GRANTVILLE, PA – Trainer James Toner’s Hawkish rebounded nicely on Saturday, putting forth a bullish effort against several stakes-winning foes to take the Grade 2, $500,000 Penn Mile Stakes at Penn National Race Course.
Breaking from post 6 under Manny Franco as the 7-5 favorite, Hawkish had to steady early to avoid clipping heels with He’s Bankable and settled near the rear while Encumbered and Maraud fought through first fractions of :23.24, :47.62, and 1:11.94. Commencing a wide rally through the far turn, Hawkish took command in the final furlong and lugged in sharply as Maraud began fading, then was kept to a strong hand-ride through to the wire, winning by 3 lengths in a final time of 1:35.16 for the mile-long turf event.
“He wanted to go early but I held him up,” Franco said. “At the 3/8, I had so much horse that I let him go and went around them.”
Way Early overcame gifting the field over 5 lengths at one point to get up late for second, a neck past Coltandmississippi. Another neck back came the worn-out Maraud, while Encumbered, Therapist, and He’s Bankable completed the order of finish.
Hawkish’s win was his third in four career starts, with his lone loss a fourth-place effort behind Maraud and Therapist in March’s Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 3-year-old gelded son of Artie Schiller has now earned $359,700 for owners Robert V. LaPenta, AJ Suited Racing Stable (who also bred him), and Madaket Stables.
“He’s a monster,” Toner said. “Some people worry about making moves (up in class), 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.”
Hawkish returned $4.80 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.80 to show. Way Early brought back $13 to place and $6 to show, while Coltandmississippi paid $7.20 to show.