By Mike Paradise
We’re only into our fourth week of filly and mare Opens at the Hawthorne meet so it’s probably too early for any comparisons between this season’s top distaffers on the grounds and last year’s but it’s not likely we’ll have the same Open dominance that we had in 2021.
To refresh your memory a good portion of the money available last year in the local filly and mare Opens was hauled in by one horse: Magee Rhee from the Todd Warren Stable
The then four-year-old mare owned by the Illinois trio of the Tim Wilson Racing Stable, Norman Neff and Mark Eichberger produced an astonishing record of ten starts at Hawthorne with seven first place Open finishes, including her last five on the local scene, to go along with three seconds, before she her connections were given the “Not Welcome” sign.
By that time Magee Rhee put over $45,000 on her card at Hawthorne and didn’t leave much for the other filly and mare combatants.
So far this early in the year Magee Rhee hasn’t been out yet (she’s qualifying tonight before the regular card) so tonight’s winner’s share of the $13,700 Open purse and the many more that will follow are all “up for grabs.”
After the first three top distaff overnight events two horses—DC’s Bat and Vel Donna, both trained by Brittany Dillion, have come away with wins with the former getting her second a week ago in “last to first” fashion and that’s no easy task.
DC’s Batgirl was seventh and last at the half last week before putting on a stunning stretch drive and post a 1:55.2 victory.
What helped DC Batgirl were slow fractions. The field only got down to the first half in 58 seconds and despite being sixth the winner was less than seven lengths off the pace.
With a bunched-up field, it came down to a quarter of a mile dash to see which horse would be making a stop in the winner’s circle and DC Batgirl, a daughter of Art Major, had more in the tank than her foes much to the delight of her owners Howard Taylor of Philadelphia and Brittany Dillion of Greensville, Michigan.
Charming Invader: Tonight, the program favorite is the first time Hawthorne starter Seventimesacharm and former Chicago circuit driver John De Long is coming in to drive the five-year-old Indiana bred mare with over $245,000 on her card.
The Jesse De Long homebred did very well in her freshman season in Indiana sire stakes and rose to the Open ranks at Hoosier as a three-year-old for her Wisconsin connections. Seventimesacharm won her first two starts when shipped to Ohio with John DeLong before grabbing the fourth-place check in a $30,000 Miami Valley Open.
The mare fits well tonight and gets my vote it what appears to be a very competitive feature in the Hawthorne finale.
The first two posts belong to a couple of mares coming of triumphs at a lower level—Chicago Sky (Kyle Husted) and Rollin Coal (Todd Warren).
No. 3 U’ll Learn (Travis Seekman) couldn’t shake loose last week and she does own a Hawthorne Open victory last season for trainer Hector Herrera.
My Uptowne Girl gets a driver change to Casey Leonard after last week’s sub-par performance. The Gerald Hansen trainee mare did win her previous two outings in condition events with the help of up-close position.
The Wilfong’s It’s Time For Fun (pp 5) rounds out the talented field. The seven-ear-old homebred the victim of a first-over journey last week following a huge winning close in an Ohio conditioned event.
Think Perry’s Smiling? Friday night’s Open Pace couldn’t have gone any better for veteran Illinois trainer Perry Smith. The Crete, Illinois horseman who is closing in on 1,800 training victories sent out a pair of pacers in the $13,700 feature and they finished one-two.
The 3-2 second choice Francis Underwood rallied from sixth and last for his first local win with Mike Oosting in the bike. The time of 1:54.2 came on a very cold (12 degrees) night of racing.
Perry’s other horse, Gotham Hanover (Travis Seekman), made a late move to edge the even-money favorite (Fox Valley Gemini (Casey Leonard) for second. The latter cut the fractions of 28.3, 58 and 1:26 flat.