By Mike Paradise
In an effort to spread around the modest purse money currently being distributed Hawthorne has put a couple of wrinkles into Sunday’s race card with an Open II Pace for the boys and a skillfully disguised conditioned pace for the gals that’s really an Open II for distaffers.
Basically what the tonight’s co-features do is to “write-out” the dominating Fox Valley Gemini and the streaking Lils Grace from competing this weekend. Between them those two notable pacers have won seven of the eight last Opens in their respective classes.
Sunday’s $8,800 sixth race is a very competitive affair with Fox Valley Gemini resting in his Harvard, Illinois barn. Posts were drawn by groups (1-4) (5-7) and not eligible to compete were horses that have won an Open twice in their last three starts and that narrative fits just one local pacer: Fox Valley Gemini.
The first four posts belong to Fox Valley Hijinx (Travis Seekman), Toxic Rock (Brandon Bates), He’zzz A Wise (Bobby Smolin) and Trashytonguetalker (Casey Leonard).
When You Dance (Todd Warren), a game second last week to Fox Valley Gemini, landed the five while Ponda’s Prospect (Ridge Warren) and Castle Flight (Kyle Wilfong), the only two horses at the meet other than “Gemini” to finish first an Open I Pace, will start from the six and seven slots, respectively.
Lily Gets the Boot: Seven of the 10 starters in Sunday’s first race conditioned pace have competed in Hawthorne filly and mare Opens this year and none have been able to beat the Frank Petrelli Stable’s Lilys Grace. Her attempt to make it seven consecutive victories at Hawthorne will have to wait at least another week.
The meet’s former Open mares in the opener are Pretty Image (Brandon Bates), Rock It Out (Ridge Warren), It’s Time For Fun (Kyle Wilfong), Look Kimbo (Cordarius Stewart), Velocity McSweets (Casey Leonard), Delightfully Wild (Ryan Anderson) and Tempus Seelster (Travis Seekman). They’ll be joined by Jazzie Babe (Juan Franco), Susan Sage (Ridge Warren) and Shelly On My Mind (Todd Warren).
The ten mares will go after the $3,150 winner’s share of a $6,500 purse. If the race had been designated an Open II, like their male counterparts, it would also have a $8,800 pot on the line.
The first race conditioned pace is for fillies and mares that are non-winners of $50,000 lifetime. Also eligible were ICF three-year-olds. Additionally fillies and mares that were non-winners of $5,500 in their last four starts or $1,000 PS in 2020 were eligible and they had to draw for the outside posts.
In a nutshell what all the various written circumstances of the first race does is to keep Lily Grace in her Hawthorne stall tonight so another good mare can get her picture taken in the winner’s circle and pad her season bankroll.
Sorry Lily but sometimes life isn’t fair, even for horses.
Staying Hot? Mickey Morgan’s red-hot Brooke’s Ocean will shoot for her seventh straight win tonight. She’ll go to the gate in the second half of the daily double with regular driver Brandon Bates in the sulky.
Chalk Up Another: Danny Graham’s ICF mare Annas Lucky Star ($4.20) was the front-end winner of last night’s $10,500 Open Trot for driver Kyle Wilfong, finishing a half-length ahead of the fast closing 30-1 longshot Lousraptor (Juan Franco) at the end of a 1:53.3 mile.
The victory was the six-year-old mare’s 36th in 67th career starts for trainer Nelson Willis and Annas Lucky Star’s Salem, Illinois owner.