By Mike Paradise
Trainer Payton Ode is off to a terrific start at Hawthorne’s winter meet and Sunday night sends out major threats in both $12,000 Cicero Claiming Series Finals for horses that raced earlier with $6,000 price tags.
“It’s all about classification and I’m fortunate enough to have a good barn of horses for all levels at the winter meet”, said the 39-year-old Ode.
The stable’s Maserati Seelster opens as the 2-1 early favorite in the $12,000 Claiming Series for male paces. Kyle Wilfong is back to handle the Artistic Fella gelding who moved to Ode’s barn for the winter meeting.
“The owner of Maserati Hanover contacted me before the meet opened to see if I was interested in taking the horse to Illinois for the winter,” said the native of Silvis, Illinois who now resides in Anderson, Indiana. “I told him that I thought his horse would be a real good fit on Hawthorne’s bigger track in their $6,000 claiming series and he’s shown that he is”
Maserati Seelster came from far out of it in the first leg and won in 1:57.1. One week later the 7-year-old gelding had a game 1:56.1 victory.
I wasn’t the only one surprised that Maserati Seelster wasn’t claimed in either of the first two rounds of the series, first for $6,000 and then for $7,500 in the second leg considering the success the pacer had last summer at Hawthorne at higher levels.
“We were too,” said Payton. “Maserati Hanover didn’t race well at The Meadows and his lines showed some breaks so that may have scared some people off. But he’s a much better horse on a big track. He doesn’t race well in the turns on smaller tracks. Those tighter turns tire him.
“He was claimed like four times last year at Hawthorne and at higher prices than he’s raced at this meeting. The horse has more back class than the other horses in the series and he showed it last week when he crushed them.”
Maserati Seelster (Kyle Wilong) leaves from post eight in the eighth race claiming final. Inside of him are Electric Albert (Todd Warren), Want Me (Brandon Bates), Skyway Fireball (Tim Curtin), Bestnotlie Hanover (Casey Leonard), R Duneshine (Ryan Anderson) and Frass Bluegrass (Travis Seekman). Slots nine and ten will be manned by Four Starz Kyle (Brandon Bates) and Heavenly Beaches (Ross Leonard), in that order.
Payton also sends out the Indiana bred mare Her Royal Hottness (Kyle Wilfong) in the $12,000 third race Cicero Claiming Series for filly and mare pacers.
“(Owner) Grant Wilfong called me and asked me if I would take a couple of his horses for Hawthorne’s winter meet. One of them was Her Royal Hottness, I looked at her lines and I thought she could be good in Hawthorne’s $6,000 claiming series for mares.
“Her Royal Hottness had never raced at Hawthorne and I got her right before her first start here. That first time she raced at Hawthorne she was looking all over at things and didn’t have her mind on racing. She made a break on the backside but when she did get back pacing she finished pretty good.
“After a week of jogging her on the track she got used to the surroundings. I thought she would be a lot better in her second Hawthorne start and she was (nosing out Fox Valley Bailey).”
Her Royal Hottness (pp 5) opens as the 5-2 programmed choice behind Fox Valley Bailey (pp 4) at 2-1 with driver Todd Warren. They’ll be challenged in the third race showdown by Skyway Dusty (Travis Seekman), Summer Party (Casey Leonard), Scarlet V (Tom T. Tetrick), Thedayyouhavemade (Keith Crawford) and Another Temptation (Brandon Bates) a first leg winner of the distaff series.
Can You Bank On It? Sunday’s feature is $10,000 Open Trot where the 9-year-old gelding Banker Volo (p 7, Kyle Wilfong) looks to make a return visit to Hawthorne’s winner’s circle. The Angie Coleman trained trotter was assigned the outside post by the Hawthorne Race Office.
A 32-time lifetime winner, Banker Volo (programmed 2-1) will take on Fantasy Doc (Brandon Bates), Primed N Powerful (Ryan Anderson), Madewell Hanover (Sam Widger), Skyway Jaylo (Larry Lee Smith), Schwarber (Tim Curtin) and All About Cowboys (Mike Oosting).
A Sparkling Performance: Narcian Jewel (Todd Warren), at 11-1 the longest shot in the $10,000 Open Pace for fillies and mares, drew off by almost three lengths to capture Saturday’s $10,000 feature for the Frank Petrelli Stable.
The 4-5 favorite Rockie Katie settled for the bridesmaid role in the 1:55.1 mile while Mystical Nectar took third. Narcian Jewel ($24.90) is now 2-for-2 at the meet.
The 4-year-old mare C Far, trained by her driver Gary Rath, made it back to-back victories in the Tim Wilson Sr. Late Closer (#3), at double-digit odds. This time C Far popped at 10-1 for a $22.80 mutuel. Last week the 4-year-old Sportsmaster mare surprised at 15-1 and paid at even $30.00
Wimple’s Dimple finished one length behind in the 1:58.1 mile while the 8-5 public’s choice November Rain came from seventh at the half mile pole to grab third in the second leg of the ICF series.
Next Saturday’s Tim Wilson Sr. Final will carry an inviting $25,000 purse.
In other Saturday Late Closers, the 1 to 2 favorite Susie’s Soul (Todd Warren) was much the best in the first race Late Closer (#7), pulling away by more than six lengths in 1:55.1 for trainer and owner Jason Miller of Wabash, Indiana.
In the seventh race Late Closer (# 8) the prohibitive 2 to 5 favorite Rockin Praline ($2.60) won her second straight leg in the filly and mare series for trainer Tom Simmons and owners Red Barn Stable of Morrison, Illinois.
Driver Sam Widger pulled Rockin Praline out of third before the half and raced her first up through the last turn. The mare took command in the lane but had to go all out in the 1:55.1 mile to hold off a determined bid from the 30-1 longshot Beautiful Brew.