The most important race of the Hawthorne spring meet is upon us. It's Illinois Derby Day, with the feature set for race 9 on a ten race card. WGN will be showing the Illinois Derby, along with the Cryptoclearance, in a program set to air from 5:00 pm CT to 6:00 PM CT. (Which airs immediately following a program on NBC from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm CT featuring the Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, and Ashland Stakes)
Race 8 -- Cryptoclearance Stakes -- 1 1/16 miles on dirt -- post time of 5:08 CT
A listed stakes for $60K for older males. DENHAM may have trolling around in $5000 starter handicaps last year but he's emerged as a player on the statebred stakes scene. I'll forgive his last start at Turfway, as he's one who loves dirt most and his only bad race came last fall in the Buck's Boy when he was put on the shelf too long after a turf stakes. Like the long works for stamina and the trainer is quietly having a solid meet. BIG LOOIE goes second off the layoff today for trainer C. Janks. Winner of the Buck's Boy Stakes, a $125K stakes for statebreds two back over this same Hawthorne dirt, he cashed checks in many of his dirt races. His only win was in that stakes, however, but he is seven of nine in the money lifetime at Hawthorne. GLEAM OF HOPE was last seen with a fourth in a listed stakes at Sam Houston and with minor awards in stakes at Fair Grounds that feed into the New Orleans Handicap. He's got a second and two fourths in his dirt starts and you could make the case he's not facing no one better than he was facing down south. With respect to figures, he'll be a threat if he replicates his New Orleans races.
#4 DENHAM (6/1)
#7 BIG LOOIE (5/1)
#8 GLEAM OF HOPE (7/2)
Longshot: #6 TAPTOWNE (10/1) is one of two in here from Michael Reavis (the other, FREE FIGHTER, is better suited going much longer). It appears he doesn't win too often. However his best starts have been dirt and he won the N2X allowance that serves as a side-door prep to this event. Didn't disgrace himself going against fringe-level statebred stakes sprinters two back. Given the popularity of the rail-drawn horse, he could be easily ignored.
Race 9 – Grade 3 TVG Illinois Derby – 1 1/8 miles on dirt – post time of 5:45 p.m. CT
I'm not big on the favorite, CURRENCY SWAP, in this race for three year olds and I have a different pick. Check out the fine folks at Thorofan for the full preview.
Be sure to check out our twitter box on the far right side of the screen, as The Author will be live on scene from Hawthorne for tomorrow's Illinois Derby. You might even see some additional picks there.
Good luck everyone.