Updated on 09/16/2011 7:06AM

Did Repent "Mc-Peek" too soon?

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Trainer Ken McPeek has said that the long length of Sportsman's Park's stretch, combined with the Illinois Derby's date four weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby, make the race the perfect spot for Repent's final Derby prep race. However, while all of this may be true, it still doesn't mean that Repent will be a good bet at less than odds-on on the quirky Cicero, Illinois oval on Saturday.

Repent has been nearly perfect in his career with four stakes wins and a second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile to show for his last five starts. However, while he is a deserving favorite based on his best races, he may not be worth a win wager here coming off of a mediocre Louisiana Derby effort last time out.

Repent grinded through the Fair Grounds' stretch without appearing to change leads before finally surviving by a nose ahead of Easyfromthegitgo, a horse he had easily beaten the race before in the Risen Star Stakes. Perhaps Repent has already peaked and will now regress. That point is debatable. Nevertheless, the Louisiana Derby effort still showed that Repent is vulnerable and could be beat by the right horse.

In the Illinois Derby, the right horse might be Fonz's, who comes into the race with good 2-year-old credentials and a solid chance to improve in the second race of his 3-year-old campaign.

Fonz's won last November's Hollywood Prevue over Labamta Babe before losing only to Siphonic in the Hollywood Futurity four weeks later. Fonz's owns solid tactical speed which should come in handy at Sportsman's Park, and he should benefit from his return outing last month in the San Rafael where he lost to Came Home.

Repent is without a doubt the horse to beat, and it would be a major surprise if he didn't at least hang on for a share of the exacta. If he is going to win, however, he'll need to rally from off the pace and overcome post No. 10 ? two things that aren't always easy to do at Sportsman's Park (see how the track is playing in Saturday's first seven races).

Those brave enough to play trifectas in this race might want to look at the No. 5 War Emblem, who should be the pace-setter and is the only prime contender in the race with a win at Sportsman's Park. War Emblem won an allowance here by 10 3/4-lengths over next-out winner Colorful Tour and Illinois Derby rival Boston Common.

SELECTIONS:

ILLINOIS DERBY

Sportsman's Park, Saturday - Race 8

Grade 2, 1 1/8 miles, purse: $500,000

1) 6-Fonz's

2) 10-Repent

3) 5-War Emblem


$100 PLAY

Play Fonz's to win with an additional small saver bet on War Emblem so you won't have to go kill yourself in the event that he actually wins the race. Also, box both horses in exactas and trifectas along with Repent. This will give you a chance to cash big if Repent runs out of the exacta, as well as a way to get your money back if Repent wins the race.

$5 exacta box 5-War Emblem/6-Fonz's/10-Repent ($30 bet)

$5 trifecta box 5-War Emblem/6-Fonz's/10-Repent ($30 bet)

$30 to win on 6-Fonz's

$10 to win on 5-War Emblem