HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE
|Hawthorne Racecourse (4/10/04)
Contact: Jim Miller
Illinois Champions Day Produces Strong Performances
STICKNEY, IL -- Illinois Champions Day at Hawthorne has always been a lead in to which top local runners will take the focus throughout the year. On Saturday, six stakes races were contested with many strong performances and a few surprises. Below is a recap of the day's events.
Peach of It Handicap - Julie's Prize Dominating
In the $86,250 Peach of It Handicap, 2003 Illinois three-year-old champion Julie's Prize began her stakes season in handicap company and showed that she is as sharp as ever. Carrying 126 pounds in the Peach of It, Julie's Prize was an easy winner, coasting under the wire a four-length winner with Larry Sterling Jr. in the saddle.
Sitting behind a hotly contested pace set by Invader and Rustic Kitten, Julie's Prize laid back behind fractions of :24.23, :47.63 and 1:12.47. Taking over at the top of the stretch, Sterling and Julie's Prize cruised past the finish line, stopping the clock at 1:45.76 for the 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track. Trained by Anthony Mitchell and owned by Richard Otto Stables, Julie's Prize posted her seventh career victory and earned $51,750 for the win.
Julie's Prize returned $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10 as the 1-5 favorite. Rathleen closed along the inside to finish second, coming back $2.20 and $2.10 while Invader held on for third, paying $2.10 to show.
All of the connections of Julie's Prize were pleased with the effort. "The race set up well for us. She came out of the last race in great shape," stated trainer Anthony Mitchell. "The way Larry rode her today was a little bit further back than I had expected but she came through easy. Hopefully the way he did it was as easy as it looked so she will be in great shape for the Sixty Sails."
Jockey Larry Sterling Jr. was confident with his mount as well. "I was just galloping around there," he said. "It was really easy for her. I think she is better than she was last year. The weight didn't bother her at all. She was just loping along, she wasn't tired at all. I think this is the year that she'll reach her full potential."
Rathleen ran a good race to finish second for jockey Carlos Silva. "She's a nice filly, I was just second best," said Silva. "I thought for awhile around the quarter pole that I could catch Julie's Prize but she was just too much."
Governor's Lady Handicap - IL Champ Summer Mis a Winner
In the $91,325 Governor's Lady Handicap, the same connections that hooked up with Julie's Prize in the Peach of It, jockey Larry Sterling Jr., trainer Anthony Mitchell, and owner Richard Otto found themselves right back in the winner's circle with Summer Mis.
The 2003 Illinois Horse of the Year, Summer Mis was making her second start of the year after running a strong third against the boys her first time out. Not wasting any time, Summer Mis broke sharply in the Governor's Lady, setting fractions of :22.71 and :46.46. Challenged into the turn by Ravalli Girl, Summer Mis kicked into another gear in the stretch and drew away to win easily by 3¼ lengths in a final time of 1:11.03.
Posting her tenth win from 18 career starts, Summer Mis earned $51,795 for the win. The 1-2 favorite, Summer Mis returned $3.00, $2.60, $2.10. Ravalli Girl held well for second, paying $11.20 to place and $3.00 to show. Cashmere Miss came back $2.20 while finishing third.
Summer Mis is almost done, but may have a few more starts in her according to trainer Anthony Mitchell. "She is going to the breeding shed after this year," Mitchell explained. "She has been really special to me. She was my first graded stakes winner. She got me on the map. I was glad these were the first two races out of the Illinois Day Stakes series, I didn't want to wait until the last two races. I don't think I could have taken it. Carrying 128 pounds and winning like that was unbelievable. Now I have to worry about what kind of weight they are going to give us in the future."
Sterling had it easy once again, aboard Summer Mis. "They were both easy. She grabbed the lead and her ears went up and she was just goofing around like the other one," he said. "She won super easy. She broke better than ever today. It is nice riding horses that you don't have to fight to do something. That's what makes it worth it. I wish I could ride them every day."
Trainer Tom Tomillo was pleased with the run he got from Ravalli Girl as well. "She ran big. We only gave $10,000 for her and she just keeps getting better," Tomillo said. "She has been training real well. I think wintering in New Orleans helped her a lot. I was real pleased with her today."
Chicagoland Handicap - Shandy Pulls off Mild Upset
Male sprinters headed to the gate in the $91,175 Chicagoland Handicap as the focus was on Silver Bid and Out of My Way. While those two both ran solid races, it was Asiel Stable's Shandy who emerged on top after an early pace duel to pull out the win under jockey Carlos Silva.
In a three-horse duel for the lead through fractions of :22.49 and :45.81, Shandy stayed to the rail while Silver Bid carried Out of My Way out a bit in the turn, losing some ground for those two runners. Shandy extended the lead in the lane and went on to a 1¼ length victory, stopping the clock at 1:10.78. Silver Bid held on for second while Out of My Way finished third.
Earning $51,705 for the win, Shandy posted his sixth win from 16 career starts for trainer Richard Hazelton. Shandy returned $8.20, $3.60 and $2.20. Silver Bid came back $3.60 and $2.20 while Out of My Way returned $2.20 to show.
Jockey Carlos Silva had a ton of horse under him today. "The other day he ran here for the first time this year but he was much better today. Last year we tried to run him in the fall a couple of times and the races didn't fill," he said. "This year he came back a different horse. Today he came out of the gate and I went for the lead right away. I knew a couple of horses were going to show speed but I was right there on the fence and I had to go. He had plenty left when I asked him in the stretch."
Silver Bid's trainer Joel Berndt was pleased with his runner's effort as well. "He ran good. We have no excuse. He's been training well but we just go outrun," Berndt explained. "He has almost $400,000 in earnings and he tries every time. My owner bred him and we just love him to death."
Milwaukee Avenue Handicap - Scooter Roach Upsets Wiggins
In the $92,150 Milwaukee Avenue Handicap, 2003 three-year-old champion Wiggins was making his return for owners Pacella, Schwed, and Rizza and was dispatched at odds of 3-5. Battling to the end, he came up just short as Win IV LLC's Scooter Roach snuck in between runners to win by a half length.
Setting the early fractions in the Milwaukee Avenue was longshot Big Glori as he slowed things down early, going :25.28 and :49.75 for the half. Laying close throughout was Wiggins as he and jockey Eusebio Razo, Jr. made their move in the turn. Taking the lead in the stretch, Wiggins had to hold off challenges by Garesche, Classic Appeal and Act of War and was able to do so successfully, but he couldn't beat Scooter Roach and jockey Jesse Campbell as they crossed the line first. Stopping the clock for the 1 1/6 miles in 1:46.57, Scooter Roach earned $51,840 for the victory.
The winner of the Grade 3, $250,000 Hawthorne Derby on the turf in 2002, Scooter Roach posted his sixth win from 29 career starts, winning on Saturday for trainer Michele Boyce.
Scooter Roach returned $28.00, $5.80 and $2.60. Wiggins came back $2.60 and $2.10 while Act of War returned $2.60 to show.
Trainer Michele Boyce commented on Scooter Roach's performance. "It was an exciting race. He had no opportunity to get in. He saved all the ground he could and when he came running he came running," she said. "I'm not sure what is next, it just depends on how he comes out of this one. He has just been a sweet little horse for Paul (Cumberland)."
Jockey Jesse Campbell couldn't have asked for anything more from his mount. "Big race, Big big race. I was a little concerned in the first turn because I knew we were going slow but he relaxed well whereas in previous races if the pace was slow he would be fresh with me," he explained. "When we turned for home he kicked. Wiggins, Act of War or me could have won it but he prevailed."
Trainer Anthony Granitz was also pleased with Wiggins in his return. "He ran a great race. He battled all the way. I think the pace was a little slow up front," he said. "He was laying right on them. Eddie said he did everything right that he just got beat."
Lady Hallie Stakes - Coletti Entry runs 1-2
Trainer E.J. Coletti, Jr. wasn't messing around when he put a pair of runners in the $92,850 Lady Hallie Stakes. Running away with the race was the maiden Slewville and jockey Hiram Rivera as they rated behind the early pace set by Lady Laverne and took over in the stretch, winning by 4¼ lengths.
Lady Laverne broke sharply in her second career start, passing the quarter in :22.62 and the half in :47.08. She was tiring a bit in the stretch, and Slewville closed on her outside to take over while stablemate Wish For Gold was also charging up late. Slewville stopped the clock for the six furlongs in 1:12.37. For her Illinois debut victory, Slewville earned $55,710 for owner Everest Stables, Inc.
The entry returned $6.00, $6.60 and $3.60. Lady Laverne held on for third, returning $4.40 to show. Rider Hiram Rivera doesn't speak English but the gigantic smile on his face pretty much summed up his feelings.
Michelle Luttrell, rider of second place finisher Wish for Gold, was extremely happy with her pick-up mount. "I have never ridden this horse before. I came to ride a horse in the next race for the same trainer and so he asked me if I wanted to ride this filly and I said of course and look what happened," she said. "I am really excited."
E.J. Coletti, Jr. trainer of the first place finisher Slewville, wasn't at all surprised with the outcome of the race. "Jeffery Nielsen is a great guy for giving me an opportunity like this," he said. "He breeds a ton of horses. He ownes Petionville. He owns the whole family probably. He bred both of these horses (first and second place). He has a giant breeding operation. He has horses in quite a few states. He has a ton of mares. He fans them out to different states to try to get the breeder's money. Quite a few of them are in Illinois. I brought people from home to ride the horses. Rivera loves this filly and gets along with her very well.
Land of Lincoln Stakes - Prairie King Rolls By Late
Prairie King was beaten by Jaguar Friend the prior two times they met but he was able to turn the tables in Saturday's $94,350 Land of Lincoln Stakes. Content to race at the back of the pack early, he started easing his way into contention coming out of the turn, but he was still in sixth at the top of the stretch.
Jaguar Friend had assumed the lead but was obviously starting to tire. Prairie King, with Carlos Silva aboard, was relentless. He wore down Jaguar Friend and managed to get up by a head at the wire. For the victory, Prairie King earned $56,610, boosting his career earnings to $104,984.
The win, the second of the day for the team of Richard Hazelton and Carlos Silva, was Prairie King's third in six races and his first stakes victory.
They covered the six furlongs in 1:13.10 after fractions of 22.27; 46.89; and 59.77. Prairie King, the second choice in the wagering, paid $8.80, $3.60, and $2.80. Jaguar Friend, the favorite, paid $3.20 and $2.60, Medicine Eyes, two and a half lengths back, returned $9.80 as part of the mutuel field.
Gail Radke, co-owner of winner Prairie King, was elated. "We bred this horse and raised from a baby," Radke said. "His mom is Bonita Meadow who was an older champion mare from Illinois. When he was born he was as shiny as a new copper penny. He's real special."
Eduardo Perez, rider of second-place runner, Jaguar Friend, thought they gave it their best shot. "We just got beat." he explained. "We had a good trip. We really didn't see the horse coming on the outside. We were just outrun."
"We came from dead last," said winning rider Carlos Silva. "We knew there was a lot of speed in the race and Richard told me to let him stay behind early. When we broke from the gate I took a little hold. I thought we were a little farther back than we wanted to be but when I asked him he took off. I just didn't want to get stopped."
Illinois Champions Day