Typically, the late winter cards at Hawthorne usually feature cheaper horses. $5,000 claimers seem to be the order of the day, with a maiden special weight or low-level allowance peppered in.
But this Saturday, despite the calendar, features an allowance race that could double as a $50,000 unrestricted stake or a state-bred stake for three times the race's $38,000 purse. It may not have a fancy name, but we'll give it one. It's "Almost A Stakes", missing only the name of some horse or figurehead to be honored. On paper, it's an allowance race, but it's the highest level of allowance race on the grounds.
It's not a stakes, but it's darn close.
While the race doesn't carry any conditions (hence the "NC", the code for "no conditions" that will appear in past performances and chart), it lures a field of eight older males (six betting interests, two entries).
Hawthorne Race Course -- Race 5 -- "NC" Allowance -- Six Furlongs on Dirt -- post time 4:10 PM CT
Despite it being a sprint race, there doesn't appear to be a ton of horses that want the early lead. Maybe NAGYS PIGGY BANK can shake free and steal this race. Two back he was second in the Powerless (to SIGNSEALNDELIVER) and three back he won a $50K stakes for Illinois-breds (though going two turns) at Fairmount. Rider C. Emigh has been doing well all meet, and he's two for two in the top two in Hawthorne sprints. RIVER BEAR truly hasn't run a bad race asll year. The third at the start of the year at Oaklawn was against a deep field (Hamazing Destiny later won a G3), he doesn't show his best races on the Arlington polytrack, and tossed in a clunker last time in the Lightning Jet when stuck on the rail. That rail-placed clunker isn't so bad when outside paths where the way to go. Certainly stakes-quality, as he won the Molaro over this course in the Spring meet. RIVER BEAR may have won the Molaro, but the recent Illinois-bred stakes winner, SIGNSEALNDELIVER, sees the starter here. Won the Lightning Jet last time out after trainer Brueggemann put him away for the summer. He goes second off the shelf in this dash, and retains the resurgent F. Geroux in the irons.
#2 NAGYS PIGGY BANK (5/2) (part of entry)
#6 RIVER BEAR (3/1)
#1A SIGNSEALNDELIVER (3/1) (part of entry)
Longshot: BANNER BILL might need one and will get overbet off being the defending two-year-old Illinois champion male. CHEROKEE LORD needs two turns and softer company. By process of elimination, we go with #5 FRANCOIS (9/2). And it's not that much of a reach, even you could have claimed FRANCOIS in the early part of the Arlington meet for $7,500. All he's done since that claim is run out of allowance conditions, win a one-turn polytrack mile stakes on Arlington Million Day, and nearly chase home G3 type Mister Mardi Gras two back. He'll need to be engaged quicker in the race--or get some pace help--but he's capable and least he'll offer a square price.