Hawthorne is in full swing for the fall. Today’s card features nine races — and if you like maiden races or short races (on both turf and dirt), you will love today’s card.
Read on for my selections and analysis for the card! A few of the races have key scratches — and those are noted, and the picks updated for any effects the scratches have on the race.
Best Bets: Midnite In Miami (Race 1), Small Fortune (Race 6)
Price Plays: Indy Awesome (Race 5), Pride Of Life (Race 7)
Race 1: $15,000 maiden claiming, two-year-old fillies, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:20pm CDT
Selections: Midnite In Miami (5), Name It After Me (4), Summer Bride (7)
Midnite In Miami stands out here. She drops from maiden special weight company to maiden claiming, and trainer Michael Reavis and rider Bonfilio Velazquez have had a strong start to the Hawthorne meet. A reasonable second-start progression against this softer field makes her tough. Name It After Me was second against $25K maidens last out, showing she can take her Fairmount form north with her. She has already crossed the wire first once, in a questionable DQ at Fairmount this summer, and has shown the ability to run well enough from near the lead or off the pace. Summer Bride showed little in maiden special weight company last out, but drops to the bottom here. She has enough precocity in her family to give her another try here, particularly at a price.
Race 2: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of a race since May 22, claiming races for $7,500 or less not considered for eligibility, one mile on the turf, post time 2:50pm CDT
Selections: Dark Humorista (6), Veter (5), Sandia Crest (4)
With the scratch of Hollywood Script, Dark Humorista goes from a defensive use to the emphatic top selection. He should get the front all to himself, and has been in strong form lately. He ran a fine second against open $5,000 types on dirt last out; the move back to turf helps his case given how good his two-turn turf form has been this year. Veter would prefer some pace to close into, but he fires no matter what goes in in front of him. He also gets a bit of a class drop here, and rider Julio Felix has been excellent this meet. Sandia Crest takes a significant class drop as well. He has been on the board in seven out of eight starts this year, and though the scratch hurts him, he should get a bite underneath once again.
Race 3: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L OR three years old, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:20pm CDT
Selections: Flying Around (2), Clearly See (6), Seba’s Dancer (1)
Flying Around is as consistent a horse as you’ll see at this level: ten exacta finishes in twelve career starts. He has typically been on the lead, but he showed a passing gear today — useful to avoid a duel with the speedy Clearly See. He also fits nicely with the conditions: he has form against older, but he is a three-year-old with three wins. The aforementioned Clearly See is an interesting price play here. He has enough speed to break from the outside and dictate terms. And, though much of his recent form is questionable, he stands to improve on dirt. Most of his best races have come on the Hawthorne main, and though he runs for more than double his last-out tag here, he drops from open company to conditioned. Seba’s Dancer tried ambitious company in his last two starts, and right-classes here. Those last two starts also came on poly and turf. The last time he was on dirt, he rattled off two straight wins at Fairmount with speeds that would be competitive here. He should be sitting just off the pace, and may kick on well enough to compete late.
Race 4: $7,500 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:50pm CDT
Selections: Gray Cotton (2), Rumbler (3), Better Than Noble (1)
The top two stand out here, and multi-race players would be served well enough covering just Gray Cotton and Rumbler. Gray Cotton has the best sprint speed of the field, and should be prominent from start to finish. Trainer Joel Berndt does well in maiden claimers, and Gray Cotton showed last out in a $6,250 race at Canterbury that the bottom level suits him well. That day he dueled and held second; today, his best could get him from gate to wire. Rumbler showed speed in a turf route, but in this sprint, he would likely be coming from off the pace. He had a tough trip against $15K company last out, and drops to the bottom here. He is the class of the field, and his humans (trainer Larry Rivelli and rider E. T. Baird) are strong with maidens.
For a longshot, particularly underneath, give a look to rail-drawn Better Than Noble. He is still lightly raced, with only three starts under his girth. He has not shown a lot, but this will be his first try on fast dirt, and his first try sprinting on dirt at all. Furthermore, he gets a key jockey upgrade to strong maiden rider Edgar Perez. Beating both Gray Cotton and Rumbler will be a tough ask, but Better Than Noble should make better account of himself at massive odds.
Race 5: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races in 2016 OR non-winners of three races in 2015-2016 OR N4L, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 4:20pm CDT
Selections: Indy Awesome (8), Titius (5), Side Pocket (4)
Indy Awesome found an open $10K bunch at Keeneland over his head, but drops back down to the right class here. He also comes back to Hawthorne, a track where he has three wins and another three money finishes in eight tries. He has the versatility to win from the front or off the pace, and two turns on the dirt is his best game. Titius quickened late last out, but it was too little too late. He should get far more speed to run at today with the likes of Part’n Parcel, Side Pocket, and Super Twenty Three in the field. He has fired consistently this year, his connections (trainer Michael Reavis and rider Bonfilio Velazquez) are heating up, and a better setup should lead to a better result. Among the front-end types, Side Pocket interests the most. He is the speed of the speed. Last out, he was (perplexingly) not sent. He gets a rider change today — and if Carlos Castro just lets him run, he may take them a long way.
Race 6: Allowance, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L, five and a half furlongs on the turf, post time 4:50pm CDT
Selections: Small Fortune (2), Prairie Rebel (6), Franklin County (4 – underneath)
For my full analysis of this race, read the latest Chicago Railbird. Note that Wildwood Dancer (9), along with Bourne Country (7) and Proud Jackson (8), have been scratched.
Race 7: $12,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:20pm CDT
Selections: Pride of Life (5), Holy Bullex (3), Mister McGehee (2)
This race drew a ton of speed. Hawk Is Ready is the morning-line favourite, but with D. Shifflett, Goneghost, and Holy Brass doing their best on the front, and and Mister McGehee and Holy Bullex showing good gas at times, it should set up for an off-pace type. Pride of Life should relish having some pace in front of him. Though he faltered last time out, that was in allowance company, and over the polytrack at Arlington. Here he cuts back in distance, goes in for a tag for the first time, and goes back to fast dirt. Finally, trainer Steve Manley has started the meet well. When you find a Manley horse at a price, they are often worth a second look — Pride Of Life certainly is. Holy Bullex has early speed, but also a pressing gear that could prove useful with all the one-way gas he faces here. He has run well both times he has tried the Hawthorne dirt, and comes in second off the lay for trainer Jim DiVito, who wins at 28% in that circumstance. Mister McGehee faltered at a route against allowance company last out. Here he cuts back to a sprint, and drops back into company better befitting his racing skill. He has some back speeds that compare well here, and also has the ability to hit the board from a stalking spot.
Race 8: $4,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, five furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:50pm CDT
Selections: Holy Mochaccino (3), Burn the Lute (8), Arkansas Traveler (1)
Holy Mochaccino cuts back to five furlongs here, the same distance at which she broke her maiden against state-bred maiden special weight company. She has early speed, but pressed the pace early in that maiden victory; that gear should prove useful. Finally, she gets the red-hot Julio Felix in the irons. Burn the Lute is lightly-raced, an attractive quality in this field so full of career N2Ls. She has only raced twice before. This will be her dirt debut, but being by Midnight Lute out of a Bring the Heat mare, she should handle it fine. And, with E. T. Baird back aboard and some gameness on the lead, she should be prominent from start to finish. There is enough speed here that the pace may fall apart. If that happens, Arkansas Traveler should be ready, willing, and able to pick up the pieces. She drops back into an N2L race after skipping a condition last out, and comes in second off a layoff. She would have to run her best, but in a field with so few closers, she could have a say late at a very long price.
Race 9: $7,500 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 6:20pm CDT
Selections: Luckster (7), Fahionably Late (10), Cowgirl Tyne (6)
In a field with so many Career Maidens™, the fact that this is just Luckster’s second start stands out. She debuted two weeks back at Hawthorne, finishing in the middle of the pack. Luckster has every right to step forward second time out, particularly given trainer Roger Brueggemann’s 28% win rate with second-time starters. Fahionably Late has run fourteen times, which is a concern, but she drops to this level for the first time in her career. She has also shown fine form on the Hawthorne dirt, with three seconds and a third in seven tries. This will be Fahionably Late’s first race since mid-July, but trainer Doug Matthews excels with runners coming in off long layoffs. In addition, Fahionably Late finished a close second against better in her first start off a two and a half month lay at the beginning of the year. There are a few in this field who have shown some speed, and if they all lock up, Cowgirl Tyne could pick up the pieces. Though she was off the board in her only start upstate so far, she rallied for fourth at this level, into a slow pace, against this level at Arlington. That shows she can bring her rally north with her. The return to dirt helps her, and she gets more pace here.