02/28/2012 3:00PM

Fair Grounds: Nana Knows has been key to Hawley's strong seasons

Lynn Roberts
Nana Knows (right) wins the 2010 Elge Rasberry at Louisiana Downs.

Wes Hawley has but one regret about how well his training career is going.

“I just wish Glenda was here to enjoy it all,” said Hawley, who lost his wife in 2006 to cancer.

Otherwise, these are some pretty good times for Hawley. Based year-round on the Louisiana circuit since his wife took ill, Hawley, 49, already is on pace this year to break the personal mark he set in 2011 for career highs in wins (45) and stable earnings ($1,044,123). He already has sent out 12 winners since Jan. 1, including a victory in a restricted stakes on Premier Night at Delta Downs on Feb. 4 by Nana Knows, a 5-year-old mare who returns to action against other Louisiana-breds Thursday in the ninth-race feature at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

“She’s been one of the best horses, at least earnings-wise, that I’ve ever had,” said Hawley, who began training in 1993. “She sure has been one of the better ones.”

Hawley is a partner with Robert Orth in Nana Knows, an earner of more than $233,000 from 22 career starts. In her last race, the mare had Miguel Mena aboard when up in the final strides to win at a mile over a sloppy Delta surface. On Thursday, with Mena back to ride from post 4, Nana Knows will be in for a $40,000 claiming option when part of a well-matched group going a mile on turf. The feature otherwise is a basic fourth-level allowance.

“She ought to fit with these,” Hawley said.

The likely favorite in the race, Little Polka Dot, is drawn right alongside in post 5. While stretching out for the prominent connections of owner Maggi Moss, trainer Tom Amoss, and jockey Rosie Napravnik, the best piece of news for Little Polka Dot might be this: Bret Calhoun has nothing to run against her. Little Polka Dot has finished second in each of her last four starts – to Beat the Blues once and to Speedacious the last three times. Calhoun trains both Beat the Blues and Speedacious.

Of the others, Skipping Town (post 1, Robby Albarado) rates highly because she is arguably the most accomplished over turf and is taking a rare dip into the allowance ranks.

First post Thursday is 12:40 p.m. Central.

The feature for the coming weekend at Fair Grounds is the $60,000 Sarah Lane’s Oates Stakes on Saturday.