Horse Racing

The Calm Before the Kentucky Derby Storm


The Calm Before the Kentucky Derby Storm

We are more than a week away from the Kentucky Derby as this year’s edition is lining up to be very intriguing.  Heading into the 2015 edition, the talk was between Dortmund and American Pharoah leading into the race and neither disappointing.  The 2016 Derby looks to be Nyquist against the field.

With the draw to take place next Wednesday, the updated Kentucky Derby Points Standings look this way:

1 - Gun Runner (151 pts)
2 - Nyquist (130 pts)
3 - Exaggerator (126 pts)
4 - Outwork (120 pts)
5 - Brody’s Cause (114 pts)
6- Creator (110 pts)
7 – Lani (100 pts)
8 – Mor Spirit (84 pts)
9 – Mohaymen (80 pts)
10 – Danzing Candy (60 pts)
11 – Destin (51 pts)
12 – Suddenbreakingnews (50 pts)
13 – Oscar Nominated (50 pts)
14 – Shagaf (50 pts)
15 – Whitmore (44 pts)
16 – Tom’s Ready (44 pts)
17 – My Man Sam (40 pts)
18 – Majesto (40 pts)
19 – Trojan Nation (40 pts)
20 – Mo Tom (32 pts)

The starting gate will be full as the top 20 are followed by Fellowship, Adventist, Laoban, and Dazzling Gem.  All four have hopes to run if the opportunity arises.

When the race is drawn next week, we will focus on the contenders and pretenders, as post position could become a major factor.  

From One Meet to the Next

2016 has been an adventure thus far at Hawthorne and the adventure continues this weekend.  In January, our racing surface was converted from a thoroughbred to harness surface in just 72 hours in freezing conditions. Barns were cleared, horses shipped in and out, and racing was conducted without a glitch.  In February, the conversion back to a thoroughbred surface occurred once again.  We prepare for our next switchover this weekend.

Our spring meet has been a success. Field size is up, handle is up, and we have gotten three weeks of racing on the turf.  The thoroughbreds are finishing off their spring meet as horsemen are mapping their course to their summer racing destinations.  At Hawthorne, the conversion happens once again.  After live racing concludes on Saturday evening, crews will work day and night to convert back to a Standardbred surface.  Many hours of hard work will be put in, but it’s all for the reason of putting on a great show that is live racing at Hawthorne.

Twilight Racing Saturday Night at Hawthorne

A reminder for racing fans, Saturday is our final day of thoroughbred racing for the spring meet at Hawthorne.  The first race on our twilight card will begin at 5:40 PM as racing will take place under the lights.  Hawthorne’s Brew Fest will be taking place on our apron as there will be craft beer, live music and the outdoor barbeque.  Join us for all of the racing action as we crown our spring champions at Hawthorne.

Live Harness Action Begins May 6

Just 72 hours after our spring thoroughbred meet concludes, qualifiers for our summer harness meet will be taking place on Wednesday, May 4.  Our harness meet opens Friday, May 6 with a 7:20 PM post as we will be racing on Friday and Saturday evening next week.  Following next weekend, live racing will take place every Thursday-Sunday evening with a 7:20 PM first post.  

Visit Hawthorne for Oaks and Derby Day

While live racing is taking place in the evening next weekend, there will be action taking place day and night as Hawthorne is the best destination in Illinois to wager on the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby cards.  Hawthorne will be open early next Friday and Saturday for fans to place their wagers on the Oaks and Derby cards.  Our entire facility will be open on Kentucky Derby day for fans to enjoy all of the action, with the Derby taking place in the afternoon and live racing at Hawthorne in the evening.  For any questions, the make reservations, or details on racing at Hawthorne, visit Guest Services or our website at

Eagle, Scuba Headline Field for Hawthorne Gold Cup

Barbara Weidl

Eagle, Scuba Headline Field for Hawthorne Gold Cup

Saturday marks the 80th running of the most historic race on Hawthorne’s calendar as the $150,000, Grade 3 Hawthorne Gold Cup returns. To be contested at 1 ¼ miles over the Hawthorne main track, a field of eight has assembled with a mix of locals and out of towners. A trio of graded stakes winners in Eagle, Scuba, and Hay Dakota lead the way in the Gold Cup.

The 8-5 morning line favorite in the Hawthorne Gold Cup is Eagle, from the barn of trainer Neil Howard.  The 2016 winner of the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland and second-place finisher of the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill last year, Eagle has raced with mixed results during his 2017 campaign. He opened the season with a pair of fourth-placed efforts in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap and Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds.  He returned to Keeneland in April, finishing second in this year’s edition of the Grade 3 Ben Ali before a flat effort in the Pimlico Special in May.  He got back on track though, winning the Michael Schaefer Memorial at Indiana Grand before running a good second in the Grade 3 Iselin at Monmouth in August.  He enters the Gold Cup off a fifth-place performance in the Grade 3 Lukas Classic at Churchill in his most recent start. Ty Kennedy gets the call aboard Eagle on Saturday.

The 9-5 second-choice in the Gold Cup is the Brendan Walsh trained Scuba. The multiple graded stakes winning gelding posted a big 2016 campaign, finding the board in all eight of his starts last year.  His season closed with a bang, as he rattled off victories in the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup at Parx, the Temperence Hill Invitational at Belmont, and capped his season by winning the Grade 2 Marathon on Breeders’ Cup day. Receiving a break after his Marathon win, Scuba began his 2017 season with sixth and fifth-place efforts respectively in the Ben Ali and Flat Out Stakes. After running fourth in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes at Woodbine, he finished second in the Birdstone at Saratoga on Aug. 3. Scuba enters the Gold Cup off a pair of sixth-place efforts in the Greenwood Cup and Temperence Hill but figures to be the pace of the race on Saturday. Alonso Quinonez gets the call on Saturday to ride.

The field for the Hawthorne Gold Cup:

PP           Horse                                    Trainer                 Jockey             M/L

1              Hay Dakota                         J. Berndt              C. Roman            12-1

2              Futile                                   C. Hartman        R. Prescott           6-1

3              Side Pocket                        J. Smith, Jr.          V. Santiago         15-1

4              Volgograd                           H. Rodriguez      E. Perez              20-1

5              Eagle                                     N. Howard         T. Kennedy         8-5

6              Van Damme                       R. Gorham          T.D. Houghton   8-1

7              Empirestrikesagain          A. Mitchell          S. Sanjur              15-1

8              Scuba                                    B. Walsh            A. Quinonez       9-5

Pair of State-bred Sprints on Saturday Undercard

The top sprinters in the state will also be on the track on Saturday as part of the Gold Cup day undercard. Race four on Saturday is the $100,000 Powerless Stakes for Illinois-bred fillies and mares to be contested at six furlongs. Race eight is the Lightning Jet Handicap as the state-bred boys sprint for $100,000.

Puntsville has been installed as the even-money favorite in the Powerless Handicap for trainer Michelle Boyce.  A winner of 10 of 20 career starts, Puntsville has won three of four races in 2017, including the Hoist Her Flag Stakes at Canterbury and the Richie Scherer Memorial at Arlington Park.  Regular rider Victor Santiago gets the call on Puntsville. 

The Lightning Jet Handicap is a rematch of the top two finishers from the state-bred Buck’s Boy Handicap earlier this month at Hawthorne. The winner of that race, Goneghost, is the 2-1 morning line favorite as one of a pair for trainer Scott Becker in the race that also includes the speedy D’Rapper (5-2). Trainer Michele Boyce with saddle talented three-year-old Devileye, who faced the first defeat of his career in the Buck’s Boy, finishing second to Goneghost.

The fields for the Powerless and Lightning Jet Handicaps:

Powerless Handicap

PP           Horse                                    Trainer                 Jockey                  M/L

1              Kalispell                                J. Johns                O. Hernandez    10-1

2              Dr Winn Kyi                         S. Manley            R. Prescott          8-1

3              Puntsville                            M. Boyce             V. Santiago         1-1

4              Darlin Rosie                        R. Dobbs, Jr.       C. Roman             12-1

5              Jolee                                     A. Mitchell          S. Sanjur              9-2

6              Ima Little Kitten                 R. Lindsay            J. Molina, Jr.       12-1

7              Church Road                      S. Manley            C. Ulloa                 6-1

8              Shar Ran                             M. Tomlinson    E. Perez                10-1

Lightning Jet Handicap

PP           Horse                                    Trainer                 Jockey                  M/L

1              Goneghost                         S. Becker             V. Santiago         2-1

2              Mexico Memories           L. Hellman           A. Quinonez       20-1

3              Reigning Catfish                 J. Smith, Jr.         C. Roman             8-1

4              Devileye                              M. Boyce             S. Sanjur              7-2

5              D’Rapper                             S. Becker             V. Bailon              5-2

6              Cashel Rock                        D. Matthews      J. Lopez                10-1

7              Armando’s Star                 M. Cristel             R. Prescott          5-1

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

In the latest edition of HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan makes his picks for the weekend.

Kap made his picks with the help of Eddie Olczyk this week.