The weather in Chicago remains unseasonably warm, and Hawthorne still has racing on both turf and dirt coming into mid-November. Today’s card features eight races, including some salty starter-optional and allowance-optional contests.
Without further ado, let’s go to the races!
Best Bets: Illusive Fugitive (race 7), Alwaysmypleasure (race 8)
Price Play: Electric Cat (race 5)
Race 1: $4,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N3L, five furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:20pm CST
Selections: La Candelita (5), Run Away Gal (3), Caferina (6)
La Candelita takes a drop in class from saltier and higher-priced company, and should be the controlling speed. She has done her best work in main-track dashes, and though both of her wins have been on polytrack, she has hit the board in two of her three tries on fast dirt. Run Away Gal gets a welcome drop in class here, and returns to five and a half furlongs on the dirt for the first time since the day she cleared her N2L. She needs something to run at, but if First Heart Break or Didaraj makes it a race with La Candelita for a while, she has a shot. Caferina has shown a bit more versatility than your average conditioned $4K claimer, with good efforts from right on the pace as well as from off it. Her last start was an N2L win over the same distance and course, from off the pace. Both of her wins have come at a dash distance on dirt, and her best is competitive even in this tougher condition. The biggest question for Caferina is the timing of the races: she raced on October 26, then returned November 5, and now returns yet again.
Race 2: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of two races since May 12 OR non-winners of three races in 2015-2016 OR N4L, claiming races for $4,000 or less not considered in eligibility, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 2:50pm CST
Selections: War News (8), Disqualified (5), Prize Arch (4)
Though Bonita Rita and Friendly’s Rap both have early speed, neither is in the best form, and both are flaky enough on the front end to make it likely that War News gets an easy lead. She walked the dog ten days ago, and given her solid form at the level and distance, she stands to walk the dog again. Should there be any contention up front, Disqualified looks best poised to run down the pace. Her stalking style should keep her in range, and she is the most consistent horse in the field. Prize Arch takes a somewhat suspicious class drop, after beating $7,500 beaten types last time out. But, she should be relatively close to the pace given her stretch from a sprint to a route, and she keeps the red-hot Julio Felix in the irons.
Race 3: $25,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, six and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:20pm CST
Selections: Vilaro (1), Allaire (6), Tiz Gallatin (5)
Vilaro has the always-dangerous speed in a short field. Expect Santo Sanjur to send her from the rail. She finished a solid second against better horses in her only try going six and a half, and if she takes to fast dirt (it will be her first try over it), expect her to control a game of catch me if you can. Allaire has done her best dashing on turf, but has decent dirt form from the spring. She also gets a class drop, entering for a tag for the first time in her career here. Allaire has enough speed to keep Vilaro in her sights, and should be able to finish the job if Vilaro can’t. Tiz Gallatin takes a step up in both class and condition here, but her strong debut victory suggests she’s up to it. She will probably need some pace to run at, but she did close into a less-than-zippy pace to beat a short field last out.
One note about Mayor Byrne Rocks: she goes first-time dirt here, and her pedigree suggests she will love it. The question is six and a half, particularly in a short field without a lot of pace. She is one who may make sense later in the meet, with either a bit more distance or a bit more pace in front of her. Though dirt may turn out to be her surface, this does not look like her spot.
Race 4: Allowance optional claiming, 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 OR $16,000 claiming price, five furlongs on the turf, post time 3:50pm CST
Selections: She’s Coal Fired (1), Spring Formal (4), I Forgot It’s Name (3)
She’s Coal Fired comes into this race second off a layoff, and finished second at this N1X condition last time out. This race drew softer than that one. She’s Coal Fired should also benefit from the pace, as speedballs like I Forgot It’s Name, Tinderella, Nevrmesswithrichie, Canette, and Best Kiss Yet should give her more than enough to close into. Spring Formal fits this field on class, and should also benefit from all the pace to attack. The fact that she has been the beaten favourite in her last four starts (including a last out in $10,000 company) is the question, but her better races make her a factor. Among the speed brigade, I Forgot It’s Name appeals the most. At her best, she is as fast as any of these, and she has shown some fight on the front end.
Race 5: $15,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:20pm CST
Selections: Electric Cat (4), Young Corbett (7), Three Golden Rules (2 — underneath only)
Electric Cat missed by a head last out at Fairmount after the rider lost the whip. Though that came in a $4,000 maiden claimer, this is as weak a $15,000 maiden field as you’re going to find at Hawthorne, and a repeat of that race makes Electric Cat a real contender. He should also be able to stay close to the pace, or even make the lead given the scratch of otherwise controlling pace Matt’s Magic. Young Corbett has speed as well, and is the other possible pacesetter given the scratch. He comes in second off the layoff here, and was fourth at this level last out. A step forward from that effort gives him a good chance, particularly with this field being as weak as it is.
Three Golden Rules is the 4/5 morning line favourite. Toss him on top. Use him, even key him under, but the 16-start maiden has had his chances against fields even softer than this one, and always failed to get the job done.
Race 6: Allowance optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L OR $16,000 claiming price, five furlongs on the turf, post time 4:50pm CST
Selections: Dynamite Stick (3), Pale Hose (8), Prairie Rebel (6)
Dynamite Stick is the new face. He fits on class — this is a softer bunch than he ran against at Indiana Grand last out, and has some better back form against N1X AOC company at Indiana Grand through the summer. Turf dashes are his game, and he should be able to sit just off a likely hot pace and run them down in the stretch. Pale Hose is another turf dash specialist, with 13 exacta finishes in 24 tries in the category. Though he notches up from starter-optional to allowance-optional company, his speeds are in range, and he is another who can consistently stalk the pace and make a well-timed run. Prairie Rebel showed little in his turf debut last out, and returns to a similar level here. But, that race had a wire-to-wire winner in Small Fortune. With the pace dynamic likely to be contested here, and with a return to rider Carlos Marquez, he gets one more shot.
As a price underneath, do not discount Franklin County (7). Though he has never been much of a win type (78 starts, three wins!), he frequently fires for underneath shares in turf dashes, and is in good enough form to invade trifectas and superfectas against this class level.
Race 7: Starter optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $8,000 or less since November 12, 2015 OR claiming price $18,000, six and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:20pm CST
Selections: Illusive Fugitive (7), Back Lite (5), Profluent (1)
Though the scratch of Shanghai Red means the price won’t be as good, Illusive Fugitive is the pick here. He has been in career form lately, and finished third at this level last out. Here, he gets what he has been crying out for, for months: an extended sprint instead of a flat six furlongs. He should get pace to run at with the likes of Do Not Enter, Armando’s Star, and Viking in the field, and should be rallying best late. Back Lite finished second at this level last time out, and also has strong form going six and a half furlongs. He has won three of four tries at the distance, and is an excellent 9-4-4-1 at Hawthorne. A better trip than last out makes him Illusive Fugitive’s biggest danger. Profluent drops back to this level after trying a turf dash against stiffer company last out. He was strong over the all-weather in the summer, consistently grabbing pieces underneath. His dirt form is a bit hit-or-miss, but one of his better races gets a piece underneath at a price.
Race 8: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 5:50pm CST
Selections: Alwaysmypleasure (9), Stature (5), Ticket to Fame (3)
In a field full of career N2Ls, at least Alwaysmypleasure is relatively lightly raced, with only seven starts. He also has the light-on factor: he graduated last out over this course at a mile and a sixteenth. He should get some pace to stalk with the likes of Comic Trick, Lil Clifford, and Valovich with some front-end gas. And, trainer Wayne Catalano has been select and successful with his placings this meet: ten starters, two winners, eight in the money. In multi-race wagers, you have two choices: single Alwaysmypleasure, or be prepared to spread really, really far.
Stature has not been much of a win type, but has at least been consistent. He has hit the board in his last two tries over the Hawthorne dirt, including a third-place finish against a better $5,000 N2L field last time out. He has pace versatility, too: though his victory came on the front end, he has no shortage of seconds and thirds from off the pace. That style should serve him well today. Ticket to Fame is the class of the field, but he has been tumbling down the class ladder through the fall. His last two starts, however, have suggested this is where he belongs. He finished a close second two starts back; last time out he was fifth, but closed from way too far out of it. The pace should unfold favourably again today, but he still may leave himself too much to do at a short price.