10/11/2012 4:12PM

Hawthorne: Derby loaded with contenders

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STICKNEY, Ill. – There are races where the betting public can’t make up its mind because there’s a scarcity of qualified contenders. And then there are races – like Saturday’s Hawthorne Derby – that confound bettors because too many horses look like they can win.

A legitimate case can be made for something like nine entrants in the Grade 3, $200,000 Hawthorne Derby, a nine-furlong grass race that, out of the blue, came up with an excellent field. The cast also is varied, with the 12 horses in the field’s main body (The Pizza Man and Defiant Flyer are stuck on the also-eligible list) having last started at seven venues.

Two horses, Film Shot and Finale, last raced in the Equalize Stakes at Saratoga, but another Saratoga graduate, Lea, rates at least as good a chance in his stakes debut. Thrice-started Lea won a Saratoga turf maiden race by three lengths July 21 and came back about a month later to defeat first-level allowance horses by almost two lengths.

“When he came to the stretch last time, it looked like he might get passed up, but he re-broke pretty nicely,” trainer Al Stall said. “Mentally, this horse does everything right. He hasn’t made a lot of mistakes.”

Lea, to be ridden by Rosie Napravnik, drew post 10, but has speed to get position before the first turn.

Film Shot, third in the Equalize, has a touch of tactical speed himself, and, breaking from the rail, jockey Leandro Goncalves figures to use it to avoid a crush of horses into the turn. Film Shot makes his first start beyond 1 1/16 miles, and trainer Bill Mott changed his thinking on Film Shot’s distance preferences.

“Early on in his career, I didn’t think he wanted to go much more than a mile, but the more I watch him, the more I’m round him, I think he might want a little more distance,” Mott said. “He rates now; he finishes.”

Finale was the 8-5 favorite in the Aug. 30 Equalize, a comeback from a long layoff necessitated by a hip injury, but never got into the race and finished 10th.

“He had trained brilliantly before he ran poorly,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “We’re hoping he needed that race.”

All Stormy was a close second to Cozzetti in the American Derby and beaten just more than five lengths in the Grade 1 Secretariat. All Squared Away won the Lexington Stakes on Polytrack this past spring at odds of 70-1 and was beaten less than three lengths when seventh in the Sept. 2 Del Mar Derby on turf. Quick Wit won an off-the-turf edition of the Hall of Fame at Saratoga but handles grass, too.

Not to be discounted are two reformed claimers who sizzled at Arlington. Francois won three races, including an overnight stakes, after being claimed for $7,500. Control Tower, a private mid-summer purchase, has two strong victories since moving to the barn of Wayne Catalano. He won a first-level Arlington allowance race by five lengths Sept. 1 and has logged four workouts since that race.

Michael More than 1 year ago
The two horses that won the Jamaica G-I were 28-1 and 23-1 1/2 respectively. Dullahan finished 6th and Howe Great 7th..............you never know at 70 to 1.
Ed More than 1 year ago
Do mutual clerks sell insurance at the races? Do you mutuel clerks sell tickets?
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Hi Marcus, Read your later comments re linemaker - - - Do you feel that a public announcement would be enough or should they remove the Mutual Clerk from the Pressbox or maybe outlaw Racing as they do in the state where I pay taxes. This is The Races, man.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Hey Marcus, About the linemaker and his horse... Was that a beef or an open-ended remark?
Hilton Gordon More than 1 year ago
control tower is ready