branching out

i created this corner of the internet in January of 2014 to keep myself plugged into horse racing once the fall meet at Hawthorne ended, during the seven and a half weeks before the next season started. yes, even in 2014 racing started back up in February in Chicago. i created this to be about horse racing, and only horse racing.

when i created it, i knew very little about the sport. i was teaching myself how to read the program, and still in the process of making sense of all those little numbers squenched into the smallest space possible. i wrote my way through my confusion, into a new obsession.

there is little inevitable in my life, but one of those constants is my inability to build lasting walls to separate the aspects of my life. the personal becomes the professional, or the other way around. interests overlap, mingle, make arbitrary boundaries obsolete. just as physical systems tend toward entropy, so it goes with the places my mind decides to bounce. disorder reigns sooner or later.

almost nine years after i carved out this corner of the internet, this becomes no exception.

i hated that i wasn’t writing here much anymore, and i finally figured out why, or at least why for now. i had begun to see this as a mostly-impersonal place for mostly-impersonal horse racing ideas, and nothing more.

my horse racing life is nothing i could have ever imagined in January of 2014. back then, i needed a dedicated place to make sense of the sport. as i kept coming to the track and kept writing about horse racing, i needed a place that was only for that.

i’ve been working in horse racing for five and a half years now. most of the writing i do about horse racing comes in the scope of my jobs. horse racing used to be the thing i do in my spare time. now, i still watch racing and go through some pedigree rabbit holes in my spare time, but writing about the sport isn’t what i spend all of my spare time the way it was when my working hours were not all about horse racing. i’ve always been a person who liked some variety, and writing about horse racing professionally has, in a sense, opened up time and mental space to do other things as well.

and yet, i’d like a place to write about…things. perhaps, about horse racing. perhaps, about other things that i want to share with people instead of squirreling away in a journal, destined to gather dust until whoever goes through my stuff after i die either reads it or sets it on fire. definitely, in a longer and less ethereal form than Facebook or my increasingly precarious internet home, Twitter. and i’ve caught myself deliberately choosing to do other things than write at all. part of it has been burnout. part of it has been that there wasn’t a place i was happy to do it.

absurd, since this was right here all along.

i thought on and off of starting somewhere else, but why do that? i love what i’ve written here over the years. it’s writing that taught me a lot, and in many cases, writing i’m still elated to share. if i can evolve over the years, why can’t my home on the internet?

this is just to say…no, nothing about plums in an icebox, though that remains one of my favourite poems-turned-internet-memes. no, this is just to say that this site belongs to me, and i can broaden its purpose if that makes me happy. right now, i think it does.

putting the Saudi Cup in context

(This was originally published February 11, 2020 at With that site offline, that link points to the copy on i’m republishing it here both in case anything happens to this record on, and because i’d prefer it to also be readable without referring to my deadname.)


Last week, horse racing buzzed over the probables for the richest Thoroughbred race in history: the Saudi Cup, scheduled for February 29, 2020 at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Far fewer people in horse racing were talking about another piece of news related to the country: a report Amnesty International released on February 6 about Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), an institution at the heart of its continued repression of dissidents and activists.  It was originally set up in 2008 as a court to try people accused of terrorism-related crimes, but starting in 2011 it began to hear cases in which the defendants were accused of criticizing the government, dissenting against its policies, or spreading religious faith not strictly in line with the government’s.

Though Amnesty International’s report about the human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia is the most recent one, it is far from the only one.  Similar concerns have also been raised by the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and Ben Emmerson, serving in his capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.  All of these organizations have raised legitimate and /credible concerns about the SCC specifically, and Saudi repression of those who disagree with the government more broadly.

Some may say, “stick to sports!”, or wonder what these issues have to do with a horse race. The question matters given the timing of the Saudi Cup’s inauguration and the framing of the event.

The Saudi Cup is no one-off, and horse racing is not alone among sports in having to reckon with a marquee event.  Though this is the first effort made at such a grand scope to get racehorses worldwide to point toward a marquee race day in the Kingdom, it is far from the only event to lure international sports stars to Saudi Arabia in recent years. 

In December Anthony Joshua defeated Andy Ruiz, Jr. to win the major boxing heavyweight belts; the fight happened in Diriyah, outside of Riyadh.  Last month the Dakar Rally, one of the world’s top marathon off-road races, was contested for the first time in Saudi Arabia; plans are in place to host the rally in Saudi Arabia for at least five years.  In 2019 the European Tour, the top-level golf tour in Europe, began to contest the Saudi International tournament; the 2020 edition wrapped up February 2.

The official justification for this explosion in major sporting events in Saudi Arabia ties into Vision 2030, the plan for the country’s social and economic future that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced in 2016.  According to a December 6, 2019 BBC article HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, stated to BBC sports editor Dan Roan that the rise in international sporting events is intended to get Saudi citizens more physically active.  And, tying back to the text of Vision 2030, world-class sporting events tie directly to the stated goal for Saudi Arabia to “be among the leaders in selected sports regionally and globally.”

On the surface, the narrative fits, but taking that argument at face value is shallow.  As political scientist Joseph Nye, who coined the term “soft power”, states in his 1990 Foreign Policy article of the same name, “A state may achieve the outcomes it prefers in world politics because other states want to follow it or have agreed to a situation that produces such effects.”  Nye continues, “If a state can make its power seem legitimate in the eyes of others, it will encounter less resistance to its wishes…If it can establish international norms consistent with its society, it is less likely to have to change.”  In other words, instead of using or threatening force to get its way, a country can use other leverage to get its way. Ways to get that leverage include “cultural and ideological attraction”.

The shining visions of culture, sport, technology, diversified energy, and government transparency listed in Saudi Arabia’s publicly released and oft-cited “Vision 2030” are a way of exerting soft power, of gaining respect on the world stage through the power of attraction instead of a show of force.  Sports are another common way of trying to leverage soft power for, both to gain global standing as well as to paper over political repression with a grand spectacle of something broadly beloved and seemingly apolitical — it’s just a game, right? But, sports have political context, too.

August 7, 2019, at a press conference in Saratoga, the Saudi Cup was unveiled to the horse racing world.  Prince Bandar Khalid al Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, stated: “We look forward to welcoming international horsemen and women, the media, racing enthusiasts, and the public to Riyadh in 2020.”

Prince Bandar’s specific wording about the opportunities the Saudi Cup will provide to “horsemen and women” sounds like several already-revealed pages from the Vision 2030 public relations playbook.  Consider the efforts to get a Saudi female driver in the 2021 Dakar Rally.  The WWE, who started doing shows in 2014 featuring “males only”, finally had its first women’s wrestling match last October in Riyadh, between Natalya and Lacey Evans.

But, the broader picture of women’s standing in Saudi Arabia is far more complicated than these sports highlights.

As noted on page 14 of this month’s Amnesty International report, the country has made some actual reforms in recent years. Women began receiving driver’s licenses in June 2018.  The next year saw the loosening of some of the restrictions of the guardianship system, a framework of laws and customs which has required women to depend on men’s permission in legal, civic, and even personal matters. A guardianship system still exists, but royal decrees were made in 2019 to allow women to get passports; travel abroad; register marriages, divorces, and children; and obtain family documents without explicit male approval.

Those are undeniably improvements to Saudi Arabia’s legal treatment of women.  However, according to activists who spoke to Human Rights Watch, Saudi authorities commanded people not to speak out in 2017 when they announced plans to end the driving ban.  In May 2018, the month before women began to get driver’s licenses in Saudi Arabia, there was a round of arrests of Saudi women’s rights activists.  Some of them remain in custody, due to violations of vague antiterrorism laws. Their enumerated offenses include speaking to international journalists.

Prince Bandar’s pronouncement that he looks forward to welcoming the media also rings hollow given how the Kingdom has treated journalists who do not walk the government’s line.

Anyone who has read the news in the last year and a half knows the name Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist. Though he was not a lifelong dissident, during his journalistic career in Saudi Arabia he suffered consequences for doing things people in a country with a more free press may take for granted being able to do: publishing critiques of the government, and leading a news station that was taken off the air for interviewing an opposition leader.  He stated publicly that he exiled himself from the country in order to speak more freely about his concerns related to the government. In the final year of his life he wrote a column for the Washington Post; among its topics was the tight control Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman maintained over the media.  He walked into the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018 to get papers he needed for his upcoming marriage.  Khashoggi never walked out of that embassy.

Upon investigation Agnes Callamard, acting as the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary killings, concluded that Khashoggi’s killing was an extrajudicial killing for which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible.  As outlined in a report released on June 19, 2019 Callamard found, among a long list of concerning circumstances around his death, significant deficiencies in both the investigation of Khashoggi’s death and the trial of 11 people accused of carrying out his killing.  Wrote Callamard, “The trial is held behind closed doors; the identity of those charged has not been released nor is the identity of those facing the death penalty. At the time of writing, at least one of those identified as responsible for the planning and organizing of the execution of Mr. Khashoggi has not been charged.”

One journalist being the target of government repression is one too many, but Jamal Khashoggi is not the only one.  Saudi Arabia is aware that its detention of journalists tarnishes its reputation on the world stage, to the extent that it allowed a delegation from international press freedom organization Reporters without Borders to meet with government ministers in July 2019.  The ministers expressed dissatisfaction that the organization ranked Saudi Arabia so low on its press freedom index, but made no commitment to release 30 journalists that the organization alleged were detained.  In its 2019 survey, the Committee to Protect Journalists stated that at least 26 journalists were held in captivity, including 18 for whom the charges had not been disclosed.

At its heart, this is why horse racing needs to be concerned. Anyone who follows the sport will have to acknowledge the Saudi Cup is happening, since the best horses in the world are racing there and the results will impact the season going forward.  But, we also need to think critically about what the event asks us to accept.

A spectacle of the best horses in the world running for the biggest purse in the world asks us to buy into it as part of Vision 2030’s narrative of Saudi Arabia becoming more open and inviting the world’s attention.  Evidence suggests that this spotlight on major sporting events casts a shadow over continued repression of critical speech from both activists and journalists. Prince Bandar’s invitation last August for the world to watch, attend, and cover the Saudi Cup can only be understood in the broader context of what the Saudi government allows people to see, discuss, and state publicly.

It’s time to take off the blinkers.

what is it going to take?

i had more hope on March 9, 2020 than i have any day since.

it was one of the last days before the pandemic went from feeling like a faraway threat to something serious enough to keep this away-from-homebody locked up for days, weeks, months on end. life felt normal still, in that sense. i got up, did a CANTER visit on the backside of Hawthorne, then met up with a friend for a few hours before he left town. and then i finally had a few minutes to find a table in a coffeeshop downtown, plug in my laptop, and sit with the news from that morning, the sheaf of indictments against Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro and 25 others connected to drugging racehorses.

as disgusted as i was, i was glad there was more out in the open to sort through. i was glad there was something right in front of our faces, in black and white, stained with the red of blood and anger. if anything was going to bring us to a point of cleaning up house, it had to be this.

of course, i didn’t expect anything to change overnight. i’ve been to law school, and i know how slowly judicial wheels turn. but there were improvements. horses were moved out of the Servis barn, out of the Navarro barn. they continued their careers elsewhere and found their levels. some, like Firenze Fire, remained stakes horses. others dropped down the class ladder. they were running where they were supposed to run, not where they had been concocted to run, and it was a relief.

next month will mark two years since those indictments have dropped. there have been guilty pleas from several of the people implicated in the March 2020 indictments, including Jorge Navarro, who admitted in a hearing last year that he had given PEDs to War Story, Shancelot, Sharp Azteca, Nanoosh. he admitted giving them to X Y Jet, who had dropped dead in his barn two months before the indictments came out. the indictments and his admission gave harrowing shape to the suspicions so many had, the suspicions that made Navarro’s statement after X Y Jet’s death so disquieting, a public lamentation of a death he so likely hastened.

and yet, not enough has happened. not all of those cases have been resolved, not everything yet brought to light. in the meantime we’ve had another moment that felt, just as the indictments did, that it would be a watershed moment: Medina Spirit’s positive test for betamethasone after the Kentucky Derby. over nine months after that Derby, it has yet to be resolved. Medina Spirit is still the winner*. Bob Baffert cannot earn Kentucky Derby points or run at Churchill Downs, after both Medina Spirit’s positive and Gamine’s disqualification from a third in the Kentucky Oaks in 2020. but, it’s an inconsistent reaction: some places welcome him, others do not.

it’s not just the Grade 1 fixtures, either. Just this week Juan Vazquez — who already lost stud book privileges in 2017 due to his history of violations — got another monthlong suspension from racing after a pair of levamisole positives from last last year. Just this week Marcus Vitali — who has had years of drug positives and suspensions — was suspended for a year after a meth positive in Pennsylvania. the Vitali situation is especially illustrative of my current frustration. He has had a disturbing history of violations in state after state after state, and even showed up in my backyard of Hawthorne in the fall of 2020 as part of his quest to find tracks who will let him run. some states and tracks say no. others still say yes, and he even has two horses entered at Turf Paradise next week.

how many weeks have we had like this between March 2020 and now?

i keep telling myself things take time, but how much time is it going to take?

horses are bred to run. but, they have no say about what goes into their bodies before the race. they can’t tell someone “no” if they’re being given something to mask pain for an upcoming race day, or something that theoretically supercharges their circulatory system, which who-knows-what side effects. they have no choice but to trust the people who are charged to care for them. by getting involved in horse racing we’re taking on a responsibility for these horses, and winning cannot come at the cost of their health. regulations and prohibitions around drugs in racing is a question of fairness, but it’s also a question of protecting the horses who are our sport.

about two years ago, i had so much hope that the New York indictments would galvanize horse racing around this idea. i hoped it would enhance scrutiny, strengthen the resolve of states and tracks alike to investigate and take action against people who are breaking the rules, and become the beginning of a unified front to tell repeat offenders that enough is enough.

now? i’m afraid that if what has happened in the last two years hasn’t been enough to tie the sport together in a concerted effort to do better, nothing will be. i’m grateful for the tracks and the states that are being more strict. but, it’s not everywhere. and as much as it hurts me to admit that this is affecting my love of the sport? it is. how much more has to happen? what else is it going to take?

i don’t know. but i do know that i have less hope now than i have since i became a horse racing fan.

an incantation of the present

Horse racing is a game with a past, and it’s a game obsessed with its past. People, myself included, love a story about the good old days. Jim O’Donnell’s recent column in the Daily Herald imagines the racetrack, after Saturday’s sunset, coming alive with the past. It’s a fun thing to imagine, something far different than the most likely reality of my upcoming Saturday night, which is likely to feature one too many tear-diluted beers at Jimmy D’s as all of us who venture across the street swap stories of our own pasts, and of the uncertain future.

But, my story at the racetrack began after much of that glorious past ended. I’ve met a few of the people and horses O’Donnell mentions: Roger Brueggemann, The Pizza Man, Marty Nixon, Eddie Perez. Almost all of what people talk about when they talk about Arlington happened before my time, though.

By the time I started coming around, in the summer of 2013, racing in Illinois was already on shaky ground. Calls for a gaming bill had been falling on deaf ears for a decade and a half, perhaps even longer, and the sun was about to set on the casino impact fee. As much as I wanted to tune it out, I couldn’t completely shut my ears to the thrumming underneath, that Arlington’s final days were coming some year.

Yet, I kept showing up. The history was nice, and I tried to learn as much of that as possible. But, history wasn’t going to be what kept me coming.

I still saw something glorious in the present. Something was enough to capture my eyes and imagination, enough to keep me coming back, enough to not only convince me to spend so much of my free time thinking about horse racing, but to finally turn my back on a “respectable” career in computer security and instead become a professional racetrack denizen.

There’s Frostbite Falls. He caught my eye more than any of the horses who ran in the Arlington Million later in the afternoon when I fell in love with horse racing. He didn’t win his race, but the compact, nearly-black son of City Place won my heart…and some different races along the way.

There’s the Illinois-bred class born in 2011, now ten years old, to whom I still owe a far more detailed love letter than I can write tonight. They were two-year-olds in the summer and fall of 2013, just getting their racing careers started as I began to figure out the game as well. Iker’s big white blaze kept crossing the wire second, assuming he kept his jockey; he figured it out by the end of his two-year-old year, kept trying, and was at his best ever at age eight. Sweep E Prado pranced around the paddock before the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity, a big grey with a pink nose, seven words that could describe his sire as well: Illinois legend Fort Prado, who I fell in love with through his babies. Try Arguing Harder’s name spoke to me, as a recovering lawyer; I never got to see him win in person, as he only seemed to hit the wire first when he shipped out of town. Swarm, Sea Treaty, Purely Given, Flashdance Road, a million names that take me back to my early days as a railbird.

There are so many more through the next eight years, as present slowly became history.

Saint Leon, who only got better as the years passed.

Puntsville, the striking grey who won my heart and so many races..

Dani Nikki and Nikaluk, whose battles were the stuff of legend.

Super Nova, the first Three Hour Nap debut winner who bore the weight of my confidence, and carried it first across the wire.

Hapman, who didn’t need a rider to get his morning exercise in.

He’s a Council, who almost killed me.

Le Dimanche, who I mourn every time I gaze down the Arlington stretch.

Goneghost, once an awkward three-year-old with stringhalt, who grew into a swift grey streak.

Dabo, who swallowed the stretch like it was nothing at all.

Gramercy, who rediscovered her home at seven furlongs on the Arlington main.

Purr Sea, so happy to relax with her head on my shoulder.

This weekend, as Arlington races three more days before a future somewhere between uncertainty and oblivion, many people’s incantations will sound like Equipoise, Secretariat, even The Pizza Man. Mine will sound like these, and like a hundred more who will break from the folds in my brain and race through my mind over the next three days and beyond. Their names define my eight years and counting at the racetracks in Chicago, and they are the horses who remind me that Chicago racing does not just have a past, but also a present.

Chicago Race of the Day: An Announcement

Episode 269 of Chicago Race of the Day is short, because it’s not a normal episode.

We do look back at the race we discussed on Thursday, and I mention a horse from that maiden race that you’ll want to watch going forward.

But then, I’m sorry to announce that the show is going on hiatus.

To all of you who have listened to the show at all over the last twenty-eight months? Thank you. The show would not be here without you and without your enthusiasm for Chicago racing.

Chicago Race of the Day: Thursday, September 16

Chicago Race of the Day: Saturday, September 11

The babies are back in action Saturday at Arlington!

In Episode 268 of Chicago Race of the Day, we dive into the Arlington 6th. It’s a baby race, six furlongs on the polytrack, that drew a full field of ten. That field features eight first-time starters, so there’s a lot of pedigree to think about.

So, let’s not delay!

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here. And, make sure to subscribe on either Google PlayApple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or through the RSS feed so you don’t miss an episode!

Chicago Race of the Day: Saturday, September 11

Chicago Race of the Day: Friday, September 10

Chicago Race of the Day loves two-year-olds, and for Episode 267, we dive into a turf mile maiden special weight for juvenile fillies! The race features mostly first-time starters — five of the nine! — though one of the experienced ones is a horse I’ve had a circle around for a while for a race exactly like this.

So, let’s dive in!

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here. And, make sure to subscribe on either Google PlayApple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or through the RSS feed so you don’t miss an episode!

Chicago Race of the Day: Friday, September 10

Chicago Race of the Day: Thursday, September 9

The weather is beautiful this week, so let’s stay on the lawn! Thursday’s third race at Arlington is an allowance optional claiming race for fillies and mares, going five furlongs on the turf. There are a couple of runners taking an interesting class drop, which we talk about, and then we sketch out how the race is going to set up.

Let’s dive in!

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here. And, make sure to subscribe on either Google PlayApple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or through the RSS feed so you don’t miss an episode!

Chicago Race of the Day: Thursday, September 9

Chicago Race of the Day: Sunday, September 5

For Episode 265 of Chicago Race of the Day, let’s dive into the sixth race: an open maiden special weight turf dash. Though the field lacks first-time starters, it also doesn’t have any career maidens, either. It’s an interesting and competitive group for this level, and looks to be a spot where the pace can make the race.

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here. And, make sure to subscribe on either Google PlayApple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or through the RSS feed so you don’t miss an episode!

Chicago Race of the Day: Sunday, September 5

Chicago Race of the Day: Saturday, September 4

For the last episode we looked at the two-year-olds, so for Episode 264 of Chicago Race of the Day, we look at a salty starter race with several of my local favourites. Let’s dive into the first race on Saturday, September 4 at Arlington. If the race holds together there’s a longshot who looks interesting…and even if he scratches for another spot, there’s no reason to take the favorite here.

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here. And, make sure to subscribe on either Google PlayApple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or through the RSS feed so you don’t miss an episode!

Chicago Race of the Day: Saturday, September 4

Chicago Race of the Day: Saturday, August 28

You know Chicago Race of the Day loves two-year-old races. Saturday is the best day of two-year-old racing all season at Arlington, with a pair of juvenile stakes races, the Arlington-Washington Lassie and the Arlington-Washington Futurity.

Episode 263 delves into a competitive, eleven-horse edition of the Arlington-Washington Lassie featuring a mix of impressive winners, improving maidens, and even a pair of first-time starters from a barn who has done interesting things with a two-year-old firster in this particular spot.

Who can win the Lassie? Who are the interesting price horses? Let’s find out!

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here. And, make sure to subscribe on either Google PlayApple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or through the RSS feed so you don’t miss an episode!

Chicago Race of the Day: Saturday, August 28

Chicago Race of the Day: Friday, August 27

For Episode 262 of Chicago Race of the Day, let’s return to the maiden ranks, but for older horses this time! It’s a seven-furlong maiden special weight on the main track for fillies aged three and up. Nine horses entered, including one first-time starter and many who are trying either seven furlongs, polytrack, or both for the first time.

I discuss form and pedigree, including one of my favorite sire angles, so let’s dive in!

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here. And, make sure to subscribe on either Google PlayApple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or through the RSS feed so you don’t miss an episode!

Chicago Race of the Day: Friday, August 27

Chicago Race of the Day: Thursday, August 26

There’s a race I’ve been hoping to see for most of the meet, and it’s finally here: Thursday’s Arlington 8th is a top-shelf allowance going the one-turn mile on polytrack. There’s a horse who I’ve had marked in my head for a race like this, and not only did the race go, but the horse I hoped to see in such a race has entered.

In Episode 261 of Chicago Race of the Day, let’s take a look!

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here. And, make sure to subscribe on either Google PlayApple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or through the RSS feed so you don’t miss an episode!

Chicago Race of the Day: Thursday, August 26

Chicago Race of the Day: Wednesday, August 25

Episode 260 of Chicago Race of the Day returns to two-year-olds. In this main-track sprint, carded as Wednesday’s 2nd, we get to zoom in on one of those fundamentally Illinois angles. He’s a sire whose babies I virtually always take a shot with first-time out, especially when they come out for a particular barn.

Find out that angle, and learn about the best sire in the state, in today’s Chicago Race of the Day!

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here. And, make sure to subscribe on either Google PlayApple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or through the RSS feed so you don’t miss an episode!

Chicago Race of the Day: Wednesday, August 25

Chicago Race of the Day: Saturday, August 21

Episode 259 of Chicago Race of the Day returns to the ranks of more experienced horses, with an allowance optional claiming sprint! One of the neatest local horses of last year is back for his first start since last December, and I’m excited to see him back. So, that’s a great reason to talk about his race…and scratch our heads over some scratch scenarios, as it turns out.

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here. And, make sure to subscribe on either Google PlayApple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or through the RSS feed so you don’t miss an episode!

Chicago Race of the Day: Saturday, August 21