03/31/2011 10:25AM

Illinois Derby purse boosted to $300,000

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STICKNEY, Ill. - The purse for the April 9 Illinois Derby has been raised to $300,000 from $250,000, host track Hawthorne Race Course announced Wednesday. The purse increase was made possible by Television Games Network, the Illinois Derby sponsor, according a news release disseminated by Hawthorne.

The Illinois Derby, a Grade 3, was originally to offer a $500,000 purse, but that amount was halved before the Hawthorne spring meet began because of general weakness in the purse account.

The additional funds could help attract horses that need more graded-stakes earnings to potentially qualify for the Kentucky Derby. The 20-horse Derby field is determined by earnings in graded stakes races.

As of Thursday, Hawthorne stakes coordinator Debbie Lindsay said four horses – Lagoon of Diamonds, Joe Vann, Smarter than Ever, and Sour – were considered probable starters for the 1 1/8-mile race. The connections of Toby’s Corner, Watch Me Go, and Economic Summit are said to be considering the race, entries for which will be taken Wednesday.