Hawthorne Closing Day Picks and Ponderings

Hawthorne’s closing day has come upon us even more quickly than expected: in light of Saturday’s anticipated high of eight degrees, Saturday’s card has been cancelled.  Friday’s ten-race program will thus mark closing day of the Thoroughbred meet.

Hawthorne will not be without horses for long, since the winter harness meet starts on January 5.  But — first things first — let’s take a dive into Friday’s closing day card.  Here we take a look at all ten races, with an ABCX chart as well as comments for each horse on the card.

Good luck!

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Race 1: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 12:55pm CST

A Horses:

  • Greeleys Spirit (3) – Fast enough to get the lead inside from the 3 hole, and inside speed is so often good on sunny, cold afternoons at Hawthorne.  Took a while for him to break his maiden, but safe to say the light is on after last out.

B Horses:

  • Mias Moonbeam (7) – Closed well last out, and almost caught a lone leader.  Back form lines suggest he can run a little closer to the pace if need be, too.

C Horses:

  • Willow Ridge (1) – If Greeleys Spirit falters, or if Willow Ridge returns from a six-month lay a sharper horse than before, his speedy style from the rail gives him a shot.  He’s first-time dirt here, as well, with breeding that screams dirt.
  • Savemethelastdance (6) – Inconsistent, but his best can win this.  On the outside chance that the pace falls apart, he likely gets first run.
  • Another Richie (8) – Should this race set up for an off-pace sort he has tables to turn on Mias Moonbeam — but particularly difficult to count out completely given the chance that stablemate Willow Ridge might be there to ensure pace for him.

X Horses:

  • King of the Score (2) – Cut back to one turn is a positive, but off-pace style does no favours, and has not tended to show his best at Hawthorne.
  • Party On Dude (4) – Has found himself outclassed against winners at Hawthorne.
  • Guard Your Grill (5) – Needs the lead, but will not be fast enough to get it here, and the relative outside draw does him no favours.

Race 2: Maiden special weight, two-year-olds, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 1:25pm CST

A Horses:

  • Cupboard (4) – Dam has produced a first-out and second-out winner, both at age two.  In a paceless race, it would be no surprise for Vashchenko to have Hernandez just send Cupboard to steal this.
  • Donivan My Boy (7) – The only one among the horses who have run before who has shown any early pace.  Toss the last — it was his only start with blinkers, which he takes off here, and there’s no one of the calibre of P R Radio Star in this field.

B Horses:

  • Sacramento Q (6) – May find the pace tough, but acquitted himself well on the step up from maiden claimers to maiden special weight.  Got beaten last out by a good one in Charge Card.

C Horses:

  • Silver Energy (1) – Off-pace style does no favours, and he found $15K maiden claimers tough.  But, does do a dirt route for the first time, and that’s where he likely belongs pedigree-wise.
  • Droop’s M D B (2) – Took a step forward from debut to second-out.  Likely needs another move forward here, on the class rise, but may improve first-time route.

X Horses:

  • Gem City Jewel (3) – Showed little in three starts, and barn has won just thrice in 81 tries this meet.
  • Holycitys Miracle (5) – Well beaten in two tries at this level, and barn has been off the board in all seven tries this meet.

Race 3: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of two races since June 29 OR non-winners of three races in 2016-2017 OR N4L, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 1:55pm CST

A Horses:

  • Commercial Appeal (1) – Likes the course and distance, runs well from inside posts, and should have the pace in her sights.  The one to beat.
  • Baltic Star (5) – Likes the course and distance, reliably fires (even without a pace collapse), and made up ground against better at Churchill last out.

B Horses:

  • none

C Horses:

  • Fahionably Late (2) – Likely sets the pace from the inside, but whether she can stay the two-turn trip is a huge question.
  • J Jett (7) – Poor form before a month and a half break, but she drops from open to beaten company, and makes her first start for Tom Swearingen, a trainer who is strong with both mid-length layoffs and with new arrivals to his barn.

X Horses:

  • Classy Student (3) – Don’t ignore her for under-rungs of exotics, but she’s better in the mud, and will not likely get a lot of pace to run at here.  No appeal on top.
  • Star of the Market (4) – A solid turf horse for this level, but does not have the dirt form to be competitive here.
  • Cocoa Bandita (6) – Should be a pace factor early, but has never been able to bring her best to Hawthorne, and her ability to stay the trip is also a question.

Race 4: $8,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:25pm CST

A Horses:

  • Buddy Bud (4) – Has shown excellent form over the Hawthorne main, and has the tactical speed to get first run should the pacesetters fight and tire.
  • Iker (5) – Speed of the speed, excellent form this meet, and finished a close second last out against a field that was (thanks to the allure of extra Illinois-bred money) better than this.

B Horses:

  • Enchanted Rambam (1) – Does his best work at Hawthorne, and rider Olaf Hernandez has been hot lately.

C Horses:

  • Bootsontheground (2) – Won’t be the 108/1 he was last week, but will still be a price.  The inside post is a plus, and his victory at Hazel in July suggests that he’s not going to spit the bit in the likely circumstance that Iker clears from the rail.
  • Drinkinatthebar (3) – Hard to like Mountaineer/Hazel horses, but he does have good form at Hawthorne from last year and he seems to have gotten past his second-itis problem in recent months.  Also proved last out that he doesn’t need the lead.

X Horses:

  • Dr. Liechty (6) – He is typically an underneath candidate at the six-furlong trip, and rider Julio Felix has cooled off a bit in the later stages of the meet.
  • Mean Intentions (7) – Showed signs of life last out, but that was at five and a half panels against softer foes than this.  Mean Intentions is 0-18 at six furlongs, and his recent form makes him a candidate for a minor award at the very best.

Race 5: $12,500 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:55pm CST

A Horses:

  • She’s Obvious (3) – Return to conventional dirt, early speed, and inside post draw are all positives.
  • Regent Diamond (8) – The layoff is a question.  But, she drops in for a tag for the first time for a barn strong with that move.  It’s also her first sprint try, and her only winning half-sibling (Red Redemption) does his best at one turn.

B Horses:

  • City of Justice (6) – A reasonable step forward second off the lay puts her right in this, and the early speed she showed last out is also a positive.
  • Vapnyarka (11) – The only firster in the bunch.  Even though she debuts for a tag, that tag is still higher than her auction price.  Vashchenko can win a maiden claimer at a price — and often times the “Vashchenko B” (particularly with Olaf Hernandez aboard) is a live angle.

C Horses:

  • Compromising (1) – This “Vashchenko A” comes third off the lay, and tries a sprint for the first time.  If she’s as good at a sprint as she is at a route, she can win this, but her complete lack of early speed may make it tough.

X Horses:

  • Penny Slots (2) – Would need a massive step forward to hit the jackpot here.
  • Nurse Megan (4) – May round out a superfecta, but at 0-22 lifetime, she had had plenty of chances to get her diploma at this level and even below.
  • Hoossensation (5) – Well beaten in all five starts so far.  Though the barn has warmed up, their charges typically need a race or two after a long layoff.
  • Bold Drama (7) – Hard to see her taking the necessary steps forward, even second off the lay.
  • Prada Storm (9) – Has had plenty of chances against this level and below, and has shown her best form across town on the polytrack.
  • Silver Skyler (10) – Barn has been off the board in nineteen starts this meet, and this filly was a better fit in Hazel’s maiden ranks.

Race 6: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:25pm CST

A Horses:

  • Kiss’n Rosie (1) – The second- and third-place finishes are a concern, but she has never been in this easy.  She consistently runs races good enough to win against this crowd, and the inside is often the place to be on a cold day.
  • Jane’s Pride (7) – Her forward running style is a positive, as is this drop into an easier condition than last out.  With a better break, and with that race two weeks ago (her first since Arlington) under her, she should make better account of herself.

B Horses:

  • Just Charlie (3) – Her record at Hawthorne is not good.  But, she does look like the inside speed, and should improve on the cut back from a route to a sprint.  She’s not the sort of horse you can take chalk on — but, she’s 30/1 on the morning line, and you’ll likely get every cent of that.

C Horses:

  • Greeleys Delight (2) – She may be better on the polytrack, but her best dirt races could get it done here if the pace tires out.
  • Peppermint Ice (11) – She has a critical case of second-itis, but trainer Barr Inman has won with two of his last three going blinkers off, and her competitive recent form combined with the equipment change mean she’s impossible to dismiss completely.

X Horses:

  • Good Luck Dad (4) – Off the board in ten starts at the distance, and found softer $5K N2L races at Hazel to be over her head.
  • Illini Kitten (5) – Off the board in eight starts at Hawthorne, and her off-pace style does Her no favours. One of her best races could get her on the bottom of a trifecta or superfecta here, but she doesn’t appeal on top.
  • Starship Brooklyn (6) – She may prompt the pace in the opening furlong or two, but that’s the most she’s likely to be involved.
  • Josie Jewell (8) – Not even the big rider upgrade to Rodney Prescott is enough to overshadow the fact that she has never been able to show any form at Hawthorne.
  • Waddle (9) – May rally for a share, but hard to see this slop-loving daughter of Stroll getting all the way against this field on a dry track.
  • Hoosessential (10) – Shown dull form in two starts at Hawthorne this meet, with no indication that she can turn the tide.

Race 7: Maiden special weight, three-year-olds and up, Illinois-registered, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:55pm CST

A Horses:

  • Switheral (6) – The longer-priced Brian Williamson entry gets Lasix for the first time, and it won’t take much second-start progression for him to run a race good enough to win this.

B Horses:

  • Unbridled Ruler (2) – Running out of excuses, with four seconds in twelve starts.  But, did well from a frontrunning spot last out, and the relative inside post is good.  If he can withstand pressure from Hannity and Tsali to his outside, he has a shot.
  • Andreas (8) – Has tactical speed.  Sprinting is the big question, but he’s better now than he was in those first two starts, he has some one-turn pedigree, and this will be his first race going short on dirt.

C Horses:

  • Bulldog of Bergen (1) – Don’t love the yo-yo form, especially since he ran a relatively good race last out, but he can handle the rail well and should run on late into a contentious pace.  More likely for an underneath share, but worth using on a spread ticket.
  • Chiffre (3) – Ran into some traffic trouble last time.  Could improve: second start progression, and first-time dirt.  (Full sister Lesia Jane won her debut on conventional dirt.)  Gossamer threads, but he’ll be a longshot.
  • Tsali (5) – Should be on or very close to the lead early.  Took a nice step forward form debut to second out; another step forward could put him in the picture, particularly if the track is playing very well for speed.

X Horses:

  • Hannity (4) – He may be a pace factor early, but his dirt form has been dreadful.  Wait until he tries polytrack or turf again.
  • Harlanday (7) – Biggest underlay of the day — key underneath in exactas and trifectas, but with a 12: 0-6-3 morning line and a jockey downgrade, he’s had (and blown) his chances to win at a short price with any of my money on him.
  • Zanforce (9) – Has improved off the lay and with blinkers on, but not improved enough to win at this better level.
  • Prado Sky (10) – Does drop from maiden special to maiden claiming, but no suggestion from that flat debut performance, his breeding, or his connections that he’ll figure it out here.

Race 8: Starter optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $6,250 or less in 2016-2017 OR claiming price $12,500, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 4:25pm CST

A Horses:

  • Crafty Spector (7) – Class of the field, and without a lot of pace in this race, can clear from the outside and kiss them goodbye.
  • Wildwood’s Afleet (3) – Has been the king of the hangers — but last out showed an impressive desire to win.  Came from well off the pace there, but in some recent previous efforts, has shown enough early speed to either send or sit closest to Crafty Spector if he clears.

B Horses:

  • Gold Hawk (6) – Gets a welcome class drop here.  Needs to revert to a closer-to-the-pace style than he’s been showing this meet, but if he does, he could be in the picture late.

C Horses:

  • Hawk’s Image (2) – Faces easier foes than he has in his last two starts, and has showed enough tactical speed at times to suggest he doesn’t have to drop way back.

X Horses:

  • Sun Brown (1) – Has shown little form at Hawthorne, and the from-the-clouds style won’t be an asset.  Likely finds this too tough, even though it’s on the soft side for the starter-optional level.
  • Spectacular Act (4) – Has been in decent form, but won’t get the right setup for his from-the-clouds running style.
  • My Prince (5) – Form this meet is good, but he does his best when he gets a lot more pace than he’ll get in this spot.  An underneath slot would be no surprise; a win would be.

Race 9: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N3L OR non-winners of a race since June 29, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 4:55pm CST

A Horses:

  • Descarado (2) – A standout on speed, and the relative inside post is a positive.  As long as the track is playing somewhat fairly by the ninth race, she should be in range of the lead, and ready to strike.
  • Cougar Creek (10) – Tactically versatile, and although she has not tried a route before, her breeding suggests it’s well worth a try.

B Horses:

  • Silent Congrats (1) – Particularly makes sense if the track is playing well for speed.  Hard to excuse her faltering last out, but hard to dismiss her either, with no one likely to outgun her from the rail.
  • Harlan’s Girl (3) – A well-beaten second at this level last out, but if Silent Congrats falters again, it would be no surprise to see her get first run.

C Horses:

  • Holy Cookie (6) – Has not been in great form lately, but has an outside shot just on the drop to the $5,000 level for the first time, and on trainer Steve Manley’s strength with the turf-to-dirt move.
  • Katie’s Warrior (7) – Wet-track outings muddle the form a bit, but on the dry track she shows tactical speed.  She’ll need to bring her very best to win it, but will be the right price to cover on a spread ticket.
  • Let’s Skip Fiji (8) – Could rally for a piece under no matter what.  If the track is playing fairly, or even shifting to be good for outside closers (which can happen as the sun sets), has some chance to get home late.

X Horses:

  • Rosie’s Relish (4) – Has not hit the board in nine tries at Hawthorne, and no compelling reason to think this outing will be different.
  • Wake Up and Run (5) – Her recent form, particularly over a dry course, leaves her needing to make a huge step forward to win this.
  • Hurraca (9) – Shows poor recent form, and deep-closing style doesn’t stand to help her chances.
  • Valid Offer (11) – Open company at Hawthorne has proven a bit tougher than Michigan-breds at Hazel.
  • She Kant Miss (12) – A better fit at Hazel than she is at Hawthorne, and the barn is 1-48 on the meet.

Race 10: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L, one mile and seventy yards on the dirt, post time 5:25pm CST

A Horses:

  • Cartiac Road (4) – This race has several speeds in it, but he has a rating gear, and jockey Rodney Prescott has been excellent with trainer Steve Manley.

B Horses:

  • Giant Results (5) – Does his best work from off the pace.  Particularly if the track starts to play better for closers, as it can late in the day, he should benefit from the fact that he’ll catch more pace in front of him than he has in his last few starts.

C Horses:

  • Seeyalaterbye (1) – Told the field exactly that on December 2.  Likely sends from the rail, and has a shot if the track is still carrying speed late in the day.  Does also have a rating gear, though, if he doesn’t strike the front.
  • Kielbasa (7) – May be fast enough to clear from the relative outside.  Include him if speed is still carrying later in the day; if not, downgrade.
  • Slope (8) – Demand a price, since he’s skipping a condition.  But, if the track is playing well to outside closers at the end of the day, may launch a dangerous outside rally late.
  • Tambov (9) – As long as the track isn’t skewed toward speed at the end of the day, he should be a danger late.  He likes Hawthorne, runs on well late, and doesn’t need a total collapse to pull out a win.

X Horses:

  • Eben Zabeel (2) – Has been off form for over a year and a half, and his close-from-the-clouds style would make it difficult even if he were sharp.
  • Mr. Thunder (3) – May be a brief pace factor, but has found the company at Hawthorne to be a bit too tough.
  • Forever Good (6) – Will be a pace factor early, but won’t get the uncontested lead he needs when going long.
  • Bad Moon (10) – He has yet to find his best after four starts this Hawthorne meet.  He could invade the trifecta or superfecta, but he hasn’t seen the winners’ circle in two and a half years.

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