10/25/2012 4:33PM

Hawthorne: Bucks Boy pace should set up Suntracer's late run

Four Footed Fotos
Suntracer wins the Carey Memorial. He will face easier company on Saturday.

Uno Pecador has never looked much like a stakes horse during his 53-start career, and he has only a slim chance of winning the $125,000 Bucks Boy Handicap, but that doesn’t mean his presence won’t be felt. All front-running speed, Uno Pecador should hook up with Mr. Mischief to ensure a strong pace in the Bucks Boy, and barring trouble, that should send favored Suntracer into the winner’s circle.

Trouble is possible, of course, because Suntracer rallies from far behind the early leaders, but since he was able to beat open $100,000 stakes foes last month in the Carey Memorial at Hawthorne, the Bucks Boy should fall well within his scope.

The Bucks Boy is one of two $125,000 turf races for Illinois-breds on Hawthorne’s nine-race Saturday card, sharing top billing with the $125,000 Illini Princess for fillies and mares. The Bucks Boy is the stronger race, but the Illini Princess also drew a competitive, bettable field.

After getting hit in the eye with a turf clod in a race last winter at Fair Grounds, and subsequently going through a rough patch during the spring, Suntracer has come steadily forward his last four starts. The Team Block homebred was third behind stablemate Ioya Bigtime and the old warrior Musketier in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes over 1  1/2 miles before overcoming a slow pace to win a division of the Illinois Owners Stakes in August at Arlington and finishing strongly to capture the Carey.

Suntracer’s strongest rival probably is The Pizza Man, who delivered on early promise to win the Tex’s Zing Handicap in his most recent start on Sept. 15 at Arlington. The Pizza Man beat Bucks Boy contender Tazz that day and was flattered when Tazz returned to finish third in the Carey, and as a 3-year-old with just seven lifetime starts, The Pizza Man still has room to improve. Trainer Roger Brueggemann, who swept a pair of Illinois-bred dirt-sprint stakes last weekend, had The Pizza Man entered in the Hawthorne Derby two weekends ago, but the horse got stuck on the also-eligible list and didn’t get to race.

The Illini Princess includes familiar faces in the older-female Illinois-bred turf division, but it’s fair to wonder whether established horses like Cumulonimble and Peyote Patty have gone past their prime. They finished fourth and second, respectively, in the last Arlington race in this division, both beaten by Kepi, who is back again in Saturday’s race. Kepi was a touch disappointing, however, finishing third Oct. 6 in the $100,000 Indian Maid, an open Hawthorne grass stakes, and she drew poorly in post 10 Saturday. If Kepi, who is just 4 and retains a bit of upside, can work out a trip and run back to her best form, she’s got a decent chance to win. But the Illini Princess also has the look of a race that might fall to a longshot.