Between "Derby Dozen 2" and "Derby Dozen 3", there was nothing in the way of new posts. Nothing in the way of new Picks and Ponderings. Sure, there's been tweeting of live results from Hawthorne. But no long form ponderings, and certainly no picks either.
Such comments give you readers a blank check to fire off a nasty e-mail designed to destroy my computer or gather into an angry mob.
But before you do, I'd like to explain why I was laying low for the first half of March.
1. Quality of Hawthorne cards. Thanks to an old-school winter (that is, featuring cold and wind and snow) and the after-effects of the EHV-1 quarantine from last fall, horses that had a chance to ship out of town now have the chance to. That means the local population is less diverse and less deep than last year. Consider that Hawthorne, which normally can fill nine-race cards, has to use an eight-race card on Sunday March 17. Consider Hawthorne also adding "Diet N1X" allowance races, where horses that won a maiden claiming race for a price not exceeding $25,000 can get another start in. An example is the seventh race on the Sunday March 17 card, and it utilizes a starter allowance condition. Field size also has been down as well. Taken all together, the action hasn't been that promising at 35th/Laramie.
2. Freeze and Thaw. Look at your sidewalk or driveway. Ever notice how the snow doesn't melt evenly and leaves a pile here and a pile there? Hawthorne can be a bit quirky during freeze/thaw cycles. On some days, it's a cold weather carousel where you've got to be close to the pace to have any chance. On other days, closers and stalkers can have a field day. Granted, there is maintenance and an attempt at consistency with the track. But sometimes only so much can be done. That said, I'd much rather have a consistent and fair surface to work with, so I'll pass.
3. Not Being a One Trick Pony. I wrote last year about making brackets and the similarities between bracketology and handicapping. Once again I may involve myself in another adventure of guessing which college basketball team is better.
Despite the silence, one horse that's made some noise during the early part of Hawthorne Spring is Magna Fortuna. Profiled on Christmas Eve before his first start, Magna Fortuna found two turns more to his liking in his most recent start on March 13, winning an Illinois-bred Maiden Special Weight by a wide margin. The next natural step for him is a first-level ("N1X") allowance race for Illinois-breds.
And with that, I hope you readers put down the pitchforks. The long-form ponderings and picks will return. The Thursday handicapping previews and Sunday stakes recaps will return in late-April for the final two weeks of the Hawthorne Spring meet, though possibly earlier. Twitter will still be providing up-to-the-minute ponderings, too. In this space, we were laying low.