Early Hawthorne feature a smart move

Stickney, IL — Hawthorne’s Race Office made an interesting decision to begin Sunday’s nine race card with its best event as the opener. It’s an unusual choice and one that this author believes was a good idea.

Why not offer harness racing wagering to fans across the country your best from the get-go? Perhaps some will switch from another racing venue to bet on it and maybe a number of them will stay on for more of the Hawthorne card.

Saving your best for last, ala Balmoral Park in the past on its Super Nights, never made much sense. After five or six hours of racing most on-track players are “tapped-out” The richest Super Night race of the gala evening was only viewed, and bet on, by a very small percentage of what earlier was a very large crowd and the result of sometimes a $300,000 race was much too late to be printed in the major Chicago newspapers.

With the reigning Hawthorne Open champion He’zzz A Wise Sky getting a well-deserved rest after three tough consecutive weeks of racing, the door was left ajar for another horse to come in with an “up for grabs” event and win the weekend feature.

Eight solid pacers passed the entry box for the $11,100 first race that was drawn for groups. The first two posts went to RJ Rocks (Robert Smolin) and Marshall Malone (Cordarius Stewart), respectively.

Slots three through eight when then drawn. They’ll be manned by Round Here Buzz (Mike Oosting), Captain Sleaze (Juan Franco), Tookadiveoffdipper (Casey Leonard), Macdavid (Todd Warren), Hello Sweetie Boy (Travis Seekman) and Mr Charisma (Brandon Bates), in that order.

Macdavid and Captain Sleaze were the second and third place finishers last weekend against He’zzz A Wise Sky while Hello Sweetie Boy beat the Illinois champion on November 20th. Both Tookadiveoffdipper and Mr Charisma come off easy victories in Hawthorne’s higher level conditioned paces.

The morning line lists Round About Buzz (3-1) and Macdavid (7-2) as the pre-race favorites and your author agrees.

Round About Buzz is a one-time Illinois circuit horse who has blossomed into a sub 1:50 pace (a mark of 1:49.3 at Hoosier Park) who should love Hawthorne’s long stretch. The gelding has had some wicked late closes in recent races with a 27 flat last quarter the slowest in his last four starts.

Mike Oosting is reunited tonight with Round the Buzz for owner and trainer Perry Smith of Crete, Illinois, a former Chicago circuit leading conditioner who is nearing 2,000 winning horses out of his barn.

Oosting returns Sunday night to his home state with over 7,300 dash winners in his career, many coming earlier in this decade when he often dominated the Balmoral Park driver standings.

Round The Buzz, a Aracache Hanover offspring out of the Illinois broodmare Pride Park, was bred by Terry Leonard of Harvard, Illinois and raced for the Leonard stable in 2021 and in most of 2022 for trainer Tyler George when he was owned by both Terry and Tyler, doing very well, with earnings of over $100,000.

When the horse was put in a conditioned-claiming event at Miami Valley in Ohio, Perry pounced to claim the horse for $62,000 and subsequently Smith got his money back and a lot more. Round The Buzz has banked over $110,000 since acquired and he’s only five years old.

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