04/25/2011 3:09PM

Hawthorne: Luck With a Kiss has distance limitations

Four-Footed Fotos
Luck With a Kiss wins the Land of Lincoln Stakes by a half-length over Tapilu.

STICKNEY, Ill. – There was some of the old – Cruise winning the Governor’s Lady, Mighty Rule edging River Bear in the Robert Molaro – but plenty of new in Hawthorne’s six Illinois-bred stakes races Saturday. The winners of two 3-year-old stakes, Luck With a Kiss and Our Lady Red, were sharp in their respective spots. And the older horse Denham’s victory in the Milwaukee Avenue pointed out a horse that could be a prime mover among the older Illinois-bred route set for this season and beyond.

Our Lady in Red and Luck With a Kiss both earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 87, a pretty good number for early-season statebred-restricted 3-year-olds, but the two horses may be headed in different directions. Trainer Mike Reavis said before Saturday’s race that he believes Luck With a Kiss has distance limitations, an assessment borne out by Saturday’s race, where Luck With a Kiss’s four-length stretch-call advantage dwindled to a half-length at the finish. Even the one-turn mile of the Springfield Stakes at Arlington, the next Illinois-bred stakes in Luck With a Kiss’s division, probably is beyond his scope, and Reavis said after Saturday’s win that Luck With a Kiss’s upcoming schedule was up in the air.

Our Lady in Red, on the other hand, strode nicely away from her rivals after pressing the pace in the Pretty Jenny Stakes and ran at least decently in a pair of two-turn races over the winter at Fair Grounds. The one-turn-mile Purple Violet on June 25 at Arlington is a reasonable goal.

“Whether she’ll have another race before then, I don’t know yet,” trainer Richie Scherer said.

The Black Tie Affair Stakes on the Prairie State Festival card probably is on Denham’s schedule, trainer Tom Dorris said Monday. Denham turned in a lifetime-best performance Saturday when he won the Milwaukee Avenue by 2 3/4 lengths, earning a career-top Beyer of 95.

“We’ll take him to Arlington and see what comes up,” said Dorris, who pointed out that Denham is eligible for an open second-level allowance race.

Denham was winning for the 14th time in 30 starts, and the sturdy 5-year-old gelding won 8 of 15 races in 2010. Twelve of those starts, and his first this year, came in $5,000 starter-allowance races, and Denham made his stakes debut in the Milwaukee Avenue. But Denham was a 5-2 shot Saturday, and the victory did not feel fluky. Denham has been dominant in many of his recent starter races while holding his form on dirt, turf, and Polytrack.

“I guess he’s getting a little older, more mature,” Dorris said. “When he started running long, he just really improved. I think the horse is better right now than he’s ever been.”

Rain prevents start of turf racing

For mid-April, Hawthorne’s turf course is a lush, radiant green. It’s also exceedingly wet. It rained in Chicago almost every day last week, and though Hawthorne has been carding turf races for several days, none have yet been conducted on the course. And, with more rain forecast Monday night into Tuesday, that’s a trend unlikely to change soon, which is unfortunate with three of Wednesday’s nine races carded for grass.

The day’s only allowance race, a first-level route for Illinois-breds, is carded for dirt – and is difficult to figure. Six of the 10 entrants exit claiming races, and the horse with the best recent performance, Monashee Rose, got a perfect trip on the way to victory. Perhaps if the track is wet, and if she can make a clear early lead, Suspended Moon – disappointing in two 2011 starts – can pull an upset at a price.