By Mike Paradise
The second Friday night of racing at Hawthorne’s winter meet is enhanced by opening rounds of three Late Closer Series as well as the second legs of the Cicero Claiming Series.
Whereas the first legs of the claiming series were for pacers with $10,000 price tags, and a pair of starters were taken for that amount, tonight’s second round claiming label on each pacer increases to $12,500. The leading point series earnings come back for next week’s final.
First round winners Elite Awards (Sae Widger) and Mobil Big John (Brandon Bates) already have nailed down starting berths for next week’s showdown and tangle for the first time in tonight’s fourth race.
They’ll be challenged by two horses in new barns after being claimed a week ago—KC Rambuctious (Ridge Warren) and Twin B K (Ross Leonard)—along with Total Sin (Kyle Wilfong) and Smoke Rings (Mike Oosting).
KC Rambuctious Boy was claimed back by trainer Ronnie Roberts who had the now 6-year-old for a handful of starts last summer and won twice with him, both at Hawthorne.
Twin B K now races out of the barn of trainer Terry Leonard for Indiana owners Trent Stohler and Tim Gaber. The 6-year-old gelding was also claimed at Hoosier Park for $8,000 on November 17, the pacer’s final start of 2017.
The second claiming division will go as the fifth race with the 9-5 morning line favoritism going last week’s 4 to 6 beaten choice Curator (Kyle Wilfong).
Also in with $12,500 claiming tags are Billabong Beach (Travis Seekman), Catus Billy (Darrell Wright), Buff’s Image (Brandon Bates), Spendabuckonme (Travis Seekman), Gotta Dream Big (Sam Widger) and Sadies Art (Tom T. Tetrick).
The $7,000 Carl Becker Pace (#6) Late Closer is for ICF colt and gelding pacers with $30,000 or less in purse in earnings or three lifetime wins as of last October. You can expect to see the Tripoli Stable’s Zone Blitz (Todd Leonard) get an abundant amount of the betting public’s money. He’s listed at 6-5 in my line.
Zone Blitz comes in from The Meadows red-hot, posting 6 wins in his last 8 starts, with a close second, and a third place finish for Illinois Harness Hall of Fame trainer Dirk Simpson. The now 4-year-old Corner Blitz gelding currently races out of the barn of Jim Eaton, another Illinois Hall of Fame inductee. Eaton is 2-for-2 thus far at the winter Hawthorne meet.
Zone Blitz has seven lifetime wins and over $45,000 in earnings but is eligible for the Becker Late Closer because his last four victories were after the first of October and the bulk ($31.207) of his lifetime bankroll came in those Pennsylvania outings.
Mike Oosting takes over as the driver of Zone Blitz tonight. Mr. Big W (Kyle Wilfong), Fox Valley Brutus (Sam Widger), Sports Creek (Todd Warren), Fox Valley Reggie (Jamaica Patton), Daddy Let Me Drive (Frank Petrelli), One More Trick (Tom T Tetrick), Sleazy Joe (Brandon Bates) and Frontier Fred (Bobby Smolin) are the other seventh race competitors.
The ninth race Late Closer (#5) for pacing colts and geldings should also have a heavy favorite with the arrival of Mojoto Hanover (Todd Warren) winner of his first two starts for the Zack Miller Stable in 1:53.3 and 1:53 flat on the five-eighths Daytona Raceway oval in Ohio.
Mojoto Hanover, a Well Said 4-year-old gelding, was purchased in mid-November for the Miller stable by Gaines, Michigan owner Ed Dobrowolski. Unraced at two, the pacer Hanover spent the first 10 and 1/2 months of 2017 and his 3-year-year campaign racing in Pennsylvania for perennial national top trainer Ron Burke.
Mojoto Hanover leaves from post four in the ninth race with Sharkfire (Mike Oosting), Dumas Gram (Ridge Warren) and Heartland Revenue (Sam Widger) inside of him and Static Gambler (Don Harmon), Herehecomesagain (Jared Finn), Southern Rocker (Jamaica Patton), Easy Ace (Ryan Anderson), My Friskie Boy (Kyle Wilfong) and Double Stitched (Travis Seekman) to his right.
Friday’s third Late Closer ($4) for non-winners of $20,000 lifetime as of November 1, 2017 lured 13 pacers and was divided into a pair of $6,500 opening round divisions.
The third race first split brings out (in post-position order) Fox Valley Eli (Sam Widger), Frontier Frank (Mike Oosting), Shady’s Dream Boy (Kyle Wilfong), the 9-5 morning line favorite Wolfman’s Brother (Ross Leonard), Whatdoesthefoxsay (Brandon Bates), Ryan’s All-Star (Todd Warren) and Lyon’s King (Tim Curran).
The six-horse second division will see the 8-5 programmed choice Mac Anover (Kyle Wilfong), Who Deen E (Mike Oosting), Canyouimaginethis (Gale Smith), Dap P (Ross Leonard), Renegade Express (Ridge Warren) and Ima Scrappy Scaper (Sam Widger) line-up with posts one through six, respectively.
They’re Back: Drivers Mike Oosting and Sam Widger return to Hawthorne tonight after competing last weekend in the North America Driving Championships at the Miami Valley Raceway. The Ohio tournament was won by Trace Tetrick, the 2017 leading driver at Hoosier Park.
Driver Casey Leonard is taking off the night off Friday at Hawthorne . . . Tonight’s12th race (20 cent) Hi-Five Jackpot has a $7,542 Carryover from Sunday. . . Horses starting behind the gate in the five-slot produced the most winners last weekend with seven first place finishers. Next was the three-post with six. The 10-hole had one.