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Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Racecourse (6/27/08)

Contact: Mitch Demick (708) 222-4542

Chicago and Lady Chicago highlight Saturday card

The inaugural Chicago and Lady Chicago pacing series for 3-year-olds was an early highlight of last year’s Hawthorne summer meet and lived up to advanced billing with two action-packed miles. Hopefully nostalgia freaks, years from now, can recall that Johnny Charisma and Cabana Fever were the respective winners and were the vanguard for many more exciting renewals.

This year’s edition of the Chicago and Lady Chicago will have big hoofsteps to follow. Both appear, however, to have the requisite talent to create the same heart-pounding excitement of a year ago.

The Lady Chicago was split into two divisions and will be carded as races 3 and 4. Both divisions feature a tigress. The first division, worth $30,750, will showcase the talented, but sometimes unlucky Kelly’s Keepsake. The Erv Miller-trained daughter of Sportsmaster won six times as a freshman and earned $278,879 and if not for a few untimely miscues and a few rough trips, the season could have been even better. Still, she did win the prestigious $260,000 Orange and Blue at Balmoral and was clearly the most dominant 2-year-old filly towards the later part of the ’07 campaign. Her latest mile, a game placing to Desirable Cindy, stamps her out as the filly to beat. Marcus Miller will ride for his father.

Her main competition will likely appear in the form of her stablemate Westside Gritty. Another daughter of Sportsmaster, Westside Gritty will reunite with driver Brent Holland and the pilot thinks his filly is capable of beating her more accomplished foe.

“I like my chances, I really do,” Holland said. “She handles the mile track smartly and I’ve gotten along with her nicely. I think she’ll be tough.”

In the second division, purse $31,250, the Joe Seekman owned and trained Beachy Girl looks like the likely favorite despite a bit of a shaky start to her 3-year-old season. A nine-time winner as a frosh with earnings of $334,652, she has raced only twice this year, resulting in two off-the-board performances. This filly paced a 1:51 mile at Lexington last year and could return to form at any time.

The competition in the second division runs deep and Beachy Girl could have her hands full. The field of six looks capable from top to bottom, with Ideal Nectarine (Holland), Venusinbluejeans (Miller) and Desirable Cindy (T. Seekman), the later an impressive winner in a division of the Hanover series, the main threats to ‘Beachy’.

The $71,000 Chicago is carded as race nine and the race clearly runs through 2-year-old Illinois-bred champion Mucho Sleazy. Owned by Engle Stables and trained by Paul Stafford, the talented gelding has already amassed earnings of $176,880, nearly matching last year’s total, with a full summer of racing still ahead. Mike Oosting will have the pleasure of the drive and he’s confident…but cautious.

“You know as well as I do, the second you get too confident, that’s when the bottom falls out,” Oosting said. “But this is a very nice horse, who gives his all every race. I’m expecting a good performance.”

Oosting, Engel and Stafford (as assistant to Ken Rucker) were the human connections behind last year’s winner, Johnny Charisma.

Should the favorite falter, the Erv Miller pair of King of Kings (Miller) and Hey Mister D J (Holland) could pick up the pieces.

Hawthorne Race Course’s Summer harness meet paces from Tuesday June 24 and continues through August 7. Live racing will be conducted Tuesday through Sunday, first post 7:20 pm, except Sunday, first post 6:30 pm. Thoroughbreds return on September 26, and race until the end of the year. The track is open year-round for simulcast wagering, day and night. Hawthorne Race Course is located at 3501 Laramie Avenue, Cicero, IL 60804. Call (708) 780-3700 or visit the Web site at




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