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Illinois Derby field far from finalized
By Marcus Hersh
STICKNEY, Ill. – Want to know who’s running April 9 in the Illinois Derby? Sorry - you will just have to wait.
Waiting and hoping is what Hawthorne people themselves are doing this weekend. As of Saturday afternoon, the Grade 3, $300,000 Illinois Derby had the same four probable starters as it did two days ago. Debbie Lindsay, Hawthorne’s stakes coordinator, said the status of at least four more possible runners won’t be determined until early this week, a claim confirmed by the trainers of those horses.
KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail
Joe Vann, Lagoon of Diamonds, Smarter Than Ever, and Sour are the four horses considered likely entrants when the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby prep is drawn on Wednesday. Joe Vann and Lagoon of Diamonds both will come to Hawthorne after winning back-to-back races, Joe Vann’s from Laurel Park in Maryland, Lagoon of Diamonds from Mountaineer Racetrack in West Virginia. Smarter than Ever won a Turfway maiden race in his most recent start, while Sour won a two-turn maiden race at Fair Grounds before finishing second to his stablemate, Left, in a first-level allowance route
Watch Me Go would be the most accomplished horse at Hawthorne should he ship for Saturday’s race. The upset winner of the Tampa Bay Derby might have started in the Florida Derby on Sunday had he not “scoped with mucus” after a Wednesday workout at Tampa Bay Downs, trainer Kathleen O’Connell said. O’Connell said she thought the mucus had resulted from allergies, and that Watch Me Go had shown no signs of being sick. O’Connell said she would confer with owner Gilbert Campbell in coming days before settling on either the Illinois Derby or the Arkansas Derby for Watch Me Go.
Toby’s Corner, third in the Gotham Stakes last out, could ship to Chicago, but trainer Graham Motion said he won’t decide between the Illinois Derby and the Wood Memorial until sometime after Toby’s Corner works on Monday.
“We’re on the fence,” Motion said.
Trainer Rick Violette has two possible Illinois Derby starters, but The Fed Eased, who is based in New York, might instead be directed to the Bay Shore Stakes, while Violette said he was concerned that Economic Summit, the fifth-place Tampa Bay Derby finisher, might need more time before his next race.
◗ A pair of entry-level allowance races highlight Tuesday’s eight-race card at Hawthorne. Race 5, for 3-year-old fillies, lured Cityrap, whose 8 1/2-length maiden win here March 12 was one of the stronger performances of the winter-spring meet.
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