This is a slightly edited version of a piece that appeared originally at Blinkers Off.
Tomorrow the state-bred juveniles take center stage, with the running of the Sun Power Stakes and the Showtime Deb Stakes. The card even kicks off with a juvenile race, a $25,000 claimer for non-winners of two. However, there is a full day of racing, and we can’t let the babies have all the fun. The rest of the day is full of races for the older set: mostly claimers, though there is a well-matched route allowance for state-breds carded as the fourth race.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the races!
Race 1: $25,000 claiming, two-year-olds, N2L, one mile and seventy yards over the dirt
Selections: Junior Benny (3), Mr Lightning Boy (6), Chatito (1A)
Junior Benny drops here a touch, from $30,000 juvenile company at Churchill last out. He tried being forwardly place in that race, and faltered. Two back, at this level over the Arlington poly, he made a late inside run to score in his debut, among $25,000 maiden claimers. This off-pace style should be helpful here with the likes of Dennie’s Dream and Wildwoodsbigwin in the field. He also gets back rider Emmanuel Cosme from his maiden win, and stretches to a route for the first time. Full sister Bullheaded Lady broke her maiden at a flat mile over dirt, suggesting the distance should be fine. Mr Lightning Boy makes a precipitous class drop here; last out he was a well-beaten seventh (last) in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII). He has run once over dirt, but also against harder — he was fourth beaten twelve lengths in the Prairie Mile, distinctly behind top three finishers (and legitimate stakes horses) Private Prospect, Lucky Player, and Recount. Mr Lightning Boy is not a legitimate stakes horse, at this point in his career, but his ability to win from a few lengths back as well as his fitting speed figures suggest he is a perfectly strong candidate at this claiming level. Chatito wired a maiden $17,500 race last out, which shows he likes the track — but holds less interest pacewise given the presence of other speed. What makes him far more interesting and useful here was his debut effort against $50,000 maidens, in which he rated a few lengths, got caught wide, and still closed well enough to be defeated only half a length. He stretches to a route distance here, but being by Bernstein out of a Pivotal mare, a mile and seventy yards should not be beyond his abilities.
Race 2: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, three years old OR N3L, one and one sixteenth miles over the dirt
Selections: Stephensclassygal (6), Hello Miss (1), Reality Star (3)
Stephensclassygal is the only one in this field who typically likes to be on the front end early. She drops in here from a well-beaten attempt in state-bred allowance company, in which she attempted to press Jennifer J. and had little left late. There is no Jennifer J. in this field, and she should get things her way on the front end. She also gets a switch back to Maria Thornton. Thornton rode her in the three starts before that allowance, and two of those were wins. She does have a win over the Hawthorne strip, as well as two wins at this distance. Hello Miss should be rated not too far back from Stephensclassygal, and should have no trouble staying in touch with the pace. She has really woken up this Hawthorne meet — her speeds are better, and she has a win and two seconds to show for it. Last out, she was second at this level and distance, beaten just a neck. She likes the track, she gets rider Rolondo Aragon back from all of her recent starts. She also drew the rail, the same position from which she won two starts back. Finally, Reality Star is another one who should be able to stalk fairly close to the pace. Though her dirt form is questionable, she hit the board on dirt for the first time ever last out: her first try at Hawthorne. She gets rider Emmanuel Esquivel back, and if she can progress from her last race, she will contend here. It is perfectly possible to contend — though she was third against similar last out, it was not an anomalously tough or fast effort, and should leave her with enough energy to run here.
Race 3: Sun Power Stakes, two-year-old colts and geldings, Illinois-bred, six furlongs over the dirt
Selections: Chadwick (2), My Man Richie (1), Dom the Bomb (5)
With a significant amount of early speed between Dom the Bomb, My Man Richie, and Armando’s Star, combined with how well the track has been playing to off-pace types, an off-pace type looks strong here. Fort Dixie may not be fast enough and typically leaves too much to do, but Chadwick looks very well spotted. It took a few starts to figure it out, but he broke his maiden fourth time out going a mile on the Arlington grass. He then finished a close (and closing) second behind War Point in a turf mile allowance next out at Indiana Grand. Here he cuts back to six furlongs and goes first time dirt, which seems odd on its surface for a son of English Channel. However, his dam Almost Sma has produced eight winners — five of whom have won dirt sprints. This should give the speedballs a challenge. Among the speed, the Rivelli pair of Dom the Bomb and My Man Richie holds some interest. My Man Richie gets the nod between them, both because of the better price and the fact that he survived contention on the front in order to break his maiden. This is his first try on the dirt, but his half-brother Bangthedrumsallday is a winner on dirt, and he has put up some good works over the surface. Dom the Bomb demolished a field of state-bred maidens at Arlington first out, always clear. He returned in an allowance over the Keeneland dirt last month, and hustled clear early like he did in his maiden win. However, he was confronted, and faded to fourth. For the likely tiny price, it is hard to take him.
For Paul Mazur’s perspective on this race, read his preview at Picks and Ponderings.
Race 4: Allowance ($22,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, non-winners of $8,800 twice OR non-winners of two state-bred races other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR non-winners of three races, one and one sixteenth miles over the dirt
Selections: Paper Maker (4), Swarm (1A), Free Fighter (2)
Five Green Stars (3) was the original third selection, but he was a race-day vet scratch.
Paper Maker set the pace at open N2X allowance optional level last out, but was pressed hard and faded down the stretch. This time out, he does not stand to have nearly that sort of pressure on the lead. He comes in here third off a layoff for trainer Manny Perez. Even though Perez’s third off the lay percentage is not immensely high (10%), he still has a positive (+$1.76) ROI, showing he gets some prices home. His two races back from the lay have been less than strong, but at a price, the pace combined with the drop from open to state-bred company make him very attractive. Swarm can stalk close enough to the pace not to lose touch, and has been a solid performer all year against this level and even harder. Most of his running this year has been over turf and poly, but he is proven on the dirt as well: he has two wins and two thirds in six starts over the Hawthorne main. He gets rider Edgar Perez back from his last two starts, and even though neither of those were wins, he was third two back against harder company, after some traffic trouble. He is fast enough to be a factor here. Finally, Free Fighter comes in from a sharp second-place effort in the same kind of race shape he looks to face today. Last out, he was able to close and catch everyone except for Dandyman, who was loose on the lead from gate to wire. Here, he returns to the same level, but switches from turf to dirt. Trainer Chris Block is 27% on the switch from turf to dirt. Though Free Fighter tends to do his best work on dirt, he still does have a win over dirt, and a 10-1-5-1 record over the Hawthorne main. There was some rain last night, and remains a chance during the day. This should not hurt Free Fighter’s case; if anything, it helps. He has never missed the board on an off track, including a third-place effort over good dirt at Hawthorne two back.
Race 5: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, one mile and seventy yards over the dirt
Selections: Devil Got Jack (4), Affirmed Once More (8), Looks to Spare (7)
Devil Got Jack broke his maiden last out, in his eighth start, against $7,500 maiden claimers at this distance. Speed has not been holding as well as it had in the past on cold days at Hawthorne, and with Slammerbdancing, Rampent Rumour, and Affirmed Once More in the field, some early pace is a distinct possibility. Devil Got Jack came from near the back last out, made a sweeping wide move, and pulled away to win by daylight last out — which was his first effort at a route. He gets the same rider, course, and distance here. Affirmed Once More, so often the winner of the paddock beauty contest, finally lived up to that last out; he broke his maiden in his nineteenth start. His recent form has been improved, even before he graduated. He has hit the board in his last four starts, and in six of his last eight. He should be forwardly placed, but has run well enough from off the pace to suggest a chance to stay out if a speed duel ensues. Looks to Spare returns to this level after finishing a close second (beaten 3/4 length) last time out. He typically puts up speeds that are strong for this field. He also gets rider Maria Thornton back; she has ridden him for her last two starts, well enough to suggest they are a good fit. Though she has not won over the dirt yet, she does have a second and a third in her three starts on the surface, suggesting some aptitude. She also runs for a strong trainer in Tammy Domenosky: 17% with runners up for a tag, and 15% on the dirt.
Race 6: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, three years old OR N3L, six furlongs over the dirt
Selections: Tour Again (2), Dr. Clark (3), Moreno’s Mine (5)
With Sea Treaty, Wall Student, and Hayq’s Fable all liking to be on the lead, there should be some speed to attack in this one. Tour Again should not be too far off this lead, but does his best work when he is kept out of it — something rider Samantha Colvin did very successfully two back over this same course and distance. He returns to the same level and distance here, something for which Tour Again is still eligible because he is three. Two of his three career wins have come in just three starts at the distance; it is a safe bet that Tour Again likes going six furlongs in the dirt. Even if he runs back to his last he should be in the mix; if he improves to something more like his race two back, he shouldn’t be beaten here. Dr. Clark had a troubled trip last out, but won his two outings before that. His maiden-breaker was at Arlington, but two back he won going six furlongs over the Hawthorne dirt against Illinois-bred N2Ls. He cuts back from trying six and a half furlongs last out, and gets the seven-pound allowance for switching to rider Rolondo Aragon. Aragon has been having a solid meet, and is hitting generally with 15% of stalking-to-midpack-type horses he rides. That fits Dr. Clark to a T; they should be a good match in this race. Moreno’s Mine comes in here first off the claim for trainer Brian House, and gets a rider change to Chris Emigh. His speeds are strong for the field, and he frequently fires and makes up ground late. The biggest drawback is the 8-0-2-3 record over the track (and the general 9-0-3-3 record on fast dirt) — he keeps getting close, but does not get all the way there. Still, the track is playing well enough to outside closers, and there is enough early speed, that he is at least in with a shot given that he is not up against a whole lot.
Race 7: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, one mile and seventy yards over the dirt
Selections: No Barneys (2), Buzzy (5), Soldier’s Home (1)
No Barneys has acquitted himself well in dirt sprints his last two times out, but stretches out to a route here. He has only done a dirt route once: a blowout maiden win at a flat mile over the Santa Anita dirt back in June. His one attempt at longer than a mile was a complete flop: but, so was his other polytrack start, and those were so anomalous that it can be chalked up to No Barneys hating poly. As this horse is out of a Dynaformer mare, it seems likely those sprints were trainer Clay Brinson’s way of getting him accustomed here before stretching out. Brinson wins at 18% third off the lay, suggesting this may be the type of race to which he was pointed all along. Buzzy may look physically like a tank of a sprinter — but his only win to date was going a mile and a sixteenth over polytrack. Last out he was a well-beaten fifth in a dirt sprint, his first dirt attempt. It was better than it looks on paper, though: he was still only four lengths out of second, and getting into stride late. It wasn’t enough to suggest he does not like the dirt, and the combination of a class drop (from $10,000 N2L last out) and the stretch-out should be good. He also gets a positive jockey change: last out Tim Thornton had the call, but all of Buzzy’s best races have come with Emmanuel Esquivel aboard. Esquivel returns today. Soldier’s Home drew the rail, and has the early speed to outgun both No Barneys and Lamask City. In fact, no one in the field has a best early pace that holds a candle to Soldier’s Home’s average early pace. He should be lone speed. He did win at this distance over the polytrack over the summer, and he did show a decent (and surprisingly game) third-place effort over the dirt two starts back.
Race 8: Showtime Deb Stakes, two-year-old fillies, Illinois-bred, six furlongs over the dirt
Selections: Timeaday (2), Razamajazil (1), Flight Pattern (6)
Timeaday may have broken her maiden at Fairmount, but her form has held up in Northern Illinois as well. After her maiden win, she shipped up to Hawthorne and, despite racing greenly early, finished third behind promising males Chicago Son and Hombre Natural. Last out, she faced fillies, stalked, and crushed a field that included Showtime Deb entrants Rock My Dreams and Turtles Surprise. She should get plenty of pace to stalk here, with Razamajazil, Tizgorgeous, A Little Unique, and even Turtles Surprise showing some affinity for the lead. She also gets rider Emmanuel Esquivel — the hottest one in the colony — back from that win. The drawback on Timeaday is price — she is the class of the field, and will likely go off favoured — but both her form and the pace justify that status. Razamajazil is one of the speed types, but showed in her maiden win that she could deal with a contest on the front end, and be game enough to gut it out against a closer. She gets Uriel Lopez back from that effort, and is trained by Jim DiVito. Though most of DiVito’s two-year-old wins are in maiden company, he is also a solid 26% in ungraded stakes. Finally, she should be fine with the rail draw: last out she broke from the 2 gate, and set the pace inside. Flight Pattern is the interesting price of the field. She has significantly improved in her last two starts, on the switch from polytrack sprints to turf miles, and graduated in $50,000 maiden company last out. This will be her first try on dirt, but sire Straight Line did his best on dirt and dam Barn Swallow has produced five dirt winners. Trainer Brian Williamson also tends to send out some prices in situations such as this: he is 19% with a +$2.25 ROI in non-graded stakes, and 15% with a hefty +$3.55 ROI when dialing back from route to sprint.
For Paul Mazur’s perspective on this race, read his preview at Picks and Ponderings.
Race 9: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of a race since May 22, five and a half furlongs over the dirt
Selections: De Green Light (2), Rip Roarin Ritchie (5), Headstart (6)
De Green Light has not shown the most desire to win this year, going 0 for 10. Still, he has two seconds and a third this year, and always seems to be close at the end. The pace setup could not be more perfect for De Green Light to close into here: Gamblin Jack, I’m Old School, Martyrforthecause, and Perfect Breeze are all speed types, with none strong enough to be the controlling speed. A duel is almost certain. De Green Light’s speeds are strong, he gets his regular rider back, and he does have three wins over the course. He is about as dependable as a $5,000 non-winner in six months can really be. Rip Roarin Ritchie takes a steep class drop here, after having raced in $12,500 company his last three starts. Unlike most of the Richies, he is not an early speed type; rather, he does his best from mid-pack. That will suit this race. He is trying dirt for the first time, but he should be able to handle it: he is sired by Bring The Heat, and his dam Silently Mighty won twice on the dirt. Trainer Larry Rivelli wins at 27% with steep class drops like this and at 20% going turf to dirt. Also, Tim Thornton has the call to ride. Thornton is one of Rivelli’s go-to riders. They have won five of their last sixteen, and hit the board in a staggering 13 of those 16 starts. Headstart races for the first time in over a year. He drops from the level at which he raced right before the long lay, but not precipitously. He raced for $12,500 right before the drop, but was also seen for tags as low as $5,000 in the few starts before. Trainer Doug Matthews wins at a respectable 18% with runners off of three-month lays or longer, and has had Headstart regularly on the worktab since August of this year. His last one was a bullet over the Hawthorne dirt, and he has put up enough decent moves over the local course to suggest he should handle the track. He does have a win at this six-furlong distance, and has hit the board in four of seven going six panels. Finally, rider Rolando Aragon has the call. Aragon has the seven-pound bug, and has been riding very well for big prices this meet.
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