The stakes action at Hawthorne resumes Friday (yes, Friday!) afternoon at Hawthorne Race Course, with the Showtime Deb Stakes. Run regularly through 2014, it was off the calendar in 2015 and 2016, returned in 2017, and then was not run last year. Hopefully it is back for good, since it fills an important place in the stakes schedule for Illinois-bred runners: an opportunity for sprinters, as well as an opportunity for two-turn horses to prep before the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante later in the meet.
The colts' and geldings' complement, the Sun Power Stakes, was scheduled to be run Saturday, November 2. However, it did not fill, so will not be contested. Hopefully, next year, there will be more interest. Though, it is the second year in a row that a race for Illinois-bred juvenile males did not fill while the fillies' race did. The Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity was not contested last year for lack of entries, though the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante was run.
Saturday's feature takes its name from 1988 Illinois-bred Horse of the Year Showtime Deb. Fittingly for the namesake of a juvenile stakes race, the daughter of Hatchet Man won that honour on the strength of a two-year-old season during which she fired off four stakes wins in a row: the Marica Stakes, Windy City Stakes, and Durazna Stakes at Hawthorne, and then the Illinois Breeders' Debutante at Fairmount Park. In both the Marica and the Durazna, Showtime Deb conquered open company; her other two stakes victories that year came against Illinois-breds.
One of the winners of the Showtime Deb Stakes recently had an Illinois-bred stakes race named after her. 2010 winner Third Chance won ten of nineteen career starts, including five stakes races, and the spring sprint stakes for Illinois-bred fillies and mares bears her name. Another has made a strong impact in the breeding shed after her successful career on the track. 2004 Showtime Deb Stakes winner Bluesbdancing produced the multiple stakes winner Babybluesbdancing.
This is adapted from the text of the latest episode of Chicago Race of the Day, which you can listen to right here if you enjoy listening to your horse racing content. (And, make sure to subscribe, since I do an episode for one race during every day of Thoroughbred racing in Chicago!)
Friday, November 1 - Hawthorne Race Course
Race 5: Showtime Deb Stakes, two-year-old fillies, Illinois-registered, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:02pm
- WAR COLORS (6/1) is a three-start maiden, though two of those starts have been really good. She wasn't a threat in the Arlington-Washington Lassie, but both in her maiden special weight debut at Arlington and her last-out race at Hawthorne, she came on running well late and was beaten less than two lengths in each. She won't get as sharp a pace in front of her this time as she did last time out, which isn't great for her. But, it is very much worth noting that she drops among state-breds for the first time ever, which could give her reason to improve despite the unfavorable pace setup.
- FREEDOM LASS (12/1) has started just once, running 8th in a 12-horse field on opening day at Hawthorne. That was against open company; now she faces state-breds for the first time. She was no threat to beat her stablemate Honey Mug that day, but the way she ran on inside, it was the sort of race she likely got a lot from. She also adds Lasix for the first time, and trainer Michele Boyce is dynamite with second-time starters. As for Freedom Lass's running style, it's tough to tell what it is off of just one start, though with the switch to rider Carlos Marquez, expect something on the patient side. I'm not sure sprinting is where she ends up in the long run, being by the more long-winded Revolutionary out of a two-turn turf horse...although, there is a bit of sprinting in that family, as that dam Katie the Lady is a half-sister to My Mertie, a G3 winner sprinting on polytrack and a stakes winner sprinting on dirt, too. But, it's interesting that they're taking this shot in stakes company, since Freedom Lass's connections tend to be fairly cautious with their placements.
- PLACATI (15/1) is the first of two debut runners in the Showtime Deb. She debuts for Hugo Rodriguez, who does well with first-time starters...doesn't always win with them, but very frequently hits the board with them. Placati is by first-crop sire Mr Speaker out of Cool Johanna: a ten-time winner in 48 career starts, a hard-knocking conditioned claiming type who did well going either short or long on the dirt. She is a half-sister to D'fever, who ran 3rd in the Springfield Stakes this year for the same connections, and who has won sprinting on the dirt, in a maiden race second out at age three. I'm not keen on Placati to win -- but given Rodriguez's good record with hitting the board with first-time starters, she's one to try and get a look at in the paddock and post parade, and toss in those underneath slots if she looks good.
- WEST GLACIER (20/1) is the other debut runner. It's nice to see Edgar Perez take the call, given how well he does with lightly-raced maidens. There is a bit of two-year-old pedigree: her Successful Appeal half-sister Kalispell won at age two, and another Successful Appeal half-sister, Ronan, may still be a maiden but she did run second behind Irish Marvel in the Pat Whitworth last year. In the balance, And, dirt should be her surface, given that Liaison's progeny are leaning toward dirt and 20 of her dam's foals' 21 wins have come on the dirt. I'm not sure about her winning this...but she's one worth a look in the paddock and post parade, and worth consideration for underneath shares.
- ITSAROLLOFTHEDICE (6/5) is the morning line favourite, and both her starts have been strong. She rallied to win an open $40,000 maiden claiming turf mile at Arlington -- yes, she debuted for a tag, but as just a $15K auction buy it wasn't an alarmingly low tag. She then jumped up in class to face open optional claimers at Churchill, in another turf mile. Yes, she was sixth -- but beaten only a length and three quarters for the entire thing. This is a definite drop in class for her. But, she still hasn't tried dirt before, and hasn't tried one turn before. The Itsmyluckyday on top definitely bodes well for dirt; even though he was a G1 winner at a mile and an eighth and hit the board in the Preakness, he was able to sprint on dirt at two, graduating second-out and winning a five-furlong stakes over a sloppy track. And, her dam Itsagimme produced Kim Dandy -- a nine-time winner in 20 dirt sprint starts. So, will Itsarollofthedice handle the dirt sprint? It's a roll of the dice...but I'm thinking your two dice need to add up to five or more to hit. The odds are pretty darn good.
- COWGIRL KIMMIE (4/1) is one of two horses with three starts underneath her -- and one of two horses with a win. She didn't show a ton in two races across town at Arlington, a bit surprising given her nice polytrack breeding, but maybe she was just figuring it out. Across town, at Hawthorne, we saw a new Cowgirl Kimmie: she showed early speed for the first time and took a five-furlong race all the way around. It's not a huge surprise to see her do well as a two-year-old at Hawthorne: after all, she's a full sister to Cowgirl Callie, who won the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante two years ago. She's no lock, she's got a couple of talented horses inside her with It'sarollofthedice and War Colors. But, barring any early gas from the first-time starters or a tactical reversal by another foe, Cowgirl Kimmie has the best of it from a pace perspective, and demands respect on that.
- SHELBI RENEE (5/1) has raced just once; she debuted in the state-bred maiden special that Cowgirl Kimmie won October 19. She was the one tracking in closest range to Cowgirl Kimmie before weakening in the lane. The stretch out to six furlongs suggests she'll be forward again, and she can show second-start progression. There is some two-year-old pedigree, as her dam My Heavenly Sign won a six-furlong dirt sprint third-out as a juvenile...though? Her foals are a combined 0-for-7 at age 2. And, second-time starters aren't the greatest statistic for trainer Wayne Catalano, 12% winners and 36% in the money over the last three years. Shelbi Renee seems an underneath type at best in this spot.
- WHITE LIES (8/1) is not yet a winner, but she made a nice impression in her five-and-a-half-furlong debut, splitting horses and running on with good interest to finish a clear second behind Cowgirl Kimmie in an Illinois maiden special October 19. We know she has some talent, and we know she likes dirt. I also absolutely love her pedigree for dirt sprinting: she is from the first crop of the talented sprinter Palace, and she's out of an Include mare named Military Mama: making her a half-sister to both the ultra-game Go Lady Jay and the Hawthorne horse-for-the-course Colonel Klink. Both of them were two-year-old winners in six-furlong dirt sprints at Hawthorne, Go Lady Jay first out and Colonel Klink second-out. Sure, she's got some tables to turn on Cowgirl Kimmie from that debut. And, she'll either have to get closer to the speed early, or hope one of those first-time starters tries to go with Cowgirl Kimmie up front.
#6 COWGIRL KIMMIE (4/1)
#5 ITSAROLLOFTHEDICE (6/5)
#8 WHITE LIES (8/1)
Longshot: #2 FREEDOM LASS (12/1)
You can take "Picks & Ponderings" with you anytime, anywhere. You can get Twitter updates @picksponderings for on-scene reports from 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.