Keying Hawkish in the Penn Mile Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 30th, 2018

The $500,000 Penn Mile Stakes (gr. II) at Penn National has only been run five times, but with a list of winners that includes the Breeders’ Cup champions Bobby’s Kitten and Catch a Glimpse, the one-mile turf race has already stamped itself as a quality event worthy of its Grade 2 status.

In my opinion, the 2018 renewal is shaping up to be a solid betting race since the eight-horse field is very competitive, but not necessarily impossible to decipher. I’m particularly excited since the horse I like best, #6 Hawkish, is 5-1 on the morning line and could get overlooked a bit in the wagering.

Trained by Jimmy Toner—known for his success with turf stars such as Soaring Softly, Winter Memories, Memories of Silver, Wonder Again, and Time and Motion—Hawkish gave notice of his potential with a dramatic maiden win on January 6th at Gulfstream Park, unleashing a tremendous late rally to win by a half-length over the future graded stakes winner Funny  Duck. According to Trakus, Hawkish ran the final quarter of the one-mile race in a terrific :22.43 seconds, the kind of acceleration you see from future graded stakes winners.

Two months later, Hawkish took a big step up in class for the Palm Beach Stakes (gr. III) going 8.5 furlongs at Gulfstream, but he suffered a very wide trip that day, and after making a big middle move, Hawkish flattened out to finish fourth against a quality field.

But that setback was only temporary, as Hawkish returned to the winner’s circle with an impressive allowance win at Aqueduct on April 15th. In that one-mile event, Hawkish showed more speed than usual to track the pace before taking command and bursting away with authority to win by 4 ¾ lengths over the next-out winner Morrison, running the final quarter-mile in :22.57 per Trakus.

I think Hawkish has the potential to be a star miler, and with a good trip in the Penn Mile, I think we’ll see him come running down the homestretch to win going away. He will have to deal with #3 Maraud and #4 Therapist, who beat him when finishing first and third in the Palm Beach Stakes, but I think Hawkish will benefit from the experience he’s gained since then and turn the tables this time around.

That said, I do respect Maraud and Therapist for the exotics, as the former recently reiterated his talent with a clear win in the American Turf Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs while the latter put in a sharp late run to win the one-mile Cutler Bay Stakes at Gulfstream in March, bringing his record to a near-perfect 4-for-5.

Let’s use these two and a couple others in the exacta and trifecta while keying Hawkish on top:

$5 exacta: 6 with 3,4 ($10) $5 trifecta: 6 with 3,4 with 3,4 ($10) $2.50 trifecta: 6 with 3,4 with 5,8 ($10)

Good luck!