Hawthorne Racecourse (3/25/11)
Contact: Jim Miller
Two weeks away from the Illinois Derby
We kick off a fine weekend of racing as we are now only two weeks away from the running of the Grade III $250,000 Illinois Derby. While the temps may be cold this weekend, there is no precipitation in the forecast, so expect another fast track for the competitive nine-race card.
On Wednesday, jockey Julio Felix continued his hot riding as he won another pair of races and also tacked on a second and third place effort for his day. The best ride from Felix actually came on a race that he didn’t win. In the third race on the card, Felix’ mount, Striver, almost overcame all sorts of trouble for a victory. After hopping out of the gate, Striver was cut off by A P Goldenboy and dropped almost 10 lengths back early. Instead of rushing to contention and using up the horse, Felix allowed Striver to settle, saving ground through the second turn. In the stretch there was a wall of horses in the lead, along with late closing Cathys Breeze on the outside. When a small hole appeared, Felix pushed Striver through and it looked like he may win. To make the race worse for Striver, #4 – Ikaros came out into him, stopping his momentum a bit, and likely costing the horse the win in a head bob photo to Cathys Breeze. This is one of those races worth looking back at on the Hawthorne website to see just how bad the trip was and just how big of a race Striver ran.
On the Wednesday card, trainer Frank Kirby also had a fine day, posting a pair of wins along with adding a second and a third to his tally as well. The two wins moved Kirby into sole possession of second in the trainer standing behind Joel Berndt. Berndt also had a nice day Wednesday as his Massecuite posted his third win already on the meet. What is more impressive is the training moves made by Berndt with this horse. In Massecuite’s first start of the meet, he won by default, as he was moved up via the DQ of Grattan Street. In his next start, Massecuite showed a new wrinkle as he went to the lead and won wire to wire. He followed that race with a third place finish, showing a hanging tendency that he has shown in the past. Berndt made the move to remove the blinkers from Massecuite prior to yesterday’s race and in return he received the best finishing performance that we have seen from this runner on his career.
As we do each Friday, we have another of our online chats on HorseplayerNow.com. We will be covering the entire day’s card and start to look ahead at the running of the Illinois Derby as well. The chat room opens at 1:15 pm and myself and either Joe Kristufek or Brian Spencer (Happy Belated Birthday Brian) will cover the entire day’s racing action.
Main Track – Fast
Scratch #5 – Stan The Tap Man
Survivor Selections of the Day
Total Survivor Entrants: 1,780
Eliminated Wednesday: 3
Total Remaining: 19
Jim’s Survivor Selection: Race 3 - #6 – Distorted Groom
Inez’ Survivor Selection: Race 1 - #2 - Catfeinated
Hawthorne Race Course is in its 102nd year of racing under Carey family ownership. Hawthorne races Friday and Saturday in February, beginning February 11. In March and April, live racing will take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday through the end of April. First post daily is 1:30 pm. For more information on racing at Hawthorne, visit our website at www.Hawthorneracecourse.com.