A pair of $50,000 mile and a sixteenth stakes highlight closing weekend at Hawthorne Race Course Saturday.
The Milwaukee Avenue Handicap will be the sixth race on the card and will feature a field of six older males.
The 8/5 morning line favorite is I Got It All. Owned and trained by Thomas Swearingen, the four-year old gelding is coming off a 7th place finish behind the impressive return of Kobe’s Back in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland. Prior to that he was stakes placed in the Essex at Oaklawn, finishing third and in his last tangle versus statebreds at Hawthorne he was 3rd, beaten by Luv Bandit in the Lightning Jet Handicap in December.
His nemesis, Luv Bandit, narrowly missed scoring in the Robert Molaro Handicap last out, losing by a rapidly diminishing 3/4 of a length after a wide trip. The Molaro was contested at six furlongs and while the added distance should help, Luv Bandit seems to prefer a flat mile of the extra half furlong.
Both of the top two are going to want to close into the pace and there does appear to be some in the small field as the other four entries will want to be on or near the lead.
Empirestrikesagain appears to be the sharpest of the four having seemingly put it all together after his maiden breaking win in September. Since that time he has won two state bred allowances as well as finishing clearly second best in an open allowance. The step up into stakes company is a steep one and the others have a clear edge in speed figures.
Valiant City moves back to the main track where he hasn’t missed the board at Hawthorne as he sports a 4 starts with 2 wins, a second and a third. Another who may find the step up to stakes company challenging, his only attempt came in a turf stake and his early speed and return to dirt will make him a front end threat if he can shake loose.
My Borsalino and Lahshad round out the field.
The ladies get their shot in the 8th in the Peach of It Handicap. Like the boys field, the Peach of It features two mares that look to be a notch better than the rest, though the field of nine is more closely bunched than in the Milwaukee Avenue.
The morning line favorite is Compelling Case. A very sharp winner last out in a $62,500 optional claiming race at Oaklawn, the Chris Block trainee hasn’t ran on a conventional dirt surface in a quite a while. While in Louisiana under the care of Ritchie Scherer, Compelling Case made four starts on the turf including 2 wins, a second and a third in the Sam Houston Race Park’s Jersey Lilly Stakes. When she has run over the Hawthorne dirt, she has two starts with a win and a show to her credit, making her a threat on the surface.
Making her second start after a layoff is Synderella. In her seasonal bow last out she lost all chance of competing right out of the gate after an awkward start and simply trailed the field around the race track. While unimpressive, if she got the fitness lift she needed out of the effort she will be dangerous. She’s four of nine over the Hawthorne strip and she’ll look to stay close to the early action while looking to fend off Compelling Case late.
Though there is some pace in the race, be aware of Our Domain. Making her third start back off a break, she returned with a 3rd at Oaklawn in a $50,000 optional claimer and then came home to Hawthorne with a strong 2nd at the same level. While she hasn’t yet shown the ability to shake loose on the lead, without a ton of pace and her drawing post 2, if she can clear it will be tough catching her and the owner/trainer combination of Stiritz/Becker has been very formidable in stakes this meet.