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Illinois Champions Day Recap - Dark Horse Style

On what turned out to be a sunny day after all, the sealed track was cut open prior to racing, the track was fast, and the best thoroughbreds Illinois has to offer were on display on Champions Day at Hawthorne Race Course. Highlighting the day were three stakes wins for jockey Francisco Torres (adding to his already huge total for the spring meet) and dominating performances by River Bear, PDQ Kiddo, and one of my new favorite horses, Report Card. Take a look as I provide some exclusive Horse Racing Nation coverage of today’s great races!

Peach of It Handicap

Slapshot Racing’s Seans Silverdancer and jockey Tim Thornton saved ground around the first turn and back stretch and made her good run when she needed it to win the Peach of It Handicap by 1 ½ lengths over Hawthorne’s fast track. Local favorite Catalina Way held the lead for most of the race, setting a sensible pace of 24.2 and 48.3, but just couldn’t hang on as Seans Silverdancer passed on by in the stretch. It was a good win for the gray as she had been struggling just a bit towards the end of last year. However she was in great form today to win this stakes race! 

(Seans Silverdancer crossing the finish line)
(Jim Miller and Tim Thornton) 

Pretty Jenny Stakes

It didn’t take long for Rosemary Homeister Jr. to make her presence known here in Chicago. Aboard 50-1 long shot Dolly Peach she tracked pace setter Point Count until the top of the lane where she let her horse loose and won by 1 ½ lengths! After the race I caught up with Rosemary and asked her about her trip. “The filly had run well at Hawthorne in the past. In a stakes race you always have a shot and I have confidence in riding each time out. The connections said to try to get a piece if I could, however on the turn [when she saw Cowgirl Justice swing out] the horse’s heart beat pumped up, and I knew she was going to get it!” And get it she did winning her first stakes race in Illinois in 2012! I guarantee we’ll see more of the same at Arlington this summer.

(Dolly Peach with the victory) 

Land of Lincoln Stakes

With the only pace in the race, leading jockey Francisco Torres knew exactly how to ride Report Card to victory in the Land of Lincoln Stakes. “After looking at the PP’s I knew we were quick enough. I expected a quicker track today as the track was tight and fast on the rail.” When I asked about the relatively quick quarter mile in 22.2, Francisco replied, “I knew not to take a shot at playing the strategic game [by slowing down the pace].” I expect great things to come from Report Card in the future and I am very much looking forward to seeing him run again! 

(Report Card - easy win)

Governor’s Lady Handicap

Once again, Cisco Torres comes away with the victory, this time on post-time favorite and high-weight Third Chance in the Governor’s Lady Handicap. All she had to do was follow Cityrap for most of the race until it was time to let loose on the stretch coming away by 1 ½ lengths. 

On a side note, I played the Report Card / ALL double and still lost money somehow… The Cisco double paid $13.20. 

(Third Chance - victory)
(Leading rider Cisco Torres and Jim Miller) 

Robert S. Molaro Handicap

In one of the more dominating performances of the day, River Bear took over in the stretch, swinging 4-wide, and passed everyone to a 2 ¾ length victory in the Robert S. Molaro Handicap. This victory gives River Bear just over $700,000 in career earnings. I asked jockey Danush Sukie about his trip aboard the winner. “It was the perfect trip. He needed some pace to chase and we got it. This seven year old is all class and we’re going to shoot for the one million mark [in earnings].” Looking back at the PP’s, the only time this horse had finished out of the money since January of 2011 was when the track was sloppy. And that was only two times. 

(River Bear - dominating) 

Milwaukee Avenue Handicap

Any time you get 8-1 on a Midwest Thoroughbreds horse you should put some money on it, right? Today was a time that I let this completely slip past me as PDQ Kiddo, and Francisco Torres again, tracked leader Hope For Today then drew clear in the stretch by 2 ¼ lengths to dominate the Milwaukee Avenue Handicap. It’s been a while where I’ve seen a horse that was so happy to win a race (see my photo below). 

(A VERY happy PDQ Kiddo!) 
This was an amazing day of racing through and through. Illinois-bred runners were on display and they did not disappoint. Unfortunately though this does signal the end of the Hawthorne 2012 spring meet. Stay tuned to the Chicago Dark Horse blog as I will provide my recap to the meet in the very near future.

What were your impressions of today’s races? 


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Older Comments about Illinois Champions Day Recap - Dark Horse Style...

Great pictures and awesome coverage! Sounds like a great day!
WOW, good stuff! Cisco is unreal!
Way to wrap it up CDH! I LOVED Report Cards win, A+ effort! River Bear looks the part and showed it on the track too. Way to bring home a 50-1 too Rosemary WOW!!!
I always like to see the Hellman's get a win & River Bear is one of my favorites. Leroy was looking good there in the winner's circle.
Nice pics, Dark Horse!
Awesome photos, Chris ... Reading this was almost as good as being there! Although, I wouldn't have minded one of Rosie ;-)

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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!
While finishing school in Chicago, I spent every possible moment at Arlington Park with my dad.  We took the time to develop computer programs (on the ever popular Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS) to try to find patterns and handicap races more accurately.  My dad taught me a lot about handicapping races, paying particular attention to class moves!

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