Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Who knows why people are debating Horse of the Year. The greatest thing horseracing does for this planet is ensure a healthy breed of horse. When America searched her conscience for a reason to restore the sport with legal wagering in the middle of the 19th century, ensuring good stock and proper animal husbandry was the sport's saving grace. Zenyatta furthered the case for her breed and her sport far more than any other horse in this young century. Her magnetic personality and power are positive, untarnished inspiration -- not always easy traits to find in an athletic hero. Her value to the sport can't be quantified, but we can and should award her Horse of the Year.   

It was fifty degrees and sunny on the last day of the meet -- for a few races any way. Timmy Thorton took down the riding title (and perhaps celebrated too early -- anyone know why he was taken off all his mounts after he notched the title?) Joel Berndt won the training title. It was a good meet. Hawthorne really took advantage of the small fields other tracks offered. I'm not sure that's good for the future of racing, but it's good for the future of Hawthorne.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Junior Big A Alvarado

Over the past few years, Arlington's races haven't always been scintilatinig affairs with Calabrese and Catalano stacking the deck for their respective told-you-so titles. Playing the claim game mercilessly, buying for 10 dropping to 5, etc. etc. But one thing that has been really fun to watch has been the emergence of Junior Alvarado.

I was watching a 2YO race at Aqueduct today, trying to avoid christmas shopping. It was a two turn race, the course was playing fast. He was on the second choice from the hot Violette barn (It was race 3). Jeremy Rose was on the first choice. Neither made the lead, but Rose kept moving his horse forward, ensuring the race wouldn't be stolen maybe. Alvarado often got penned in, as jocks were thrusting their horses to the inside and outside of him, he sat chilly. He wouldn't get first go at the leader around the turn but he would have horse under him and a clear lane three wide. In the stretch he pounced with a little urging. But his 2YO didn't want to decimate the slowing horse along the rail. So Junior gave him a slight tap as a reminder then went back to a steady hand on the reins. It was perfect.

Maybe it was watching the Edgar Futurity last week that's made me sensitive to the way jocks ride 2YOs. The power and the aggression are there in both human and equine athletes; how smart you are in channeling it makes all the difference. Easy said, but watch the replay to see how it's done.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hawthorne Happnins

Tomorrow is the Jim Edgar Futurity. Yes, our shrewd, former governor actively supports the horsemen of Illinois, even has a small string. I imagine if our current governor Quinn allows slots at the track, he too will have a stakes race named after him. But enough about politics. I've speedcapped the races for Saturday and have some picks for all my fans out there. If anyone was playing today, it was wise to go with the longshots. My picks envision a more formful afternoon at the oval. I'm gonna key the Kitten horse in the Futurity. How nice of Catalano to involve the Ramsey family in the Hawthorne fold. It's all about family there. Let's get to the picks:

Race 6 Mdn 24k:
I like Jamie Ness's first-timer 8 Mastman. I've always liked Mizzen Mast colts, and this 2YO looks like he could be ready at first asking. This barn isn't great with first timers but I like the outside draw, and if he can track my second choice 10 Lost Forty, and pounce like his poppa, then he should get his picture taken. Lost Forty keeps improving and has raced against nice fields. He could wire if the track is playing to speed, but he really should have won last. 

Race 7 Edgar Futurity:
2 Next Kitten has shown grit in all his races and like many Kittens closes nicely; however there isn't much speed. There also isn't a tremendous amount of quality; however there are three others that I'll put below the kitten in a keyed tri box. Those fellows are 10 Table Games from the connections that brougt us Giant Oak, 9 Domain's Rap from the Becker barn looks to be one of the few with good tactical speed and 3 Forbidden Forest. Give a closer look into the Forest if Lost Forty does well in the previous race. He's always been in contention and I suspect Thorton to start heating up.

Race 8 5k:
The Catrman sends up another chalky entry in Wistful Smile. You won't get much value, but there's a good longshot to place under him, maybe even box if you're feelin lucky. That horse is Southern Mudd, who loves the dirt at Hawthorne.

Best of luck on Edgar day.