Stickney, IL---Longtime Chicagoland-trainer Christine Janks has made a nice living off many of these Illinois-bred stakes days, but today she might have gone beyond even her lofty ambitions.
Janks conditioned three winners and two runners-up on Saturday, as Hawthorne hosted the Illinois Festival of Racing. Veteran local champions High Expectations and Stop a Train turned back the clock a little as they registered popular scores in the Lightening Jet and Illini Princess Handicaps, respectively, and Nicks won her first stakes race in the Powerless Handicap.
Lightning Jet Handicap
High Expectations (Peaks and Valleys – Hopeful Prospect), owned and bred by S.D. Brilie LP, and trained by Christine Janks, made his usual late run a winning one, as he outfought a game Fort Prado (El Prado – Fort Pond) to win the six furlong, $86,724 Lightening Jet Stakes for 3 year-olds and up. Favored Classic R.J. (Sky Classic – R J’s Gianna) held on for third.
Ridden by Chris Emigh, the 6-year-old gelding won for the 13th time and pushed his career earnings to a very snappy-sounding $610,610.
Far back early, High Expectations benefited from a rapid pace set by Glory to Spare and the pressing favorite, Classic R. J. They went to the quarter in 22.05 and the half-mile in 45.10. High Expectations then began his winning rally on the turn and after a stretch-long duel with Fort Prado, High Expectations prevailed by a neck. It was 4 ¾ lengths back to Classic R. J.
The final time was 1:10.38 on track listed as fast.
High Expectations paid $11.40 $5.20 and $2.80.
Quotes from the Lightening Jet:
Chris Emigh, “He’s been training so much better since he got back to Hawthorne. I knew he was going to be tough today. Around the turn he was just picking them up all on his own. I was just looking for somewhere to go. I kind of spotted Fort Prado and went around him. Fort Prado is tough. We were both digging in. We were both running down the lane. We were just lucky that we had a little bit more at the end. He’s easier to ride than most come-from-behind runners because he just catches them so easily.”
Christine Janks, “I always feel so good about these wins. Most of these horses we raise by ourselves. They’re like our children. We’re very proud of them. The last time this horse worked, Chris said that he was better than he has ever been. He kind of had a rough summer with some illness but I really thought he had the best chance in this race and he proved me right. My ‘Expectations’ are that he’ll be back running next year.”
Eduardo Perez, 2nd on Fort Prado: “He ran as hard as he could. He’s not a dirt horse, he’s a turf horse.”
Eusebio Razo, Jr., 3rd on favorite Classic R.J.: “He ran good, these horses are just too tough for him. He ran his race and this horse always gives 100 percent. It was just too much for him.”
The Buck’s Boy Handicap
Richard Rudolph and Michael Vranich’s Stonehouse (Chester House – Jenny D), often a bridesmaid in these Illinois-bred stakes, finally got the top prize when he went wire-to-wire in the $88,800 Buck’s Boy Stakes for 3-year-olds and up.
The favored Stonehouse, trained by Spanky Broussard and ridden by Perry Compton, withstood a strong challenge in this 1 1/16 miles event from El Real Madrid (Boundary – Miss Mercedes), before drawing off late to a ¾ of a length victory. It was 2 ½ lengths back to Dakota Rebel (Kugelis – Dakota Lil), who pressed the pace and lasted for third.
It was Stonehouse’s 5th lifetime win and pushed his career earnings to $281,300.
The final time was 1:43.93 on a track listed as fast.
Stonehouse paid $4.00 $2.60 and $2.60.
Quotes from the Buck’s Boy:
Perry Compton, “I made the lead real easy. I did have some trouble getting him to settle but he finally settled on the last turn. Once I did get him to settle, I knew that when they came at him, he was ready to go. Spanky said to just ride the horse. He doesn’t give many directions.”
Michael Vranich, owner, “He finally put it all together today. We have been hoping for this for a couple of years. He’s been training well. It was all his today. He’s going to New Orleans next week.”
Tanner Riggs, 3rd on Dakota Rebel: "I knew there was another speed horse getting out and he had the edge on me, he broke inside. I thought I'd get him to relax, lay off, and he did. He was stretching out so I wanted to save some for the end. He gave me a strong effort, I was tickled to death."
The Showtime Deb Stakes
Longshot Cumulonimble (Stormy Atlantic – Crown Gulch) set the pace but was passed in the stretch by fellow longshot Happy Henrietta (Supremo – Tambylina) as the two 22-1-shots ran one-two in the $88,431 Showtime Deb Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Saxxy Rose Lee (Bernstein – Lenarose) was third.
The winner was trained by Steve Fridley and ridden to victory by Tim Thornton. Happy Henrietta was never far back and was guided perfectly off the rail at the top of the stretch en route to the upset victory.
The final margin of victory was 1-length and the filly stopped the clock in 1:11.71.
Happy Henrietta paid $47.60 $16.80 and $9.60.
Quotes from the Showtime Deb:
Tim Thornton, “I’d never been on this filly before. They didn’t give me any directions and pretty much let me ride my own race. She ran a really good. She broke well and sat right behind some others but, around the turn, I knew I had a lot of horse. I knew if something opened up for her, we had a great chance. That’s what happened. They told me she was a nice filly. They said she would run on the bit but just to let her run her race.”
Ron Johnson, “She’s been showing a lot of improvement lately and seemed to be coming around with every race.”
Francisco Torres, 2nd on Cumulonimble: “Unfortunately we were second best. She ran big, I can’t fault her.”
The Sun Power Stakes
Devil’s Halo (Not for Love – Drumlin) took the lead first and despite getting challenged in the stretch by favored My Dominick James (Dance Master – Smiling Mindy) came back to win the $87,825 Sun Power Stakes for two years old colts and geldings by 2 widening lengths. Last Wompus (Dance Master – Kitty Wompus) was 3 ½ lengths farther back in third.
The winner was trained by Hawthorne legend Richard Hazelton and ridden to victory by Carlos Silva, his longtime “go-to” rider.
The victory by Devil’s Halo was his second in as many starts and increased his career earnings to $66,715.
Devil’s Halo ran the six furlongs in a sharp 1:10. 62, just a couple ticks slower than the older horses ran in the Lightening Jet.
The winner paid $8.80 $3.20 and $2.00.
Quotes from the Sun Power Stakes:
Carlos Silva, “He was really good in his first race. He was laying second but when we turned for home I tapped him once and he really opened up. He broke much sharper today. I tried to slow down the pace as much as I could but when we got to running he responded really good. On the turn I knew I had a lot of horse. I knew he was going to be very tough.”
Timothy Thornton, 2nd on beaten favorite My Dominick James: “They had an easy pace, I thought there’d be a little more pace. He ran good, finished up good, he got outrun today.”
The Powerless Handicap
Pretty Jenny (Pioneering – Catch a Buzz) got out early and set most of the pace, only to get passed by her stablemate Nicks (Salt Lake-N.C. Goldust), as the younger mare rode the rail to victory in the $89,023 Powerless Handicap for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. The baton has been passed within the Janks stable as well, with Pretty Jenny retiring to be a broodmare at the end of the year. Secret Kin (Sea of Secrets – Leisurely Kin) was third.
Ryan Fogelsonger rode the winner and it took a furious stretch drive to last over a very gritty Pretty Jenny who was coming back on at the end of the six-furlong race.
The margin of victory was only a neck and it was just ¾ of a length further back to a hard-charging Secret Kin.
It was trainer Christine Janks’ second stakes winner on the card. She not only trains the 4-year-old winning filly, but she’s the owner and breeder of both the winner and the runner-up.
Nicks was timed in 1:11.0 and paid $14.40 $6.60 and $3.80.
Quotes from the Powerless:
Ryan Fogelsonger, “There was a ton of speed in here and she showed speed in her last few races but she really relaxed good behind horses. The shortest way around is the rail and when it opened up for us as soon as I let her go she took off and really did it all. When I came through, Pretty Jenny started digging in but my horse dug in too and she wasn’t going to let anybody by her.”
Christine Janks, “Pretty Jenny will probably race again this year. She’s going to retire at the end of the year but we might be able to get another race at Churchill. She likes that racetrack. Nicks is turning out to be a nice filly which is great because there’s going to be a big hole in my stable next year. Nicks has had some problems but she seems to be coming out of them. She comes from a good family, she’s a sister to Stop a Train’s mother, so she has a license to be a good filly. We’re hoping that she fills the gap next year. Ryan did a great job. I told him to sit off the early speed and look for an inside path and that’s exactly what he did.”
Perry Compton, 2nd on beaten favorite Pretty Jenny: “Earlier in the day the rail was OK, but it’s not the best part now. I was trying to stay in the tractor tracks. I’m sure glad that was the other one (Nicks, also trained by Christine Janks) who came past.”
The Illini Princess Handicap
The Janks parade continued in the Illini Princess, as her charges once again took the top two spots. Stop a Train (Devil His Due – A Kiss Away) sat just off pacesetters Archipelago and Mongoose Gold before taking command in the stretch, then held off stablemate Modjadji to win the $94, 423 Illini Princess Handicap by a neck in 1:46.06. Chris Block again trained the third-place finisher, Apple Martini, who was 1 ¼ lengths further back.
Stop a Train won the 1 1/16 miles Illini Princess for the second time in three years as the winner capped off Janks’triumphant afternoon.
Only the second favorite (of the six stakes) to win, Stop a Train paid $7.20, $4.40 and $3. Modjadji returned $6.40 and $3.60, with Apple Martini paying $3.40 for show.
Quotes from the Illini Princess.
Perry Compton, “The speed hooked up together, which I wanted. My mare was still a little rank behind them. But she was still well within herself. The only thing that worried me was that she wanted to go by them a little too soon. She always leaves a little left. Once she makes the lead she’ll settle back a little bit and you think you’re running out of horse but as soon as something runs to her, she rebreaks.”
Janks, “We hope to find another race for her this year. This was really exciting. This was a great day. All these fillies are my girls. Nicks and Stop a Train are related so it’s kind of a family affair. It’s way more than about the money. We have them from the time they are born. Barry and I raise them. We see them, like I tell people, from birth to death. The fillies we get to keep as broodmares. A lot of times we have them their whole lives. I had Stop a Train’s mother her whole life. I bred her. Nicks is sister to Stop a Train and we’ve had her her whole life. They are family.”