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DAK Awards Hawthorne Fall 2006

DAK Awards Hawthorne Fall 2006

There will be no trophies, acceptance speeches, bad jokes, or guest musical acts, but please tune in anyway -- it’s time to hand out the DAK Awards for this past meet at Hawthorne.

Jockey of the Meet: Not only did Chris Emigh capture his fifth consecutive Hawthorne crown and seventh overall, he did it with room to spare. He also won three of the six stakes on Phil Georgeff Festival of Racing Day, and scored career victory number 2,500 on November 12 aboard Gumba. Emigh currently ranks 12 in the entire nation in races won this year.

Trainer of the Meet: Frank Kirby captured his sixth Hawthorne training title, and second in the last three years, and if you bet on every one of his horses, you actually showed a profit for the meet. He’s been a major force on the racing end, breeding and campaigning truckloads of solid Illinois breds, and now he will try to move the state’s program into the future as the newly elected president of the I.T.H.A.

Owner of the Meet: It’s been a dream season for Frank Calabrese, the perennial leading owner at Arlington and Hawthorne. In addition to dominating locally, he also won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Dreaming of Anna and currently sits sixth nationally by wins. Honorable mention goes out to 2 Blondes, Inc., Scarlet Stables, Montesano Racing LLC, Team Block and Arbaway and Carson Springs Farms.

Horse of the Meet: Bar Three LLC’s Illinois-bred Best of Buddies was a competitive horse on dirt, but once trainer Michele Boyce transferred him to the turf, the light switch  in his head went off. He rattled off four consecutive grassy victories, including two at Hawthorne, the second of which was an upset in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby.

Claimer of the Meet: The only four-time winner at the meet, Mrs. Capp scored victories for both Tom Tomillo and Jerry Gryczewski, and her last three came by a neck or less.

Comeback Jockey of the Meet: Ramsey Zimmerman has grown up, not only as a rider, but in his personal life. After several ups and downs as a young jockey, it’s full speed ahead. Not only did he finish second in the standings, he was the most profitable rider to wager on this meet, and his personality was a welcome addition to the Hawthorne jock’s room.

Comeback Horse of the Meet: The Illinois-bred millionaire Mystery Giver, off more than 1 ½ years with a hind leg injury, scored one of the most impressive wins on the Hawthorne turf this season, while fellow veteran My Calabrese returned from a similar vacation to also win at a high level (2 for 2 at the meet).

Most Improved Jockey: Israel Ocampo did very little to endear himself to racing fans when debuting here this past spring, winning with just five of his 82 mounts, but during the last nine months he has developed into one of the best jockeys in the colony. A recent smoking hot streak of winning 11 races in four days has pushed him into third in the standings, and he’ll now head to Oaklawn Park on top of his game.

Up and Coming Trainer: A long-time assistant to Tom Amoss, Chris Richard went out on his own last June with just five horses. He’s built up his stable to 25, including several talented youngsters. He won the biggest race of his young career when capturing the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity with I’ve Got a Dream.

Most Improved Horse: Claimed for $10,000 out of a race in which he failed to win as the 3-5 chalk, the Illinois-bred Zippy Slew surprisingly developed into a legitimate allowance horse. Buoyed by an eventual stretch out around two turns, the 4-year-old is primed for an even better campaign next year.

Rising Star: Robert Beck’s 2-year-old colt Makeithapencaptain broke his maiden here in a sprint for Bret Calhoun, but he really turned heads in his two-turn debut, drawing off to win by more than 16 lengths. The son of Aptitude, who could be a legitimate Triple Crown contender, is on target for the Grade III Lecomte at Fair Grounds on Jan. 13.

Best Audible: Trainer Rebecca Maker entered It’s No Joke in both the $350,000 Grade II Kentucky Cup Classic and the $500,000 Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup, but it wasn’t until the day before she decided to van the son of Distorted Humor to Chicago. Good call. He won the Gold Cup at odds of nearly 8-1.

Race of the Meet: With two lengths separating the entire field turning for home, Easy Money 2006 LLC’s No Tolerance somehow thwarted all challenges in completing a gate to wire voyage in the Grade III Robert F. Carey Memorial for trainer Mike Campbell and his son, jockey Jesse Campbell.

Most Memorable Moment: Following his victory aboard No Tolerance for his father Mike in the Carey, jockey Jesse Campbell was overcome with emotion in the Hawthorne winner’s circle, so much so that he couldn’t even conduct the post race interview. A teary-eyed “thank you” was all he could muster for the cameras.

Upsets of the Meet: The upstart Illinois-bred Best of Buddies defeated multiple stakes winners Brilliant and Go Between to capture the Grade III Hawthorne Derby, and the “turf horse” Tenpointfive wired the High Alexander Handicap on Georgeff Festival Day at odds of 21-1, defeating the 3-5 favorite Wiggins in the process.

Wager of the Meet: For the first time, Hawthorne instituted a carryover policy for the Pick Four, and on several occasions 75 percent of the pool did roll to the next day. The Pick Four paid sensationally well more often than not, and personally it’s my favorite wager to attack.

Handicapper of the Meet: He didn’t compete in any of our Fall Tournament qualifiers, but Chicagoan Brian Gross did happen to stumble upon the Heavyweight Championship on Dec. 2-3. Not only did he win the tournament with a masterful job of handicapping and money management, he also donated all $6,550 of his prize money equally amongst three charities -- Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Second Harvest and Gilda’s Club.

Hometown Heroes: It was sensational watching both Dreaming of Anna and Street Sense, two babies who broke their maidens at Arlington this past summer, win Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill, and seeing the grass filly Vacare remain undefeated by capturing the Grade I Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

No Brainers: Watching and wagering on the races live at Hawthorne. Club Hawthorne is easily the best on-track rewards program in the country, giving you 4 percent back on your on-track wagers on the live product. You also benefit from several promotions, including the Pigskin Bonus. Involving yourself in the series of Handicapping contests was also a no brainer.

Musical jockeys: No fewer than 67 jockeys competed at Hawthorne this fall – 37 of them rode at least 25 races, and 18 of those piloted at least 100 horses.

Spreading the wealth: On most days, nine different trainers had their picture taken in the Hawthorne winners circle. For the meet, a total of 137 different conditioners won at least one race.

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