Race of the Week 2017
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The Dark Horse

The Best in Chicago Racing - Illinois Champions Day!

As we near the end of the Hawthorne spring meet, you didn’t think it would just go quietly did you? Heck no! Intermixed throughout Saturday’s great card are 6 $125,000 stakes races featuring the best of the best of Illinois-bred runners. Now in the spirit of NFL draft weekend, let’s take a look at the top “players” in this “draft”.  

With the #1 pick in the draft…

#1 - The Peach of It Handicap (Race 3)
Height:  Fillies and Mares, 3 years old and up
Weight:  1 1/16 miles
Player Profile: Dundalk Dust headlines a very good field of some of the best female routers in the state. Team Block tends to dominate Illinois-bred events and this should be no different. Shipping back from Tampa, she has been working very well lately and she also loves running at Hawthorne (3-2-0-0). Happy Henrietta and Catalina Way might get themselves into a pace duel, which should set up nicely for Dundalk Dust. As a wild card, watch out for recent maiden breaker Saint Indeed.  
Draft Grade: A

#2 - The Pretty Jenny (Race 4)
Height:  Fillies, 3 years old
Weight:  6 furlongs
Player Profile: This is definitely one of the more competitive races on the card.  So where does one turn here? Remembermealways draws the rail for Darrell Lunsford and Brandon Meier and has yet to miss the board at Hawthorne. She has run against some very tough allowance-class company and definitely fits in this crowd. Our Domain recently destroyed an allowance-class field in her last start (and defeated the previously mentioned Remembermealways). She also has yet to finish off the board at Hawthorne. Similarly, Cowgirl Justice has not missed the board at Hawthorne as well as one of two Catalano entries in this race, Class Break. With this much talent, it’s hard to hang your hat on just one of these runners!
Draft Grade:  A+
(Cowgirl Justice - drawing by Marcy Leonard!)

#3 - The Land of Lincoln (Race 6)
Height:  Colts and Geldings, 3 years old
Weight:  6 furlongs
Player Profile: There’s a horse in this race whom I’ve been watching very closely for some time, and that is Report Card.  Outside of a maiden clunker, this horse has yet to lose since then.  He has run every race at Hawthorne and knows the track very well and he absolutely dominated his 3 year old debut on April 7th.  Yankee Dealer shortens up in this spot for Chris Block so we’ll see what kind of race we get there.  Sweet Luca makes his 3 year old debut after winning the Sun Power at 14-1 last October (also from Chris Block’s barn). Another dominant trainer in Illinois-bred races, Christine Janks sends Feels Like Flying third from a break and as the morning line favorite.
Draft Grade:  A
(Report Card - drawing by Marcy Leonard!) 

#4 - The Governor’s Lady Handicap (Race 7)
Height:  Fillies and Mares, 4 years old and up
Weight:  6 furlongs
Player Profile: A very full field of 10 are entered to take the Governor’s Lady. This will definitely be one of the more difficult fields to handicap as many of these horses love running on the “horse for course” track at Hawthorne. Our Lady in Red makes her 4 year old debut with a bullet work. Wild Hope has yet to finish off the board at Hawthorne in 11 starts. Missjeanlouise has 5 wins at Hawthorne and is a beaten favorite coming into this race. Third Chance likes to lead and won the Powerless Handicap at Hawthorne last fall. What a field! Which way do you go here?  
Draft Grade:  A+
(Our Lady in Red - drawing again by Marcy Leonard!  I certainly can't draw this well...)

#5 - The Robert S. Molaro Handicap (Race 8)
Height:  Males, 4 years old and up
Weight:  6 furlongs
Player Profile: Another full field of 10 will battle it out in this race which features the best sprinters in Illinois! Sure, a lot of people will think that Bowman’s Secret can just wire the field. He’s a very fast horse, don’t get me wrong, but this field contains many other runners that will contend. Static Kill has been very good since being claimed (yes claimed) by trainer Mike Reavis. The veteran River Bear keeps winning at 7 years old and has 5 wins over the Hawthorne strip. Signsealndeliver has yet to miss the board at Hawthorne. Finally, Sacred Gift has posted some very impressive Beyer figures in his most recent starts at Hawthorne. In addition, this horse has three very fast 4 furlong works since the break. So here’s another very tough field. Will you hit the all-stakes pick 3?
Draft Grade:  A+

#6 - The Milwaukee Avenue Handicap (Race 9)
Height:  Males, 3 years old and up
Weight:  1 1/16 miles
Player Profile: The fullest field of all of the stakes races, 11 horses go in the featured race of the day. Multiple winners at Hawthorne all around and these horses are all very familiar with each other. And why not, they are the best of the best Illinois-breds! You can expect Table Games to be storming in from behind for Chris Block coming off of a best Beyer of 94. Hope For Today has the ability to wire this field. Denham is an 8 time winner at Hawthorne. Local favorite Big Looie runs third off of the break for Christine Janks. Knight After Night comes off of a lifetime best Beyer of 88 and is by Cashel Castle, one of the better Illinois studs. Color Me Blue is Oaklawn fit and is coming off of a bullet work. Whoa. Good luck trying to hit this pick 4!
Draft Grade:  A+

It appears that Hawthorne gets an A+ for their draft this year! I will be on site covering these great races for Horse Racing Nation. Stay tuned for exclusive photos, videos, and coverage!  

Tell me, who do you like in these races?



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Older Comments about The Best in Chicago Racing - Illinois Champions Day!...

Poly messed this place up, Arlington that is.....Still have geat turf racing
I like the NFL analogy. I am pretty sure that you Chicagoans like your pro football, too!

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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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