2019 Steel Valley Sprint Preview

This week, Picks and Ponderings takes a (figurative) road trip to a place we’ve never visited before: Youngstown, Ohio.  The Steel Valley Sprint, the flagship race of the meet at Mahoning Valley Race Course, anchors Monday’s card.  It’s a six-furlong dirt race for three-year-olds, with a purse of $250,000, the biggest purse of the winter... Read more »

Devileye Returns to Top Form in the Lightning Jet Handicap

Devileye Returns to Top Form in the Lightning Jet Handicap
STICKNEY, IL — Devileye made it look easy down the lane Saturday evening in the Lightning Jet Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course, cruising up the rail and opening up to a two-and-a-half-length victory in a field of seven Illinois-registered colts and geldings. However, according to Devileye’s trainer Michele Boyce, the rest of the year hasn’t... Read more »

Jean Elizabeth Wins the Battle of the Greys in the Powerless Handicap

STICKNEY, IL — Horse racing offers few more striking sights than two grey horses battling down the lane. Friday evening at Hawthorne, racegoers got even more than that: two greys, both seasoned stakes mainstays, dueling stride for stride, virtually gate to wire.  At the wire only a neck separated the pair, with 7/10 favorite Jean... Read more »
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2019 Lightning Jet Handicap Preview

Illinois-bred Lightning Jet never won a stakes race, and only started in stakes races twice.  But, he is still a worthy namesake for a race, since he deserves to be remembered.  He earned almost $150,000 on the track the hard way from 1973 through 1980, with 21 wins and another 31 money finishes in 99... Read more »

2019 Powerless Handicap Preview

This race honours Powerless, perhaps the most surprising namesake of an Illinois-bred sprint stakes race.  She certainly deserves to be remembered: a hard-knocking daughter of Southern Count, she raced most of her 73 career starts in Illinois, and won twelve of those outings.  Yet, she was bred in Kentucky.  Her lone stakes score, a convincing... Read more »

Beating Sistercharlie in the Filly and Mare Turf

Sistercharlie has been the star of the American filly and mare turf division for about a year and a half now.  She has won 10 of 14 career starts, including two straight editions of the Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington, two straight editions of the Diana (G1) at Saratoga, and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly... Read more »
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2019 Showtime Deb Stakes Preview

The stakes action at Hawthorne resumes Friday (yes, Friday!) afternoon at Hawthorne Race Course, with the Showtime Deb Stakes.  Run regularly through 2014, it was off the calendar in 2015 and 2016, returned in 2017, and then was not run last year.  Hopefully it is back for good, since it fills an important place in... Read more »

BLUE SKY KOWBOY Catches Defending Champion Cammack in the Buck's Boy Handicap

BLUE SKY KOWBOY Catches Defending Champion Cammack in the Buck's Boy Handicap
STICKNEY-CICERO, IL — From the time Michele Boyce and Margaret Burlingham saw Blue Sky Kowboy as a foal, he looked like a runner. “He was racing around that day,” remembered Burlingham.  “He was ripping up and down the hill.  He was showing off.” Breeder Jack Barr saw something special in him, too.  He and his... Read more »

All's Well that Ends Well: BRAMBLE QUEEN Finishes Her Four-Year-Old Season With an Illini Princess Win

All's Well that Ends Well: BRAMBLE QUEEN Finishes Her Four-Year-Old Season With an Illini Princess Win
STICKNEY-CICERO, IL — Three months ago Bramble Queen was supposed to visit Chicago for the Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap, July 20 at Arlington.  The Illini Princess Handicap — which Bramble Queen closed smartly to win by a length and a quarter today at Hawthorne — wasn’t even on the calendar. The midsummer heat wave that... Read more »
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2019 Buck's Boy Handicap Preview

The stakes season at Hawthorne began Friday with the Illini Princess Handicap, and continues Saturday with the Buck’s Boy Handicap, a turf route stakes for Illinois-registered three-year-olds and up. Previously named the High Alexander Handicap, the race has since 2007 taken its name from Buck’s Boy, one of just two Illinois-bred horses to have won... Read more »