Wagering expectations were not met by the majority of horseplayers at Hawthorne Nov.3, as six Illinois-bred stakes races were run and all six favorites disappointed, with longshots ruling the day in the 7th annual Phil Georgeff Festival of Racing.
Win prices ranged from $13.80 to $90.40 and kept the chalk players scratching their collective heads all day, as seemingly the end of the stakes day was the only way the onslaught would cease. Here's a recap:
Showtime Deb Stakes - AJ Stable's Carts Italian Rose began the parade of underdog winners when the 2-year-old filly gamely fought back to edge My Facts in the $110,125 Showtime Deb Stakes. Always prominent, the daughter of Cartwright pressed the early pace set by Carbella, took over in the lane and just held on at odds of nearly 8-1.
Jockey Israel Ocampo was aboard for the Gary Delong-trained filly and he was impressed with her determination.
“I didn’t want to be in second early, I wanted to be in front, but she’s a good filly with a good heart and when she gets the lead she never quits,” said Ocampo.
Carts Italian Rose covered the six furlongs in 1:12.32 on a fast main track and paid $17.80 $9.00 and $4.20.
Lightening Jet Handicap - Mighty Rule survived a bump at the start to overtake heavy favorite Shrewd Operator in the stretch, and drew off to a 1 3/4 length decision in the Lightning Jet Handicap. Shrewd Operator held on for second, with the other Christine Janks entry, High Expectations, (uncoupled) closing for third.
“He was very comfortable," winning jockey James Graham said. "Christine (Janks) warned me that he breaks pretty sharp. He relaxed where he was and he picked them up when I called on him. He starts to look around a bit when he gets alone on the lead."
Mighty Rule, owned by Arbaway Farm, Carson Springs Farm and David Campbell, covered six furlongs in 1:09.58 and returned $14.40, $4.60 and $2.80.
Illini Princess Handicap - Israel Ocampo scored his second stakes win of the day with Lampoon in the Illini Princess. Favored Boudoir loomed in the stretch but drifted out and had to settle for third, while Stop a Train, unable to withstand the winner’s rally clearly held second, four lengths behind the runaway Lampoon.
Lampoon broke well but settled behind Tuffted who set the early fractions. As Tufted tired at the top of the stretch things got a little dicey for the eventual winner as Ocampo explained. "When we were turning for home, I really thought I got her stuck, but we got through and she just kept going."
The four year old daughter of Distorted Humor ran the 1 1/16-miles in 1:45.83 and is owned by Nancy Vanier and Cartwright Thoroughbreds. Brian Williamson is the trainer.
Lampoon paid $17.20, $8.80, and $5.80.
Buck’s Boy Handicap - Trainer Dale Bennett cross-entered He’s Hammered in the six furlong Lightening Jet Handicap, a race that on paper seemed to suit the 7-year old-gelding much better, but the crafty conditioner opted for the 1 1/16-mile Buck’s Boy Handicap, and as they say, the rest is history.
Gunned to the lead by jockey Eddie Perez, He’s Hammered raced an opening quarter in a sensible 24.27 and from there was never threatened, decisively winning the $88,725 event by 6 ¾ lengths, stopping the clock in 1:44.77.
“Dale told me to let him go early and I got to the lead pretty easy,” said Perez. “I was comfortable the whole way. I just started getting busy from the eighth pole to the wire, but I knew I had enough horse.”
Stonehouse, wide a good part of the way, was 1 ¼ clear for second, while Win Me Over closed along the inside to round out the trifecta.
He’s Hammered returned $13.80 $7.80 and $4.60.
Sun Power Stakes - The barrage of large payoffs reached new dimensions in the $100,300 Sun Power Stakes when John and Lois Auer’s Dakota Rebel paid $90.40 to win as the third longest price on the board, in the Illinois-bred stake for 2-year-old colts and geldings.
It was one length back to fellow longshot River Bear, while Billys Bar Buddy settled for third. The time for the six furlongs was 1:11.43.
Odds-on favorite Chief What broke through the gate and ran off on the backstretch, delaying the start for a few minutes, and was never a factor in the race. Second favorite Rocket Rodd set most of the fractions before dropping back.
"While we were waiting in the gate he just stood there. He didn’t wiggle, he didn’t do anything wrong. He was just waiting," said winning jockey Randy Meier. "He should only get better from here. I knew I had the speed inside of me anytime I wanted him. I was only hoping nobody was coming late. He finished really well for a second timer."
John Wainwright trained the son of the little-known sire Kugelis. "The owner (John and Lois Auer) of this horse owns a couple of shares of Kugelis, the sire. He’s standing in Illinois this year. Dakota Rebel has a full brother named General Darby that has run pretty well,” said Wainright.
Dakota Rebel paid $90.40, $38.00 and $16.00.
Powerless Handicap - Denoun N Deverb capped off a day of longshots by defeating Modjadji and favored Pretty Jenny in the Powerless Handicap, winning by three-quarters of a length while overlooked at odds of more than 15-1.
Magnetic Miss went for the lead, but was quickly overtaken by Pretty Jenny and Taylor Madison.
Winning jockey Paul Nolan explained his strategy, "I thought that I would just go out and go around horses and give her a clean trip. Then she just took off. I was confident coming home."
The daughter of Denouncer is owned by Robert Bockel and Dwight Espenschied and trained by Rusty Hellman.The winner paid $33.60, $15.20, and $6.40.