It’s Saturday Night Live at Hawthorne

By Mike Paradise

The first Saturday night feature of Hawthorne’s summer meet brings out six solid pacers in an $8,500 “Winner’s Over” event with the likely betting favorite the Tom Simmons Stable’s classy pacer Somestarsomewhere.

The eighth race headliner will be the first start for Somestarsomewhere since early February when the 5-year-old dropped a scant nose decision in a $12,500 Open at the end of Hawthorne’s winter meet, the pacer’s first career start on Lasix.

Four week earlier Somestarsomewhere did win on the Hawthorne big track with veteran driver Dale Hiteman who returns tonight to guide the horse away from the outside six-slot in the Winner’s Over $30,000 lifetime Handicap.

  (Four Footed Photo)

Somestaromewhere lifetime earnings are more than $300,000 over tonight’s needed earnings level to start in the headliner. The horse was bought by Clinard Properties of Mt. Sterling, Illinois at the 2014 Meadowlands January Sale for $90,000 after racking up over $275,000 in purse money as a 2 and 3-year-old when he was a Breeders Crown finalist both years.

A son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the Art Major broodmare Lovely Assistant, the colt sold for $110,000 as a yearling.

After his last winter race at Hawthorne Simmons brought the pacer back to his farm in Springfield for some R & R. Tom first tried to qualify him on April 15 at the Springfield Fair Grounds but was unsuccessful. In fact, the horse ended-up distanced.

“He had some respiratory problems earlier and in his first (April) qualifier the horse bled through his Lasix. I don’t think we gave him quite enough that day. His throat was really inflamed and he came to a walk in the lane.

“We gave him a week off, treated him, and he cleared-up. He came back last week with a nice qualifier.”

The horse’s second qualifier on April 29 with Simmons was a winning effort in 1:56.4 on a track “listed” good but according to Tom was far from it.

“The track was really bad,” continued the veteran Illinois horseman. “The track was sinking-in about an inch and half and was probably 3 or 4 seconds off, so I was pleased with that qualifying time.

“He may need a start but he should be pretty good against those horses.”

Somestarssomewhere is listed as the 4-1 third choice in the Hawthorne program however I think he’ll go off as the betting favorite despite the layoff and have him at 2-1 in my line.

The Jim Ellison Stable’s Freedomformysoul is the program’s 2-1 choice and the 4-year-old this season has been a busiest horse in the race. He’s made 13 starts and won 4 of them, including an outing at Hawthorne back in mid-January and $12,500 and $25,000 conditioned events last month at the Miami Valley Raceway in Ohio.

Delight Fashion, from the Nelson Willis Stable, is listed at 5-2 in the program after a number of solid efforts at Hoosier Park over the past month. He’s reunited with Casey Leonard and drew nicely with the two-post.

Listed at 6-1 is the Angie Affrunti trainee Southwind Scorpion (Matt Krueger) who loves a long stretch like Hawthorne’s, and the Ray Hanna Stable’s ICF 5-year-old Cole Heat (Pat Curtin) who comes off a 1:52.3 mile in Indiana. The latter has a lifetime mark of 1:49.4, taken last year at Balmoral.

Making his first start as a 3-year-old is Lawrence Crawford Wondrous Sport (8-1, Travis Seekman), who was acquired by his Port St. Joe, Florida owner at the beginning of February and now races for Springfield based trainer Mike Brink.

Wondrous Sport was a model of consistency when he raced out of the barn of trainer Gary Rath as a freshman. He finished third or better in 11 of 12 starts and banked almost $90,000. The Sportsmaster gelding captured his first four career starts, including the $52,000 Mini Me Final.

Wondrous Sport, who hasn’t raced since his third place finish last October 2 in the Cardinal Final, will compete for the first time on Lasix tonight.

Hawthorne Back in Standardbred Limelight

By Mike Paradise  

The curtain goes up at Hawthorne tonight for its first summer harness racing meeting since 2008. A lot has happen in our industry in those past eight years and here in Illinois much of it not good.

Twice the Illinois legislators passed a slots bill that would have saved the horse racing industry and poured hundreds of millions of much needed dollars into the state coffers only to have it vetoed both times by the state’s previous Governor.

Since then our new governor and our old lawmakers have continued to lock horns and have gone 10 months without a state budget. Without it, no major new bills will be passed and signed. It’s that simple so don’t hold your breath for anything happening soon for a slots bill to help prop up the horse racing industry and save hundreds of more jobs.

Horsemen continue to leave for other racing venues, along with their owners, adding to the ever increasing job loss in our state that is billions of dollars in debt. The fact is our state is broke and will likely remain that way for a long while.

Meanwhile, two more Illinois racetracks, Balmoral and Maywood, have also gone belly-up, adding to the jobs loss in the state.

There has been some good news since a summer harness meet has been conducted at Hawthorne. The near west suburban facility has persevered and somehow survived and was willing grab the baton and host Standardbred racing this year,

Its winter meet was a success giving a lot of us hope that the summer meet will also do well.

It certainly appears the Illinois horsemen are eager to do their part. Over 170 horses were entered for Friday’s opening card.  Of those 115 drew in for the 12-race program that gets under way at 7:20 pm local time.

The other 65 or so will have to wait for their chance to make their first start at the summer meet. And there are more horses on the way. Wednesday ’morning qualifiers had 73 horses entered, necessitating nine races.  Hawthorne has added a second round of qualifiers tomorrow (Saturday) with a 4:30 pm start..

Springfield hosted nine qualifiers a week ago and another is slated for this morning.

A bevy of ICF 3-year-olds will go postward on in Friday’s opening card that are eligible for Hawthorne’s upcoming stake series.

Erwin F Dygert Memorial stake nominees PJ Boy, Primed N Powerful, Budda Pest and Psychic Survivor compete in Friday’s first race. Freshman Cardinal champion Pastor Clint (Shown in R.E.B, Photo), along with Homershobbyhorse, Powerful Father and Speedy Rendezvous vie in race three. Plesac victor Wrightwood takes on older trotters in race six.

Among the trotting gals eligible for the Beulah Dygert Memorial are Du Quoin Shawnee winner Awfully Emotional. a race one starter, while her Mike Brink trained stable-mate Praise Singer, runner-up in the Violet Final, goes in race three.

Six ICF sophomore pacing fillies edible to the Plum Peach Stake Series knock heads in Friday’s ninth race: Ashlee’s Fine Lady, Likeafireballshot, LK’s Nancy Lee, Narcissistic, Dandy’s Diva and Sara’s Terror.

Another trio of Plum Peachy hopefuls—Exclusive Design, Pretty Stella and Lacarmelilana—will tangle in Friday’s fifth race.

Hawthorne Notes: The 12-race wagering format for the summer has a Exacta, Trifecta and Perfecta on each race. The early Pic 5 begins with race one while the early Pick 4 starts with the second race. The late Pick 4 begins on race 8 while the ninth event starts the late Pick 4. All are 20 cent minimum wagers.

Two Daily Doubles are on tap, races 1 with 2 and races 11 with 12. A trio of 20 cent Pick 3 wagers start-up on races, 3, 5 and 10. The Jackpot High 5 is on the 12th and final race with its 20 cent minimum bet.

Roth Eager for a Summer at Hawthorne

   By Mike Paradise

Like many Illinois harness horseman Hawthorne’s summer meet couldn’t get here fast enough for trainer Kim Roth.

“I’m thrilled that Hawthorne is opening,” said the Oak Lawn, Illinois native. “Their winter meet was good to me and I’m hoping we’ll do well at the summer meet, too. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Hawthorne’s four nights a week summer meeting that stretches from tomorrow’s opening night start through the end of September gets under way with a 12-race card Friday evening with a bevy of events for fillies and mares.

Roth has spent much of the past three months getting ready and eagerly awaiting the summer session after her fruitful January at the in-town facility.

Kim horses visited the Hawthorne winner’s circle nine times at the 5 and 1/2 week winter meet, only three less than the meet’s leading trainer Jim Ellison. Leading the way for Kim was the 3-year-old ICF filly pacer Whiskersonkittens, victorious in her last three starts at Hawthorne.

Whiskeronkiittens wasn’t staked as a 2-year-old but she’ll get her chance this summer against the best in her division. She’s eligible to Hawthorne’s Plum Peachy stake series after putting over $18,000 on her card earlier this year for her owner and breeder Ron Knupp of Anna, Illinois.

  (Four Footed Photo)

A daughter of Party At Artsplace, Whiskersonkittens is the second foal out of Knupp’s broodmare Out Of The West. Little Hank (1:53.4) was her first

“My owner (Ron Knupp) is a real good guy and pretty much lets me do what I want with his horses. He decided to make both Whiskersonkittens and Party Falls eligible for these 3-year-old Illinois bred Series at Hawthorne.”

Can we expect to see Whiskersonkittens at the beginning of the summer meet?

“It’ll be a few weeks before ‘Whiskers’ is ready to race,” replied Kim. “I got her down to around “20” right now. Both horses kind of got a late start. Ron had them at his place in Anna and they had some bad weather there.

“Party Falls will probably miss his (Hawthorne) Series. He’s further behind than ‘Whiskers’ He’s down to ‘25’.

There’s excitement in Kim’s voice when she talks about “Whiskers.”

“The filly is a beast. She loves to compete and just loves her job. She raced very well at Hawthorne in January and had a very good 2-year-old season. She wasn’t eligible for any of the ICF stakes. It’s just too expensive to stake a horse in this state especially when you don’t what what’s happening with the Illinois bred stakes setup right now.

“Not too many owners want to take the risk (a $1,750 nomination fee) when they don’t what their horse will race for. We still don’t know yet about the purses for the Cardinal or Violet or what’s going on this summer at in Springfield.”

Roth has also had past success at Hawthorne when the Stickney, Illinois facility was hosting harness racing in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Kim had a number of good horses in her barn back then like Prime Xample A, Jo Pa’s Bench Mark, Officer Joe, Saint Nicklaus, Distant Color, Wesley Snip and Apache Jake.

Prime Xample swept Hawthorne’s Sox Series in 2007 including its $33,800 Final for Rock N Roll Stables of Chicago.

“Prime Xample brings back some fond memories at Hawthorne,” said Kim. “I still have picture on my wall of her winning there with Dave Magee. (See posted Four Footed Photo)

Prime Xample came to the United States at the age of five in the spring of 2007 and made over $71,000 that season. She competed into her 8-year-old season in 2010 and is now a broodmare for her Chicago owners Rock And Roll Stables, Inc.,

“That mare has an outstanding colt racing out east,” said Kim. “His name is Americanprimetime and he’s a monster. He won a couple of weeks ago in 51 on a half (Yonkers).”