By Mike Paradise
Hawthorne hosts its showcase program of the meet Saturday with the Night of Champions. Eleven ICF stake finals will be contested with the season’s division championship on the line in many of the added money events.
Let’s take a look at each stakes final.
$75,000 Kadabra 2-Year-Old Male Trot
There’s no clear cut favorite in this one after the heavy favorite Trixie’s Jethro (Jared Finn) got overtaken in deep stretch last week by Louscipher (Pat Curtin). These two have slugged it out all season with Trixie’s Jethro coming out on top the other three times they’ve met.
Lougazi (Jamaica Patton), a Roshun Trigg stablemate of Louscipher, looked good winning his Kadnara leg last week and may be peaking in his first season at the right time. Polar B is another late-blooming freshman with a big shot and his post, the nine, should help his wagering value. Matt Q is a three-time Kadabra series winner but landed the 10-hole for the final and his recent form has been subpar.
Mike’s pick: Louscipher
$75,000 Fox Valley Flan 2-Year-Old Filly Trot
If a Roshun Trigg trained youngster wins the Kadabra, the Mississippi native may be right back in the winner’s circle a race later when the Flan is over. Lou’s Credit Report (Jamaica Patton) was much the best last week bowing on Lasix. It was her third series stake triumph.
Fox Valley Elana (Casey Leonard) hasn’t visited a winner’s circle in her first eight starts but the fast improving filly just might rally in time tonight for owner and trainer Dane May.
Mike Oosting gave Daisy Lou Duke a winning pocket trip last week and that win should boost the filly’s confidence.
Dandy’s ESP is a question mark. Which filly will show up tonight, the one that won a Flan series leg easier and her Springfield State Fair elimination or the one that hasn’t been able to stay on stride in her last two starts?
Mike Pick: Fox Valley Elana
$100,000 Incredible Tillie 2-Year-Old Pace
Princess Sage (Freddie Patton Jr.), Razzleme Dazzleme (Kyle Husted) and My Kind Of Dance (Casey Leonard) have won 14 season races between while the other seven fillies in this final have a combined eight victories.
They have also notched eight of the 12 Tillie series stake events contested so you can see much of the play in this will no doubt go to this talented trio.
Princess Sage (pp 3) is in a good spot to gain command or be in the pocket. Razzleme Dazzleme is at her best “off a helmet” says her driver Kyle Husted but he may be forced to make an early move with this Nick Prather trained filly with the four-post.
My Kind Of Dance is much better coming from out of it than racing on top. She may pick-up live cover and have dead-aim on this field turning for home.
A Real Doozie is a much better filly than her one season win might indicate. She’s always in the thick of it. Hope Hotspur might have had her best effort of the year last week with Oosting when she as a scant nose behind My Kind Of Dance and she did draw nicely with the two-slot.
Mike’s Pick: My Kind Of Dance
$75,000 Beulah Dygert Three-Year-Old Filly Trot
The filly to beat appears to be Kenny Collier Stable’s Vengeful (Todd Warren). She skipped both Springfield and Du Quoin and stay sharp racing against older trotters at Hoosier Park before returning to Hawthorne last week and winning another easily and doing it without cover.
Vengeful has two series wins in this stake. Surviver DI (Kyle Husted) has won with a pair of seconds. Rocknprincessabbie (Mike Oosting) won a first series leg but has struggled since finding a winner’s circle.
Roma Falls (Matt Krueger) pulled off an upset in an early series leg but then wasn’t right and had a series of disappointing events. However, she has bounced back and regained her form at the right time, finishing second to Vengeful last week and taking Du Quoin’s Windy Skeeter five days earlier.
The M.I.A. trotter is Praise Singer who swept his elimination and final at Springfield but didn’t do well enough in her Dygert races to earn a starting berth.
Mike’s Pick: Roma Falls
$75,000 Erwin S. Dygert Three-Year-Old Male Trot
Both Hail Caesar (Casey Leonard) and Fear (Todd Warren) have nailed own three of these series legs and likely will go off as the co-favorites.
Hail Caesar has had two different seasons for the Mike Brink Stable. During Hawthorne’s winter meet the gelding went 1-for-4. After being rested for most of the month of June he has roared back for owner H H Wright of Morton, Illinois. The son of Powerful Emotion has won 5 of 7 starts and 4 came with Casey Leonard at his lines.
Fear was second best to Hail Caesar last week however it was the Kenny Collier trainee’s first start in almost a month and he had to leave from Hawthorne’s poor winning percentage 10-hole.
The Mike Roger’s PJ Boy (Ridge Warren) is in his season best form for this stake final and likely will use his gate speed to race up-close. The same goes for Primed N Powerful. He’s saddled with the 10-slot but leaves from the gate in a hurry and is a seven-time season winner.
Mike’s Pick: Hail Caesar
$50,000 Plesac Aged Trot
The draw was kind to the two likely favorites with Trick N (Jim Pantaleano) and Rock Hollywood (Casey Leonard) lading the one and two posts, in that order.
It’s a big post change for Tricky Nick who had the eight last week. Rock Hollywood was raced inside in that race and did come on strong in the late going. Little Ms Chrissy (Brian Carpenter) surprised at 20-1 at Hawthorne’s computer generated line doesn’t predict a repeat in the works. She’s listed at 12-1 tonight.
Steve Searle’s Ants Iner Pants (Kyle Husted) came big in that race, beaten only a neck and having to endure a wide mile leaving from the outside 10-hole. Ronald Knupp’s Master of Excuses (Todd Warren) came up short last week, fading to fifth, but it should be noted that it was the 6-year-old gelding first start in over a month.
Mike’s Pick: Rock Hollywood.
$100,000 Incredible Finale Two-Year-Old Male Pace
It’s nice to see this stake race isn’t going off after midnight like it did when Balmoral Park took over Super Night in the late 1990s when there weren’t enough people left on the track’s apron for a softball game.
The favoritism, and rightly so, should go to the Tom Graham Jr. Stable’s Gabe Henry with his gaudy first season record of 6 wins and 2 seconds in 8 starts and 3 of his triumphs came in this stake series legs.
Graham elected to skip last week’s fourth leg after winning a Governor’s Cup division at Du Quoin six days earlier and have the homebred fresher for a $100,000 pot instead of a $15,000 purse.
Gabe Henry (Todd Warren) didn’t draw particularly well with the seven so expect an early move from his driver.
Alan Beal’s Sporty Redhot won all four of his series legs and showed last week the Kim Roth trained youngster can get away from the starting gate if asked and that might be the case tonight with the nine-post.
Fox Valley Nemitz (Pat Curtin) boats 5 wins and d 1 second in 7 starts for trainer Joel Smith and 2 of those victories came in stake series legs. Toss out if only poor outing, a fifth place finish, at Springfield when “he got real nervous and just washed himself out before the race ever started down there.”
The Tom Simmons Stable’s Fox Valley Herbie (Mike Oosting) uncorked a sizzling 26.2 last quarter in his series win last week and it wasn’t a fluke. The colt paced a 26.2 last panel at Du Quoin a week earlier. He’s a price shot to consider.
Mike’s Pick: Gabe Henry
$50,000 Robert Molaro Aged Male Pace
The Megan Roger Stable’s Unlocked isn’t a “lock” but he might be the closest thing to it on the 12-race card.
Not surprisingly he was much the best in last week’s prep winning in 1:51.4 with more left in the tank. Driver Jim Pantaleano won’t wait long to put this 5-year-old on top where he’ll be very difficult to collar.
A Cool Card got a great trip behind Unlocked last week but had to settle for third. Amazingly the track’s USTA computer generated morning line for Hawthorne had A Cool Card as the morning line favorite but it couldn’t fool the betting public who got it right.
Fiveknuckleshuffle had a big effort to take second away from A Cool Card and could be finishing in a hurry again.
Mike’s Pick: Unlocked
$100,000 Robert Carey Three-Year-Old Male Pace
The glamour division of the ICF program hasn’t had a stick-out this season. At least half dozen horses at one time or another have had the top spot only to be knocked off it.
Last year’s two-year-old champion Dan D Dune (Casey Leonard) is listed as the 2-1 favorite by the USTA’S computer generated morning line and while he could very likely go off as the public’s choice and win this race his 2-1 opening odds looks a tad low to me when you consider the first flash odds on some other major Carey threats in the race.
Du Quoin champion Royale Rose (Matt Krueger) opens at an inviting price of 6-1. The same first flash odds are on Dr. Drake Ramoray (Jim Pantaleno) who did draw poorly with the 10-slot but the Pennsylvania invader also did breeze in his last two Carey Series races.
Then there’s five-time season winner IYQ YQR (Mike Oosting) listed at 5-1 and Caffeine Kid (Todd Warren) who drew off in a Carey leg series last week posted at generous 7-1 odds. While BS Tyriffic was a disappointing fourth a week ago he did win the Springfield crown in 1:52.4 and a Carey leg back in July in 1:52 flat so I’m sure his supporters would love to get the 15-1 morning line odds listed on him.
Maybe the alleged Russian hackers who penetrated the Democratic Party Headquarters computers did it as a diversion. Maybe the real target was the USTA’S computers so they could influence the betting on tonight’s Carey championship.
Mike’s Pick: Caffeine Kid
$100,000 Plum Peachy Three-Year-Old
Nice competitive field of 3-year-olds.
After two rare defeats against other ICF fillies Char N Marg could get back in the winning grove. Up until the last two starts she pretty much dominated this division and she did battle game in those recent losses.
Whiskersonkittens wasn’t eligible for some ICF 3-year-old stakes so she spent a good portion of the summer in Open Paces against older and more seasoned distaffers. She just missed last week and had to be used in the early to gain up-close position when she left from the nine-slot. She is sitting pretty with the two post tonight.
I wrote the other day about the lack of respect LK’s Nancy Lee gets at the betting widow. She’s at the top of her game, drew very well with the pole position, and loves Hawthorne long stretch. Maybe that’s the winning combination for a championship blanket tonight.
Bucklegirl Bobette last start was disappointing but if you toss it out you can see she’s a player in here. The Springfield winner also won a leg of this series earlier in the summer
Mike’s Pick: Whiskersonkittens
$50,000 Tony Maurello Aged Mare Pace
At least on paper it looks like it’s a toss-up of last week’s elimination winners Southern Girl (Kyle Wilfong) and Ryleigh’s Lilly (Todd Warren).
Southern Girl had a terrific season in upstate New York winning there with regularity before she was shipped back to Illinois to snare this championship and the $25,000 winner’s share that goes with it. She had an easy time on the lead last week. If they let her alone again, she won’t be caught.
Ryleigh’s Lilly took a long time to get back into tip-top shape after some likely health issues early on. The Bill Crone trainee raced firs over and still came home in 26.1 so that should tell you a major threat to take this stake final.
Upsets do happen in a horse race and a mare that just might pull it off in tonight’s finale is Peter Karras’ Fox Valle Charm. She’s a solid racehorse who can hold her own on or off the pace. Don’t overlook the fact that while she was second best last week to Ryleigh’s Lilly this mare rattled off a 26 flat last quarter.
Note that Oosting is reunited with the 4-year-old mare and Mike won with her five times last year, including Du Quoin’s Time Dancer and the Grandma Ann Super Night elimination, before the filly was sent to Pennsylvania.
Mike’s Pick: Ryleigh’s Lilly