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Little Sucker Pulls 16 Noms

As Hawthorne heads into the final month of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season, there are still some fine stakes contests to be run. Heading a quartet of $100,000 races is the Little Sucker Stakes. As part of the Illinois Sire series, contestants in this race must be conceived and foaled in the state of Illinois. To be held next Saturday at 1 1/16 miles over the main track, the race is restricted to Illinois-bred fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up. With 16 fillies and mares nominated for this race, any of those entered can win.

Headlining the list is Bishop, Brannigan, & Perkin's Q. P. Cat. Trained by Michael Weissman, Q. P. Cat has rounded into form since the opening of the Hawthorne meeting. Taking on non-winners of two conditioned allowance company on October 8, Q.P. Cat grabbed a late lead before being headed in the stretch and beaten three-quarters of a length for the win. This three-year-old filly defeated similar company in her next start and used that victory to catapult her into the winner's circle in the $40,000 added Powerless Stakes on November 11, beating multiple stakes winner Lil Bobbie Too in the process. The win boosted her 2000 earnings to over $100,000.

Though her last two victories took place in sprints, Q. P. Cat has also been successful at the one and one-sixteenth mile distance of the Little Sucker, winning two of her 11 starts going long, while finishing in the money another four times. With her red-hot form, she should have little trouble stretching back out.

Another mare who has found Hawthorne to her liking is Singer Farm's Royal Bandita. After closing out her 1999 season in fine fashion with a six and three-quarters length win in allowance company, she would go winless until her return to Hawthorne this fall. Taking on open optional-claiming allowance company here on October 26, she broke on the lead and was able to hold on to a three-quarters length victory. Returning to state-bred company in the $60,000 added Illini Princess, Royal Bandita was given little respect, being sent off at 26-1. Dropping near the back of the pack, she came running strong down the lane to finish second, only a length behind Wade For Me.

Gaudreau & Gillen's Come September is another filly that has taken on some solid competition. She has been having a difficult time trying to get to the winner's circle lately but she showed signs of life in her last when she grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch in the $60,000 Illinois Princess Handicap during the Phil Georgeff Illinois Festival of Racing on November 11. Though she wasn't able to maintain her position at the front of the pack in that event, it was her best race in quite awhile and might suggest a return to form. That race, her first following a six-week layoff, could have been the perfect prep for the Little Sucker, contested at the same distance.

Sigrist & Cox's B.J.'s Powerhouse, if her connections do choose to run her in this spot, might enjoy an unchallenged lead. She's never raced two turns, nor, in fact, has she ever gone longer than six and one half furlongs. But, she has been racing into form and she's coming off a wire-to-wire victory at the expense of open $25,000 claimers.

Her record against Illinois breds, however, really stands out. In a series of five straight races against state breds dating back to September of 1999, she broke her maiden against Illinois-bred maidens; finished a close-up third in the Illinois Silent Beauty; demolished a good field in a state-bred non winners of two; lost by a head in the Showtime Deb; and wired the field in a non-winners of two other than in her first start of this year. She's been facing open company ever since. A switch back to state-bred company, even in a stakes, would likely make her one of the top contenders. One must keep in mind, however, that her distance limitations, if any, are unknown.

Completing the list of nominees are Triple B-E Stables Bugsy Mae; Price's Corona Hills; Greek Stable's Cry Baby Jenny; Hi n Breezy Stable's Dowager Lady; Lockman's Lu Keel; Holsapple's Mac Balu; Berndt & Pierce's Out Of Options; Serenity Stable's Rocky's Red Glare; Levitch Jr.'s Senorita Czarina; Levitch Sr.'s She's A Drummer; Luxmore, Malone, and Milchhoefer's Tugy; and Polier, Barber, Seeling, and Catalano St.s Zen's Jewel.




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