By Mike Paradise
If one Open on a card is good then obviously two is even better and that’s the scenario for the initial Saturday card of the summer meet at Hawthorne
The $12,000 Opens will come in back-to-back events tonight. First up is the fourth face Open Trot. It’ll be followed by the Open for filly and mare pacers.
The Open Trot has a condensed five horse field and the two horses assigned the outside posts, No. 4 Picky Picky Valor (Casey) Leonard and No. 5 Pine Dream (Travis Seekman), will no doubt seize a great deal of the public’s support.
Pine Dream has been campaigning in Ohio for the Chupp Racing Stable of Crete, Illinois and has already hauled in over $70,000 in his first 13 outings of the year. The 7-year-old trotter’s trio of 2019 victories all came in tough Open Handicaps in the Buckeye state
Pine Dream had a bountiful season in 2018 for trainer Kelly Chupp, winning 11 races, and raking in $91,741. The Pinetucky gelding competed mostly in Ohio but did go postward three times at Hawthorne, prevailing in a pair of Opens and a fourth place finish in a $25,000 Invitational on the Night of Champions.
Shelley Steele’s Picky Picky Valor comes off a banner season at Hawthorne where the now 7-year-old ICF trotter posted eight stops at a winner’s circle in 34 starts. The consistent Gerald Hansen trainee also had 10 seconds and 4 thirds, banking over $71,000 for his Monee, Illinois owner. Six of “Picky’s” eight wins came in Hawthorne Open trots.
Looking to pull off an upset are Mannsive (Kyle Wilfong), Held In Balance (Tyler Shehan) and Big Expense (Kyle Husted), leaving from the first three posts, respectively.
Looking Pretty Good: Pretty Image (Tim Curtin), owned and trained by Rodney Freese of Sherman, Illinois, is expected to be a prohibitive favorite in the sixth distaff Open after four strong showings in Indians to begin her 5-year-old season.
Pretty Image took a new lifetime mark at Hoosier Park in her second race of the year by 5 and 1/2 lengths in 1:51.4. Hawthorne’s program has her opening at even-money and so do I in my morning line. The Rockin Image mare was only a neck short in her last Hoosier start, also a 1:51.4 clocking.
Hawthorne’s long stretch suits the late-rushing Pretty Image just fine. The mare captured a pair of Opens on the track last year to go along with five bridesmaid finishes. A check tonight would put Pretty Image over a quarter of a million dollars in career earnings.
Pretty Image will leave from the four post with Model (Travis Seekman), newcomers Bella Ragaza (Kyle Husted) and April Deo (Casey Leonard), and the steady Illinois bred Boogie On Down inside of her. Swinging Jenny (Tyler Shehan) landed the outside six spot.
A Booming Upset: Skyway Boomer, at 18-1 the longest shot in the Friday’s Open Pace at 18-1 odds, came thundering down the lane for driver Kyle Wilfong and pulled off a surprise victory with a $39.880 mutuel.
The 7-year-old gelding came from fifth and last in the second race headliner to overtake Royale Rose (Travis Seekman) in deep stretch with a wicked 26.1 final quarter for his new trainer Kim Roth and recent owner Al Beals of Berwyn, Illinois.
Two-time ICF horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemin, the 4-5favorite, was third best, snapping his unbeaten streak at Hawthorne at 20 in a row.
Skyway Boomer was a $20,000 claim by Beals in late March at Yonkers Raceway and went unplaced in his first two starts in New York for his new connections. However the Sportswriter gelding turn things around in his Illinois debut, winning by three-quarters of a length for his 30th career victory.