03/29/2010 11:00PM

Ripe Tomato no lock in her year's debut


STICKNEY, Ill. - The gang's all here - "the gang" being Illinois-bred female stakes sprinters, and "here" being the featured third race on Wednesday at Hawthorne.

Ripe Tomato, Nicks, Secret Kin, and Cruise finished one-two-three-four in the last sprint stakes for older Illinois-bred females, the Powerless Stakes last October at Hawthorne, and all are entered in Wednesday's third race, which is carded at six furlongs for $50,000 claimers or third-level allowance horses. The race is written for open company, but all six horses entered were bred in Illinois.

Ripe Tomato will be making her first start since winning the Powerless, and has been working with gusto for trainer Roger Brueggemann, who also entered That's a Fact. Ripe Tomato posted bullet half-mile drills at Hawthorne on Feb. 15, Feb. 28, March 7, and March 24, suggesting that at age 7, Ripe Tomato is ready to pick up where she left off in 2009. Claimed for just $25,000 by Brueggemann and owner John Carman last March, Ripe Tomato, a late-running sprinter, banked more than $100,000 during her 2009 campaign, and she is an eight-time winner at Hawthorne.

Yet Ripe Tomato, dependent on a solid early pace, looks far from solid on Wednesday, and the pick to win is Cruise. Cruise had a tough rail trip when she finished fourth in the Powerless, and she is well drawn in post 6 Wednesday. And unlike her stablemate Nicks, Cruise has gotten in a race already this Hawthorne meet, winning a Feb. 17 second-level allowance sprint despite a wide trip.

Also worthy of note is Souper Miss, who will make her 2010 debut for trainer Mickey Goldfine after winning her last three starts in 2009. Souper Miss has won before at six furlongs, but came on strong in two-turn races the second half of last year, and probably is using Wednesday's race as a prep for an upcoming start in a route race.

Secret Kin is better than her last-out clunker in a Tampa Bay Downs handicap suggests. Nicks might be a race away from her best.

Riggs bags six-pack

Jockey Tanner Riggs rode six winners, one short of a Hawthorne record, on Sunday's card. Riggs captured the first four races, then won race 7 and the finale on a nine-race program. Three of Riggs's winners came for leading trainer Frank Kirby.

After Sunday's card, Riggs, leading rider at the fall-winter meet of 2009-2010, held an 11-win lead, 35-24, over second-place Tim Thornton.