By Mike Paradise
The $10,000 Open Pace for fillies and mares returns to Hawthorne Saturday night and the early feature will be supported by a trio of second round Late Closers events, also for the gals.
The compact five-horse Open Pace will go as the second race and was drawn by groups with Rocking Katie, an easy winner of the January 6th headliner allocated the outside five-slot.
The Ross Leonard trainee will be driven again by his brother Casey who guided the 6-year-old mare to a comfortable four-length triumph two weeks ago in 1:55.2 while under a hold on a chilly (11 degrees) evening.
The Bob Walker Stable’s Bucklegirl Bobette, the 2017 Illinois Aged Pacer of the Year, was assigned the one-slot for her 2018 debut, her first outing since mid-October. The 5-year-old Duneside Perch mare was a nine-time winner last year, including Hawthorne’s $60,000 Maurello Final on the Night of Champions.
Mystical Nectar (pp 3, Sam Widger) will be back to try and make amends after a disappointing fifth place finish in the first Dustaff Open of the meet when she was bet down to 2-5 odds.
Narcian Jewel (pp 2, Todd Warren), a winner in her Hawthorne bow two weeks ago for the Frank Petrelli Stable has some back class. The 7-year-old Shadow Play mare possesses 22 lifetime victories and her career earnings of $22,499 is far and away the highest amount in the field.
The late-charging Backwoods Barbie (pp 4, Brandon Bates) needed her initial start of the year for trainer Jim Molitor after an almost two month layoff.
The sometimes amusing computer generated USTA morning line has Mystical Nectar the 5-2 favorite. It couldn’t spew out a definite second choice so it came up with a three-way tie: Bucklegirl Bobette, Narcian Jewel and Rocking Katie ALL are listed at 3-1. Backwoods Barbie is at 9-2.
How helpful are those odds, especially for a novice bettor?
An Early Late Closer: The first of three filly and mare Late Closers (#6) is Saturday’s opener. First leg winner Princess Oshie (pp 3, Mike Oosting), drew the three-slot in the nine horse field.
The second leg of the Tim Wilson Sr. Late Closer (#6.) goes as race five and if last week’s first leg is any indications, this ICF affair will see a bunched-up field at the finish.
Only three lengths separated the first seven finishers a week ago when the Gary Rath Stable’s C Far found racing room at the right time and eked-out an upset win at 15-1 odds in her second start as a 4-year-old.
Another longshot (8-1), Lacarmeliliana (pp 5, Matt Avenatti, was only a neck short of a wire-to-wire victory, while Dune In Time, impeded at the start with his second tier post, came on nicely to be a close-up third.
Miss M A Jones (Kyle Wilfong), gets a beneficial post shift tonight from the six-slot to the rail after a first-up journey that saw her end up fourth yet beaten only one length.
Wimple’s Dimple (pp 2, Mike Oosting), Fox Valley Charliz (pp 4, Jamaica Patton), Cowgirl Too (pp6, Mike Rogers), Beamer N Bud (pp 8, Ryan Anderson) last week’s 5-2 slight betting favorite November Rain (pp 9, Casey Leonard) and Rosebud’s First (pp 10, Sam Widger) complete the fifth race field.
The Tom Simmons Stable’s Rockin Praline (pp 2, Mike Oosting) looks like a heavy favorite in the seventh race Late Closer (#8) after a dominating five-length victory in round one of the series for non-winners of $40,000 lifetime as of November 1, 2017.
Looking to turn the tables on Rockin Praline, the daughter of the 2011 Grandma Ann Super Night champion mare Fox Valley Praline, are seven mares: Lakeside Ms Queen (pp 1, Kyle Wilfong) with the pole position and Beautiful Brew (Pat Curtin), My Moa Me (Matt Avenatti), Morgangetshershare (Tim Curtin), Turnitdownforwatt (Travis Seekman) and Blissful Pansy (Brandon Bates), with posts three through eight, in that order.
Friday’s Outcomes: The $20,000 Cicero Claiming Series went to the Perry Smith Stable’s Elite Awards ($.20), nicely driven by Sam Widger, by three-parts of a length over KC Rambuctious in 1:54.2. A locked-in Mobile Big John was a nose more behind to be third.
In last night’s Open III Firedrake ($7.40) proved fastest out of the gate and it proved to be the winning tactic for driver Kyle Wilfong as the Payton Ode trained gelding made every pole a winning one with a 1:54 flat clocking.
Best Man Hanover (Todd Warren) got an excellent two-hole trip but couldn’t gain on Firedrake in the lane and settled for second best while Somestarsomewhere (Sam Widger) was third in his first start since last May.
Second round Late Closer Series winners were Wolfman’s Brother ($5.40, Casey Leonard), in 1:56.2, Herecomesarockin ($3.00, Jared Finn) in 1:53.3 and Fox Valley Reggie ($4.00, Pat Curtin) in 1:56.2.