(Edited press release)
The Illinois Festival of Racing on Nov. 1 marks the time on the calendar to celebrate the local state-bred equines that populate the majority of Hawthorne’s backstretch. And while the progeny of the state’s Thoroughbreds won’t be confused with those from Kentucky, many have proven successful when raced on the national stage.
Copper State and Rolling Seas (both nominated, but not entered in the Illini Princess) are two such mares who have demonstrated the ability to compete outside of their friendly confines, by either winning or placing in multiple graded stakes.
Even more impressively, Original Spin (third in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies) and Buck’s Boy (winner of the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Turf) are examples of Prairie-breds thriving at the sport’s highest level.
Six $100,000 stakes restricted to Illinois foals will likely decide local champions in various divisions Nov. 1 at Hawthorne. Rest assured, a few of them will be heard from again on the grander stage.
Here is a rundown of the stakes schedule and the probable contenders:
Right off the bat, this race features one of those “nationally” capable Illini-breds when millionaire 7-year-old Fort Prado heads a field of seven in this handicap sprint. Fort Prado has always done his best running on turf, but his class makes him hard to leave off the ticket. Mighty Rule won this race last year, although he might not be entering the event in quite the same form as a year ago. Still, he’s a talented sprinter who loves this track, and will be tough to beat. Classy R. J. will look to take his substantial early speed as far as he can. He lasted all the way to the wire in the Land of Lincoln Stakes in his last appearance at Hawthorne and he’ll look to make it 3-for-3 over the Stickney oval. High Expectations is always a threat in these state-bred stakes, but as usual, he will be at the mercy of the pace.
The field: Mighty Rule, Compton, 7-2; Fort Prado, Perez, 5-2; Glory to Spare, Agilar, 8-1; High Expectations, Emigh, 4-1; Classic R. J., Razo Jr., 3-1; Distorted Groom, Lantz, 15-1; Mister Exetera, Wade, 12-1.
Stonehouse just missed in the Milwaukee Avenue Stakes, the spring equivalent of this race, and he looks like he may have this field over a barrel. He’s been working exceptionally well leading into this event, and he’ll be a short-priced favorite for top honors. River Bear has fared well at this level, and will appreciate both the return to Hawthorne and the extra distance his recent races have lacked. Will benefit if lucky enough to get a fast pace. Win Me Over has also had his moments of success against these state-breds and enters this race off a decent third place finish over this race track.
The field: River Bear, Nolan, 8-1; Win Me Over, Karlsson, 4-1; Bill of Bills, Torres, 12-1; El Real Madrid, Alvarado, 8-1; Best Buddy, Ocampo, 9-2; Stonehouse, Compton, 3-1; Dakota Rebel, Riggs, 5-1; Batten, Emigh, 6-1.
Timeless Miss, from the same connections as Stonehouse, is a quick filly who will need to move forward after running third against state-bred allowance foes in her last start. The works indicate she will, but this is one tough race to figure. Mamma Lina failed as a short-priced favorite in her last start, but that was also her first attempt over the track. Any improvement would make her a dangerous customer. Winpins looked good breaking her maiden over this track and acts like a filly with some potential. She is one of several who have a chance for the grand prize should the speed falter. Saxxy Rose Lee isn’t helped by her outside post, however she was a close third against tougher in her most recent attempt. That was on Polytrack.
The field: Cumulonimble, Torres, 8-1; Happy Henrietta, Thornton, 10-1; Lose None, Emigh, 6-1; Timeless Miss, Compton, 8-1; Winpins, Fogelsonger, 5-1; Mustang Stacey, Razo Jr., 9-2; Mamma Lina, Perez, 4-1; Stormy Easter, Ocampo, 10-1; Saxxy Rose Lee, Thompson, 5-1.
My Dominick James has already ventured successfully outside of Illinois, and now returns to his own kind looking like a short-priced winner. There is other talent in this field, however none have his experience or his class. He’ll be tough to overhaul unless the others improve immensely. Devil’s Halo romped in his debut like he might have a tremendous upside. Normal improvement could land him in the exacta, but probably no more. Capt. Bullet Bob was also impressive in his maiden victory, and he too will get tested for class today. The rail-draw is not likely to help his chances.
The field: Capt. Bullet Bob, Razo Jr., 7-2; Charter Class, Ocampo, 6-1; So On and So Forth, Torres, 6-1; Devil’s Halo, Silva, 5-1; Miratough, Agilar, 15-1; Last Wompus, Alvarado, 8-1; My Dominick James, Thornton, 2-1; Willie to To, Karlsson, 10-1.
Secret Kin does his best running in these events and on this soil. There appears to be ample pace to set up his legitimate closing kick and he’ll be tough to hold off with a clean trip. Magnetic Miss will try and zip to the top without hassle, although that may be a difficult task. She has the talent to succeed if not abused early, and must be respected. Pretty Jenny, from the barn of Christine Janks, worked a blazing 1:10.2 for six furlongs only eight days ago and the connections have been waiting for this spot to race their talented mare. She’s always a factor in these events, but demand value at the windows. Nicks is another from the Janks barn who is racing in top form, but will need a lifetime best to beat this level of opposition.
The field: Pretty Jenny, Compton, 3-1; Caller a Classic, Karlsson, 15-1; Secret Kin, Perez, 9-2; Denoun N Deverb, Nolan, 15-1; Nicks, Fogelsonger, 6-1; Taylor Madison, Torres, 8-1; Magnetic Miss, Meier, 4-1; Lune Rouge, Emigh, 5-1.
Mongoose Gold will look to control the pace in a field that appears to be lacking much early speed. She’s not always reliable, but left alone, she may prove dangerous at a nice price. Stop a Train has been a force on this circuit for five years and her races on dirt are always respectable. She looks like she may have missed some time in her morning works, but as usual, she must be dealt with. Lakeaway has only had one race over the dirt, but that was a debut win at Hawthorne. She has since gone on to win two races at today’s distance, and her trainer Chris Block (who also trains Secret Kin and Fort Prado) has won his share of these Illinois-bred championship races.
The field: Archipelago, Torres, 15-1; Apple Martini, Razo Jr., 6-1; Lil Cora Tee, Ferrer, 15-1; Modjadji, Fogelsonger, 6-1; Lakeaway, Perez, 8-1; Home’s the Best, Emigh, 8-1; Stop a Train, Compton, 4-1; Mongoose Gold, Karlsson, 10-1; Labar, Alvarado, 5-1; Ally’s Little Sis, Agilar, 10-1; Boudoir, Ocampo, 10-1.