“Whenever I’ve seen one from that family, my eyes light up.”
So declared trainer Jimmy Toner after Hawkish, grandson of Memories of Silver and nephew of Winter Memories, became the tribe’s latest turf sensation in Saturday’s $500,000 Penn Mile (G2). The 7-5 favorite made everyone’s eyes light up as he exploded down the lane to win by three lengths. Now three-for-four, the Artie Schiller gelding stamped himself as a major player in the July 7 Belmont Derby Invitational (G1).
Hawkish was cross-entered to the local Belmont Derby prep, the Pennine Ridge (G3), but overlapping connections with Catholic Boy prompted them to split up. Bred and co-owned by AJ Suited Racing Stable, Hawkish shares co-owners Robert V. LaPenta and Madaket Stables with Catholic Boy. The partners had plenty to celebrate as Catholic Boy toppled odds-on Analyze It in the Pennine Ridge before Hawkish completed the double at Penn National.
As Encumbered and Maraud vied through splits of :23.24, :47.62, and 1:11.94, Hawkish was restrained off the pace until jockey Manny Franco could hold him no longer. The big bay made a good-looking move to circle them on the far turn, but still ran green in upper stretch as though working to coordinate his own power.
Once Hawkish got those giant, raking strides in sync, he took off again, and the rest didn’t have a chance. He ripped a final furlong in :11.52 to polish off the firm-turf mile in 1:35.16.
The 20-1 Way Early rallied from last to grab second by a neck from Coltandmississippi, with Maraud the same margin back in fourth. Next came Encumbered, Therapist, and the tailed-off He’s Bankable. Smart Remark was scratched.
With this first stakes coup, Hawkish has bankrolled $359,700, all on turf. He made a splash in his unveiling at Gulfstream Park, rallying from far back – still five lengths down at the eighth-pole – to get up cozily over Funny Duck, now famous for shocking the Pat Day Mile (G3). Hawkish suffered his lone loss when trying graded company next in the March 3 Palm Beach (G3). Fourth to Maraud that day, with Therapist third, he tore that form to shreds here. In the interim Hawkish cleared his entry-level allowance condition at Aqueduct April 15 by 4 3/4 lengths, in a course-record 1:34.39 for a mile.
The Kentucky-bred is out of Bridal Memories, an unraced daughter of Unbridled and multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Memories of Silver. Bridal Memories is therefore a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Winter Memories; Grade 3 scorer La Cloche, the dam of multiple stakes vixen Bellavais; and stakes victors British Blue and War Trace. Hawkish counts as his fifth dam Golden Trail, whose descendants include Dynaformer, Brian’s Time, Sunshine Forever, and Ryafan.
Quotes from Penn National
Winning rider Manny Franco: “He wanted to go early but I held him up. At the three-eighths, I had so much horse that I let him go and went around them.”
Winning trainer Jimmy Toner: “(Franco) rode a great race the way he sat there on him. When he turned him loose, it was really fun to watch.
On shipping for the Penn Mile rather than staying home for the Pennine Ridge: “The whole thing was this: It was (Robert) LaPenta. He owns a piece of Catholic Boy, who ran pretty well (winning) in the Pennine Ridge in New York, and a piece of this horse. So, it was a good decision to send him in that direction and Hawkish in this direction. He made the right decision on this end.
“The strategy was to try to get him to back off. The 7 (Smart Remark) scratched, so there was only one speed horse. I said (to Franco) just keep him engaged and give him something to run at.
“He’s a monster. Some people worry about making moves, but when you’ve got a horse with that kind of natural ability, you take those aggressive moves and move him up in company. It’s worthwhile.”
On granddam Memories of Silver: “Somebody sent me a picture of her head and his, and they are identical. It’s there. Whenever I’ve seen one from that family, my eyes light up.”
On the Belmont Derby: “Absolutely, that’s where we’re going next.”