2014 Lightning Jet and Powerless Recap

STICKNEY/CICERO – On a mild, breezy December day at Hawthorne, the older state-breed sprinters took the spotlight.  Both co-featured stakes races today were for Illinois-breds, going six furlongs on the dirt.  The Lightning Jet was not restricted by sex; the Powerless was restricted to fillies and mares.  With last year’s Lightning Jet winner Work All Week out on the farm for the winter, and two-time defending Powerless winner Missjeanlouise not re-entered to defend her title, the races were wide open.  Both races had odds-on favourites at the windows: Saratoga allowance winner Richies Sweetheart in the Powerless, and open stakes winner I Got It All in the Lightning Jet.  Still, when all was said and done, it was a pair of longshots who carried the day.

Powerless Handicap – Santo Sanjur, Royal Posh Win First Career Stakes

Six-year-old mare Royal Posh has been racing at Hawthorne since February of her two-year-old year.  She has been a solid runner since then, mainly in the claiming and starter ranks.  However, she had never finished better than third in four starts in state-bred stakes races.  All of those attempts had been over the Arlington polytrack, in four consecutive editions of the Isaac Murphy Handicap.  Her rider, Santo Sanjur, was a bit newer than Royal Posh was to the Chicago racing circuit.  He started riding in Chicago near the end of this year’s Hawthorne spring meet, and has come into his own through the summer and the fall.  He rode Flashdance Road to a third-place finish in the Springfield Stakes in May, his first ever stakes mount.

Morning line favourite Richies Sweetheart was also the bettors’ sweetheart.  She opened at 7/5, and steadily took more steam.  By the time the gates flung open, the Larry Rivelli trainee was 3/5.  Only three other runners went off at less than double digits: C’Mon Feet settled at 5/1 despite this being her first race off a six-month lay, Dolly Peach settled at 6/1, and two-time juvenile stakes winner Sasy Ms Elizabeth went off at 8/1.  The rest went off fairly ignored at the windows.

Richies Sweetheart, marooned in the tenth and outermost gate, gunned to the lead as expected.  It was no easy going, as Sasy Ms Elizabeth shot right out of the gate with her, dogging the favourite on her inside.  Summer Again and C’Mon Feet set up about two lengths back, with the rest chasing.  Approaching the far turn, Sasy Ms Elizabeth and C’Mon Feet both started to drop back.  Summer Again began to make her move toward Richies Sweetheart.  Royal Posh, midpack early, started making up ground on the outside around the same time.  Passing the three-sixteenths pole, Richies Sweetheart had dropped out of it, and it was Royal Posh and Summer Again fighting it out for the lead.  Royal Posh, on the outside, had her head in front by the furlong pole; she edged away to prevail by half a length over Summer Again.  Win ‘Em All, midpack through much of the race, stayed on to pass the fading pacesetter.  Dolly Peach, near the back of the pack early but finally rolling on the outside down the stretch, never quite managed to threaten the top two.  Still, she fired well enough to catch up with Win ‘Em All; the two dead-heated for third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Royal Posh.  Richies Sweetheart, Gambler Five, Fire Tricks, C’Mon Feet, Kel’s Dreamer, and Sasy Ms Elizabeth completed the order of finish.

Royal Posh outfinishes Summer Again to prevail in the Powerless Handicap.

Royal Posh outfinishes Summer Again to prevail in the Powerless Handicap.

Royal Posh is a six-year-old mare by Posh out of the Royal Roberto mare Royal Livy.  She is owned by her breeder, Larry Owens, and trained by Steve Manley.  The Powerless Handicap was Royal Posh’s 44th career start, and her 11th trip to the winners’ circle.  She had previously been trained by Mark Cristel, but had moved to the Steve Manley barn before her first start this year.  She had won twice before this year: once beating males in a $25,000 claiming race going six furlongs on the Arlington poly, and then once more in $30,000 company over the Hawthorne turf two starts back.  This was Royal Posh’s first stakes attempt on dirt, and her first career stakes win.  She was stakes-placed before today, having finished third in the 2013 Isaac Murphy Handicap at Arlington.  Jockey Santo Sanjur rode Royal Posh in the Powerless.  He has been riding frequently for trainer Steve Manley, and had ridden Royal Posh several times through the summer and the fall, including in her recent win over the grass at Hawthorne.

Trainer Steve Manley was happy with the trip Royal Posh got.  “He [Santo Sanjur] rode her perfect: off the speed a little bit, and keep the dirt out of her face.” Santo Sanjur, who rode Royal Posh to her win, concurred with his trainer on the trip. “She doesn’t like the dirt in her face,” Sanjur noted, “so we tried to stay outside.”  Royal Posh’s owner had not even planned this route for her, according to Manley, but she was training well enough that he decided to point her to the Powerless.  “The owner didn’t want to run her,” Manley recounted.  “But, he said, ‘you’re in charge.  We’ve tried it a couple times, she never won it.’  I said, ‘She’s going to run good today.’  She’s just a nice mare, an Illinois mare.  She tries.”

Santo Sanjur had ridden in several stakes races at Hawthorne and Arlington through the course of the year, though this was his first time crossing the wire first.  “I feel very happy, it’s my first stakes,” said Sanjur.  “It’s for my cousin.”  The dedication referred to his cousin Juan Saez, who died after a riding accident at Indiana Grand on October 14.

Channing Hill rode second-place Summer Again, who was racing for the first time in over a year.  Hill noted, “She’s got a couple lines in her form that say she could settle — especially with Larry’s horse [Richies Sweetheart], she’s pretty one-dimensional.  I just wanted to be close, from the way the track has been playing.  She was absolutely a sweetheart today; she did everything I wanted her to.  She got a little out-footed, from the three-eighths pole to the quarter pole, which probably cost her the race.  But, she never gave up, and you’ve got to give her a little credit for that.  She just kept moving forward.”

Royal Posh stopped the clock in 1:11.56 for six furlongs, and paid her backers $38.60 to win.  A $2.00 exacta with Summer Again below returned $915.00.  With the dead heat in third, there were two trifectas and two superfectas.  The $0.20 trifecta with Win ‘Em All in the bottom rung (7-5-1) paid $470.60; the $0.20 trifecta with Dolly Peach in third (7-5-6) paid $213.76.  The superfecta with Win ‘Em All in fourth (7-5-1-6) returned $4,408.72 for each $0.20 base bet; the $0.20 superfecta with Dolly Peach set below (7-5-6-1) returned $8,817.30.

Lightning Jet Handicap – Luv Bandit’s Sprinting Experiment a Success

Luv Bandit has run mainly in route races through his career, and was already a three-time stakes winner at distances of a mile and longer.  He had made two maiden attempts going six furlongs over the Hawthorne main, and then tried a six-furlong allowance at Hawthorne last year as his first race back off a winter layoff.  He tried six panels once again last out, in his first race back off of a summer lay, and finished just half a length off of Helooksthepart.  Instead of finding a top-shelf allowance and stretching out, he instead returned here.  A host of stakes-winning sprinters stood in his way.  I Got It All had won three stakes races this year alone, including a six-furlong victory over three-year-olds in the Land of Lincoln.  Sweet Luca, more renowned for beating Work All Week twice on the Arlington poly, won the Sun Power Stakes in 2011 over this distance and course, and was third in last year’s Lightning Jet.  River Bear, the seemingly ageless nine-year-old, had won the Lightning Jet all the way back in 2010 and captured the Robert S. Molaro over this distance and course this April.

I Got It All was the lone three-year-old in the field, and facing older for the first time.  Still, he was the only open stakes winner in the field, and the bettors responded by making him 4/5 in the early money.  The public remained enthusiastic about his chances, and he went off 7/10.  Sweet Luca, most recently third over grass in the Buck’s Boy, went off at 5/1.  The Scott Becker entry of Son of Pearl and Creative Art was next at 6/1, and Luv Bandit went off at 9/1.  River Bear, a keen 6/1 on the early money, was allowed to drift to 10/1 by post time.

The early pace looked contentious on paper, and Goesse, Son of Pearl, and Right Now Richie all rocketed to the front.  Right Now Richie settled back, but Goesse set the front with Son of Pearl just off him on the inside early.  Luv Bandit and Hope for Today, breaking from the two outermost gates, also chased close to the pace early.  By the time the field came into the far turn, Goesse had shaken off Son of Pearl.  However, he had a new foe to deal with: 93/1 shot Hope for Today, who was coming on his outside.  Hope for Today overtook his foe through the turn, and had a slim lead turning for home.  He gained the lead by about a length, but had one more foe to face.  Luv Bandit, who had closed up some ground through the turn, was finding his best stride near the furlong pole.  He shook clear of the pack, slowly chipped away at Hope for Today’s lead, and overtook him just a few strides before the wire.  Luv Bandit crossed the wire a neck in front of Hope for Today, a clear second in his first race since June.  Favoured I Got It All, midpack early, made a belated move but ran out of room.  He checked in third, 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner.  River Bear, a distant ninth early after Right Now Richie bumped him at the start, made up ground and found a clear path late.  His outside rally fell short, though; he finished fourth beaten 1 1/2 lengths.  Right Now Richie, Copus, Son of Pearl, Goesse, Sweet Luca, and Creative Art completed the order of finish.

Luv Bandit eclipses Hope for Today to win the Lightning Jet Handicap.

Luv Bandit eclipses Hope for Today to win the Lightning Jet Handicap.

Luv Bandit is a five-year-old gelding by Yonaguska out of the Beau Genius mare Plus Beau.  He is trained by Chris Dorris, and owned and bred by Judy Dorris.  His victory in the 2014 Lightning Jet was his seventh win in twenty-eight career starts, and his fourth career stakes win.  He won the Budweiser Illinois Mile at Fairmount in 2012.  In 2013, Luv Bandit won both the Milwaukee Avenue Handicap at Hawthorne as well as the Pete Condellone Memorial Stakes at Fairmount.  Luv Bandit is one of two stakes-winning horses out of his dam; Plus Beau also produced Dundalk Dust, the 2010 Falls City Handicap (GII) winner, by Military.  Emmanuel Cosme rode Luv Bandit today, and had been his regular rider since the beginning of those starts.  In those five starts this year with Cosme aboard, he has finished no worse than third, including a second-place finish behind Big Looie in the Milwaukee Avenue Handicap at Hawthorne in April.

Rider Emmanuel Cosme got the trip he planned. “They told me to let him break sharp, and wait as long as I can: don’t make a move too early, don’t make it too late.  It worked out.”  Cosme also touched on the the atypical distance for Luv Bandit today.  “He usually goes a mile and a sixteenth.  Since he’s been off for a few months, they gave him the first race.  He ran very well last time, so we came back.”

Luv Bandit crossed the wire in 1:10.82 for six furlongs, and paid his backers $21.60 to win.  The $2 exacta with Hope for Today in second returned $517.20.  A $0.20 trifecta with I Got It All in the third rung returned $3,243.20 for each base bet.  The superfecta with River Bear in the fourth position returned $13,815.80 for each $0.20 placed on the combination.

All photography courtesy of Four Footed Fotos.

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