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The 52nd running of the $500,000 Grade 2 Illinois Derby, to be contested at nine furlongs on the main track, will take place next Saturday, April 4th. There were 95 nominations submitted, 16 by trainer Steven Asmussen for a variety of owners, alone.

While the Illinois Derby has a long and storied history and carries a purse of $500,000, the connections of the superstar 3-year-olds often choose different preps for their charges. However, with a month between the Illinois Derby and the Kentucky Derby and the fact that the Illinois Derby takes place on dirt, the same surface as the Kentucky Derby, connections of runners that aren’t quite as accomplished can test better company and see if those they train are Kentucky Derby material. Plus, with a purse of $500,000, a good showing in the Grade 2 Illinois Derby could allow a lightly-raced runner to earn enough to ensure a berth in the Run For The Roses.

In fact, the last seven winners of the Illinois Derby have gone on to compete in Kentucky. Last year’s winner, Recapturetheglory, finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby. Will one of our local contenders be able to play the role of upsetter? We’ll soon see.

Please check our website at for the complete list of nominations, past performances, and likely starter updates.

The Strate Sunshine

Saturday’s featured “The Strate Sunshine”, for Fillies and Mares, four years old and up, came up extremely competitive. Twin Creeks Farm’s Unspoken Word, trained by Michael Maker, was installed as the morning-line favorite at 5-2. She seems to have the speed and the numbers to warrant favoritism but has had only one race on dirt, on an off track. Local favorite, Arbaway Farm, Carson Springs Farm and Letto, Vince and Nancy’s Stop a Train, from the barn of Christine Janks, could be the one to beat. She has enjoyed considerable local success, with four wins in 12 Hawthorne starts and local earnings of over $242,000, and she’s been brilliant at the distance, winning six times in 15 tries, along with four second-place finishes.

A Word to the Wise

Owner and breeder George Johnson, whose King Ajax won the I.T.B.O.F Sales Graduate Stakes for 3-year-old Colts and Geldings last Saturday, had this to say about the race, and the purse. “It’s a no brainer. I can’t believe that there aren’t more horses entered in the sales. That’s an incredible purse for a maiden ($50,000) and all you have to do to get the horse to qualify is to consign them to the sale and post a work or gallop.

Now, is that a great segue or what?


Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders
and Owners Foundation
presentsThe 2009 Two-Year-Olds In Training April 25, 2009
Hawthorne Race Course

Public Breeze Day will be Wednesday April 22 at Hawthorne.

All Two-Year-Olds that gallop or work and go through the sales ring will be eligible to be nominated to the 2010 Sales Stakes Races held at Hawthorne Race Course.

For further information contact: Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation
618-344-3427 or 708-652-1561

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