HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE
|Hawthorne Race Course daily notes (9/26/03)
Contact: Jim Miller
Perfect Drift Heads Field for Hawthorne Gold Cup
STICKNEY, IL -- Multiple Graded Stakes winner, Perfect Drift, leads a very competitive field that will head to the post for Sunday's 67th running of the Grade 2, $750,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup at Hawthorne Race Course.
In 2003, the purse for the Gold Cup was boosted by $250,000 to the $750,000 level, making it the richest race on the dirt in Illinois. The Grade 2 Handicap event will be run at 1¼ miles for three-year-olds and upward and goes as Hawthorne's ninth race on the card.
In the history of this event, such runners as Sun Beau, Dr. Fager, and Cryptoclearance have won this race. Also, past Breeders' Cup winners Black Tie Affair, Buck's Boy, and Awesome Again have also won the Hawthorne Gold Cup.
The field for the 2003 Gold Cup looks very strong as six are set to go post-ward. Leading the way is Perfect Drift. The four-year-old son of Dynaformer makes his 17th career start in the Gold Cup and comes into this spot a winner of 8 of his previous 16 starts and has become one of the top older handicap runners in the country.
Owned by Stonecrest Farm and trained by Murray Johnson, Perfect Drift has already surpassed the $1 million mark in 2003, winning four of six starts. Opening his racing year with an allowance victory on the grass, Perfect Drift then pulled off the upset victory in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill on June 14.
After a month off, he came back with an easy win in the Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington July 19 and followed up a flat effort on the grass in the Arlington Million with a very impressive win over Congaree just two weeks ago in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic. Perfect Drift has been set as the morning line favorite at 1-1 with Pat Day in the saddle.
One that Perfect Drift will try to chase down is Tenpins. Lightly raced in 2003, Tenpins will be trying to make the 1¼ mile distance for the first time in his career. Owned by Joseph Vitello and trained by Donald Winfree, this five-year-old son of Smart Strike is two for two on the year, with a pair of Grade Stakes victories.
He opened his season on July 12 with a very game victory in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Prairie Meadows. He would came back six weeks later to hold off Aeneas while winning the Grade 3 Philip Iselin Breeder's Cup Handicap on August 23. Tenpins comes into his start in the Hawthorne Gold Cup a winner of nine of 13 career starts for earnings of $938,689. He is the second choice in the morning line at 9-5 and will be ridden by Robby Albarado.
Though winless in 2003, Aeneas has been stakes-placed in three graded events this year. The four-year-old colt owned by Patricia Pavlish and trained by Martin Wolfson has won at the 1¼ miles distance in his career and finished second at this distance on March 29 in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap. After a flat effort in the Pimlico Special, he came back to post back-to-back second-place efforts in the Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap and the Grade 3 Philip Iselin. Third choice in the Gold Cup, Aeneas is 5-1 in the morning line as Gary Boulanger takes the mount.
Local hopes in the Gold Cup will go with Richard Rudolph's San Pedro. Trained by Joseph Broussard, San Pedro has hit the board in all six of his starts in 2003, finishing third in the Grade 3 Hanshin Handicap at Arlington on June 29. A winner of seven of 24 starts on his career, San Pedro can more than double his career earnings with a win in the Gold Cup. Hall of Fame rider Earlie Fires gets the return mount for the 10-1 morning line shot.
No Comprende will be looking to pick up the pieces if a speed duel ensues in the Gold Cup while at a big price. The five-year-old gelding owned by Debby & Dennis Brown makes his eighth start of the year and looks for his second win in 2003. Trained by J.J. Smith, No Comprende finished second in the Grade 3 Eclipse Handicap on May 13 and most recently closed to finish forth in the Grade 2 Saratoga Park Breeders' Cup Handicap. No Comprende will be ridden by C.H. Marquez Jr. and is 12-1 in the morning line.
Local longshot Scooter Roach will be looking for his second Graded Stakes victory at Hawthorne in as many years. In 2002, Scooter Roach finished second on the grass in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby, but was moved to first when then winner Flying Dash was later disqualified. Scooter Roach has switched hands since that race and is now owned by Paul Cumberland and trained by Michele Boyce. A recent winner on the turf at Arlington, Scooter Roach will be the lightweight in the Gold Cup, carrying 106 pounds under jockey Jesse Campbell at 30-1 in the morning line.
Listed is the field for the Hawthorne Gold Cup
PP HORSE JOCKEY TRAINER M/L
1 San Pedro Earlie Fires Joseph E. Broussard 10-1