What started in Maryland with the Maryland Million--a whole day of races devoted to the home state's breeding program--was for quite a few years present in Illinois three times a year: the Illinois Champions Day during Hawthorne Spring, the Prairie State Festival Day at Arlington in June, and the Illinois Festival of Racing in Hawthorne's Fall meet. The latter event, with a six-pack of six-figure stakes, served as a nice tune up to the two day Breeders' Cup program in that it was a collection of stakes together.
This year, however, the six Illinois-bred races have been divided among three weekends, two stakes a piece. Our first of three weekends features the older sprinters. The open stakes is the Lightning Jet, whereas the female-restricted complement is the Powerless. Both races are handicaps, both races are at six furlongs on the Hawthorne dirt, and both carry purses of $125,000.
Hawthorne Race Course -- Race 7 -- Powerless H. -- Six furlongs on dirt -- post time 5:10 pm CT
The race honors Powerless, a Kentucky-bred but Illinois-campiagned fixture in the late 1970s. She was the runner-up in the 1980 Sixty Sails Handicap.
This race was set to be the farewell party for Third Chance, who won the Governor's Lady, Murphy, and Cammack this year and was set to start a second career as a broodmare with a commitment to City Zip. However she's in quarantine on the Hawthorne backstretch.
In her absence, the race opens up and the entry box swelled to have ten. MISSJEANLOUISE could have been yours at Churchill in late June for $40,000. The former Wayne Catalano trainee shifted to Roger Brueggemann, local first-call trainer for Midwest Thorougbreds. After the claim for $40K, she was put on the shelf and geared for Hawthorne, where she was second in the Governor's Lady (the spring iteration of this stakes) and eight of nine in the money. Trainer is 24% winners first off the claim. CAMPO JOTI won a $50K stakes for female sprinters at downstate Fairmount last out. Upstate, she ran okay in first-level allowances at Arlington (eligible due to the money condition, even though she cleared it at Fairmount this spring). Polytrack doesn't appear to be her thing, with only one win in nine tries. Dirt looks like it more, as she was second in a trip to Iowa. Cisco Torres accepts the return call. ALGONQUIN POSSE was second in the Murphy to Third Chance three back. Her only clunker this year was a spin on the Hawthorne grass during spring. Won two back and was second in the Lady Riss for fifty grand downstate (to CAMPO JOTI). Logical choice with three money finishes at 35th/Laramie in four starts and a trainer that's 25% second off the shelf. Team is four for ten during the Hawthorne meet.
#10 MISSJEANLOUISE (4/1)
#5 CAMPO JOTI (10/1)
#9 ALGONQUIN POSSE (7/2)
Longshot: #4 FIRE TRICKS (15/1) won three of five starts across town in the second half of their meet. Yes, the highest class level she won was a N1X, but she was in the same zipcode as stakes winners Dolly Peach (won the Pretty Jenny in the spring) and St. Louis City (won the Meafara at Arlington) in an upper-crust NC allowance. Not concerned that it's first time dirt, take a look at what at the grandsire and broodmare sire did on dirt.
Hawthorne Race Course -- Race 8 -- Lightning Jet H. -- Six furlongs on dirt -- post time 5:10 pm CT
The race honors Lightning Jet, an Illinois-bred fixture in the late 1970s. This race as well drew a large field, but while a state-bred sprint star does show (RIVER BEAR) this is the only Illinois-bred stakes race during Hawthorne Fall that is carded for the main track (there are two turf races next week, but they could be shifted to the dirt if the grass course is unsafe and/or the weather is foul). So another full field to work with.
On paper the race appears to be a two-horse between ST. MAXIMUS GATO, who had a wide trip and missed in a photo in an undercard race on West Virginia Derby Day and RIVER BEAR, winner of the Molaro Stakes (at today's conditions: six furlongs on Hawthorne dirt) during Hawthorne Spring. The former was won upper-tier allowances in places like Mountaineer and Hoosier, the latter has won $50K stakes in places like Turfway and Prairie Meadows. Let's give the edge to RIVER BEAR, who gets the home cooking (he's won over $400K over the local dirt) and the warmer rider (Tim Thornton has warmed up during the second and third week of Hawthorne meet). ST. MAXIMUS GATO will certainly give RIVER BEAR all he can handle. He was good enough to get a check in the Indiana Derby as a three-year-old behind Lookin At Lucky once upon a time. Behind the big two (a late pick four doubleton?) we'll take the leading owner/trainer/jockey team of the Hawthorne Spring meet, with a nice work pattern at Hawthorne and a switch back to Cisco Torres. CATFEINATED has the aforementioned connections, work pattern, and has five of his six career wins at Hawthorne. Was wide in the Molaro two back, but can get a slice if he turns back to what he showed during Hawthorne Spring.
#3 RIVER BEAR (7/2)
#8 ST. MAXIMUS GATO (3/1)
#7 CATFEINATED (12/1)
Longshot: There's not a lot of pace in this sprint stakes, something you don't always find. The speed of the speed sits at the rail in #1 ROARIN MISSILE (15/1), who scratched out of the Cammack Stakes at Arlington after finishing second in an N2X allowance. Three back on a speed-favoring drying-out polytrack in the White Oak, he nearly stole that stakes on the front end and nearly missed by a half length. In a race with a lot of closing sprinters and distance types forced to shorten up, perhaps he can steal it. Trainer is 18% wins going from synthetic to dirt.