Pair of exciting finishes at Hawthorne Race Course

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Pair of exciting finishes at Hawthorne Race Course

Last weekend kicked off the stakes season at Hawthorne with a pair of state-bred stakes races on the Hawthorne turf course. Each race had a very close finish, one with an expected result, the other with an upset:

Coalport Just Gets There in Buck’s Boy Handicap

As expected, heavily favored Coalport, owned by Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey, won Saturday’s 18th running of the Buck’s Boy Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course. What wasn’t expected, however, was how hard he had to work to do it.

Trained by Michael Maker and ridden by Rafael Hernandez, Coalport scored his eighth turf victory from 18 tries and boosted his career earnings to $425,183 with the winner’s share of $34,185, the majority of which has been earned on the lawn.

Valiant City rushed to the early lead and set rather leisurely fractions of :24.46 and :48.83. Coalport was racing in fourth place at this point, a couple off the rail.

Hernandez kept him to the outside, out of trouble, while a number of their rivals made intermittent moves to their inside. They swung a little wider coming out of the turn and by the eighth pole, Hernandez was starting to urge him on.

“I tried to get him to relax early which he did” said Hernandez, “but the fractions were slow so he had to work a little harder trying to make up ground late. I had plenty of horse and I thought we were going to have an easier time of it. I sensed the one (Sweet Luca) coming from way back but I didn’t expect the 7 (Yankee Dealer) to run the way he did. But, my horse (Coalport) is a good horse and he really dug in.”

They went the mile and a sixteenth on a firm turf course in 1:41.96 after fractions of :24.46, :48.83, 1:12.42 and 1:35.93.

Coalport won by a neck over Yankee Dealer. It was another half length back to Sweet Luca.

Coalport paid $3.00, $2.60, $2.10
Yankee Dealer returned $10.60 and $5.00
Sweet Luca paid $2.20 to show


Alette Takes Illini Princess

The 37th running of the Illini Princess, restricted to fillies and mares, Illinois Registered Conceived and/or Foaled, promised to be a competitive event and it was. This race was contested at a mile and a sixteenth on a firm turf course. It carried a purse of $75,000 Added.

R Otto Stables’ Alette, trained by Chris Block and ridden by Eduardo Perez, came away with the victory. She was one of three in the race trained by Block. The other two, I O Ireland and Compelling Case went off as the favored entry.

Bellarada went right for the lead and ran a brisk first quarter but tired badly soon after. I O Ireland rushed up to the lead at that point and stayed there for much of the race before fading. That’s when the late runners started coming.

Alette and Kepi, racing widest of all, came running late to take the top two positions.

Alette got the mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.85 after fractions of :24.26, :48.39, 1:13.03, 1:36.79

Rider Eddie Perez thought he had a great trip and was glad that he was on the best horse. Trainer Chris Block was happy with the way all three of his runners raced. He was a little concerned that he couldn’t get a race into Alette, she last ran in July, but he knew that she was training very well and he was confident in her ability.

Alette finished first by three-quarters of a length. Kepi finished second. Lovely Loyree got up late to finish third.

Alette earned $36,000 for the victory, boosting her lifetime earnings to $190,096.

Alette paid $19.00. $7.80 and $6.00
Kepi returned $5.20 and $3.80
Lovely Loyree paid $4.60

Stakes action continues this weekend at Hawthorne with Illinois-bred two-year-old sprinters the focus. Fillies will head to the gate for the $75,000 Showtime Deb Stakes while the males lineup for the $75,000 Sun Power Stakes. Live racing at Hawthorne takes place Wednesday through Saturday with a 1:50 PM first post.

White Sox upset by the call that led to ejections of Todd Frazier, Rick Renteria

White Sox upset by the call that led to ejections of Todd Frazier, Rick Renteria

Todd Frazier wasn’t pleased with a call Saturday afternoon that led to the first ejection of his career.

It’s not that the White Sox third baseman is arguing about whether or not he deserved to get thrown out in the seventh inning of a 10-2 loss to the Oakland A’s. Frazier is more miffed by first-base umpire Sam Holbrook’s initial ruling --- that his throw pulled Jose Abreu off the bag --- and the determination by replay officials that the call was correct.

Frazier was ejected shortly after word arrived that the call stands, which means officials in New York didn’t believe they have enough evidence to overturn the original ruling. That fact bothered Frazier, who was charged with an error and began to speak his mind. White Sox manager Rick Renteria was ejected shortly thereafter for the third straight home game.

“It’s just frustrating with the technology we have today,” Frazier said. “It’s just crazy. It boggles your mind. It really does. You know -- I’m the one. I’m vocal. I’m emotional. But when it’s wrong, 100 percent wrong. I saw it on the MLB Network. I saw it in our cameras and our computers. I just don’t understand how we can see it and they can’t see it in New York. It’s just, it’s frustrating as all hell to be honest with you. It turned into a big inning. We were down a lot, don’t get me wrong. But still, Jake (Petricka) is pitching his heart out and next thing you know he gives up an unearned run and two more runs. So it’s really not that hard. Honest. It’s not that hard.”

Renteria raced onto the field in an attempt to save Frazier from a quick ejection, but didn’t have enough time. It was the third home game in a row in which a White Sox player was ejected for the first time in their career. Tim Anderson got the boot on Friday night after he argued with plate umpire Jim Wolf. And Avisail Garcia got tossed from the June 15 series finale against the Baltimore Orioles.

Renteria said taking into context who his players are and their track record made him want to further defend their actions.

“I don't ever go into a situation arguing with someone to get thrown out,” Renteria said. “I don't. I think what happens is, like anybody emotionally, when you start talking and expressing yourself, you have a tendency to get heated. You don't plan on doing that. I certainly don't go out there planning on having that happen. I think what happens, and I think it's just human nature, you start thinking about the whole situation, you're losing a player. You're losing a guy that's supposed to be in there for the next two, three innings to help you maybe continue to chip away. Our team has been fighting every day, since day one of spring training. I don’t care what our record is, I don't care what the score is, we fight. And when you take one of those pieces out of the lineup, you get pissed.”

Even though he had a chance to cool off, Frazier still felt the same after the contest. He stuck his head into the team’s video room after the game to check out the play. Teams have a variety of angles from which they can determine whether or not to challenge a call. They also have the option of taking a freeze frame and magnifying the picture, which left no doubt in Frazier’s mind that the call was incorrect.

“Like I said just frustrating,” Frazier said. “It’s just not that hard. And with all the technology like I said, I don’t mean to repeat ourselves, but with all the technology and 8 different angles it’s just one of those things where I just can’t let that go. It turned into a huge inning. You never know. We were down 6 we coulda came back. You gotta be 100 percent. You gotta be 100 percent right on that and I really don’t think he was.”

How a fan's kind gesture surprised Mark Buehrle on his big day

How a fan's kind gesture surprised Mark Buehrle on his big day

It’s one of the more iconic moments in White Sox history, and now Mark Buehrle has a key piece of memorabilia after a fan’s kind gesture.

Already overwhelmed by a series of gifts from the White Sox on Saturday afternoon, Buehrle was in disbelief when 17-year-old Tommy Maloney walked onto the field during a number-retirement ceremony and presented him with the flipped-through-the-legs ball from 2010 Opening Day.

The memento was one of four gifts Buehrle received from the White Sox along with a new truck, a four-seat All-Terrain Vehicle and a personalized piece of art created by White Sox outfielder Ron Kittle commemorating many of the highlights of the pitcher’s White Sox career. It was just another part of an overwhelming, emotional day for Buehrle, who was honored for his 12 seasons in a White Sox uniform.

“Pretty cool,” Buehrle said. “I don’t recall signing it for him when it happened. I don’t really remember where it went. But one, for him to give that up, that was pretty awesome.”

Maloney’s father, Matt, contacted the White Sox earlier this month to see if Buehrle wanted to meet with the fan who had the ball from a moment in White Sox history that has been replayed thousands upon thousands of times.

The Maloneys also reached out to the White Sox back in 2010, too. They informed the club they had the ball that Buehrle retrieved and flipped through his legs to Paul Konerko, who caught it with a barehanded to retire Cleveland’s Lou Marson in the fifth inning of the April 5, 2010 contest. Buehrle autographed the ball in 2010, but neither he nor the White Sox asked for Tommy Maloney, who was 10 at the time, to hand it over.

“At that point it’s just a cool ball, it’s not part of White Sox history,” said Brooks Boyer, White Sox vice president of sales and marketing.

As he looked for a unique artifact for Buehrle to offer another layer to Saturday’s ceremony, Boyer came across Matt Maloney’s most recent email. He definitely thought Buehrle would have interest in reuniting with the fan who held a key artifact from a play that has become legendary around these parts over the years.

But Boyer also asked if the Maloneys would want to donate the ball to Buehrle.

“We didn’t have the unique thing,” Boyer said. “We just didn’t have it.

“Here it is.”

How it had gotten in Tommy Maloney’s hands in the first place was interesting enough. The Munster, Ind., high schooler said his father got tickets for the 2010 season opener and he left school early to watch Buehrle, his favorite pitcher as a kid. The seats were in the first row behind the far right edge of the White Sox dugout, the same ones he was in for Saturday’s ceremony.

After the improbable play to steal a hit from Marson, Buehrle fell to his knees, which brought manager Ozzie Guillen out of the dugout. Somehow Guillen retrieved the ball and upon returning to the dugout, flipped it to Maloney, who had earlier asked him for a ball several times. Even though it was a prized possession, Tommy Maloney said he’d have no problem surrendering it again if he were asked.

The White Sox rewarded Maloney for his sacrifice as club chairman Jerry Reinsdorf determined that the youngster would present Buehrle with the ball on the field. But the White Sox didn’t tell Maloney he would present the ball until Saturday, surprising him with the news about an hour before the game.

“It’s awesome the way it played out,” Maloney said. “He’s such a great guy. He was hugging me in the dugout. He looked at me when I went up there to give him the ball and said, ‘Give me a hug.’ ”

Maloney not only stood on the field before the ceremony, he had a chance to briefly meet Buehrle in the dugout. He also received another autographed baseball. And after he was applauded by the sellout crowd, several fans stopped by Maloney’s seat to pose for a picture.

Buehrle was touched by the gesture.

“I was like, ‘Brooks, we’ve got to do something here,’ ” Buehrle said. “’He can’t just give the ball and walk out of here empty-handed.’ So I ended up signing him a ball and I don’t know if we have something else in mind, but it was pretty awesome.”