Hawthorne Notebook: Santos Proves the Best 'Conductor'

by Gary Granade
(Editor's Note: Content for this weekly handicapping notebook is provided by Brisnet).

COOL CONDUCTOR (Stravinsky) is a head strong colt that neither Pat Day nor Cornelio Velasquez could keep under control. Jose Santos had him under control soon after the start on Saturday, under a hard hold and in behind other horses. Cool Conductor turned off, relaxing in a race for the first time since July, and with help from a perfect trip ran down a game colt in Bankruptcy Court (Dixieland Band) in the final yards to win the $250,000 Hawthorne Derby (G3) by a neck.

Trainer Bill Mott was bringing Cool Conductor back less than a week after he had finished fourth in the Storm Cat S. at Keeneland. In that race and three others earlier in the year, Cool Conductor had run off with his rider, ruining his chances at victory.

"Billy Mott put me on because nobody could hold him," Santos said. "I got a good hold out of the gate. I didn't let him do anything."

Cool Conductor settled in sixth, as a big longshot named Western Ridge (Ordway) sailed through splits of :23.56 for a quarter-mile and :47.40 for a half, pursued by Gwaihir (Ire) (Cape Cross [Ire]) and Bankruptcy Court. Cockleshell (Red Ransom), the second choice behind Cool Conductor, sat a perfect trip behind the top three, moving into action partway around the far turn. As Cockleshell went wide, jockey Shaun Bridgmohan slipped through a tiny seam on the rail with Bankruptcy Court, who quickened, making a sweeping run and took the lead.

But Santos and Cool Conductor had something left for the stretch. Santos got to work, and Bankruptcy Court's lead began shrinking.

"At the sixteenth pole, you could see he was going to win the race," Santos said.

Crown Prince, last into the far turn, came home fast for third, well behind the place horse and three parts of a length ahead of Cockleshell, who was flat in the stretch.

The winner paid $5 to win, running nine furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.89.

The main track and turf course were relatively bias free this week. Early runners still did slightly best on dirt and closers had the edge on the lawn.

Chris Emigh has widened his lead in the jockey's race and now has 26 winners. Carlos Marquez, who recently rode his 2000th winner, is tied for second with Larry Sterling with 15 wins apiece. Eddie Razo and apprentice Emanuel Cosme are next with 14.

In an extremely tight trainer's race, Steve Asmussen and Tom Tomillo lead with eight winners each. Frank Kirby has seven and Christine Janks, Roger Brueggemann and Brian Williamson have each visited the winner's circle six times.


Monday (10/11)

1ST - MANHATTAN BEACH (Strode's Creek) loves to win races and now has learned to rate. Beat a tough $10K field and can move up off the Don Millonas claim.

Wednesday (10/13)

2ND - SAT. NITE SPECIAL (City By Night) was unruly behind the gate and fractious once loaded. Showed little in a spot where he should have run well. Give him another chance.

Thursday (10/14)

1ST - FORRER HALL (Royal Academy) won convincingly on the class hike and was claimed by Catalano. Has plenty of back class and will be well placed next out by the Cat Man.

4TH - BLACK CADILLAC (Maria's Mon) was making his first start for a claiming tag and scored a booming win over basement state breds. He is capable of jumping up several levels.

Friday (10/15)

3RD - WHY NOT WHITNEY (Whitney Tower) surged to the front on the stretch turn under 10-pound bug rider Rodriquez and opened up a needless six-length lead. She tired in the last sixteenth and was beaten two noses. Would have been the winner with a heads up ride.

8TH - CALMING EFFECT (Aaron's Concorde) was dropped below his value by Dale Bennett and won impressively with no takers. Can handle a class jump.

Saturday (10/16)

5TH - AWTAIR (Armed Truce) chased the class dropping odds-on favorite through suicide fractions and still held on for the place, putting away the other speed. May be an overlay next time out.

8TH - Bankruptcy Court ran a tremendous race in his first try in a graded stakes. Rated off the pace, he covered the third and fourth quarters in :23.2 each to open a clear lead in the lane. He was run down late by the classy Cool Conductor, but has a bright future on the lawn.

Sunday (10/17)

8TH - STORM THE BEACH (Smoke Glacken) remains on the watch list after a dominant win over a very tough colt at the "two other than" level. Looks better every time out.