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 has been an active campaigner for programs (such as alternative gaming) that better the health of thoroughbred horse racing in Illinois. He also has bred and campaigned horses in Illinois and you'll see his name appear in the program occassionally at Arlington and Hawthorne. (And, in a sign of the recent times, you'll see it appear in the programs in tracks located in bordering states).
This week’s feature, the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity, is the male complement of last week’s race. Like the Whitworth, it's for two-year-olds bred in Illinois going a two-turn mile and a sixteenth. 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. The race is set to highlight the December 14 program, weather permitting.
Hawthorne Race Course - - Race 7 - - Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity - - 1 1/16 miles on dirt - - post time 4:14 pm CT
Florent Geroux left mid-meet at Hawthorne to try his luck in New Orleans at the Fair Grounds, yet returns at the south-side oval aboard our pick, SWEEP E PRADO. It's the first time going long for this son of Fort Prado, and as seen last week two turns is no issue. Geroux was aboard when he graduated at five and a half furlongs earlier in the meet coming off the pace on Breeders' Cup Saturday. Him aboard and at the West 35th oval speaks highly when Fair Grounds has its state-bred showcase day. Like the one-mile work on December 2nd. The closest thing to a money rider at the Hawthorne meet has been Francisco Torres, whose mounts have won 42% of the time and hit the top three two-thirds of the time. Torres climbs aboard SOLAR FLAIR, who was second last time in the Sun Power (winner RAMBLIN RICHIE is also in this field). DiVito is hitting at his usual one-out-of five winners and he does have two turn experience, trying grass in the G3 Bourbon against Poker Player, who goes in the G1 Cash Call Futurity. SOLAR FLAIR three back also won a fifty grand stakes at Fairmount. The sire side is solidly bred for going two turns. The Sun Power winner, RAMBLIN RICHIE, will try to go two turns for the first time in the Edgar. On paper the pedigree doesn't inspire confidence going long (nor did the trainer's post race comments). If the cold-weather track plays kindly to speed (it didn't last week but you never know), he'll have a committed speed rider that will know what to do on the front end. Trainer is quietly having a solid Hawthorne meet (24% wins, 54% money finishes).
#2 SWEEP E PRADO (8/1)
#5 SOLAR FLAIR (5/2)
#8 RAMBLING RICHIE (2/1)
Longshot: After being in a funk for most of the year at Arlington, trainer Chris Block has put together a solid Hawthorne Fall meet at 23% winners and sent out Mister Mardi Gras to surprisingly finish second in the G2 Hawthorne Gold Cup. In his last seven starts, he's had five horses crack the trifecta. Block's horse in the Edgar is 15-1 and while the quote might be high, double digits are a possibility. He's also wonderfully bred for two turns, being a full brother to double G1 winner Giant Oak. Say hello to #4 A STEP AHEAD (15/1), who wired a slow-paced maiden special weight last time and if the breeding holds up -- Giant Oak being one-paced -- this one could get pace to chase and mow them down in the lane.
Whether you're heading to the track or the not, you can take "Picks and Ponderings" with you anytime, anywhere. You can get Twitter updates (@heylaserbeam) for on-the-scene reports on major racedays at Hawthorne Race Course.
And you can get "Picks and Ponderings" in your e-mail by typing your email address in the box and clicking "Create Subscription." It's a FREE service, and you'll never get any unwanted spam.