Monday is opening day at Santa Anita, and we published a graded stakes preview for The Great Race Place earlier this weekend. However, December 26 also features horse racing in our own back yards. Hawthorne hosts a full eight-race card, kicking off at
This post features my ABCX chart for each race, grouping each horse by how likely they are to win.
Below the chart are comments on each of the horses in each race. The horse in bold for each race is the top selection. If a horse is particularly live for underneath in an exacta or trifecta but not a win candidate, I note that in the comments.
Monday, December 26: Hawthorne Race Course
Race 1: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 12:55pm CST
- FUNNY BUNNY (2) stands out here. She will be forwardly placed, but does not need the lead. She broke her maiden two starts back, and acquitted herself well in her first try against N2L company.
- MELE KALIKI MAKA (5) runs for the first time since bolting in April. Both of her sprint tries have been decent, though. The spotty worktab keeps her out of the “A” rung.
- TASTE OF RAJ (3) has back form going six and a half furlongs on dry dirt at Fairmount this summer. Whether she can bring her form north is a question, but she does come third off the lay, and rider Jim Bielby returns here instead of to MELE KALIKI MAKA.
- PROUD PICK (1) has missed the board in all seven tries at the distance, her trainer has not hit the board in eight starts this meet, and she is on the slow side for these.
- PRIME (4) has a win over the course and distance over a year ago, but she has failed to bring her form north from Fairmount this year.
- CAUSEMOMMASAIDSO (6) is winless in 13 tries at the distance, and her 1-45 career line inspires no confidence on top.
Race 2: $15,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 1:25pm CST
- MARY JEAN’S WILDCAT (5) had a troubled start last out, and still missed by just half a length against similar. She is the fastest horse here, and even showed early speed once.
- PLAYS IN PEORIA (2) took a step forward last out, going this same distance at the same level. Her dam graduated at two. And, rider Uriel Lopez has gotten hot.
- HARANSTOWN (6) has ten starts under her belt, but took a step forward last out over the same course and trip. The only two times she has hit the board have been her only two tries going six panels on the Hawthorne main.
- RAINYINBETWEEN (1) adds Lasix for the first time for connections who have found their stride as of late, trainer Mike Campbell and rider Rafael Hernandez.
- PRADA STORM (3) is a first-time starter for a trainer and jockey who do not typically do well with first-timers, and the worktab is slow. Wait and see.
- B N A NATIVE GIRL (4) was distanced in his only try on dirt, and has not raced since August. With the spotty worktab, she probably needs at least one.
Race 3: $17,500 maiden claiming, two-year-olds, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 1:55pm CST
- PI SAIL (3) comes from the barn of Larry Rivelli, strong with first-time routers. As his dam has produced two route winners, the stretch may suit this son of Algorithms.
- LEE’S LUCK (4) has speed in a race without much of it. He drops to this level for the first time, and his speeds are in range with what his foes here have shown.
- INVICTOR (5) was third two back over this same course and distance, rallying into a slow pace versus weaker. He gets a change to trainer Jim DiVito, strong with two-year-olds and maiden claimers.
- DR. LIECHTY (1) gets Rafael Hernandez in the irons for trainer Don Bentler. It is his first time trying two turns, and he has had early trouble in his last two starts. If he gets out the gate better, he could be near the lead and improve.
- TWO NEPHEWS (2) has excellent maiden connections but has shown little in his dirt tries. He does go blinkers on, but his family has little precocity, and his one better start was over grass.
- BREAK THE DEAL (6) drops to the lowest level yet, but nothing about his breeding suggests long on the dirt. He will likely prefer going short. He tries blinkers, but trainer Manny Perez rarely wins with first-time blinkers.
Race 4: $25,000 maiden claiming, two-year-old fillies, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:25pm CST
- SUMMIE BABY (2) would be the first winner for her sire Well Positioned, but there is plenty of “win early” history with her dam. She makes her second career start, and goes blinkers-on for the first time for trainer Scott Becker, who wins 36% of the time with that move.
- SARAH’S MIND (3) takes a small step up in class, but improved last out going six furlongs for the first time. Diego Sanchez returns from that solid effort.
- MARNATE (6) has some early speed, but does not need to be up front. She showed in her last out – her first time on dirt – that she may be best rallying from off it.
- AWAY TO TOWN (5) has started once in maiden special weight company, and drops into a claimer here. Trainer Dennis Hughes has been cold, but does have some success on that drop.
- MONEY ATTRACTION (1) has shown nothing in seven starts. He gets a barn change to Manny Perez, but he only wins at 4% with horses first-time in the barn.
- NAME IT AFTER ME (4) is fast enough for these, but keeps finding ways to lose. Key him underneath in exotics, but stand against on top.
Race 5: $4,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races since June 26, claiming races for $3,200 or less not considered in eligibility, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:55pm CST
This is the murkiest race of the day. Though BUDDONS and STANLEY’S FRIEND make the most sense of any of the field…if you’re a bigger-ticket player looking for somewhere to hit an ALL button, this race is it.
- BUDDONS (6) makes more sense than anyone in this murky beaten claimer. He fits this condition snugly: he beat open $5,000 types three back, and his previous win came on June 19 (a week before the condition). If he can stay out of a torrid duel here, he’s the best horse.
- STANLEY’S FRIEND (4) should rally late if the front end gets too fast. With most of the field doing its best from the front, and with it being a relatively warm day (so, a speed bias is unlikely), he could get the right setup.
- GYP ROPE (1) has been good in all six starts in main-track dashes. With so much speed in this race, the off-pace trip like he got last out may get him home.
- TORO GRANDE (2) has been off form this meet, but has some excellent back form with rider Victor Santiago. If he finds his form from earlier this year, he runs this set off their feet.
- IKER (3) should improve on the cut back to a dash here. His second-itis is a problem, but he did get his nose on the wire first three starts back, and jockey Santo Sanjur is riding well.
- RAMBLING RICHIE (5) has hit the exacta in three out of four tries in main-track dashes, and should improve second off a break.
- DASHING DEREK (7) needs a huge step up here. But, as the likely longest shot in the field, it stands out that he does his best work over the course and distance, and gets a change to Edgar Perez aboard.
Race 6: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, six and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:25pm CST
- AZEG (5) has rounded back into form, winning against beaten company last out. He loves this course, loves this distance, and has tactical versatility.
- EXCHANGING BLOWS (1) after an ambitious try last out, he drops back to the level at which he won two starts back. He has never tried six and a half furlongs, but has tactical versatility and breeding that suggests he can handle it.
- SATURDAYATBERNIES (2) is 0-6 at the distance, but against better horses. He gets a welcome class drop, and is in as good a form as anyone here.
- OUT OF THE WOODS (3) has not been able to replicate his polytrack form on the dirt, and he would need to in order to hold his own here.
- THE SLIGO POET (4) did well two back against open $8,000 company, but that came at two turns. He is not as effective going short.
- OH MY TODD (6) does best on turf, and his only real dirt form comes on slop. The dirt should be fast on Monday.
- BANK ACCOUNT (7) has been nipping for shares underneath all summer, and rates for an underneath piece again here. But, he has moved to a cold barn, and hasn’t won since early in the year.
Race 7: Illinois-bred allowance, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $9,800 once OR non-winners of a state-bred race other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N2L, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 3:55pm CST
- BANJO CAT (2) should get pace to chase. She held her own against similar company last time out, and rider Edgar Perez tends to get the best from her.
- LAKOTA ROSE (5) comes from solid connections: trainer Dee Poulos has a 26% strike rate this meet, and has been particularly live with Santo Sanjur. There is plenty of speed here, but she can rate and rally, too.
- REMINISCE (6) graduated last out. This will be a class test, but the light is on for a barn who wins at 20% with last-out maiden winners.
- SILVER LINER (7) is the fastest horse here – but has done her best on grass. Her one dirt try was dreadful, but trainer Anthony Mitchell has found his stride as of late.
- PURA LICA (1) has a big step forward to take speed-wise, and will have too much to do late.
- BYLIA (3) has been a consistent presence in the underneath rungs over the last few years, but is 2-40 lifetime. Maybe she fills out the trifecta or superfecta, but that’s it.
- ASHLEY ELIZABETH (4) will be part of the pace, but has yet to prove she can take good form north from Fairmount Park.
Race 8: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:25pm CST
As murky as the 5th race was, this one looks the most straightforward race of the day. Two of the runners have a decent shot to win – with the rest virtually impossible to see entering the winners’ circle.
- FATHER BUD (4) goes out for streaking trainer Cipriano Contreras. He keeps rider Santo Sanjur aboard, and gets pace to chase. A better start than last out could get him home.
- NORTHERN HONOUR (6) comes in third off the layoff, and gets pace to chase here. He showed signs of life last out for the first time since last winter – and, at a price, it’s worth betting that he’s getting good again this winter.
- RED REDEMPTION (1) will be part of the early pace, but only gets an upgrade if there is a wicked inside speed bias. With as warm as Monday should be, unlikely.
- RIPE ATTACK (2) has been exposed as one-way speed, and will not get an easy ride this time out.
- BELLODINI (3) fits this group on form, but is 2-43 lifetime. He makes sense underneath, but not on top.
- MEAN INTENTIONS (5) is right-classing after an ambitious try last out in starter company. Even so, he is 0-9 at the distance, and was well beaten in his two most recent starts at the level.
- ADMIRAL SEAN (7) does his best on the pace, but like others here, typically cannot cut it if he has to fight on the pace.
- SMOKEY’S BANDIT (8) right-classes here, but can only run well enough to challenge these over a dry track. Without a freak rainstorm, take a pass.