By Mike Paradise
The first seven races on Sunday’s 10-race card are the opening rounds of the last three Late Closer Series to get underway. All have been split into divisions with the ICF event for non-winners of two or $10,000 lifetime needing a trio of races.
Designated Late Closer Series No. 1, they’ll go as tonight’s first, fourth and seventh.
The Rodney Freese trained Caffeine Kid (6-5 in my line) is the horse to beat in race one after his strong win (1:56.1) last week, his first start since January. The fourth race split brings out first week Hawthorne winners Duneside Sport (3-1, Casey Leonard) and IYQ YQE (5-2, Trenton Jackson).
I’ve got Jimmy Ellison’s beaten favorite We Robbed Banks (Casey Leonard) as the 9-5 favorite in race seven after he was locked in and shuffled back at 1-2 odds. The gelding came up the inside with a quick 26.1 last quarter.
The non-winners of two late closer (No. 2) for open company male horses are races 3 and 6 with a trio of Roger Welch trainee’s figuring to get a lot of play. Buff’s Image gets a significant post change for his Hawthorne debut and Sam Widger is back in town Sunday to drive my 2-1 choice.
The sixth race second split has a pair of Welch’s 3-year-old Indiana breds likely get much the play in that race. Shotski (6-5, Todd Casey Leonard) is riding a three-race winning streak and drew the one-slot. Rockinwiththebest, a $47,000 yearling buy, captured his season debut at Hoosier in 1:55.3. Todd Warren, who qualified him in Indiana, back in mid-April, drives tonight.
The non-winners of 4 or $20,000 lifetime Late Closer (No. 4) divisions is without a clear-cut favorite in either split however veteran trainer Carl Porcelli Jr. has a starter in each back from The Meadows who look formidable for owner Megan Rogers Racing Stable race of Chicago.
The Porcelli Stable’s Ocaptain My Captain (5-2, Ridge Warren), was a three-time at Hawthorne’s winter meet including a 1:57 flat clocking and he drew the pole position in race two after a wide mile from the 6-slot at The Meadows.
Stable-mate Dr. Drake Ramoray (8-5, Casey Leonard), picked-up over $24,000 in his four starts in Pennsylvania, winning a pair and finishing second in the other two. The 3-year-old ICF pacer drew the three-slot in race five.
Pasko Vucinaj’s JDS Chancey Design (9-5, Sam Widger) looks like a major condender in the second division. The Michigan owned invader is making his sophomore bow after winning 12 of 14 freshman starts including a $20,000 Indiana Sire Championship at the Indianapolis State Fair.
JD’s Chancey Design was a whopping 22 and 1/2-length winner in his qualifier on the Thunder Ridge half-miler in Kentucky, clearly out-classing his six foes with a 1:57 clocking.
Successful Return: The heavily favored Ontario Success (Casey Leonard) did pick-up where he left off in the winter meet with a convincing four-length victory in Saturday’s $13,000 featured Late Closer for winners of $1,000 per start in 2015-16.
Casey made an early move with the prohibitive 1 to 5 public’s choice, taking over the lead before the half (:55.3) and the Roger Welch trainee went on to cruise home in a snappy 1:51.3 clocking.
It was the 6-year-old’s first start since he posted back-to-back wins at the winter meet.
Kolt Power (Dale Hieman) won the battle for second, a half-length better than Freedomformysoul (Todd Warren).
Two opening rounds of the Late Closer Series for non-winners of $1,000 per start went to the Bob Rittof Stable’s Sunset Dreamer (Kyle Wilfong) and the Vince Affrunti Stable’s Southwind Scorpion (Matt Krueger).
Sunset Dreamer ($8.80) overtook the 3-2 pacesetting favorite Big Brad in the late going and posted a three parts of a length victory in 1:53.2 while Krueger gave Southwind Scorpion ($5.00) a live cover journey and 5-year-old gelding took advantage of it, drawing off by 2 and 1/2 lengths in 1:53 flat.