2019 Lightning Jet Handicap Preview

Illinois-bred Lightning Jet never won a stakes race, and only started in stakes races twice.  But, he is still a worthy namesake for a race, since he deserves to be remembered.  He earned almost $150,000 on the track the hard way from 1973 through 1980, with 21 wins and another 31 money finishes in 99... Read more »

2019 Powerless Handicap Preview

This race honours Powerless, perhaps the most surprising namesake of an Illinois-bred sprint stakes race.  She certainly deserves to be remembered: a hard-knocking daughter of Southern Count, she raced most of her 73 career starts in Illinois, and won twelve of those outings.  Yet, she was bred in Kentucky.  Her lone stakes score, a convincing... Read more »

Beating Sistercharlie in the Filly and Mare Turf

Sistercharlie has been the star of the American filly and mare turf division for about a year and a half now.  She has won 10 of 14 career starts, including two straight editions of the Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington, two straight editions of the Diana (G1) at Saratoga, and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly... Read more »
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2019 Showtime Deb Stakes Preview

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... Read more »

BLUE SKY KOWBOY Catches Defending Champion Cammack in the Buck's Boy Handicap

BLUE SKY KOWBOY Catches Defending Champion Cammack in the Buck's Boy Handicap
STICKNEY-CICERO, IL — From the time Michele Boyce and Margaret Burlingham saw Blue Sky Kowboy as a foal, he looked like a runner. “He was racing around that day,” remembered Burlingham.  “He was ripping up and down the hill.  He was showing off.” Breeder Jack Barr saw something special in him, too.  He and his... Read more »

All's Well that Ends Well: BRAMBLE QUEEN Finishes Her Four-Year-Old Season With an Illini Princess Win

All's Well that Ends Well: BRAMBLE QUEEN Finishes Her Four-Year-Old Season With an Illini Princess Win
STICKNEY-CICERO, IL — Three months ago Bramble Queen was supposed to visit Chicago for the Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap, July 20 at Arlington.  The Illini Princess Handicap — which Bramble Queen closed smartly to win by a length and a quarter today at Hawthorne — wasn’t even on the calendar. The midsummer heat wave that... Read more »
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2019 Buck's Boy Handicap Preview

The stakes season at Hawthorne began Friday with the Illini Princess Handicap, and continues Saturday with the Buck’s Boy Handicap, a turf route stakes for Illinois-registered three-year-olds and up. Previously named the High Alexander Handicap, the race has since 2007 taken its name from Buck’s Boy, one of just two Illinois-bred horses to have won... Read more »

2019 Illini Princess Handicap Preview

The stakes portion of the Hawthorne fall meet gets underway on Friday…yes, Friday!  Hawthorne is running eight stakes races over the course of the fall meet, all for Illinois-registered horses.  Each stakes weekend, they’re running the fillies’ and mares’ races on Friday and the races open to males on Saturday.  This piece will focus on... Read more »

2019 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Preview

The final set of Breeders’ Cup preps has drawn to a close, but there is still plenty of classy racing going on between now and the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the month.  Picks and Ponderings keeps it green this weekend, previewing a pair of nine-furlong turf stakes.  This preview will focus on the... Read more »
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Fall Stars Saturday Picks and Ponderings

Here in Chicago, it’s almost time for racing to resume; Hawthorne’s meet gets underway on October 10, with entries drawing October 7.  But, it’s as lively in Lexington as it is calm in Chicago, with Keeneland’s fall meet getting underway this weekend. Saturday’s card at Keeneland is a suitably excellent one: eleven races total, including... Read more »