Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, October 8, 2016
We’re headed back to Illinois on Saturday, where we’ve got FREE PICKS & ANALYSIS on opening weekend at Hawthorne from returning handicapper Nicolle Neulist (@RogueClown).
Nicolle is one of our good friends and go-to ‘capper for all things Illinois racing. We thank Nicolle for sharing her thoughts on today’s card. We invite you to play along and please give Nicolle a follow on Twitter when you get a chance. Good luck! Take it away, Nicolle…
Best Bets: Blue Jean Baby (4, race 2), He’saruler (8, race 6)Price Plays: Aim to Tease (8, race 4), Summer Bride (4, race 5)Race 1: $25,000 maiden claiming, two-year-old fillies, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:00pm CDTSelections: Name It After Me (1), Holy Giacomo (2), Sturn Donna (8)This field lacks a clear standout, so a price is a must. Rail-drawn Name It After Me ships up from Fairmount, and will need to take a step up to win here. But, she does drop from maiden special weight to maiden claiming for the first time. She actually crossed the wire first in one of her maiden special starts downstate, though was taken down to third in a questionable disqualification. She has early speed in a field in which no one else has shown much impetus to send to the front. And, Name It After Me has solid connections: trainer Tom Dorris does well with first-time drops from maiden special to maiden claiming, and he has been firing well with jockey Victor Santiago. Holy Giacomo tries dirt for the first time, a positive move given her breeding. She also stretches to five and a half furlongs for the first time. Though this distance may still be on the short side for her, it is the most she has seen. She has shown some early speed, particularly in her early starts, suggesting she may at least be able to stay in range of the pace. If she takes a step forward moving turf to dirt — a 26% winning move for trainer Armando de la Cerda — she is a contender. Outside-drawn Sturn Donna takes a class drop here. She starts for the third time, after two tries on the polytrack across town. Her three siblings, two of them full siblings, have all shown form on the dirt. If she takes a step forward on the surface move, she could be downright formidable, given her comparably solid speeds on poly. Sturn Donna may need a bit to chase here, but if she gets it, she would be no surprise to see crossing the wire first.Race 2: $8,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one mile on the turf, post time 5:28pm CDTSelections: Blue Jean Baby (4), Flyin For a Livin (5), Seneca Destiny (7)Blue Jean Baby takes a welcome step back up in class. Last out was a bit suspicious: she was dropped in for $5,000 first off being claimed for $12,500, but she won comfortably. Here, she steps up to open $8,000. She has hit the board in three of her four tries over the Hawthorne grass, and has two wins and another three thirds in ten starts at a turf mile. Blue Jean Baby also has some versatility in pace. She can show speed if she needs, but she can also stalk the pace. Expect the latter here, with several other speed influences in the field. Finally, she gets rider Carlos Marquez back; Marquez got her home last time out, and has been riding very well recently for trainer Michael Reavis. Flyin for a Livin was third against similar company last time out going a mile and a sixteenth on the grass. The cutback to a mile should suit her fine, as she has a win and a second in three starts at a flat mile. She had solid turf form through the summer at Arlington, and has made solid account of herself with a bit of cut in the ground. On pace, she is best when she gets something to chase, which should happen today. Finally, it is a positive sign that she keeps regular rider Edgar Perez. Seneca Destiny takes a sharp class drop here comared to the types she has been facing. But, even her recent form is not far from what she needs to be competitive here. She is a horse who loves to win, with 12 wins in 36 tries, and two of those have come at a turf mile. She will be part of the frontrunning brigade, but she has enough of a stalking and pressing gear to keep on with it. Though low-percentage rider Olaf Hernandez gives some pause, he has seen some success recently with trainer Doug Matthews, and Seneca Destiny is likely to be the right price to make the risk/reward balance work.Race 3: $7,500 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:56pm CDTSelections: Luckster (2), Dabria (8), Media Forecast (12)This is not a particularly good field, even for the lowest maiden claiming level. Luckster is the new face, the only first-time starter. She has a long enough worktab to suggest that she is fit. And, the humans inspire confidence: Edgar Perez is as strong a maiden rider as anyone in the colony, and trainer Roger Brueggemann is a 28% winnner in maiden claiming races, with a positive return. Dabria has thirteen starts under her girth, but just one of those has come on dirt. That start came against tougher than she faces here. She dropped to this level for the first time just last out, and was third despite acting out before the race. She has every right to improve today, more upside than your average fourteenth-start maiden. Media Forecast is relatively lightly raced compared to her foes here, with only five races behind her. All five of those starts came over the polytrack at Arlington over the summer. So, she is trying something new here. The cut back to six furlongs should help as well; her last two starts have come at seven furlongs, but her better back form came going shorter.Race 4: Allowance, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 6:24pm CDTSelections: Aim to Tease (8), He’smakingabigscene (5), Moonlight Mischief (9)This race should be a good betting race, particularly since there is beatable chalk in In the Chamber. The turf will likely have some give in it, assuming they run on the turf, and In the Chamber has been at his best over firmer going. Furthermore, In the Chamber prefers a flat mile, not a mile and a sixteenth. Instead, Aim to Tease has appeal. He comes in third off the lay, and is going in the right direction. He was last on his return, but still beaten only four lengths for all of it. Second off the lay, he was a close second behind In the Chamber in a de facto state-bred N1X. But, he should be able to turn the tables: Aim to Tease has strong back form on softer courses, and won his only attempt at this distance on grass. He’smakingabigscene steps up from hitting the board in his last three starts in beaten $25,000 company, against some of the foes he will see here today. He should get some pace to chase with the likes of Arch Rivalry and Mendota both in the field, and has shown some ability to fire with some give in the ground. He will be unlikely to have to chase lone speed like he has had to recently, and that may get him over the hump. Moonlight Mischief was the lone speed in He’smakingabigscene’s last time out. He has been in good form lately, having won each of his last two. Those have been his two starts since moving to the barn of Liane Davis, suggesting that the barn change has been good for him. And, unlike other frontrunners in this field, he also has a well-established stalking gear. That last out win came at the distance of today’s race, and he has back form over ground with give in it as well.Race 5: Maiden special weight, two-year-old fillies, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 6:52pm CDTSelections: Summer Bride (4), Cherrybark (3), Petal Path (9)This is a wide-open field of two-year-olds — the sort of race in which anyone who is right will likely be paid handsomely. Among those who have started, Petal Path has the most upside: she finished a respectable third last out against similar company. She could take a step forward second out. But, her breeding suggests that she is going to want more than five and a half furlongs on the dirt. Use her underneath on intra-race exotics or defensively on a larger multi-race ticket, but to win, look toward others. Summer Bride is the top selection, at a square 10/1 on the morning line. She is a first-time starter for trainer Carlos Silva. Though Silva does not often win with his debut runners, he got Summer Bride’s half-sister Bridgitte Bordeaux to the winners’ circle first time out at age two. Beyond them, there is some other win-early in the family: Summer Bride’s half-sister Bonita Song won third out for the same barn, and dam Meadow Bride won second out. There is a long enough worktab to suggest that she is fit — assuming she has herself together in the paddock and post parade, she intrigues as an upset contender here. Cherrybank is another first-time starter with appeal at a price. Her dam Honoriffic won first time out. Though sire Forest Attack did his best work on synthetic surfaces, his babies have been taking to the dirt. She has a long enough tab to suggest she is fit. She has enough bullets to suggest she is fit — though the times look slow, the works are at Fairmount, a track that can often be slow. And, trainer John Cox can pop at a price in maiden races.Race 6: $12,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the dirt, 7:20pm CDTSelections: He’saruler (8), Western Country (5), Oltre’ Oro (3)This race goes through the pair from the Steve Manley barn, He’saruler and Western Country. Between the two, He’saruler looks the better of the two. Six furlongs is his best trip; all eight of his career wins have come at the distance. Though this is a class rise from last out, he crushed beaten $10,000 company in that most recent start, and his speeds are just what he needs to succeed here. He is a versatile off-pace type, able to come from close to the pace or from off it, and does not need a fiery pace to get the job done. His biggest competition comes from his own shed row, Western Country. The race does not have a lot of reliable speed on paper; rider Victor Santiago may be able to capitalize on that, and take this field from gate to wire. He was third in a $12,500 starter-optional last out; the form of that race has already been franked by winner Dr. Clark, a winner again next out. Here he drops slightly to straight claiming company, and he could get the tactical advantage. For a spoiler at a price, consider Oltre’ Oro. He missed the board in three starts at Arlington through the summer, but has back dirt form that fits in nicely with this set. Though most of his races more recently have had him coming well off the pace, he has some back from from closer up as well. Should he take to the Hawthorne dirt well and revert back to his past dirt form against tougher company, he should hit the board at a price.
Race 7: Starter allowance, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $5,000 or less in 2015-2016, five and a half furlongs on the dirt, post time 7:48pm CDTSelections: Buddons (3), Exactness (1), Nyoman (7)Buddons was in strong form through the spring and early summer, but then went on the shelf after two poor starts. He should be back here fresh for trainer Jim DiVito, however, and Buddons himself has won off a freshening like this before. He loves main-track dashes, with three wins and third in five tries. He also has solid form at Hawthorne, with two wins and a second in four tries over the course. Expect him to be forward, but even if he takes back a bit, his victory in similar starter-optional company three back showed he has a stalking gear. Exactness comes in off a win against $16,000 beaten company last out. That came on the Arlington polytrack, but he has solid form over the Hawthorne dirt as well. Though that last-out victory came on the front end, expect him to revert to his more typical midpack style here with the cutback to five and a half and with the other speed. Nyoman, on the outside, won at this same $5,000 starter level on dirt last time out. That came at six furlongs over the Arlington polytrack. But, he hit the board in his only try on the Hawthorne dirt, and has been on the board in nine of thirteen tries over fast dirt in general. He is probably a better horse on all-weather, but in good enough form that he should at least be able to rally and nab an underneath share here.
Race 8: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races in 2016 OR non-winners of three races in 2015-2016 OR N4L, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 8:16pm CDTSelections: Titius (2), Won’tualwayswonder (9), Super Twenty Three (5)With no shortage of one-way speed in here, Titius should get an excellent setup. He has the strongest late pace of the group, and he has been consistently firing all summer long. Though he does not have a dirt win yet, he has been on the board for five of seven tries on the Hawthorne main, and all of those came before he broke his maiden. With three wins at Arlington this summer, the light has come on. And, Titius is a cozy condition book fit: though he is an N4L, all three of those wins have come this year. Outside-drawn Won’tualwayswonder has been on a break since June, but has come back a winner off several months rest before. Though he ran at Fairmount through the summer, he has been effective at Hawthorne. He also likes the distance: he has five wins in 29 starts, but all five of those wins have come in just 13 starts at this distance on the main. He has speeds that fit this field, and on pace, he looks like he will get first run on Titius. Among the frontrunning types, Super Twenty Three deserves a look. Though Chu Chu Johnnie and Side Pocket also need the lead, Super Twenty Three is in the best recent form of the bunch. If it turns into a game of chicken on the front, he will be most likely to capitalize. Though his form on polytrack has been good, he is a more consistent horse on dirt, and stands to enjoy the change of scenery at Hawthorne.
Race 9: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 8:44pm CDT
Selections: Offlee Fun (13), Hail Cesar (11), Admiral Sean (1), River Place (4)
Here, I list four because the top selection may not actually race. Offlee Fun will need a bit of luck to draw into the field, as he’s on the AE list. But, should he draw in, he has a strong shot. His speeds are consistently among the best of the field, and he has some back dirt form at Indiana Grand that fits right in with what he would need to show to be competitive here. He has early speed, and broke his maiden near the front, but he also has shown interest from just off the pace, which is a positive sign given how much speed there is in this field. If Offlee Fun draws in, do not sleep on him. Hail Cesar stands out as the only truly lightly-raced horse in a field with so many career N2Ls. He started twice at Arlington, and graduated at second asking over the main track — from off the pace. Here he tries dirt for the first time, and stretches to six furlongs for the first time. But, if he can bring his form over, he has a solid shot. The humans also inspire confidence: Trainer Tom Swearingen temds to send runners ready off a freshening, and rider Julio Felix got the meet off to a hot start with three wins Friday. Rail-drawn Admiral Sean is interesting off his last start, a third-place finish against similar company going six furlongs at Indiana Grand. So much of his better form had been near the pace, but he showed a new dimension with a rally from far off the pace in a short field. He gets rider Kaylia Albright back from that race — and a similar trip, with as much speed as they’ll face today, should produce an even better result. River Place was dull in three starts at Arlington over the summer, but his dirt form stacks up favourably with the company he faces today. He broke his maiden going six furlongs on the Hawthorne dirt, and has a proven ability to sit off the pace. He has been laid off since August, but trainer Jim DiVito performs respectably enough off similar layoffs to think River Place could find his old dirt firm first time back.