STICKNEY/CICERO - - For handicappers to decode the most recent Saturday feature, they need only find out who won the prior two grass stakes at Hawthorne. (It's an easy game, as they say.) Just as in the G3 Hawthorne Derby and the R. F. Carey Memorial Handicap--the two earlier turf stakes of the meet-- Francisco Torres piloted the winner. And once again, Francisco Torres piloted the winner in this grass event, the $100,000 Illini Princess Handicap at Hawthorne for older fillies and mares. He won on KATIE THE LADY, guiding her a victory by a length and a quarter on a cool, breezy late October afternoon.
KATIE THE LADY would break alertly in the 1 1/16 mile turf event, with strong 6-5 favorite LA TIA in close attendance on the outside as the pair were 1-2 through an opening quarter in :24.11 and an opening half in :47.93. Torres craftily had taken LA TIA off her game, forcing the need-to-lead LA TIA to fight with and pass horses. With three-quarters clocked in 1:11.11 and KATIE THE LADY squarely in her comfort zone, KATIE THE LADY pulled away to maintained her margin to record a victory by a length a quarter over GOLDWAY, who angled to the inside and was saving ground on the paint throughout. LA TIA checked in a half-length behind GOLDWAY, who reported home third. KEPI completed the superfecta, another length and a quarter behind the top three.
Final time on a firm turf course was 1:42.56, with the aforementioned Francisco Torres aboard the gate-to-wire victor for trainer Michelle Boyce. Sent off at nearly 7-1 odds, she rewarded her backers to the tune of $15.80 win mutuels.
Winning trainer Michelle Boyce was surprised at the win, sensing trepidation as "I was dubious of running; we didn't have the speed [to go with LA TIA] and it was a concern." Discarding the last race, the Indian Maid on a drenched and sloppy dirt, she instructed Torres to "see what happens when the gate opens." Boyce was non-committal to long-term plans for the seven-year-old Illinois-bred mare by Lost Solider. She plans "to let her [KATIE THE LADY] decide" if she comes back for another go-round next year as an eight-year-old. What is certain, according to Boyce, is that the Illini Princess Handicap is the last start of 2013. She also won't ship south for the winter, Boyce remarked in a post-race interview to "Picks and Ponderings".
The $1 exacta of 5-3 KATIE THE LADY and GOLDWAY returned $38.10. The fifty-cent 5-3-4 trifecta of KATIE THE LADY, GOLDWAY, and LA TIA yielded $55.20. Dime 5-3-4-8 superfectas with KEPI in the fourth position paid $24.88.
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