The first two graded stakes of the year in Illlinois will be run at Hawthorne Race Course on Saturday April 20. Early nominations for both stakes closed this week, and the fields for both stakes should start to solidify in the week before the draw.
The first of the two stakes will be the Grade 3 Sixty Sails, at a mile and an eighth on the Hawthorne dirt. It carries a pot of $200,000. and is restricted to older fillies and mares. Fourteen horses were nominated, but likely only around half of the fourteen will see the local starter, according to Hawthorne Stakes Coordinator Debby Lindsay.
Three horses are considered most probable for the race at publish time. They are:
- BRUSHED BY A STAR, a double G2 winner last year that was 3rd last out in the G1 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita.
- DISPOSABLEPLEASURE, who won a Gulfstream allowance last out and was second in the G1 Mother Goose at Belmont last year.
- LITTLE MS PROTOCOL, a Louisiana-bred that has multiple wins at the state-bred level and is set to try graded company for the first time.
The other eleven nominees haven't made formal commitments at publish time. One noteworthy nominee that likely will not be showing is 2012 Sixty Sails winner SHE'S ALL IN, who runs in the G1 Apple Blossom Handicap on Friday April 12 at Oaklawn Park.
Now billed as the richest dirt race in Chicago, the $750,000 G3 Illinois Derby for three-year-olds was shifted two weeks further ahead to accommodate its exclusion from the Kentucky Derby's qualifying points system. Retooled as a feeder to the Preakness Stakes four weeks following, the Illinois Derby saw sixty-nine nominations.
At publish time eleven horses are considered most probable for the race, according to Lindsay. Hawthorne's gate can hold fourteen runners for the mile and an eighth trip on the dirt, and a full field is likely.
The eleven most probables are as follows:
- SHOW SOME MAGIC, runner-up in the G3 Sunland Derby last out.
- DEPARTING, third in the G2 Louisiana Derby last out.
- SIETE DE OROS, fourth in the G3 Gotham last out.
- ABRAHAM, third in the G3 Sunland Derby last out.
- CARRIED INTEREST, second in the G2 Futurity at Belmont last summer and second in a Gulfstream allowance last out.
- TAKEN BY THE STORM, fourth in the G3 Spiral last out.
- NARVAEZ, fourth in the G1 Florida Derby last out.
- STORMIN MONARCHO, a locally based entrant that was fourth in an "NC" allowance at Hawthorne and third in the G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity last September.
- DEWEY SQUARE, fifth in the G3 Palm Beach last out.
- GROUND TRANSPORT, fifth in the G2 Louisiana Derby last out.
- FOR GREATER GLORY, sixth in the G3 Spiral last out.
A number of locally based horses including TULIRA CASTLE and STREET SPICE have expressed interest in running in the Illinois Derby, but they'd need help to enter, specifically in horses above them on the earnings list to defect. Other Illinois Derby possibles (though less certain the eleven given) include ALWAYS IN A TIZ and INCOGNITO.
Both races--the G3 Sixty Sails and G3 Illinois Derby--will be televised on WGN on April 20th, in a one hour program starting at 4:30 pm CT.
Special thanks to Hawthorne Race Course Asst. GM John Walsh for providing details on the WGN program.