|Hawthorne Racecourse daily notes (4/11/03)
Contact: Jim Miller
Six Illinois Stakes Saturday, MJ Returns, Added Picks Start Today
Illinois Stars Shine Saturday
The biggest and richest day of the Illinois Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry headlines Saturday festivities at Hawthorne Race Course. Illinois Champions Day 2003 showcases the very finest in Illinois Registered Thoroughbreds in a parade of six consecutive $100,000 stakes.
The dazzling half-dozen kicks off with race number four, the $100,000 Peach of It Handicap for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and upward, at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. The field of 11 is headed by Richard Otto Stable's Julie's Prize, winner of the Illinois Breeders Debutante Stakes here last fall and an allowance race in her 3-year-old debut last month.
It's followed by the $100,000 Governor's Lady Handicap, also for the distaff set, but this a six furlongs sprint for 4-year-olds and upward. Kammalot Stables' Tejano Honey, winner of six of her nine starts last season, heads a field of seven. She captured four stakes events in 2002 and was named the season champion in her division. Come September and Win Won can pose serious challenges.
The fair sex is also spotlighted in race number six, the $100,000 Violet Stakes. A field of nine 3-year-old fillies was entered in the six furlongs sprint. The one to beat is Book the Devil, owned by the partnership of Steven Holland and Crown's Way Farm. If the Gene Cilio trained miss repeats her dominating performance her on March 25, she'll emerge as one of the stars of her division this year.
It'll be males front and center in our next headliner, the $100,000 Milwaukee Avenue Handicap. Ten 3-year-olds and upward will face the starter for the 1 1/16 miles route. Running from post number 10 will be Hughey, Nykaza, Kempler, and Diamond Racing Inc.'s Baker Road, who pulled down over $150,000 in earnings last season and who comes off a brilliant triumph in his latest appearance under colors.
In the eighth race it'll be 3-year-old colts and geldings doing battle in the $100,000 Land of Lincoln Stakes. No less than 13 passed the entry box for the three-quarter mile dash, which shapes as a wide open event. The field includes the likes of division upstarts Frank C. Calabrese's Add a Moment and Bluestem Farms, Inc.'s Tyler's Jewel, along with Asiel Stable's Shandy, a stakes winner at Prairie Meadows and third in the Sun Power Stakes at Hawthorne as a 2-year-old.
The grand finale on our Illinois Champions Day string of stakes is the ninth race, the $100,000 Chicagoland Handicap. A field of nine Illinois bruisers, 4-year-olds and upward, will run the six panels including Ron L. Brandenburg's venerable 8-year-old Tic N Tin, a winner of 24 of 68 starts lifetime and $666,545 in purses. Also in the Chicagoland is the defending champion, Magic Doe, also eight. Magic Doe, a winner of $681,207 lifetime, is trained by the Dean of Chicago turfmen, Jimmy Eckrosh.
MJ is Back!!!
No, not that one. Jockey Mary Jo Brennan won Tuesday's first race aboard Clever Fact, earning her first riding victory in over two years. M. J. was hurt, not in a race, but in a morning workout when she was tossed from Pat A Stake and shattered her wrist.
"I've been working really hard getting back to this point. I'm thankful for all the recent opportunities and hope things keep moving in the direction they are going. I'm feeling good about the future."
Brennan, who started riding at Philadelphia Park in 1990, is glad to be back. "I feel great," she continued. "I've been working a lot of horses for trainer Richard Hazelton. I've gotten my timing back. It's been a bit slow as far as getting mounts but this is a talented jockey colony and many of the trainers want to make sure you can still ride, before entrusting you with their horses, when they have so many other options available."
Without an agent, Mary Jo knows her opportunities will be limited, especially this summer when racing moves to Arlington and top riders come in from around the country but, for now, she's satisfied.
"I'm just happy to be riding again. It's been a long road back."
Rolling Pick 3s, New Pick 4s
Beginning on today's Hawthorne card, rolling Pick 3s will be added, offering more wagering options for the bettors. The Pick 3 will begin on the first race, and a new Pick 3 will start every race throughout the day, through and including the eighth race and will continue every racing day through the end of the meet.
Also, two Pick 4s will now be offered on Hawthorne's races. Every racing day, a Pick 4 will take place on races 2-5 and another will be offered on the final four races of the day. On nine race cards, the final Pick 4 will run on races 6-9 while ten race cards will have the Pick on races 7-10.