12/02/2009 12:00AM

No easy solutions to these two puzzles


STICKNEY, Ill. - Get out your slide rule, your crystal ball, the old Department of Defense supercomputer you keep in your basement - whatever works. Handicapping the last two races on the Friday card at Hawthorne is going to take some doing.

Featured race 8 is a second-level optional $30,000 claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs. It drew 11 entrants, and could come with a warning label: Dizziness and/or drowsiness may occur.

Race 9? A second-level, Illinois-bred route allowance, also with 11 horses, and also presenting a similar degree of difficulty. Divine the winner in both, hit the late pick four, and you should have plenty of walking-around money for the weekend.

Hurta would have won race 8 at his peak form late last year and early this season. That form is gone now, and Hurta is just another middling hopeful. Caruso was a leading Illinois-bred 2- and 3-year-old sprinter. He's 5 now, and needed a drop down to Illinois-bred $25,000 claimers to score a recent victory. Even Southern Vision, who might be favored off a second-place finish behind graded-stakes-class sprinter Shrewd Operator on Nov. 20, could be fading after four straight peak efforts. The 6 1/2 furlongs of the Friday feature probably is farther than his best distance, too.

Trainer Roger Brueggemann entered two horses: Top Echelon is 20-1, but at least has a better running style than shorter-priced Foxie's Boy, who may be ready for a top effort in his third race of the meet, but also could find himself hooked on a hot early pace.

So, let's look to a newcomer at the class level - Morality. Morality comes off a mere entry-level allowance victory, but that win came in his first start after being claimed by owner Maggi Moss and trainer Chris Richard. Morality has tactical speed, and seems well suited to Friday's distance. He also worked a near-bullet half-mile prepping for this start.

In the nightcap, Weggie gets a narrow call. A speedless closer, Weggie will need pace help up front from the likes of Where's Winston, Timeless Facts, and, perhaps, Tazz. If he gets it, and his recent turf form transfers to Hawthorne dirt, Weggie might be along in time.

No more turf racing this year

Because of poor course conditions, turf racing was abandoned here Saturday after the day's first grass race. And that is it for turf this 2009 Chicago racing season. The Hawthorne grass course - barely used during a wet October - will be over-seeded and prepped for its 2010 debut sometime in April.