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Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Racecourse (9/19/06)

Contact: DAK Productions
(708) 222-4540

“Texan” Breathes Fire in Gold Cup Work

Emerald Downs Invader Set to Arrive at Hawthorne on Thursday

Grasshopper Stable’s Grade III Longacres Mile winner Flamethrowintexan fired a difficult to fathom work on Saturday morning at Emerald Downs in preparation for the $500,000 Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap, to be held at Hawthorne Race Course on September 30.

The 5-year-old gelded son of Way West breezed six furlongs over a fast track in 1:08 3/5. It was easily the fastest of five works at the distance, five seconds quicker than any other.

“It was the fastest recorded six furlong work in the history of Emerald Downs,” said Jim Penney, Flamethrowintexan’s conditioner and the perennial leading trainer at the suburban Seattle oval. “He did it all in hand. Ricky (regular rider Frazier) never moved.”

Claimed for $62,500 in June of 2004 at Hollywood Park, Flamethrowintexan has since done the bulk of his work at Emerald Downs, running there 13 times. He’s also ventured to Hastings in the Canadian province of British Columbia twice, winning both times. In his only other start, he was third behind Pollard’s Vision at odds of 15-1 in the in the 2004 Lone Star Derby.

For his career, Flamethrowintexan sports a record of 14 wins, four seconds and two thirds from 23 starts, banking $702,517 in the process. The Gold Cup marks the first time Flamethrowintexan will be tested over 1 ¼ miles.

“He’s had no problems over nine furlongs (four wins from five starts), so we think he’ll stretch out just fine,” Penney added. “It’s the furthest he’s ever gone, over a track with a long stretch, and he has to do it against Grade II company. There are several tough obstacles to hurdle, but it’s time he steps up to the big leagues. He does love a challenge.”

Kay Cooper, Penney’s daughter and an experienced horse person in her own right, will journey to Chicago on Thursday with three of the team’s horses. Joining Flamethrowintexan on the plane will be $150,000 Grade III Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap hopeful Grafton and $100,000 Indian Maid Handicap contender Bardy Woman.

“It’s really great to have horses for all three races,” Cooper said. “We just got both of them from Tom (owner Tollen), and we think they both fit exceptionally well.

Both turf horses by trade, Grafton was recently fourth behind Flamethrowintexan in the Longacres Mile, and Bardy Woman grabbed the show dough in the Emerald Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Both of those races were contested on dirt.

“We’re very pleased with what we’ve seen from both horses so far, and we’ve made some minor adjustments that could move them up,” Cooper said.

Following Gold Cup Day, Cooper will campaign a string of a dozen horses at Hawthorne through the end of the year. Ricky Frazier, who rode regularly in Chicago in the late '80s, is slated to pilot all three stakes horses on Gold Cup Day, and there’s a chance that he too could stick around. Frazier sports a 1987 Hawthorne riding title on his resume.

“Emerald Downs closes on October 1, and a week later we will van nine or ten more to Hawthorne,” Cooper said. “We have about 34 horses in training right now, and will choose the ones that come based on their freshness and the conditions they fit.

Cooper handled a string of horses at Hawthorne in the fall of 1989, and she also raced at Balmoral when the Crete track raced Thoroughbreds. When the father/daughter team decided to avoid California this winter and shop for a new venue, Hawthorne seemed to be a good fit.

“We thought it was a good idea to try a new venue,” Cooper said. “I’ve been here before, and the city agrees with me. Let’s just hope we get lucky.”

The 2006 fall Thoroughbred meet at Hawthorne Race Course runs September 15 through December 31 with live racing five days per week: Wednesday through Sunday (except Nov. 23). The dark days are Monday and Tuesday (except Oct. 9). Post time on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday is 1:10 p.m. Friday post time through November 17 is 3 p.m., at which time it will revert back to 1:10 p.m. for the remainder of the meet.

Hawthorne’s spring 2006 Standardbred meet ran May 6 through June 17.

Hawthorne’s spring 2006 Thoroughbred meet ran February 24 through May 2.

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