Live racing is back underway at Hawthorne!
Today’s card features nine races — all dirt sprints. Routes should pop up over the next week or two; if the weather stays as warm as it’s been, turf races should show up by the end of the month.
One of the biggest questions, and a thread that runs through the analysis of several races today, is how the track plays. On opening day, the rail was radioactive, and outside closing trips brought an advantage. They had the blade out by the rail today, so perhaps the rail will be a bit less tiring today. My selections are a bit more slanted to outside, but should inside speed trips start winning, I’ll make sure to note that on Twitter.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the card!
Race 1: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:10pm CST
Selections: Glitter Road (2), Diminishing Return (4), Huehuetlan (7)
In this wide-open N2L, at least Glitter Road comes in with some consistent form over the course, including a last-out maiden win. He also has solid late pace, key in a race with a lot of speed. He should be fit after his workouts over the heavy Fairmount track. Note also that trainer George Dill’s only starter yesterday, Unbridled Ruler, ran a stormer. At 50/1, he ran along a dead rail and just barely lost a photo to an outside closer (the plum trip yesterday). Diminishing Return is another with strong late pace, and his maiden score came three starts back over the same course and distance. Should speed hole? Likely favourite Candy Carlos is a bit hard to trust; Wesley Ward’s basement-claiming shippers always tend to take money here, and rarely do well. Instead, why not Huehuetlan? Mike Durham won with a pair of Remington horses yesterday, and he got the nice outside draw.
Race 2: $7,500 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, five furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:40pm CST
Selections: Hammers Thirsty (10), Just a Dixie Dunk (1), Bubbassecondchance (9)
Hammers Thirsty is your likely favourite, but there are good reasons why. He has the nice outside draw, already looks the speed of the speed, and goes first-time blinkers here. He hasn’t hit raced since the end of December, but trainer Clay Brinson excels with mid-range lays. Just a Dixie Dunk is the fit horse here, with a start at Turfway and two starts at Mahoning during the offseason. Typically Mahoning form does not hold here, but with a soft field for the level, there’s a chance his fitness will prevail. Bubbassecondchance is the only first-timer here. Trainer Mort Shirazi has blown up a tote with a first-timer before (Containment, anyone?!)…so with so little to like about the experienced horses, he’s worth a shot if he looks good in the paddock.
Ya Mon deserves a note — leave him out of your multi-race bets. But, if you like exactas or trifectas? Key him in those lower rungs. Chicago’s leading career maiden can’t find the wire first, but he should be fast enough to get a share against this set.
Race 3: $4,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of two races in 2016-2017 OR non-winners since May 4, 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:10pm CST
Selections: Sig K (10), J Jett (6), Lady Kelia (8)
Sig K’s form tailed off last summer, but trainer Scott Becker knows how to get a horse ready off a lay. Sig K got hot at this time last year, too, as she rattled off three straight wins to start the Hawthorne spring meet. She got an outside draw, and she has the versatility to sit off the plethora of pace. Finally, Victor Santiago has the call — and Santiago started the meet hot, with five wins on Friday. J Jett scratched from a race Friday to go here instead, and she should also benefit from the pace in front of her. A lawnmower earlier in her career, she proved last fall that she can also handle the dirt. The sprint distance is the biggest question. There is no shortage of speed here, but Lady Kelia looks the best of it. She can rate a bit off the pace, and got an outside draw. Lady Kelia may not be the horse she used to be at two and three, but those races against tougher at Oaklawn should have her fit. She also scratched for this spot, out of a much tougher race yesterday.
Race 4: Maiden special weight, three-year-olds and up, five furlongs on the dirt, 5:40pm CST
Selections: Sheridan Road (5), Hide the Green (8), Prospect Point (1)
The chalk horses are all frontrunning types: Rivelli speedball Go Beeja, confirmed pacesetter Tizlor (who adds first-time blinkers here!), and Oaklawn shipper Legendary Vision. Given that the track played for outside closers yesterday, this race has me looking for bombers. Sheridan Road is a first-time starter, but he’s got some precocity and class underneath. His graded stakes-winning dam Passion won first out, and his graded stakes-placed half sister Devine Aida won at second asking. He has been in training since November, and his last five recorded drills have been as long as this race. If he can stay off the speed, he can make an impact. Hide the Green is speculative: he’s a first-timer, there’s not a lot of precocity under, and Don Bentler isn’t much of a first-timer (or even maiden) trainer. But, jockey Victor Santiago started the meet red-hot, and he has a good outside draw. If he looks good in the paddock, he’s worth tossing on the ticket. The rail draw isn’t much good for Prospect Point, but at least he is the one horse with both experience and decent form off the pace. The Iowa-bred hasn’t raced since Prairie last spring, but the worktab is sharp.
Race 5: $5,000 claiming, fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, N3L, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 6:10pm CST
Selections: Run Away Gal (4), Nagzilla (2), Giant Sugarbaby (7)
As likely as the fourth race is to fall apart, this race is even more likely. Run Away Gal is the only one in the race who is truly dependable to stay off the pace. Her recent form isn’t much to look at, but the recent starts at Turfway (which she hated) may give her a fitness edge. Both her wins have come in dirt dashes, and the company she faces here is generally easier than what she faced at Hawthorne last fall. At odds, she gets another chance. Nagzilla has shown some pace, but has also won from just off it. The fact that she hasn’t worked since her race at Tampa raises a red flag, but the recent Tampa races should have her fit. And, she won her only start at Hawthorne, an allowance two years back. Giant Sugarbaby has shown some game on the lead, something she’ll need with all the frontrunners here. The relatively outside post should help her, and horses who have been working at Fairmount have been fit and live so far. The biggest question here is the rider downgrade.
Race 6: $15,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 6:40pm CST
Selections: Enchanted Rambam (4), Young Corbett (6), Battle N Away (1)
Enchanted Rambam has been racing against tougher at Oaklawn and the Fair Grounds this winter, and makes his Hawthorne debut for new trainer Manny Perez. He hit the board a few times at Fair Grounds. He should be fit, and he should appreciate the easier circuit. Young Corbett scratched out of a race yesterday to run here instead, and he got an outside draw. The layoff is the question, but he contended against better fields last fall. Battle N Away has been working at Fairmount, and raced once at Oaklawn this summer, as well. He needs to bring his best here, but he may be fit enough to do so.
Race 7: Illinois-bred allowance, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $9,800 once or a state-bred race other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N2L, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 7:10pm CST
Selections: Bella Carmella (6), Dundalk Bay (1), Pinchme I’mdreamin (5)
Bella Carmella is a condition book horse here — she cleared her N1X at Hawthorne last out, but still qualifies for her state-bred condition since she hasn’t won a state-bred N1X. Between that, the outside post, a pressing gear, and the presence of Victor Santiago, she looks strong. She has not raced since December, but she has a solid worktab at Fairmount, and those Fairmount horses have come in fit and ready. Dundalk Bay looks the speed of the speed, and she does her best work in these main-track dashes. She fired nicely in her spring debut last year, too. The biggest question about her is how the track plays — the rail was radioactive yesterday, and that will hurt if it remains the case today. Pinchme I’mdreamin gets some class relief after some tries at Oaklawn. But, she has shown some form over the course and distance, and her pace versatility should serve her well with a few speedier types in here.
Race 8: Allowance optional claiming, three-year-old fillies, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N2L or claiming price $75,000, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 7:40pm CST
Selections: Countess St Michel (6), Hal’s Mischief (2), Kalispell (4)
Jim DiVito and Royalty Farms had to have wanted this race to fill — they entered both Royalty Princess and Countess St Michel. Both have shown speed, making it seem strange that they would enter both and not scratch one of them. Royalty Princess has been exposed as one-way speed…so let’s go with the other one, Countess St Michel. She’s lightly enough raced to perhaps have another gear, and she gets the seasoned journeyman rider Edgar Perez. (Royalty Princess, instead, gets ten-pound bug Isael Garcia.) Hal’s Mischief faces winners for the first time, and did score from just off the pace in her maiden win back in December. She cuts back to a dash today, but has hit the board in three of four tries, suggesting some talent at the distance. Kalispell flopped last out, but that came at Oaklawn (mulligan!) over the slop (double mulligan!). She should be better over dry dirt back at Hawthorne, and did press the pace in her maiden win.
Race 9: $4,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races in 2016-2017 OR non-winners of a race since May 4, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 8:10pm CST
Selections: Rent a Cop (8), Iker (1), Dittman Thunder (2)
Iker could very easily wire this. But, he’ll be a short price, he has a bad case of second-itis, and the rail was tiring yesterday. So, why not take a shot at a price with connections who started hot? Rent a Cop will be forward, one of the few who can keep Iker honest here. He got an outside draw. He likes the distance. And, though he only has the one work off the long layoff? That did come at Fairmount for trainer Mike Durham, who has started the meet hotter. He also gets Victor Santiago aboard — Santiago booted home five on opening day, including two for Durham. For third? Roarin Missile appeals for a piece underneath, but a win seems out of the question here, and he’s a better polytrack horse than dirt. Besides, if Dittman Thunder is the old Dittman Thunder, he stands to close better anyway. The question, of course, is whether he is the old Dittman Thunder — the son of After Market has not raced since November of 2014. Still, the fact that Chris Dorris places him so ambitiously — here, instead of a straight N3L — suggests he is live.