The Graded Stakes calendar in Illinois starts with a Grade 3 Derby for three year olds at Hawthorne going a mile and an eighth. It also ends with a Grade 3 Derby for three year olds at Hawthorne going a mile and an eighth. Spring brings the Illinois Derby. Fall brings the Hawthorne Derby. Guess we've come full circle.
The Hawthorne Derby is the lone stakes set for Saturday at Hawthorne Race Course. Unlike the spring Derby on dirt for a half-million, the Hawthorne Derby has a pot of $200,000 and is on the grass. As a prep race, it could be used for the Hollywood Derby on Thanksgiving weekend in Southern California but it typically is a late-season way to run against three-year-olds before tackling elders next year.
The Hawthorne Derby used to be run on dirt (up until the mid 1980s) and was first called the Hawthorne Diamond Jubilee. The first Hawthorne Derby winner was Bold Bidder in 1965, who won the Hawthorne Gold Cup the following year. He's as much, if not more, known as the sire of Spectacular Bid. Last year's Hawthorne Derby winner Wilcox Inn was second in last week's G1 Shadwell Turf Mile. The runner-up, Suntracer, won last week's Carey Memorial.
Hawthorne Race Course -- Race 7 -- G3 Hawthorne Derby -- 1 1/8 miles on turf -- post time 5:40 pm CT
An overflow field will take to the weeds for $200,000 at 35th/Laramie.
He'll need a defection to make it into the field, but THE PIZZA MAN is the pick in a wide-open Hawthorne Derby with quite a few contenders. I liked his race against elders on Pucker Up Day at Arlington more than ALL STORMY. THE PIZZA MAN launched a nice closing run to nail Tazz on the line in the Tex's Zing, a state-bred sod stakes for $65K. Tazz, you might recall, was third in last week's Carey Memorial. His only foray into graded company was back in the summer in the American Derby, but that race had no pace and that race was a bridge too far. Leading owners from Hawthorne Spring and Arlington bring you this one. The Dilschneider-Claiborne/Stall owner/trainer team are back on the south side with LEA. They brought Cease in to be second in last week's Gold Cup, and bring this sophomore. He won with a first-level allowance at Saratoga in a zippy clock time at today's distance. Don't like the fact he went wire -to-wire on an inner course that sometimes plays to the forwardly placed types (of which he's one). Do like the well meaning connections, and Rosie Napravnik gives up quality Keeneland mounts to ride. CONTROL TOWER could have been yours for $25,000 three starts back across town at Arlington. He's won by multiple lengths in each of his three starts at Arlington--an N2L claimer, an N3L claimer, and a first-level allowance. Miguel Mena (who won on Pool Play in last week's Gold Cup) takes the mount for Catalano, the same team that cleaned up in the second half of Arlington.
#13 (AE) THE PIZZA MAN (6/1)
#10 LEA (6/1)
#8 CONTROL TOWER (8/1)
Longshot: The dolt above picked out three horses eligible for N2X allowances. Well, if you're going to do that, pick one that at least ran in some stakes. #7 ALDOUS SNOW (12/1) ships south from Woodbine, and was second in two stakes, the $500K Breeders for Canadian-breds (where the winner was 5th in a soft G1) and in a $125K listed stakes. What makes this one likable is five money finishes in six turf starts, and a closing kick that be set up from targets to run at (ALL STORMY, FILM SHOT).
This race will not be used in Hawthorne Showvivor, that will have its own post.
Even though this is the last graded stakes of the year in Illinois, "Picks and Ponderings" isn't going into hibernation. We'll be covering the Illinois-bred action at Hawthorne in the coming weeks and the Breeders' Cup. Look for a Countdown to the Breeders' Cup over on the right.