03/17/2011 3:42PM

Hawthorne: Allowance feature offers no toss-outs


STICKNEY, Ill. – There’s not much more than a week until the end of the Fair Grounds meet, and only a couple weeks after that, Oaklawn Park wraps up its season. An influx of higher-quality racing stock on the Chicago circuit should accompany those closings. For now, Hawthorne is left to fill races with its own winter inventory, which leads to races like Saturday’s nominally featured fourth race.

The Saturday feature is an entry-level allowance race carded for 1 1/16 miles that drew just six entrants. Complicating analysis is the presence of uncoupled two-horse entries from two trainers, meaning that two-thirds of the race is coming from just two Hawthorne outfits. Trainer Chris Dorris entered Face the Fire and Shore Breeze Icon, both staples of the $5,000 starter-allowance ranks, while trainer Charlie Bettis has Hattaash and Silken Mist. None among that quartet can easily be eliminated, nor can one discount the two others, Ace Rich and Vouch for Victory. Ace Rich won a straight maiden race while making his two-turn debut in his most recent start. Vouch for Victory has won two of six in his career and should show speed stretching out from sprints.

The pick to win is Silken Mist. Silken Mist’s last two races came on Polytrack, and the horse is much better on dirt. In November, racing at this distance and class level at Hawthorne, Silken Mist finished second, and his only previous win came in a two-turn Hawthorne maiden race.

Perez rides 2,000th winner

Jockey Eddie Perez won the 2,000th race of his career Wednesday when he guided Lighthouse Judge to victory in the first race at Hawthorne. Perez is a native of Taluca, Mexico, who turned 45 last month. He began riding, with local trainer Moises Yanez as his backer, in 1988.

Santana leads jockey standings

Somewhat quietly, jockey Jozbin Santana is putting together an excellent Hawthorne spring meet, sitting atop the jockey standings with 21 wins through Wednesday’s action. Santana, a longtime Maryland rider who came to the Chicago circuit last summer at Arlington, has netted those wins from just 81 mounts, good for a 26 percent strike rate. Below him in the standings come Florent Geroux with 16 wins, Tim Thornton with 15, Tanner Riggs with 14, and seven-pound apprentice Constantino Roman with 13.

Joel Berndt’s 12 wins top the trainer standings, twice as many as Frank Kirby has compiled so far this meet.