Tag Archives: Hawthorne Race Course

At least J. Geils was awesome…

As the title suggests, things did not exactly go as hoped for Mrs. Murphy’s first start at Hawthorne Race Course on Friday.

She broke a step slow and chased the field from last over 20 lengths back before finally getting past a horse that bled and stopped in the stretch. She also managed to nose out another tiring rival to finish sixth, a good 31 lengths off the winner.

Now, for a guest commentary on the race, former WWE superstar Ron Simmons…


Thank you, Mr. Simmons.

The thing I hate about races like this is you don’t learn much about the horse. The bad start is an easy excuse to rag on, but we can’t all be like I Want Revenge and blow by the field after moseying out of the gates and giving up a handful of lengths. I suppose we’ll get a more accurate picture of what Mrs. Murphy can do if and when she begins making starts at Pinnacle Race Course this summer. Hopefully, the stumble out of the gate was just that – a brief stumble – and not an indicator of her future finishing positions.

On the plus side, Mrs. Murphy got quite a bit of camera time in the paddock, which was nice. There wasn’t any sound on the Pinnacle simulcast, so I could not hear what they said about her, if anything. All I know is none of the handicappers picked her to hit the board and her final odds of 28-1 were significantly higher than her 8-1 morning line.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

And for those of you who were wondering, the J. Geils Band concerts were nothing short of life-affirming. Even after a 10-year hiatus and even longer without producing new material, I have no reservations about saying they put on a better live show than any popular group out there today. The Hives might be within a stone’s throw, but when it comes down to sheer entertainment and musicianship (and the fact that none of them seem to have lost a step despite being in their 50s and 60s), the Swedes have to bow down and kiss Peter Wolf’s ring. More than worth the price of admission.

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Today is the day

Go ahead. Just tell weanling Mrs. Murphy because you were playing Aqueduct instead...She'll understand.   (Photo by Randy Russell)

Go ahead. Just tell weanling Mrs. Murphy you missed her first race because you were playing Aqueduct instead...She'll understand. (Photo by Randy Russell)

Few things match the excitement of a horse’s first race. 

There are so many unknowns. Its form is blank, and save from a few workouts and the reputations of the trainer, jockey and bloodlines, how the horse will perform is all but a complete mystery.

It’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. 

As a horseplayer, I tend to avoid first-time starters. Unless it posts some razor sharp works or has slam dunk connections in a field of nobodies, there are just too many unknowns.

But this time, it’s different.

Those of you who are regular readers or have spoken to me for more than 90 seconds in the past week already know what I am talking about, but for those of you just tuning in, I’m going to put it in big type so it’s nice and clear…

Mrs. Murphy is entered in her first race on Friday at Hawthorne Race Course. She is the #8 horse in the 6th race, expected to go off around 3:48 p.m.

Now that everyone is on the same page, I can get on with what I was writing about.

Though I will be unable to attend the race in person due to some rock n’ roll commitments in Detroit, I intend to place a wager on Mrs. Murphy at the Mount Pleasant Meadows simulcast before I leave. 

Even though I knew who I was going to bet on as soon as the entries were announced, I picked up a copy of Hawthorne’s Friday program just to see what she is up against. The more I look at it, the better I feel about her chances.

First off, it appears she had another workout at Hawthorne on April 9 that was either overlooked by Virtual Stable or mindlessly deleted in my daily exodus of Facebook notifications and newsletters from bands I don’t listen to anymore.

She worked four furlongs in 49.1 breezing from the gate, the 16th fastest time out of 44 to work the distance. Her mother, Janies Enjoyment won four-furlong races at Great Lakes Downs with the exact same time. Plus, it was an improvement of over four seconds from her previous work at four panels. It appears her trainer is getting her dialed in quite nicely for her first start.

As could be expected from a $15-13k maiden claimer at a mid-level track, the field is not comprised of world-beaters. In fact, all but one of the horses entered with at least one start are coming off double-digit-length losses. The lone horse to finish in the same time zone as the leader was seven lengths back coming back from a 28 1/4 length drubbing at Oaklawn Park. If this were any other race, I would avoid it like the plague.

Only one horse is directly coming down in class, the tentative favorite, #4 – Devils Feather, whose only career start saw her finish 12 lengths behind in fifth after burning out on the lead in a $25,000 maiden special weight at Hawthorne. Just about everyone else has been toiling in this class for most of their careers with little success.

Obviously, I’m a little biased with my picks in this race, but if Mrs. Murphy has any run in her at all, I see no reason looking at this field why she can’t at least hit the board. Granted, that could be a big “if.” Like I said, first-time starters are filed with mystery. But if she was ever going to sneak up and take a race at Hawthorne, this is as good a chance as she’ll get.

Here’s hoping for a safe and successful trip. Let’s go get that money.


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It’s go time…

Oh, snap. Get a load of this…

Mrs. Murphy is entered to run on April 24, 2009 at HAWTHORNE. 

Race: 6  Distance: Six Furlongs  Surface: Dirt  Age: 3  –  Filly
Race Type: Maiden Claiming Purse: $ 10,500
Jockey: Jose R. Betancourt
Trainer: Randall R. Russell
Race conditions: FOR MAIDENS, FILLIES THREE YEARS OLD. Weight, 122 lbs. Claiming Price $15,000, For Each $1,000 To $13,000 1 lb.

Last Reported Workouts:
04/09/2009-HAWTHORNE-Four Furlongs-Dirt Fast-49:20 Breezing
03/20/2009-HAWTHORNE-Four Furlongs-Dirt Fast-53:80 Breezing
03/06/2009-HAWTHORNE-Three Furlongs-Dirt Fast-40:80 Breezing

Equibase Virtual Stable

It took me 22 years, but I finally made onto Equibase (Check the breeder on the Entries page). I mean “Joe Nevill” made it onto Equibase. I need to talk to someone about getting that fixed.

Exciting stuff, huh? The problem? I won’t be able to see it. I’ll be at a J. Geils Band concert in Detroit that night, so a run to Suburban Chicago is probably out of the question. With any luck, I might be able to catch it over the Pinnacle simulcast before the show. Not the ideal situation, but with the band’s age and propensity for artistic differences, you just don’t pass up J. Geils at this point in the game.

As for the race, I’m not going to pretend I know anything about Hawthorne’s maiden claimer scene. To my knowledge, I have handicapped exactly one half a card at the track and the Illinois Derby this year. Hardly enough to get a feel for the track and its horseflesh.

Here’s what I do know. Mrs. Murphy’s jockey, Jose Betancourt, is not among the top 20 riders at Hawthorne -Probably a negative, but in 2004, the rider on her uncle, Royal Charley, had only two wins on the year before he went on to dust the field by five lengths. Also, she’s listed as the second to last choice with morning line odds of 8-1. Considering her circumstances – first-time starter, Michigan-bred, less than blazing workouts, un-sexy bloodlines, unheralded rider – I figured she would be set at double figures without a second thought, even in an eight-horse field.

During Royal Charley’s heyday at Great Lakes Downs in 2007, I would put $5 across the board and $5 more to win on his nose. I have not yet decided how much I plan on wagering on Charley’s niece, but I figure it will be something in the $5 to win neighborhood (keep in mind that I will be placing the bet at Mount Pleasant Meadows around noon before I head to Detroit, so there will be no opportunity to handicap the race except for the horse I want to win). When Mrs. Murphy can prove she deserves the big bucks, I’ll play her accordingly. She ought to go for a decent price, so if she does manage to hit the wire first, I stand to make a good sum of money. Perhaps enough to pay for a concert t-shirt later that night.

One final note: If any of my Chicago-based readers (do I have any Chicago-based readers?) would be kind enough to snap a few pictures of Mrs. Murphy during your usual course of business and send them to me, I would be eternally grateful. She’s the #8 horse in the 6th race on Friday. Please send them to the email address listed on the “Contact” page. Thanks a bunch.


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Inching closer…

Look at what I found in my inbox earlier today…

This notice is to inform you that one or more of your horses has worked out.

Mrs. Murphy 

Your Comment: 

Date: March 20, 2009
Distance: Four Furlongs
Time: 53:80 Breezing
Track Condition: Fast
Surface: Dirt
Rank: 27/34

– From Equibase.com

For those of you keeping score at home, this is her third workout. She stretched out an extra panel this time around, so perhaps her owner/trainer has something in mind for her in the near future. As always, keep it here for further updates.

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Murph at work

Big happenings at Hawthorne Race Course…

This notice is to inform you that one or more of your horses has worked out. 

Mrs. Murphy

Your Comment: 

Date: March 6, 2009
Distance: Three Furlongs
Time: 40:80 Breezing
Track Condition: Fast
Surface: Dirt
Rank: 8/11

– From: Equibase Virtual Stable

It’s a nostril slower than her previous workout and the time did lag behind most of the other horses to work three panels at Hawthorne today, but there is cause for optimism. After cross-referencing her times with those at Beulah Park, a track at a more comparable level of competition to what she will face this summer, I saw she was closer to the norm. For a horse who has yet to make a start and only has two works under her belt, I’ll take that.

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It begins…

Saw this in my inbox earlier today. Felt the need to share…

This notice is to inform you that one or more of your horses has worked out. 
Mrs. Murphy
Your Comment: 

Date: February 25, 2009
Distance: Three Furlongs
Time: 40:40 Breezing
Track Condition: Fast
Surface: Dirt
Rank: 30/33

From: Equibase Virtual Stable 

For those of you who do not recall why this is important (check out #6), I am listed as the breeder to Mrs. Murphy, which entitles me to 10% of the gross purse if she wins a race in Michigan.

Aside from the obvious monetary interest I have in Mrs. Murphy, I will also cheer for her because her bloodlines run several generations back into our family stable. Her dam, Janies Enjoyment, and granddam, Janies Echo both ran under my grandpa’s colors at Great Lakes Downs and Detroit Race Course respectively. The fact that she was named in honor of my late grandma Murphy gives her sentimental value as well. 

Of course, if she runs at Hawthorne, this gets me nothing but an excuse for a road trip, but it is still exciting to see her owner/trainer has her at the track and is getting her ready to start somewhere. For my bank account’s sake, I hope she holds off until Pinnacle Race Course opens up in June, but I have no problem driving to Hawthorne or her trainer’s other out-of-state base, Presque Isle Downs, to see her run her first race. Lord knows I haven’t driven longer distances to see a live horse race.

If and when she is confirmed to start, expect full and exhaustive coverage right here. I am fully prepared to blow off class to cover this.

Come on, people. Get excited!


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