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EVENTFUL ILLINOIS CHAMPIONS DAY AT HAWTHORNE
Illinois Champions Day at Hawthorne was an interesting day. Unlike years past when one or two barns won the majority of the races, Saturday's contests were won by six different trainers and six different riders.
THE PEACH OF IT HANDICAP
The first of the Illinois stakes races, The Peach of It Handicap, was won in game fashion by Asiel Stables' Diva's Diamond, trained by Carlos Silva.
This was a mile and a sixteenth contest for Fillies and Mares, three years old and up, on the main track.
Diva's Diamond, starting from the inside post position was caught in a speed duel from the very start but she was game throughout, even when headed by Braden's Dreams late. She fought back under a brisk ride by Tim Thornton, currently the leading rider at the meet. With a late surge they got up to win by a neck at the wire.
Trainer Carlos Silva, a native of Chile, was elated. "I thought we were going to have to settle for second place when she got passed late but my filly really dug in and came back for the win. I really didn't want her to go for the lead right away but I guess there was nothing else they could do with the rail.
Tim Thornton: "She ran a game race. She was a little keen to go early, but I didn't want to take her out of her race. She's kind of a one-paced filly. We were getting a lot of pressure the whole way. Turning for home I knew I had a lot of horse but one was coming on the outside a ¾ of a length in front of me. We didn't give up, we were able to come back and get the job done. I was very happy and glad they gave me the opportunity to ride her."
According to track historian, Peter Galassi (he moonlights as the announcer) Silva won the Peach of It as a rider in 2006, for Asiel Stable (the owners of Diva's Diamond) on Meadow Bride, trained by Richard Hazelton, making him the only individual that won the race, both as a rider and a trainer.
Florent Geroux, on beaten favorite Summer Again, "My filly was very sharp today, aggressive. She spit the bit, was always right there. That's why she didn't finish."
They ran the mile in a sixteenth in 1:45.53 following fractions of :23.88, :47.73, 1:12.74, and 1:38.81.
The winner's share was $51,225. Diva's Diamond has now earned $241,455 for owner/breeder Asiel Stable.
She paid $7.40, $4.60, $3.00. Braden's Dream got up for second paying $5.80 and $3.40. Chain of Destiny got up for third and paid $4.40.
THE ROBERT S. MOLARO HANDICAP
Classy Signsealndeliver, owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds and trained by Roger Brueggemann, wasn't going to be denied. With Florent Geroux in the irons, he pretty much bulled his way between rivals to notch the victory. There was an inquiry and a rider's objection concerning the stretch run but the finish stood with Signsealndeliver the half-length victor.
The Robert S. Molaro is a six-furlong handicap for runners four years old and up. Signsealndeliver finished second in last's year's edition of the race.
Florent Geroux: "He ran a very good race. I was just off the speed horses, had a very nice ride down the inside. It was crowded around the eighth pole but my horse fought very hard, went through and won it."
B Two Special got up for second. Static Kill finished third.
Favored Nagys Piggy Bank finished sixth after showing brief early speed. His rider Chris Emigh, explained: "I had opportunity, but the horse on the outside was pressuring at the half and we were stuck in the middle going too fast."
Rider Seth Martinez initially thought he had been bothered but changed his mind. Seth: "My horse ran good. I thought the horse on the inside was hitting me, until I watched the replay."
After fractions of :22.12, :45.53, :57.73 they ran six furlongs in 1:10.28.
Signsealndeliver paid $10.80, $5.00 and $3.80.B Two Special returned $5.60 and $4.20 Static Kill paid $4.20
Signsealndeliver earned $50,940 for the win. His earnings now stand at $334,456.
THE THIRD CHANCE
The Third Chance for Fillies and Mares, four-years-old and up, going six furlongs. drew a field of 10.
William Stiritz's Algonquin Posse, trained by Scott Becker, the second choice in the wagering, was one of the more impressive winners of the day. She was able to get early position despite starting from the 10 hole. She took the lead halfway through the turn and drew off, ultimately winning by four and a quarter lengths.
Chris Emigh, rider of Algonquin Posse, "She's been training great. We got a great break and I put her in the position I wanted. Turning for home I had a lotta lotta horse. She finished strong. Our plan was to get out of the gate quickly and get good position. I didn't want to go into the turn three wide. I was so happy to be only two wide. I was able to relax a bit. I had so much horse left it was easy from there.
"It's always great to win one of these big races. It motivates the whole barn. This is what riding is all about."
Florent Geroux, 2nd on beaten favorite Missjeanlouise: "I was next to the winner, just couldn't go by her. My filly ran great, but couldn't win."
Algonquin Posse earned $51,630 boosting her bankroll to $267,604
Algonquin Posse $6.40, $3.00, $3.00. Missjeanlouise $2.80 and $2.60. Wild Hope $12.40
One side note: Spoke with Ron Magers, co-owner of Third Chance, and he was just informed that Third Chance, the mare, was in foal to Malibu Moon.
The Pretty Jenny
Timothy J. Keeley's My Option was much the best in the Pretty Jenny, a six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies. She's relatively lightly raced, was making only her fourth start, but looked like something special while notching her second straight stakes victory by five lengths.
Her trainer Chris Block was really pleased by the effort, "I think she'll prefer two turns down the road but I really didn't want to run her against older fillies just yet. I knew she could run short since we ran her short to start her career and this is just the first building block going into the summer. I know that she's talented enough to win short. She got away today a step slow but after that she pretty much carried Eddie (Perez) around which is what she's done in most of her starts. Good ride by Eddie. I'm looking forward to her future. I think she might ultimately be better on grass but she won two stakes on the dirt at Hawthorne so maybe she's best on dirt. I think she's talented enough to handle any surface but we'll find out in the future.
Eddie Perez, rider of My Option: "She ran good. Nice filly, she keeps getting better and better."
Rosemary Homeister, Jr., finished second on Beeway: "What a nice filly. She broke like a shot, real game, went head and head. When she started moving she took off. She was just second best. Christine did a great job conditioning her, and I'd like to thank the owners for the opportunity."
They got the six furlongs in 1:11.15 after brisk fractions of :22.25, :46.50, :58.51.
My Option paid $5.60, $3.80, $3.20. Beeway paid $7.00 and $5.00. Scarlet Power returned $3.40.
The winner's share was $51,765. My Option's earnings stand at $155,280.
THE MILWAUKEE AVENUE HANDICAP
Luv Bandit, owned by Judy Dorris and trained by Tom Dorris, recorded a two and a half length victory in the Milwaukee Avenue Handicap, a mile and a sixteenth race for runners three and up. This runner was relatively overlooked in the wagering despite good competitive recent efforts in open company and he went off at over 10-1.
Trainer Tom Dorris could not make the trip to Hawthorne, so his son, Chris Dorris, served as stand in trainer. "This was kind of a pleasant surprise," the younger Dorris stated, "I'm happy he won for my parents, and this horse has gotten better with each race. My mom (Judy) is thrilled with this race, and I'm happy for her and my dad.
Noel Vigil, first on Luv Bandit: "It was my first stakes win in Illinois, second overall. They told me to take a long hold, let him go at the 3/8th pole, and that's what I did."
Florent Geroux, on beaten favorite P D Q Kiddo: "It was a perfect race, we broke sharp, back of the speed, but then he tired. Probably needed the race."
Solid early fractions helped the cause. They went :23.69, :47.30, 1:12.04 and 1:38.02 on the way to a final time of 1:44.86.
Luv Bandit earned $52,455. His career earnings now stand at $184,969.
THE LAND OF LINCOLN STAKES
Every stakes day needs a longshot or two and Purging the Stone provided the fireworks in Saturday's final Illinois stakes race, The Land of Lincoln, a six furlong stakes for 3-year-old Colts and Geldings.
Owned by Ronald Dellbringge, Paul E. Martin, Jerry Hammond and Darin Ficke and trained by Jerry Hammond, he raced near the back of the pack for most of the race but started picking off rivals one by one on the turn. He was swung seven wide at the top of the stretch and proceeded to run every body down. Purging the Stone rewarded his connections with a $88.40 payoff and the winner's share of the purse totaling $52,875. Nice way to end the stakes day.
Uriel Lopez, "We came flying and got there at the end. It worked out for me."
Tim Thornton, beaten favorite Fab a Dasher: "He only ran a couple starts, they figured put him in, give him a shot. He went off as the favorite. He tried, he gave it his all. When he started getting tired they put him away, he gave up a little bit, but he'll be alright back in the right spot."
They ran the six furlongs in 1:12.10 after fractions of :21.99, :46.34, and :59.14.
Purging the Stone paid $$88.40, $31.80, $13.40. Emile, another longshot, got up for second and paid $20.00 and $12.20. Flathead River returned $5.60.
The $52,875 winner's share of the purse boosted Purging the Stone's career earnings to $80,761.