Updated on 09/17/2011 11:13AM

A prep, if Derby horse emerges


CHICAGO - With a major-league purse of $500,000, Grade 2 status, and a desirable four-week breather until start of the Triple Crown, the Illinois Derby can reasonably be termed a Kentucky Derby prep race. It can even boast of having produced last year's Derby winner, War Emblem.

But if this is a Derby prep, nobody knows it yet.

Ten horses were entered Wednesday in the Illinois Derby, and if there are any legitimate Kentucky Derby threats here, we won't know it until after the race. Right now, horses like Lone Star Sky, Alysweep, and Ten Most Wanted - the three favorites - would do well just to win a race of this caliber.

"We're looking for a race where he can show us if he's good enough to go to the Kentucky Derby," said Tom Amoss, Lone Star Sky's trainer.

Amoss also might have been looking for a little better post Saturday. Lone Star Sky, placed third in the Louisiana Derby after the disqualification of second-place Kafwain, drew post 10. In post 9 is Alysweep, the Gotham winner, while Ten Most Wanted has post 2. The Illinois Derby is contested at 1 1/8 miles, and a long run to the first turn mitigates the importance of post positions.

Ten Most Wanted could be favored, though he's still eligible for a first-level allowance race. Owned by Horizon Stable and trained by Wally Dollase, Ten Most Wanted will be ridden for the second straight time by Pat Day, who was aboard for the colt's third-place finish March 8 in the El Camino Real Derby.

"The jockeys have been telling me he's a nice horse," Dollase said. "Pat got off him and said we ought to have a heck of a summer with him. He's a little immature mentally. His father was the same way."

Dollase would know, because he trained Ten Most Wanted's sire, Deputy Commander. Deputy Commander wasn't ready for the spring classics, but by late summer he was a major force in the 3-year-old division.

"He's real powerful, and he's tough-minded," said Dollase of Ten Most Wanted. "You should see him - we have to use a full screen webbing on the front of his stall. He's all colt, all racehorse."

Here's the entire Illinois Derby field, from the rail out with riders: Foufa's Warrior (Harry Vega), Ten Most Wanted (Day), Fund of Funds (Shaun Bridgmohan), LX Commander (Chris Emigh), Blackinton (Zoe Cadman), Runnin' on Nitro (Jason Lumpkins), Cherokee's Boy (Ryan Fogelsonger), Alysweep (Richard Migliore), and Lone Star Sky (Calvin Borel).

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