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Horse slaughter in Illinois
HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE
|Hawthorne Racecourse (9/30/04)
Contact: Jim Miller
Perfect Drift Heads Field of Seven for Hawthorne Gold Cup
STICKNEY, IL – 2003 Hawthorne Gold Cup Champion Perfect Drift looks to get back into the winner’s circle for this year’s edition of the Grade 2, $750,000 event. The 68th running of the Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap will take place on Saturday and has drawn a field of seven to go one mile and one quarter on the main track.
The richest dirt race in Illinois has proven to be a nice prep race for the Breeders’ Cup in the past. Several Hawthorne Gold Cup winners, including Black Tie Affair, Buck’s Boy and Awesome Again have won Breeders’ Cup races as well.
This year’s field is likely to have a heavy favorite. Murray Johnson’s Perfect Drift has been installed as the 4-5 morning line choice. Although winless from six starts on the year, Perfect Drift ran second in four of those six races and third in another. He comes in off three second place finishes.
He was beaten only a nose to Roses in May in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on August 7 and he followed that start up with a good second to Pleasantly Perfect in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic on August 22. Perfect Drift drew the four hole for the Gold Cup and will be ridden once again by regular rider Pat Day.
Powerful Touch may be the next top handicap runner as the Robert Frankel trainee makes his second career stakes start. He has won six starts from ten career races and was beaten only a head in the Grade 3 Holy Bull last year. He comes into the Gold Cup off three straight victories and most recently defeated Toccet in an Optional Claiming Allowance race at Saratoga on September 6. He will carry 113 lbs. in the Gold Cup and be ridden by C.H. Marquez Jr.
Trainer Thomas Van Berg sends out Sonic West, seeking his third stakes victory of the year, for the Gold Cup. His year was highlighted by his first start out when he posted a win in the Grade 3 Razorback at Oaklawn on March 14. In his last start, he was a good third in the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway, beaten only 4¾ lengths by Roses in May in that spot. In with 113 lbs. for the Gold Cup, Sonic West will be ridden by Eusebio Razo, Jr.
Elliott Walden’s Quest Star turns back to the dirt after putting together a string of turf starts on the year. He has only the one win in 2004, but it was a gutsy victory as he held on for a half-length win in the Grade 2 Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream in March. Quest Star will carry 112 lbs. Larry Melancon is in to ride.
Lisa Lewis’ Kissin Saint makes his sixth start of the year trying for his second career victory. Stepping up to face stakes runners for the first time on the year, Kissin Saint makes his second start off a rest after running fifth behind Powerful Touch in his last at Saratoga. Carrying 112 lbs. for the Gold Cup, Kissin Saint will be ridden by Chris Emigh.
Freefourinternet is another turning back to the dirt after four recent turf races. He’ll be looking to close from well off the pace. In his last start, he closed to grab a good win in the Labor Day Handicap at Mountaineer on September 6. Trained by Michael Maker, Freefourinternet will be ridden once again by Greta Kuntzweiler.
Caiman rounds out the field as the local threat looks to pull off the upset in the Gold Cup. A winner twice on the year, Caiman ran eighth in the Belmont in June and narrowly missed in the Forward Pass at Arlington. The lightweight at 109 lbs. Caiman will be ridden by Emanuel Cosme.
Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (Grade 2) -- $750,000
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