favourites. U S Fever is a consummate undersides type, 13-0-4-4 lifetime. But, in a race with so little speed on paper, he looks the speed of it. He missed by half a length last out, rallying from off the pace, so he has that sort of versatility as well. The speed fits, the form fits — key him underneath in your exotics.