04/11/2007 11:00PM

Post may make all the difference

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CHICAGO - In late February and early March, Hawthorne was home of the six-horse field. It still feels like winter here, with snow falling throughout the Chicago area earlier in the week, but the races at Hawthorne are looking more and more like a warm-weather meet. Field size has come around noticeably in recent weeks, and Saturday's nine-race card will average more than 10 horses per race if Hawthorne can avoid more than a couple of scratches.

"Around March 15 was when entries started to pick up," said Hawthorne's racing secretary, Gary Duch. "Last week was a lot better."

And no wonder. The end of the Fair Grounds season the final week of March sends many stables back to Chicago for the spring and summer. Oaklawn closes this week, and that, too, will help the Hawthorne cause. And while there is no stakes racing here Saturday, a nine-horse field entered in a third-level route allowance race with a $40,000 claiming option provides decent mid-card fodder.

Going as race 6, the Saturday feature has a coupled entry from the barn of leading trainer Roger Brueggemann, whose 20 wins this meet have come from only 72 starters. Brueggemann and the Scarlet Stable send out Really Big Boy and Da Grizz, neither of whom is the horse to beat in the sixth. That honor would fall squarely on the back of Awesomewithbroads had the horse not drawn poorly on the far outside. Even from there, Awesomewithbroads has a great chance if he can only duplicate his most recent start, a win in a local overnight stakes dubbed the Honey Mark. Awesomewithbroads, a 6-year-old trained by Michelle Boyce, won only once in 11 starts during 2006, teasing his backers many times by looming a threat in midstretch only to finish evenly.

But two starts this Hawthorne meet have been better. Awesomewithbroads was a distant second to the sharp, loose-on-the-lead winner Le Jester on March 3 in his 2007 debut, and in the Honey Mark he finally ran a complete race, stalking a moderate pace before running down the leaders with a three-wide stretch move. He qualifies for the Saturday feature only because Boyce entered him under the $40,000 claiming option.

But if Awesomewithbroads drew poorly, Superstone might have drawn perfectly. Trained by Bobby Springer, Superstone came on steadily over the winter, winning two straight races at the meet.

Superstone is a front-running route horse and will take the shortest path around the track under jockey Chris Emigh. If no one offers a serious early challenge, or if Hawthorne's main track has the kind of golden rail seen last Saturday, Superstone should be tough to catch.CHICAGO - In late February and early March, Hawthorne was home of the six-horse field. It still feels like winter here, with snow falling throughout the Chicago area earlier in the week, but the races at Hawthorne are looking more and more like a warm-weather meet. Field size has come around noticeably in recent weeks, and Saturday's nine-race card will average more than 10 horses per race if Hawthorne can avoid more than a couple of scratches.

"Around March 15 was when entries started to pick up," said Hawthorne's racing secretary, Gary Duch. "Last week was a lot better."

And no wonder. The end of the Fair Grounds season the final week of March sends many stables back to Chicago for the spring and summer. Oaklawn closes this week, and that, too, will help the Hawthorne cause. And while there is no stakes racing here Saturday, a nine-horse field entered in a third-level route allowance race with a $40,000 claiming option provides decent mid-card fodder.

Going as race 6, the Saturday feature has a coupled entry from the barn of leading trainer Roger Brueggemann, whose 20 wins this meet have come from only 72 starters. Brueggemann and the Scarlet Stable send out Really Big Boy and Da Grizz, neither of whom is the horse to beat in the sixth. That honor would fall squarely on the back of Awesomewithbroads had the horse not drawn poorly on the far outside. Even from there, Awesomewithbroads has a great chance if he can only duplicate his most recent start, a win in a local overnight stakes dubbed the Honey Mark. Awesomewithbroads, a 6-year-old trained by Michelle Boyce, won only once in 11 starts during 2006, teasing his backers many times by looming a threat in midstretch only to finish evenly.

But two starts this Hawthorne meet have been better. Awesomewithbroads was a distant second to the sharp, loose-on-the-lead winner Le Jester on March 3 in his 2007 debut, and in the Honey Mark he finally ran a complete race, stalking a moderate pace before running down the leaders with a three-wide stretch move. He qualifies for the Saturday feature only because Boyce entered him under the $40,000 claiming option.

But if Awesomewithbroads drew poorly, Superstone might have drawn perfectly. Trained by Bobby Springer, Superstone came on steadily over the winter, winning two straight races at the meet.

Superstone is a front-running route horse and will take the shortest path around the track under jockey Chris Emigh. If no one offers a serious early challenge, or if Hawthorne's main track has the kind of golden rail seen last Saturday, Superstone should be tough to catch.