2015 Thanksgiving Handicapping Feast: Hawthorne Gold Cup Day Stakes Preview

Saturday’s card features the only Grade II race of the year at Hawthorne: the Hawthorne Gold Cup.  The signature race of the fall meet drew a field of eight runners this year, a mix of classy shippers like distance specialist Commissioner and Grade I winner Majestic Harbor, as well as top-shelf local runners like the durable Mister Marti Gras as well as 2013 Gold Cup third-place finisher Street Spice.  In addition, Saturday’s ten-race card also features a pair of Illinois-preferred stakes for sprinters: the Blackhawk Handicap for open company, as well as the filly and mare-restricted Pershing Handicap.

Though Saturday’s action gets deep at Hawthorne, Picks and Ponderings has not forgotten about Aqueduct and Churchill, either.  Paul continues his Churchill Downs coverage with previews of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII) and the Golden Rod Stakes (GII).  Nicolle sticks with the Big A, previewing the Cigar Mile (GI), the Remsen Stakes (GII), and the Demoiselle Stakes (GII).

These (metaphorical) visits continue our themes from Thursday and Friday.  Thursday’s coverage includes Paul’s preview of the Falls City Handicap (GII) at Churchill Downs, as well as Nicolle’s take on the Fall Highweight Handicap (GIII) at Aqueduct.  Friday’s coverage includes Paul’s analysis of the Clark Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs, as well as Nicolle’s look at the Go For Wand Handicap (GIII) at Aqueduct.

All races in this preview are scheduled for Saturday, November 28 at Hawthorne Race Course.  The Hawthorne Gold Cup, as well as all races at Hawthorne, stream for free on the Horse Races Now mobile app.

Edited on November 28 to account for the scratch of HELOOKSTHEPART in the Blackhawk Handicap.

Race 3: Blackhawk Handicap, three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred OR non-winners of a stakes at any time and has raced within the state of Illinois since August 15, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:10pm CST

Paul’s Selections:

#5 CREATIVE ART (6/1)

#1 CREWMAN (6/1)

#2 LUV BANDIT (2/1) (LUV BANDIT won at this six-furlong distance against similar company in last year’s Lightning Jet Handicap, and runs for top connections: owner William Stiritz, trainer Scott Becker, and rider Chris Emigh.)

Paul’s Longshot:  None.

Nicolle’s Selections:

#2 LUV BANDIT (2/1)  (With the scratch of HELOOKSTHEPART, LUV BANDIT gets a look.  In fact, with the track still as wet as it is this morning, his 5-3-1-0 record over the slop rockets him to the top.  He is the only horse in the field, other than the scratched HELOOKSTHEPART, with known wet-track form.  He also comes in for his second start off a summer break, and can place himself forward in a short field.)

#4 RECOUNT (5/1)

#3 PURELY GIVEN (3/1)

Nicolle’s Longshot:  #1 CREWMAN (6/1)

***

Race 6: Pershing Handicap, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, Illinois-bred OR non-winners of a stakes at any time and has raced within the state of Illinois since August 15, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:40pm CST

Paul’s Selections:

#11 WILDWOOD KANTHAROS (7/2)

#9 PUNTSVILLE (6/1)

#2 DOLLY PEACH (9/2)

Paul’s Longshot:  #5 CANETTE (12/1)

Nicolle’s Selections:

#2 DOLLY PEACH (9/2)

#9 PUNTSVILLE (6/1)

#12 ROSIE MY ROSIE (6/1)

Nicolle’s Longshot:  #10 CONGRATS HONEY (20/1)

***

Race 8: Hawthorne Gold Cup (GII), three-year-olds and up, one and one quarter miles on the dirt, post time 5:45pm CST

Paul’s Selections:

#7 COMMISSIONER (9/5)

#6 MISTER MARTI GRAS (8/1)

#4 NECK ‘N NECK (7/2)

Paul’s Longshot:  #8 STREET SPICE (15/1)

Nicolle’s Selections:

#7 COMMISSIONER (9/5)

#1 MAJESTIC HARBOR (4/1)

#6 MISTER MARTI GRAS (8/1)

Nicolle’s Longshot:  #3 VALIANT CITY (6/1)

***

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