Trainer Wes Hawley believes Hawaakom is set for a peak performance in the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade I) on Friday, Nov. 23, and hopes his former $15,000 claim can capture an elusive Grade I victory.
“I've had this horse for a long time around the barn and he's really showing me he's ready to go,” said Hawley, who co-owns the nine-time winner with Stephan Smoot. “Two weeks in a row he worked (five furlongs) in 1:00. He's showing me he's doing better than ever. I just hope we can finally turn the luck around. He's definitely fit.”
Hawaakom was last seen at Parx in the Greenwood Cup (GIII) where he finished a disappointing seventh. The 8-year-old chestnut by Jazil was fourth in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) in the Spring Meet at Churchill Downs.
“I thought he could have run second in the Stephen Foster,” Hawley said. “He ran a good race that night and it's tough to be beaten by less than a half-length for an additional $74,000 in purse money. That stung a little bit.”
Hawaakom began his career under the care of Danny Peitz and was claimed by Hawley on Nov. 27, 2014 at Churchill Downs. Since he was claimed, Hawaakom has earned $996,213 in Hawley's care, including a 3 ¼-length score in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (GIII) at Oaklawn Park.
“He's earned just shy of $1 million since we claimed him and I really want to get to that mark,” Hawley said. “That would truly be a great accomplishment to claim a horse and then turn around to earn $1 million.”
Hawley noted jockey Joe Rocco Jr. will have the call on Hawaakom in the Clark Handicap.
Weight assignments for the 1 1/8-mile Clark will be finalized on Saturday. The field is expected to include: Believe in
Royalty(trainer Larry Jones); Bravazo (D. Wayne Lukas); Hawaakom (Hawley); Hence (Steve Asmussen); Leofric (Brad Cox); PrimeAttraction (James Cassidy); and Seeking the Soul (Dallas Stewart), according to Churchill Downs Assistant Racing Secretary and Stakes Coordinator Dan Bork.
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