Race of the Week 2017
HRN Original Blog:
The Dark Horse

Alternation and Nates Mineshaft Breeze Into The Windy City!

Wow that was fast! Not more than a couple of days after we close the doors on Arlington’s great 2012 meet, we are immediately treated to a slew of amazing races on Saturday’s Hawthorne card! The featured race is the $500,000 Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup where some of the country’s best prep for the Breeders’ Cup in this 10 furlong contest. Last year’s Gold Cup winner, Headache, ran in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and attempted to defeat the likes of Game on Dude and Drosselmeyer. This year’s field is VERY strong! Let’s take an in-depth look at this race…

















 (Alternation!  Drawing by Mel!)


5/2 morning line favorite, Alternation, sure looks like the class of the field here. With 9 wins in only 15 starts, this 4 year colt can win on the lead or coming from behind. This kind of versatility can be hard to find but trainer Donnie Von Hemel seems to have this horse in very good form. Well rested since his August 11th victory, he has recently thrown two bullet works in the last two weeks. I do have a question about this horse however. First he has never run the full 10 furlongs (came close in the 1 3/16 Pimlico Special where he won by a nose) and second if he tries to vie for the lead from the rail, then surely he will duel with the speedy Nates Mineshaft.

(Alternation wins the 2012 Pimlico Special) 
We know for sure that Nates Mineshaft will definitely head straight for the lead. Not only do his running lines show this, but add local pace-setting jockey ET Baird in the mix and that’s a sure-fire recipe for a quick dart to lead the pack. This horse has experience at both the claiming level as well as the graded stakes level. He has three graded stakes victories this year already and obviously he is looking for a fourth. In that long, Hawthorne stretch it takes a ton of stamina to last the entire way. (Click HERE for the video of Nates Mineshaft in the New Orleans Handicap)

I’m thinking this race could possibly set up well for a closer and just about every other horse in the field seems to like to come from way off the pace. Local favorite Mister Marti Gras is well known for charging home late. He has yet to win at 10 furlongs, but this race might just set up well for him. Still he is very versatile in terms of being able to win on any surface, and he is coming off of a good second in the Washington Park Handicap. Pool Play is another horse that loves to come from way behind. He normally runs on the turf or synthetic, but he is a perfect 1 for 1 on the dirt with a victory in the Stephen Foster last summer.

Another horse in very good form is Cease. He finished third in last year’s Gold Cup and is coming off of a third place finish in the Woodward losing to some strong talent in To Honor And Serve and Mucho Macho Man. He has hit the board 5 of 6 races on dirt and this race will be his third off of the layoff. 7/2 might be a good price if the speed duel does actually occur.  

Also running here are Eldaafer, and Fly Lexis Fly.

What a great race! Don’t forget to check out the other stakes races on the card as well. Kepi takes on Romacaca in the $100,000 Indian Maid and there is some firepower in the $100,000 Robert F Carey Memorial! That race features the rematch of Suntracer vs. Willcox Inn and there will be appearances by Tazz and Nikki’s Sandcastle! Whoa!

I hope to see some of you at the track this Saturday!! Who do you like in the Gold Cup?



In other HRN News...

- Sneak peek at the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic


- A Flower Bowl Full of Riches!


- Hansen's Sire Potential


 [Get Started with TVG and Get Up To $150 + 20% Bonus on Winnings!] 



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Older Comments about Alternation and Nates Mineshaft Breeze Into The Windy City!...

Nate's been scratched
Cease is looking good to me!!
Alternation and Cease look strong...outside shot for Pool Play.
Very impressive field, Chris! I don't know if Monmouth based Eldaafer has any big efforts left, but I hope so.
3rd race in the US after a long layoff .I bet Fly Lexus Fly in the Super Derby and he cloed a ton of groung to get the place but didn't threaten the winner Bourbon Courage . The added distance should help this ones chances in here.
Nice field for the Gold Cup! Alternation is the one to beat, but I think Fly Lexis Fly may be worth a flyer.

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 (Whoa - it's me - the DARK HORSE)
Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
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