Saturday is a special event with many special people involved. Let us not forget that while the stakes racing is contentious (as it has been all year), the survivors and their supporters are also the stars of the show. This year’s renewal of the HBPA Distaff is a compact group with one glaring characteristic – they generally like to run down their competition, not vice versa. In a recurring theme, a couple of Chicago invaders look like they’ll take a good chunk of the betting action and do so off tough optional claiming competition at Arlington Park.
This race was stolen on the front end last year, and it’s not out of the question to be a repeat this year. The ladies, from inside to out:
1. Lily the Pink – She drew pretty perfectly didn’t she? This is one of few entrants that likes to handle things towards the front end, but even she isn’t usually the conductor at all stops. She’s worked regularly and well leading up to this spot off her last win, which saw her stalking the pace from and outside slot. Consistency is her thing, with her distance limitations showing in both of her last off-the-board performance at 1 1/8 miles. The last two horses Proctor sent to Canterbury were for the Lady Canterbury in 2009 & 2010, and they could not have gone any differently. Happiness Is won the 2009 running in pressing fashion and Closeout went to the lead the next year only to fold at the end (9th). Bill Mott kept this filly in with strictly the best of company, and she seems to be gaining steam as the year goes on. There are couple in here that’ve been racing against better in Chicago today, so she’ll need to bring her A game and then some.
2. Grandma’s Rules – Both she and recent rival Starry Eyed Kate are those aforementioned runners. This Richie Scherer-trained filly took their first round by and length on May 11th, and promptly followed that show finish with a win in the Gaily Gaily. Both scratched from the Lady Canterbury, so they finally meet again here. Israel Ocampo is quite familiar with the winners’ circle at Canterbury, and takes the mount for her first try at it. That record on the turf and her near seven-race win streak should ensure her role as favorite, which oddly enough she filled only once in that run. The operation’s enjoyed mixed luck in recent times shipping fillies in for turf stakes, winning this very race in 2009 with Mizzcan’tbewrong and getting disqualified a week later out of a win in the Dean Kutz with Big Push. Payback came the next year, with Mizzcan’tbewrong placed first via disqualification in defense of her title in the Mile. Banded ran second in the Northbound Pride last year and won this year on the turf as well. She shouldn’t be taken lightly, but at her likely price she shouldn’t be played heavily.
3. Starry Eyed Kate – She sort of has the look of a Stoupinator, and drew he same post for her first try over the course. She had her schedule interrupted by the weather in the Lady Canterbury, but has put in a couple of easy works since her return to Chicago. She’s sometimes been a victim of paceless races but last time kept close attendance on the polytrack to come up with a half-length win in a short field. The problem with ‘Kate is that she’s never put together back-to-back wins in her life and will have to in order to come home victorious. Alex Canchari was aboard Stoupinator and lands atop the Butzow/Robertson owned filly trying to keep his turf stakes roll going in the Mile. If you like one of them it’s hard not to like them both.
4. Dina’s Typhoon – This is a heck of a spot to make your turf debut. I’m not familiar with the connections of this filly, but they’d be well suited to pulling an upset as their only winner came in at Prairie Meadows at 24-1. Her mother never tried turf, though four of her siblings did without any success. A couple hit the board but for the most part the family has not shown an affinity for grass. She’s consistent enough on the dirt but her form really only casts a shadow over much cheaper, and her winning would be a complete surprise.
5. Quinichette – Sharp claim by the Rhone barn four back. The Kipling daughter seeks her third in a row but her first since March on the turf. She’s handled our dirt fine and in front-running fashion, but last time the field was rather depleted and left her quite comfortable up front. Seeking Treasure ran huge in the Northbound Pride and the third place finisher, Go Go Jill, wired a field at a price in her next outing as well. She is still one for eight on the turf and got that one win against $25,000 non-two claimers at Tampa. She’s obviously improved since that time but can she show it on the grass again? She has an awful lot of underneath finishes to go with that win and she’s been in good hands throughout her career – how much has she moved forward since the spring?
6. Lady Haddassah – Another of the locals gave some big girls a try on the dirt in the Lady Canterbury, but didn’t show the same rally that she did in her first two impressive wins on the local grounds. She’s a cool seven for seventeen and a good majority of that record has come on the turf despite the surface we’ve seen her on locally for the most part. She’ll be tested for class once again on Saturday, and while it’s a step down it’s not a huge one. She can push the issue up front if they CRAWL but she seems at her best while making one big run from the back. This may not be the ideal scenario for her to capture her first stakes victory but she’s won her last three turf races and not an easy girl to throw out.
7. Cell Line Forever – She’s made plenty of money and made a majority of it on the grass, but the six year old has always found Canterbury’s turf to be a challenge. She’s 0 for seven at this juncture and has some ground to make up on Lady Haddassah if she’s going to beat her. They have very similar styles and while this one might get the jump, she still hasn’t found a way to close the deal up here and that has to make you think twice. Many of her efforts have come against stakes foes but even optional claimers were a bit too much to tackle in her first two up here this year. She did win the Glendale Handicap at Turf Paradise with Barton aboard….but the dust is starting to collect on that trophy won in January of 2011. Rarick doesn’t enter too many stakes but she by far has danced the most dances for him in that respect. She’s not out of the exotics equation by any means but she’d be hard pressed to pose for pictures.
The Illinois Invasion is looking tough once again in Saturday’s HBPA Mile – What do you think? We hope to see you Saturday for a day full of Hope & Horses, good luck!
This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann serves as the Track Analyst for Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, Illinois and the summer of 2013 marks her third year in a similar capacity at Canterbury Park.