2014 Lightning Jet & Powerless Preview

What started in Maryland with the Maryland Million–a whole day of races devoted to a home state’s breeding program–was for quite a few years present in Illinois three times a year: the Illinois Champions Day during Hawthorne Spring, the Prairie State Festival Day at Arlington in June, and the Illinois Festival of Racing in Hawthorne’s Fall meet.

http://thecoolgirl.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/double_feature_graphic.jpgIn recent years, these stakes have been split and parsed over multiple weekends.  2011 served as the last time there were three one-day festivals.  Once again this year, the six Illinois-bred races have been split among fall weekends, a two stakes a weekend for 2014.  The last of those is this weekend.  It’s a double feature with two stakes for the Illinois-breds on the Saturday card, once again paired together by division.  The open stakes is the Lightning Jet, whereas the female-restricted complement is the Powerless. Both races are handicaps to be contested at six furlongs on the Hawthorne dirt and will carry purses of $75,000.

Also this weekend be sure to check out Picks & Ponderings‘s Preview of Claiming Crown Day from Gulfstream Park.

At original publish time morning line odds were not available.  All races in this piece are scheduled for December 6th.

Updated overnight December 3 to include morning lines.

Hawthorne Race Course — Race 6 — Powerless Handicap — Six furlongs on dirt — post time 3:25 pm CT

The race honors Powerless (Southern Count — Paper Ruler by Fair Ruler). She was a Kentucky-bred but Illinois-based fixture of Chicago tracks past (Sportsman’s) and present (Hawthorne, Arlington) in the late 1970s. A stakes winner at Hawthorne, she was the runner-up in the (then ungraded) 1980 Sixty Sails Handicap when it was run at Sportsman’s.  Third Chance, who has a stakes race at Hawthorne in the Spring named after her, took down the 2011 renewal. Two time winner Missjeanlouise (2012, 2013) is also among the notable heroines of this female sprint stakes.

Winner of last year’s Showtime Deb Stakes over today’s distance at Hawthorne, SASY MS ELIZABETH faces elders yet again.  While she faced them in a three-other-than allowance on November 15th, this one played bumper cars at the start, dropped back, and was victimized by a oval that saw the cold-weather carousel go on when the sun’s daytime heating went away (the race was run in darkness).  Think that three-other-than start can be discarded based on trip trouble and a bad position, and she perhaps needed that as she hadn’t been seen since beating lesser foes at odds on down at Fairmount.  Three back in the first start of the year she missed in a photo, and she was victimized by a track favoring closers at the end of the two-year-old campaign.  Although she likes to be forwardly placed, she doesn’t need the lead, as she pressed and scored over this surface last November.  The fact she can stalk and take over is something C’MON FEET did to perfection last Spring in the Third Chance, the Spring version of this race.  Defeating Missjeanlouise and eventual G3 Chicago Handicap winner My Option, she got a superb forward – but not on the lead – ride from Tim Thornton on Illinois Derby Day.  The pace was much quicker when she shipped to Prairie Meadows for a minor stakes there, but she can be forgiven as she didn’t make the lead and was forced to go six wide, not what you want to do on a dry track in Iowa.  She’ll be making the first start of the lay, and turned in a recent bullet workout over the local dirt.  She’s found her form since trainer Ray Tracy put her on the engine, and Chris Emigh in the stirrups is a sensible move.  C’MON FEET does have less of a passing potential and may need one first start of the summer layoff, hence the edge to SASY MS ELIZABETH.  RICHIES SWEETHEART is the field’s highweight and this is a Tim Thornton/Larry Rivelli jockey trainer production.  This is the same team behind Dom The Bomb that won two weeks ago by a zip code in the Sun Power.  They return with RICHIES SWEETHEART, who will likely be told to gun-and-go from assigned gate ten.  While she’s speed and perhaps the speed of the speed, she lacks what SASY MS ELIZABETH and C’MON FEET demonstrated: an ability to pass.  Sure, she went to gate last time to clear the three-other-than condition against SASY MS ELIZABETH and others in the field.  But when looked at eye-to-eye in the stretch she’s wilted, whether in a grass stakes at Keeneland or against fellow sophomores going a one-turn mile in the Purple Violet.  Six furlongs is certainly a fine distance, and the Thornton/Rivelli team is potent, but the cold weather carousel was spinning last time and the free lunch may not be present this go-round.

Selections:

#4 SASY MS ELIZABETH (5/1)

#3 C’MON FEET (6/1)

#10 RICHIES SWEETHEART (2/1)

Longshot: #9 GAMBLER FIVE (12/1) exits the same race where RICHIES SWEETHEART went gate-to-wire on the engine.  She was fourth that afternoon, going wide on a track that tightened up and promoted speed thanks to darkness.  Although she’s 5-for-58 lifetime, all five of her wins have come at Hawthorne and she did win two back over this surface at today’s six panel trip.  While all the career wins have been at Hawthorne, she’s also 24 of 38 in the money and gets Manny Esquivel to ride, who has been winning them in bunches on the south side.  This one’s chances moved up when Esquivel got assigned the mount. Additionally if C’MON FEET and RICHIES SWEETHEART duel to the death on the front end, this one could be the bomb that sometimes emerges in these state-bred stakes.

Hawthorne Race Course — Race 8 — Lightning Jet Handicap. — Six furlongs on dirt — post time 4:25 pm CT

The race honors Lightning Jet, an Illinois-bred fixture in the late 1970s. By Whispering Jet out of the Swoon’s Son (himself a past Arlington stakes nameplate) mare Miss Cotton, he saw the starter ninety-nine times in his long career and saw the starter at all five Chicagoland thoroughbred ovals – Arlington, Hawthorne, Sportsman’s, Washington Park, and Balmoral. Quite a feat at a time when the area had more than the typical Hawthorne-Arlington pair of now.  Notable winners of this sprint race include open stakes winner RIVER BEAR, who won the 2010 renewal and is making his fifth appearance in this race.

The amount of front-end speed in this field could make for a nice warm fire, as GOESSE, RIGHT NOW RICHIE, and SON OF PEARL (though with the same owners as CREATIVE ART) all like to be near the front end.  It sets up for an off-the-pace type, which is how I GOT IT ALL won going seven panels at Keeneland last time.  Winner at two over this course by a zip code, he won the Land of Lincoln earlier in the year, though he did have an outside/closers favoring track to help him.  He justified form when winning the Springfield against fellow statebreds and the Straight Line on Million Day, both at one-turn miles.  He’s on the cutback from seven to six panels here, and with GOESSE as speed this one can pull back and take over.  Worth noting in that off-the-pace score last time out he beat a fellow local (and a good one) in Cool Cowboy (who next out annexed a listed stakes at Mountaineer).  Takes on elders for the first time. RIVER BEAR passes on the early bird special at Denny’s to make his fifth appearance in this race and a win here puts him tantalizingly close to a million dollars in earnings.  Winner of the Molaro Stakes in the Spring under the same conditions, distance, and surface as this race, he closed wide to take down that race and was then taken out of town and put over his head in a G2 at Churchill and a listed stakes at Churchill.  Brought back to Fairmount, he won an upper level sprint and was then sent around two turns, out of his comfort zone.  Third last out in an upper-level open allowance on West 35th, he had to go to the inside that day, also not the best for his swing-wide run that he demonstrated on Illinois Derby Day.  Challenge will be if Thornton can work out an inside-outside trip, but it is a move forward from Julio Felix who was aboard last time.  One advantage to spreading out the Illinois-bred stakes over multiple days is the chance for some horses to wheel back and run more than once.  Presenting SWEET LUCA, who was third in the Buck’s Boy on the green on the final day of Hawthorne’s grass season and wheels back in this sprint event, going route to sprint in this event.  Third in last year’s race, but he was beaten that day by Work All Week.  Even though SWEET LUCA beat Work All Week this summer in the Cammack across town, Work All Week had to carry 130 pounds and concede gobs of weight to the field. And do it while on the synthetic, which isn’t his best surface.  SWEET LUCA caught the eventual BC Sprint winner at an opportune time and scored a victory there.  He’s been tangling with open stakes and state-bred stakes types all season like Coalport and Tazz, and his draw in gate five could set up a outside sweep-wide style.  It’s the same style RIVER BEAR has used time and again, only he’s more outside.  SWEET LUCA is also seven of ten in the top three at Hawthorne.

Selections:

#2 I GOT IT ALL (7/2)

#4 RIVER BEAR (5/1)

#5 SWEET LUCA (3/1)

Longshot: It’s been a long time between drinks for #8 LUV BANDIT (10/1), last seen in the winners’ circle in an Illinois-bred stakes going two turns down at Fairmount.  LUV BANDIT goes second off the layoff, coming first off in an upper level allowance going today’s distance, where he was second behind Helooksthepart (who has since left for Tampa) and finishing ahead of RIVER BEAR.  Maybe putting this one in a sprint wakes up the form, as he’s hit the board in all four starts this year, thrice in open allowances behind aforementioned Helooksthepart, Francois (open stakes winner in the Claiming Crown), and at the stakes level to Big Looie.  Second in last year’s washed off Buck’s Boy at two turns, his new-found form as a closing sprinter should be exhibited with adequate pace targets.

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