04/04/2012 4:37PM

Illinois Derby has spillover 17 entries at Hawthorne

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Barbara D. Livingston
Currency Swap is the only graded stakes winner entered in the Illinois Derby.

Hawthorne racing officials last weekend were forecasting an overflow field for the Illinois Derby, but anyone in the racing game knows that stakes field-size estimates coming from a race's host track tend toward optimism.

This time, they weren't exaggerating.

Seventeen 3-year-olds were entered Wednesday for Saturday's Grade 3, $500,000 Illinois Derby, among the last graded stakes races before the May 5 Kentucky Derby, entry into which is determined by graded stakes earnings. There are 14 horses in the main body of the field - placement there determined by overall earnings - and three more left on the also-eligible list.

[KENTUCKY DERBY WATCH: Top 20 contenders | Who's hot, who's not]

The field from the rail out, includes Romancing the Gold, Hakama, Ring It Up, Currency Swap, Pretension, Sky Ring, Saturday Launch, Z Rockstar, Fastestwhogetspaid, Frankie Is Rock, Our Entourage, Morgan's Guerrilla, Done Talking, and Slamit. Explain, Arm Force, and Defiant Flyer are the three also-eligibles.

Saturday Launch was cross-entered in a race Friday at Keeneland, but Hawthorne expects him in Chicago.

Currency Swap, whose victory last summer in the Grade 1 Hopeful makes him the lone graded stakes winner entered, was installed as the 4-1 morning line favorite by Hawthorne linemaker Jim Miller, and drew post 4 for the 1 1/8-mile dirt race. Currency Swap arrived from Florida on Tuesday night after traveling by plane to Kentucky and van from there to Chicago. He will be ridden for the first time by Shaun Bridghmohan.

Our Entourage, who also figures to be one of the favorites given his connections and overall race record, landed post 11 and also has a new jockey, Eddie Castro. Trained for owner Mike Repole by Todd Pletcher, Our Entourage, a son of Street Cry, has won twice, but both victories came on turf, and he is 0 for 2 in dirt races, finishing a distant second in his career debut, a dirt sprint at Saratoga, and fifth in the Remsen Stakes last fall.
"It's something he has to prove to us," Pletcher said of Our Entourage's dirt ability. "We know he's a talented turf horse. He ran a decent race on Polytrack, and he ran a decent race in the Remsen. He's trained very well on the main track. We've had an opportunity to work him with some of our major dirt horses, and he's performed well."

Thanks to the presence and ultimate defection of Uncle Mo, Repole commanded more attention than any other human being in Louisville during Derby Week 2011. But Pletcher is taking a measured approach concerning Our Entourage's suitability for this year's Derby.

"I'm not necessarily positive even if he were to win the Illinois Derby that he'd go on to the Kentucky Derby," said Pletcher, who won last year's Illinois Derby with Joe Vann. "It's something we'd have to talk about."

Barring a breakout performance, the same thinking should apply to every horse entered in Saturday's race. But when it comes to Kentucky Derby considerations, realism often fails to enter the equation.

Illinois Derby (G2), Post Time: 5:46 CT Saturday

Purse: $500,000; 1 1/8 miles

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Romancing The Gold

J. Englehart

I. Ortiz, Jr.

15-1

1

Hakama

M. Trombetta

J. Pimentel

6-1

1

Ring It Up

C. Richard

L. Wade

15-1

1

Currency Swap

T. Pompay

S. Bridgmohan

4-1

1

Pretension

C. Grove

J. Santiago

5-1

1

Skyring

D. Lukas

R. Vazquez

20-1

1

Saturday Launch

K. McPeek

C. Emigh

15-1

1

Z Rockstar

D. Von Hemel

Q. Hamilton

10-1

1

Fastestwhogetspaid

B. Williamson

I. Ocampo

30-1

1

Frankie Is Rock

R. Aguilar

E. Perez

30-1

1

Our Entourage

T. Pletcher

E. Castro

9-2

1

Morgan's Guerrilla

M. Maker

R. Napravnik

10-1

1

Done Talking

H. Smith

S. Russell

20-1

1

Slamit

T. Ice

C. Hill

30-1

1

Explain (AE)

B. Cox

F. Torres

20-1

1

Arm Force (AE)

E. Harty

E. Castro

15-1

1

Defiant Flyer (AE)

L. Davis

S. Martinez

30-1