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Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Racecourse (4/19/07)

Contact: Mitch Demick (708) 222-4542

Match Race .... Plus Two

Stickney, IL -- It’s official; we have a match race! Well almost. When Michael Trombetta decided the National Jockey Club Handicap would be Sweetnorthernsaint’s next start, many of the race nominees took notice. When Todd Pletcher announced his multiple graded stakes horse Master Command would also be entered, well the competition just upped and vanished.

Four will start in the 52nd running of the Grade 3 NJC Handicap to be run this Saturday, April 21, a mile and an eighth test for three year olds and up. They will run for a winner’s share of $250,000.

Master of Command drew the outside post in the short field and has been installed the prohibitive 4-5 favorite. Last year’s Illinois Derby winner Sweetnorthernsaint has the rail and is listed at 8-5, a clear second choice.

In addition to the aforementioned duo, leading Hawthorne trainer Roger Brueggemann will start the speedy Le Jester. He will break from post 3 and is 5-1 in the morning line. Robert Gorham’s Courthouse will round out the field, and break from the 2 hole. Listed at 10-1, he is the field’s longest morning line price.

So with so few entrants and similar running styles for the two favorites, the race looks like a test of speed and will. Jockey Mario Pino will be aboard Sweetnorthernsaint, and he sees this race as one where jockeys have little strategy. “You just can’t sit there and wait in a short field. You come out of there running. My horse is fast. Their horse (Master Command) is fast too. Could be a case of who staggers the best wins.”

John Velazquez will have the ride aboard the likely post time favorite, Master Command, and he feels his horse is capable of adapting to however the race shapes up. “I’ll let him run and get comfortable. He can stalk, but if nobody wants the lead we’ll be there,” said Velazquez.

PP Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1 Sweetnorthernsaint M. Trombetta Mario Pino 8-5
2 Courthouse R. Gorham T.D. Houghton 10-1
4 Master Command T. Pletcher John Velazquez 4-5
3 Le Jester R. Brueggemann Tim Thornton 5-1

The filly and mare counterpart to the National Jockey Club Handicap, the Grade 3 Sixty Sails, drew a field of five. Grade 3 winner Mo Cuishle, yet another Todd Pletcher-trained standout, is a slight morning line favorite over Kettleoneup. In her last start Kettleoneup lost a head decision to India, who hails from the barn of, you guessed it, Todd Pletcher.

Unlike the NJC, the Sixty Sails has three other fillies with credentials to spring a minor upset. Millennium Farms’ Rolling Sea comes here following three consecutive victories, James Tafel’s Coolwind is Grade 3 placed, and Hugh King’s My Chickadee has also been competitive against graded company.

PP Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1 My Chickadee B. Williamson Eduardo Perez 9-2
2 Mo Cuishle T. Pletcher John Velazquez 2-1
3 Rolling Sea S. Asmussen Chris Emigh 3-1
4 Kettleoneup M. Tomlinson Calvin Borel 5-2
5 Coolwind G. Geier E.T. Baird 6-1

Hawthorne Race Course races five days a week, Thursday through Monday through April 29. Located at Cicero or Laramie Avenues at 35th Street, gates open daily at 7 am. Call (708) 780-3700 or visit the Web site at




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