This Friday’s card at Hawthorne has been drawn. All eyes will be on the first five races: no one hit the Pick 5 on either of the first two days of the meet, so there’s a two-day carryover of over $30,000. Over at Picks and Ponderings, I take a look at the sequence.
Hawthorne made it a tough sequence: three maiden races, laden with lightly-raced horses, and a pair of salty and competitive claimers. There are live price horses through the sequence, and anyone who hits should be nicely rewarded.
Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Friday’s Pick 5 sequence, and good luck when you play!
I voted in the Illinois Champions poll last week…but, the more I thought about it, the more I think Illinois lacks an important category.
Over at Picks and Ponderings, I discuss which category our state is missing, and what could close the gap.
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!
This week, I had the honour to cast my ballot in the ITBOF’s poll, to determine 2016’s champion Illinois-bred racehorses.
You can see my ballot on Twitter. And, over at Picks and Ponderings, I explain in detail why I voted the way I did.
Some divisions were easy. Others, less so. But, no matter what, I gave the horses the deliberation they deserved and enjoyed reliving the best performances by Illinois-bred racehorses through last year.
The roads to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks continue this weekend. Over at Picks and Ponderings, I take a look at a pair of Grade 2 sophomore preps in Florida, the Fountain of Youth and the Davona Dale.
The Fountain of Youth features Irish War Cry, a promising son of Curlin (and currently at the top of my Derby Top Ten), against ten foes. As often happens in Florida this time of year, the road won’t be easy. His foes include Practical Joke, Gunnevera, and Made You Look (going first-time dirt).
In the Davona Dale, a full field of fourteen will compete for Kentucky Oaks points. That field includes proven graded stakes winners including Pretty City Dancer and Miss Sky Warrior, as well as many others who are trying to carve out a place on the Oaks trail.
Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Fountain of Youth and the Davona Dale, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
For lovers of Chicago racing, tonight is like Christmas Eve…after all, Hawthorne starts again tomorrow!
And, over at the TwinSpires blog, I preview the Hawthorne spring meet. I analysed the last few spring meets at Hawthorne, and take a look at some of the angles that emerged.
So, read my introduction to handicapping Hawthorne, pick some horses for opening weekend, and I’ll see you at the track!
The Davona Dale Stakes is coming up this Saturday. Just like last year, and the year before…it makes me sad.
Heading into the serious prep season in 2014, I had two horses in particular who I kept picking against, and who kept making me look like a fool. Out west, I had California Chrome. In the three years between then and now, we all got to know California Chrome well. He got the chance to write his story, a story which will see his name enshrined in the Hall of Fame in five years’ time.
Out east, I had Onlyforyou.
On March 26, 2014, I was a horse racing neophyte. Having followed the sport closely for less than a year by that point, I had far more enthusiasm than knowledge or sense. (One could say that is still the case, though hopefully the gap has narrowed over the last few years.)
That enthusiasm led me to volunteer to do Jim Vs. — once a week, a fan would go on the pre-race show with Jim Miller, discuss their picks, and have a friendly little handicapping competition. I knew I had jumped in over my head, but I’ve always liked public speaking…so I could do my homework, deliver my picks with confidence, and hope for the best.
The opener proved the perfect metaphor for the day: Jim beat me as soundly as Divine Delivery beat Sgt. Green in the day’s first race. In that race, a $17,500 maiden claimer, he sided with 4/5 favourite Divine Delivery. I took my shot with second betting choice Sgt. Green…who finished second, beaten 18 1/2 lengths. That’s how most of my day went: I kept looking for cute ways to beat the chalk, and I kept falling short.
In one race, however, I took an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude toward the favourite.
Tonight was ChicagoNow’s Blogapalooz-Hour: everyone at ChicagoNow gets a topic, and we have an hour to write to that topic and publish a post. Tonight’s topic?
“Write about a book or publication that is special to you or has had a big impact on your life.”
One piece came to mind. As much as I wanted to write about…anything else, anything less catastrophic, anything less sad, I couldn’t do it. The piece of horse racing writing that comes to my mind more than any other is not a happy one, but this topic compelled me to write about it.
This weekend, the Derby Trail and the Oaks Trail revisit the Big Easy, just in time for Mardi Gras!
The stakes are higher this weekend, with 50 points (instead of 10) now going to the winners. And, for the Derby-bound, that brought out the cavalcade: fourteen three-year-old males will line up to contest the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes. The Rachel Alexandra (G2) drew a field of just seven, but those seven include the top two sophomore fillies on the grounds, Valadorna and Farrell.
Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s three-year-old preps at Fair Grounds, and let me know what you think in the comments!