By Mike Paradise
Hawthorne will again double-up on Open events for its Sunday card and this time there are a couple of new additions added to both the $12,000 Open Trot and $12,000 Pace for fillies and mares.
The add-ons to the distaff fifth race co-headliner have substantially changed of the complexion of that event.
Last week’s filly and mare Open had a five horse field. Tonight it is almost twice as large with nine gals going postward. The new faces are the Ohio invader Debt Motivated (pp 4), trained and driven by Ross Leonard, and Look Kimbo (pp 2, Cordarius Stewart), making her season debut for conditioner Don Ray.
Debt Motivated won a recent high-level conditioned at Miami Valley Raceway in 1:52.3. The five-year-old mare banked almost $50,000 in 2019, mostly at Hoosier Park, and is likely Indiana-bound in the near future. She’ll be the 2-1 first flash favorite
Back after a week’s absence from the March 1 Hawthorne Open is the ICF mare Boogie On Down (pp 1, Kyle Wilfong) and Ideal’s Nicole (pp 7, Brandon Bates) from the barn of Hector Herrera.
Post positions were drawn by groups with the last pair of distaff Open winners Rollin Coal (programmed 5-1,Juan Franco) and Dee Rocks (4-1, Ridge Warren), landing the outside eight and nine slots, respectively.
Posts three through seven were also drawn with Whiskersonkittens (Todd Warren) faring well with the three-slot, Black Jack Pat (Tyler Shehan) who missed almost a month of racing when she took fourth last week in her local debut, is in good shape with the five, while Audrey Anna (Travis Seekman) moves from the pole position to the seven.
The horse most affected by tonight’s larger field is last week’s Open winner Dee Rocks. The Jamaica Patton trained mare was given a heady front-stepping journey from driver Ridge Warren, grabbing a quick lead from the two-post and enjoying a leisurely 58.3 half on her way to a 1:54.2 mile.
Will Dee Rocks be asked to shoot out from the nine-hole tonight? Will she instead float out with hopes of finding a hole? Or will she drop in line and be required to try and pass up eight horses? The Rockin Image mare can race from out of it but history shows she’s more effective racing up close.
Good for Another? The second race $12,000 Open Trot, a seven-horse field a week ago, is down to five horses tonight and that could bode well for Lindy’s Big Bang (8-5, Casey Leonard) to power past from the assigned five-post and nail down his third straight for the Terry Leonard Stable.
She’s Got Bling (5-2. Todd Warren), was second best last week, beaten two lengths but note that was her first test since early last November. The four-year-old mare visited a winner’s circle eight times in 2019.
Tonight’s newcomers to Hawthorne’s Open Trot are So Nanza Chip (pp 1, Juan Franco), who owns three wins and a second in his last four tries on Northfield Park’s half-miler, and the Miami Valley invader Double A Goldrush (3-1, pp 3), trained by his driver Ross Leonard.
Fourth in a recent $24,000 Open in Ohio, the six-year-old trotter breezed in a high-level conditioned trot in his previous start as a heavy favorite. Double A Goldrush has 22 lifetime victories, including a 1:53 mark, taken last year at Hoosier Park.
Double A Goldrush did make one start at Hawthorne in 2019. It came in mid-May when he pulled off a 1:55.4 Open Trot victory over Anna’s Lucky Star.
Muscular Babe (pp 2, Kyle Wilfong), from the barn of trainer Brett Wilfong, completes the five horse field of trotters.
Back on Track: Fox Valley Gemini ($2.40) ended his mild-slump at Hawthorne last night with a convincing victory in the $10,000 Open Two Pace.
Driver Casey Leonard hustled the overwhelming favorite away from the four-post while Todd Warren did the same with Account Hanover from the outside five-slot. Fox Valley Gemini out-sprinted his rival to the front and paced a modest 28.4 first quarter.
With no challengers Casey had the star of the Terry Leonard Stable on cruise control through unhurried middles quarters of 30 and 29 flat with Account Rollover in the two-hole.
Once they turned for home Casey asked “Gemini” to do some work and the two-time Illinois Harness Horse of the Year obliged, pulling away to his first triumph of the year, this one in 1:54 flat (26.1 last panel). The five-year-old gelding, owned by Jim Ballinger of Atwater, Illinois, ended a six-race losing streak (the last three at Hawthorne) with his 31st career win in 46 starts.
Account Rollover was second best, beaten four lengths. Bright Future took third.
Ridge Warren had a driving triple on Saturday’s card.