Born in Oklahoma in 1946, Jim Edgar served two terms in the 1990s as Governor of Illinois. Governor Edgar is a rare species: an honest Illinois politician, as the Prairie State would then have two consecutive governors who each have faced criminal charges and prison sentences. He maintained and left office with favorable approval ratings.
Gov. Edgar served on the board of Youbet.com and has been an active campaigner for programs (such as alternative gaming) that better the health of racing in Illinois. He also has bred and raced horses in Illinois (although he has, unfortunately, sought richer purses in bordering states in recent years).
This week’s feature, the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity, is the male complement of last week’s race. Like the Whitworth, it’s a sneak peak at tomorrow’s state-bred stars. Like the Whitworth, it’s restricted to Illinois-Bred two-year-olds and carries a $125K purse. Let’s meet the field.
Hawthorne — Race 7 — 1 1/16 miles on dirt— Post time 5:10 CT
The 1-2-3-4 finishers from the Sun Power Stakes in November (the top two from rider-turned-trainer Carlos Silva) all return for a two turn journey on the south side oval. The trainer who won this race last year, Chris Block, brings in the half brother to former Illinois Horse of the Year Giant Oak, TALL GRASS CAT, who is our top pick. After the Sun Power, Block said that TALL GRASS CAT was "a two turn horse in a one turn race". Today we're going two turns, and I like that Block is wheeling him back. He won two back in a race with comically slow fractions at Arlington, but his even style and breeding suggest that the faster they go up front, the better his chances will be. The Silva-trained pair of LASSELL and SMOKIN GLOCK went 1-2 in the Sun Power on a drying out track, and the latter gets the edge in this spot. He had to come wider under rider Francisco Torres (who returns north to take a day's worth of mounts) and missed by a half length to the winner. Getting Torres back is one of two trump cards over the other half of the uncoupled entry, LASSELL. The pedigree on SMOKIN GLOCK is rich in turf routers and distance influences, suggesting he might like two turns as much as one. The aforementioned LASSELL, also trained by C. Silva won the Sun Power while pressing a moderately fast pace. Q. Hamilton gets the return call, and he cashed a fourth place check, beaten only a half-length, on a fast track two back in his other Hawthorne dirt appearance.
#4 TALL GRASS CAT (6/1)
#3 LASSELL (3/1)
#6 SMOKIN GLOCK (5/1)
Longshot: Those that watched Jim Versus on Thursday know the longshots in this space can and do hit for big bucks and no whammies (Passionately Sweet). Enough self promotion, on to a bomb you can use. The morning line quote seems high, but even at two-thirds of it (which seems more realistic from these eyes) you should nibble on #8 WICENTY (12/1). He graduated last time for the low (second from the bottom for Illinois-breds) price of $15,000 but that was the first time he was on dirt and going two turns. There was a dramatic improvement in the figures, the paternal line suggests dirt may be where he was best (and the public saw that and hammered him to 7-5 last out), and rider C. Emigh has quietly ridden well during Hawthorne Fall.