Hawthorne closing day selections and analysis: 4.29.17

Hawthorne’s spring meet draws to a close Saturday, with an eight-race card.  With the forecast calling for rain, closing day looks like a great opportunity for those who enjoy playing slop monsters.

For those who like to chase carryovers, there are a couple.  The $0.20 Pick Six, usually a jackpot wager, has a mandatory payout and a $3,047 carryover into closing day.  The $0.20 Super High Five, also usually a jackpot, has a mandatory payout and a $1,901 carryover into the pool.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the card!

Race 1: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:10pm CDT

Selections:  Muggs Mulligan (1), He Is Rhuthless (4), Gretsie (5)

With a few in this field who need to be on the front end, it should set up perfectly for Muggs Mulligan to mow them down.  He won at this same distance last time out, and though he missed the board in his only off-track start, he was a gaining and troubled fourth behind easy lone speed.  He Is Rhuthless was the aforementioned easy lone speed against Muggs Mulligan two back.  He needs things his own way, but if Gretsie takes back a bit, he can likely outgun Handsome Sean for the lead.  Gretsie hasn’t won in a while, but has been in good form and always seems to be right there.  Though he is hard to trust on top, his ability to either send or rate makes him attractive to hit the board.  He has never run on the slop, but being by Cherokee Rap out of a Bianconi mare, he has every right to take to mud.

Race 2: $15,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:37pm CDT

Selections:  Wildwood Dejavu (2), Hoosessential (6), Meadowlee’s Afleet (7)

This field scratched down to four, with original top two selections My Pal Al and French Minded among the defections.  Gangstasperfection also bows out.  Wildwood Dejavu is the remaining Becker, and the likely speed of the speed.  He has yet to show his best going six furlongs, but ran well enough in his maiden victory last out to suggest the light may have come on.  Hoosessential usually runs from well off the pace, but has some back form lines that have her (yes, she’s a filly against boys) closer to the pace.  She has also hit the board in all three tries over  a wet track, a plus given the rain today.  Meadowlee’s Afleet did not embarrass himself in his first try against winners last out, and stands to chase and get a piece once again.

Race 3: $8,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:04pm CDT

Selections:  The Last Rap (4), Dorothe Marie (3)

This race has scratched down to three, with no show, trifecta, or superfecta wagering.  Speed in a short field can be dangerous, and The Last Rap now has that.  Cherokee Rap babies acquit themselves well in mud, too, and she hit the board in her only off-track try.  Among the other two who remain, Dorothe Marie appeals a bit more than Lydia’s Angel.  She can sit a bit closer to the pace than that foe, and ran a perfectly respectable third the one time she encountered an off track.

Race 4: Allowance optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $9,800 twice other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N3L OR $40,000 claiming price, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt (originally carded for turf), post time 5:31pm CDT

Selections:  Mendota (2), Lewis Vale (6), Luvinmeiseasy (1)

Despite being washed off the turf, this competitive race held together well — with only one scratch (Romeo Lima) from the original field of nine.  No one in the field is a complete toss.  Lewis Vale is the one to beat as the speed of the speed, and strong sloppy track breeding, though his two attempts over an off track have been underwhelming.  With that, let’s look for a bit better price with last-out winner Mendota.  In recent times he has been able to shrug off the second-itis that plagued him.  Last out, he also rated kindly off the pace and drew off to win easily.  That rating ability should help him with speedy Lewis Vale in the field.  Mendota won’t outgun Lewis Vale, but should he falter, Mendota will happily take up the running.  Luvinmeiseasy has three off-track starts in his career, and has hit the board in every one of them.  He just missed to a quality horse in Shanghai Red last out, and stretches out to a route distance here.  He cleared his one-other-than condition over a wet track two starts back, and his tactical speed should once again serve him well.

Race 5: Maiden special weight, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:58pm CDT

Selections:  River Cactus (2), Gentleman Richie (5), Get After It (7)

Trainer Steve Manley has two in here.  Gentleman Richie is the “A” entry, and often hits the board, but the question is whether he will get all the way there.  He has hit the board seven times in 10 starts, but not yet gotten off the duck.  Still, with tactical versatility and coming in third off the lay, he could get off the mark.  However, for value, the Manley “B” appeals a bit more.  River Cactus is a first-time starter, and though Manley does not usually fire with firsters, the worktab is consistent enough to suggest he has gotten fit over the Fairmount track.  More than anything, though, River Cactus is a pedigree play — it’s supposed to be a wet day.  Cactus Ridge babies win in the mud 18% of the time, and dam Synd broke her maiden in an easy off-track victory.  Get After It is one of two entries for trainer Duncan Willsey.  There is a bit of precocity in the family — out of five half-siblings to win, one won first out and another won second out.  He also has two half-siblings who won in the slop.  This race will be a class test, moving from a debut in $7,500 maiden company to special weight, but second start progression and an aptitude for mud could get him in the frame at long odds.

Race 6: $5,000 claiming, four-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races since October 29 OR N4L, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 6:25pm CDT

Selections:  Wicked Cheer (2), Titius (4), Lethal (6)

With live longshot Devil Alert a vet scratch today, this race becomes a completely paceless affair.  Wicked Cheer is the closest thing to speed.  He usually rallied from well of the pace, but stayed closer to the front last out and missed by just a neck against company similar to what he faces today.  Chris Emigh returns to the irons from that start.  Furthermore, Wicked Cheer also has slop form, with three wins and two thirds in eight off-track tries.  Though Spectacular Act is the “in-form” closer, he is pace-compromised — and does not get his rabbit, Badger Bay, this time.  Instead, Titius appeals most among the closers.  He has some form closing into paces that are not particularly fast.  Though he has been best over polytrack, he’s worth considering especially if it’s muddy outside.  It’ll be his first mud try, and Lewis Michael babies win in the mud 20% of the time.  He hasn’t won raced since October, but he has some long works, and trainer Michael Reavis knows how to get a layoff horse ready.  Lethal has some back form lines in which he was more tactical than his recent starts suggest; a reversion to that style could give him a better shot.  He also loves the course and distance, and has a victory over a sloppy track.

Race 7: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 6:52pm CDT

Selections:  Bright House (3),  Pride of Life (6), Wildwood’s Afleet (4 — underneath)

Bright House faded to third against similar company last out, but comes here third off the lay.  Edgar Perez does not typically send Wildwood’s Afleet, and Supa seems off form — which ought to give Bright House an easier lead than he got last out.   the rain in the forecast also helps, as he has hit the board twice in three tries over an off track.  (Excuse the one off-board finish in the slop; that came when he was over his head at Keeneland.)  Pride of Life comes in second off the lay, and stretches back out to two turns here.  He drops back to a more realistic level, and gets Chris Emigh back in the irons.  Emigh got some decent races out of him last year, and tends to set him close to the pace.  He likely gets first run on Bright House.

Wildwood’s Afleet will likely be 1/5 with a side of bridgejumping.  If Wildwood’s Afleet wanted to win, he would trounce this field.  But, he has a fine record of coming in second and third.  When I looked up “hanging” in the dictionary, my friends Merriam and Webster showed me a replay of his last start, the hardest I’ve ever seen a horse try to lose.  To be fair, that race has been franked: Candy Carlos, the winner, came back to win again yesterday.  But, Wildwood’s Afleet did not see Candy Carlos, and went out of his way to try to let the fading Bright House catch back up.  Don’t waste the money using this chalk on top; just key him under.

Race 8: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of a race since October 29 OR N3L, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 7:22pm CDT

Selections:  One June (6), Castle Dreams (1), Hurraca (7)

Given what poor form I’m So Vain has been this spring, One June should steal this paceless affair.  She has shown decent enough form in her last two starts, does her best work on the lead, and should strike the front on the stretch-out from a sprint.  Castle Dreams comes in second off the lay, returns to the barn of Leroy Hellman, and turns up in a far more realistic spot than the state-bred allowance she tried last out.  She has some solid races from in range of the pace, and both of her wins have come going two turns at Hawthorne.  Hurraca may be compromised by a slow pace here, but she does reliably fire even if the horses in front of her crawl.  And, her second-place finish last out came behind Jennifer J., a better mare than any she faces here.

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