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.
This year, however, the six Illinois-bred races have been sprinkled among fall weekends, a stakes or two a weekend. The last of those is this weekend, the third Saturday of November. It's a double feature with two stakes on the Saturday card. The open stakes is the Lightning Jet, whereas the female-restricted complement is the Powerless. Both races races are at six furlongs on the Hawthorne dirt, and carry purses of $100,000.
At original publish time morning line odds were not available. Update, November 13: Lines were added.
Hawthorne Race Course -- Race 6 -- Lightning Jet Handicap. -- Six furlongs on dirt -- post time 4:40 pm CT
The race honors Lightning Jet, an Illinois-bred fixture in the late 1970s.
If not for a dirty nose on the wire loss four back in the Cammack Handicap at cross-town Arlington, the summer counterpart of this race, WORK ALL WEEK would be undefeated in sprint races in his career. After getting beat on the line, he rebounded to clear all his remaining allowance conditions and win a $50,000 stakes at Fairmount on the downstate oval's biggest day. WORK ALL WEEK is a one-way speedball as he's been in front from gate break to finish line in his wins. However, he's quick enough to get himself to the front first and stay. The odds will be low, but in this situation it's best to not get overly clever and cute. SWEET LUCA nailed WORK ALL WEEK on the line in the Cammack back in June. After that win, he was put into a tough N3X two back against Shared Property (a G3 winner) and Ghost Is Clear (a next out winner). Last time out he stretched out and tried grass in the Illinois Owners' Stakes at Arlington, losing to state-bred sod buzzsaw The Pizza Man. Scratched from the Buck's Boy two weeks ago when taken off the weeds, he returns to the Hawthorne dirt course he's done good work on: six starts, two wins, never out of the superfecta. He is a one-run closing type, and he's going to need someone to engage WORK ALL WEEK on the front end for his best. The Block barn has shown life at Hawthorne after being in a funk at Arlington. The Midwest/Brueggemann team that has WORK ALL WEEK brings in the defending champion as well, SIGNSEALNDELIVER. Not only did he win the Lightning Jet last year, but he also won the Spring version of this race, the Molaro, held at today's six furlong distance over the same Hawthorne strip. Two back he won a minor open stakes at Canterbury and last time out came from the parking lot to grab second behind WORK ALL WEEK in the Tex's Zing at Fairmount.
#8 WORK ALL WEEK (4/5)
#1 SWEET LUCA (5/1)
#3 SIGNSEALNDELIVER (9/2)
Longshot: #4 EMILE (15/1) was claimed from Wayne Catalano in the Arlington meet for $16,000, then aggressively moved up to higher claimers and even cleared the first-level allowance condition two back across town at Arlington. Last time he shipped to Charles Town and ran dismally in a rich $400K stakes. He drops back to state-breds, and did close to be second off a bad break earlier in the year in the Land of Lincoln in Spring. What makes him playable is pace: he could be the one who gets out quicker from an inside draw that's been favorable all meet, or if WORK ALL WEEK is compromised from the outside box.
Hawthorne Race Course -- Race 8 -- Powerless Handicap -- Six furlongs on dirt -- post time 5:40 pm CT
The race honors Powerless, a Kentucky-bred but Illinois-campaigned fixture in the late 1970s. She was the runner-up in the 1980 Sixty Sails Handicap.
Could Roger Brueggemann, and Midwest Thoroughbreds do what they did last year and sweep the Hawthorne Fall sprint stakes? It's quite possible, and they could do it (just like last year) with the same rider in both races. Francisco Torres has the call two races prior, here he gets a leg up on MISSJEANLOUISE, who won this event last year. Although there was a strong outer path bias that day in 2012, she did well from just off the pace. Here in this event, she's likely to be in a similar position. Someone in this group will have to dictate the pace (KEL'S DREAMER? WIN'EM ALL?), but look for Torres to put this mare in the proper position. Torres won all three grass stakes this Hawthorne meet, one for these same connections. Ten of eleven in the money over this course. Second, post-disqualification, last time downstate in a $50K stakes. While MISSJEANLOUISE has done excellent work over this course, so has WILD HOPE. She's fourteen of sixteen hitting the board at Hawthorne and though she's not running in the third-level allowances/optional $80K claimers anymore, she's doing just fine in the $40K claiming gang. A closing type, she chased G2-placed Eden Prairie three back at Arlington, won two back over today's course and distance, and last time lost to a horse that has a similar Hawthorne affinity in an upper tier "NC" allowance. If all the pressers become leaders, this one may pass them all by at the end. Perhaps the "now" horse of the bunch is Fairmount-based WIN'EM ALL. She won, via disqualification, the $50K Lady Riss over MISSJEANLOUISE last time out on the big downstate day of Illinois-bred stakes. Prior to that, she cleared the allowance conditions (though at low purses) down at Fairmount. She's won five times in her life, but four have been at Fairmount and there's an obvious chasm between Fairmount and the upstate Hawthorne/Arlington circuit. But she does have a win in an Illinois-bred first-level allowance at Hawthorne and another second, proving that dirt is her thing, and that's likely why she wasn't around at Arlington. (Also helps when you can be a "house horse" at Fairmount.) Like our top pick she's likely to be near the pace, but rider Rafael Hernandez was aboard this horse downstate and he's been racking up wins upstate as well (riding for Midwest).
#4 MISSJEANLOUISE (2/1)
#7 WILD HOPE (3/1)
#5 WIN'EM ALL (4/1)
Longshot: One more time with feeling on #2 FIRE TRICKS (10/1), who (like WILD HOPE) will get her chance to fire if all the pressers turn to dueling leaders. FIRE TRICKS may zero-for-eight over the Hawthorne dirt, but she does have two seconds and four thirds. FIRE TRICKS is a rally-wide closer and she was victimized by an Arlington polytrack where being inside and forwardly placed were the trump cards. Even then, she still earned a win and a third to Goldway, runner-up in the Illini Princess. The jockey/trainer team connected in the off-turf sloppy Indian Maid at well over 20-1 earlier in the Hawthorne meet.
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