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Hawthorne Race Course
|Hawthorne Racecourse (10/12/06)
Contact: DAK Productions
Multiple graded stakes winners square off in Chi-Town
Eight sophomore lawnmowers have been entered to compete in Saturday’s 46th running of the $250,000 Grade III Hawthorne Derby (race eight of nine at 4:26 p.m. CDT) to be contested over nine furlongs of turf.
Jim Miller has installed Mill House’s Brilliant as the 5-2 favorite off his wins in the Grade II Jefferson Cup at Churchill and the Grade III Kent Breeders’ Cup at Delaware Park. Trainer Neil Howard will give a leg up to Robby Albarado, who has ridden the colt in nine of his ten lifetime starts. The team will leave from post position seven.
“He’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him and hasn’t made too many mistakes,” Howard said of Brilliant. “He trains and acts like a pro at all times. I always tell people that he’s a 3-year-old going on six.”
Brilliant ran twice as a 2-year-old in Kentucky, and began his 3-year-old campaign at Louisiana Downs. He broke his maiden at Oaklawn in career start number four, and followed up with a second in his initial allowance try. His first five starts came on dirt.
“The Fair Grounds was closed last season because of the Katrina tragedy so we kept this horse on dirt a little longer than we may have otherwise,” Howard said. “Based on his pedigree and physicality, we always looked at him as a grass horse down the road, and were very anxious to run him on turf.”
That opportunity came late in the spring at Churchill. Brilliant rattled off consecutive allowance wins over the Churchill green in advance of a stakes victory in the Grade II Jefferson Cup.
“He ran a huge race that day (to win the Jefferson Cup), but it took a little out of him,” Howard said. “The weather was hot, and he came out of that race a little off key. It was tough to pass on those million-dollar races at Colonial Downs (Colonial Turf Cup and the Virginia Derby), but we weren’t sure he was ready to run past nine furlongs, and decided it was best to give him some time off.”
Brilliant returned seven weeks later to contest the Grade II Hall of Fame Breeders’ Cup at Saratoga, where he would finish a close fifth as the 5-2 second choice.
“He ran well, but may have been a work or two short, and that day the turf course was probably a little harder than he prefers,” Howard explained.
The Grade III Kent Breeders’ Cup at Delaware Park proved to be Brilliant’s coming out party. Following the backlash of the hurricanes, the race actually had to be postponed a week, and when it was finally run, it had to be contested over a very soft turf.
“He (Brilliant) rebounded nicely at Delaware,” Howard said. “He was dead fit off the Hall of Fame, and that race was just what the doctor ordered. It was a bog out there. He ran really well, and obviously handled the conditions better than anyone else.”
If Saturday’s run in the Hawthorne Derby proves successful, would Howard consider taking a crack at the Breeders’ Cup Mile with Brilliant?
“We’ve discussed it, but haven’t talked about it too seriously,” Howard said. “Quite a few 3-year-olds have won the Mile, including his daddy (War Chant), but the division is really tough this year, and there will be some bears in there.
“We’re inclined to keep him in his division through the fall,” Howard continued. “Then we’ll freshen him up a bit, pick a spot or two in New Orleans, and hopefully have him right for the (Grade I) Woodford Reserve on Derby Day next year. At some point we want to try him longer, but we’re not quite sure if he’s a stayer.”
Trainer Bill Mott survived a few anxious moments to win the 2005 edition of the Hawthorne Derby with Brant Laue’s Gun Salute, and this year he guns for the repeat with Peter Vegso’s Go Between.
Installed as the second choice in the morning line at odds of 7-2, the son of Point Given counts the Grade II Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs and the Grade III Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park amongst his three victories. He was last seen finishing sixth behind Showing Up in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on August 12. Larry Melancon will get his first try aboard Go Between, and the tandem will break from gate six.
The remainder of the field for the Hawthorne Derby (with trainer): Shortleaf Stable Inc.’s Sea of Trees (Bohannan), third last out in the Kent; Golden Racing Stable’s Arbuckle Bandit (Stidham), third in the Grade III Arlington Classic on July 1; Team Block’s Creative Force (Block), fourth in the Grade III Arlington Classic; The Horizon Stable’s Crested (W. Dollase), fourth last out in the Grade III Saranac at Saratoga; Bar Three LLC’s Best of Buddies (Boyce), the winner of three consecutive allowance races on turf; and Nancy Vanier and Cartwright Thoroughbreds, IV’s Tally Up (Williamson), a two-time minor stakes winner on dirt this summer at Arlington.
Saturday, October 14, 2006 at Hawthorne Race Course
The 2006 fall Thoroughbred meet at Hawthorne Race Course runs September 15 through January 1 with live racing five days per week – Wednesday through Sunday (except Nov. 23). The dark days are Monday and Tuesday (except Oct. 9 and Jan.1). 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 races can be seen live on Horse Racing Television (HRTV). HRTV provides full, in-depth coverage of the current Hawthorne Race Course meeting, with complete post parades, and expert analysis from the network's hosts.
Hawthorne’s spring 2007 Thoroughbred meet will run February 23 thru May 3. The summer 2007 Standardbred meet will be held June 22 thru August 5. The fall 2007 Thoroughbred meet will run September 17 thru December 31.
For more information visit www.hawthorneracecourse.com.
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