The $300,000 Hawthorne Derby (G3) on Saturday drew a field of 12, plus two also-eligibles to the south side of Chicago.
Carded as Hawthorne's 8th race, post time is 6:40 ET.
1 Film Shot is out of the great turf mare Film Maker. Grade 3-placed, he doesn't quite have his dam's class...He came through on the inside in his latest but got run down by unheralded Miami Cat, who came back and finished 9th, beaten 20 lengths behind Optimizer in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware. New distance and tricky post for a horse who likes to be forwardly placed. Not buying him at 6-1 on the morning line.
2 Finale was a very good two-year-old. He won the Summer Stakes (G3) at Woodbine and was bet to 4-to-1 favoritism in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. A wide post really hurt his chances that day at Churchill, but he ran prety well to finish 7th, beaten 4 lengths. He returned from an 8-month layoff in the Equalize Stakes at Saratoga and was checked hard on the first turn and came home last of 10. Three fast works since and he stretches out to 9 furlongs. Looking to rebound and recapture his 2yo form.
3 All Stormy beat older horses when winning a NW2 at Arlington in his last. His second to Cozetti in the American Derby (G3) was pretty good, but the winner won despite trouble. He's knocking on the door of 3yo graded stakes material. Foresee an inside stalking trip.
4 All Squared Away won the Lexington Stakes (G3) on polytrack earlier this year and tried turf out at Del Mar in his last two. He was uncharacteristicaly far back in the Del Mar Derby (G2) and did well to get seventh, beaten just 2 3/4 lengths. The winner went wire to wire on a course that favors speed types. All Squared Away got the 9f no problem, and he's clearly a win contender here on the class drop, but he must adapt to a very different type of course (Hawthorne is definitely not a SoCal pool table). Also, he carries high weight of 122, spotting most of these 6-8 pounds. That is a significant weight disadvantage.
5 Francois has been a great $7,500 claim. He's won three of four, and really turned into a runner. His speed figures vs. lesser fit here, and he showed he likes turf last time. He'll need to relax and finish strongly while stretching out to 1 1/8 miles on the class rise. That's a lot of new variables.
6 Two Months Rent most recently finished third, beaten six lengths by Optimizer, in the Kent (G3). Looks like he has things turned around after the disastrous saddle-slipping incident in the Va Derby (G2). Could maybe see him rallying for a small piece here with the right trip.
7 Aldous Snow has reacted favorably to blinkers, with three consecutive sharp runs on the turf. He beat a good field of older horses in the NW1 three back at Woodbine. The third-place finisher Miami Deco retruned to win a NW2x allowance race at Keeneland, and the 4th-place runner won a NW1x allowance at Woodbine. Aldous finished second to the filly Irish Mission in the 1 1/2-mile Breeders Stakes, a Canadian-bred classic going 1 1/2 miles. His late run going a mile last time was strong, as he was the only horse closing any ground, and that's not always easy to do out in the middle of that big Woodbine oval. I think he fits at the Grade 3 level here against 3yos, but will need some pace up front.
8 Control Tower has blossomed since arriving at Arlington this summer. His three wins vs. much cheaper were of the tour de force variety. There is a some serious horse power here. He has good stalking speed and a strong late move. Love how he looked on video in his last three races (regardless of surface, he even looked great on the poly). Interesting on the class rise, and note his most recent speed figure fits here.
9 North of Never hadn't run a bad one until the 6th-place finish at Canterbury, and he went to the sidelines afterward. That was a pretty weak field he beat in the NW1 at Churchill. His best effort might be able to land a minor share.
10 Lea shows a nice progression, having run a wide 2nd in his career debut at Churchill Downs, then taking a MSW and NW1x at Saratoga, each race a litle faster than the one before. He beat older horses last time and this steady mover was gradually pulling away in the stretch. He has tactical speed and is proven at the distance. Joel Rosario off is not a good angle, but as long as Rosie gets him out of the gate, Lea should get a decent trip stalking one of the inside trio (posts 1-2-3 all are going to want to break fairly well).
11 Pleasant Closing has never been on turf and is listed at 50-1 on the morning line. He has some early speed and could inject a little pace into the race, but this doesn't look like a very logical spot for him. Not sure if he is a sprinter or a router. He's a wildcard.
12 Quick Wit won the off-the-turf Hall of Fame S. (G2) in the slop at Saratoga. He has a good late move, but he was too far back in the American Derby (G3) and the Saranac S. (G3). Tricky post, but he does land the best local turf rider Francisco Torres. Will need to work out a trip from out here, and the co-highweight impost of 122 is an issue.
13AE SCRATCHED XXX The Pizza Man somewhat surprisingly lands on the also-eligible lost, because four of his five wins came in statebred company. Still, I think he would rightfully take some money if he draws in, as his victory over older horses in the llinois-bred restricted Tex' Zing Stakes was pretty good. The horse he beat by a nose last time (Tazz) came back and finished third, beaten 3/4 of a length, in the open co. $100,000 Carey Memorial Stakes. The Pizza Man disappointed when he finished 5th in the American Derby (G3), but he has moved forward since then. Could see him closing for a piece if he draws in.
14 AE Defiant Flyer SCRATCHED XXX would be in tough he draws in. Both of his career wins came on dirt in maiden claiming company and in a Texas-bred stake.
Track/Weather Report: Current Saturday Forecast for Stickney, Illinois is for a high of 69 with a chance of severe thunderstorms.
Hawthorne turf was fast and firm Thursday. No rain in the forecast Friday.
Pete's Pick: Taking the big price on All Stormy. W/P/S