Illinois Derby Could Produce Preakness Contenders

A field of seven line up in Saturday’s Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne (Photo credit: Hawthorne Race Course).

A field of seven three-year-olds line up in Saturday’s $250,000 Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne, a race that could produce a starter or two for the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico on May 20.

The Todd Pletcher trained Hedge Fund is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The son of Super Saver was third in the Sunland Derby (G3) in his last outing.

The Illinois Derby was not run last year due to purse cuts, and was won by War Emblem in in 2002 as a springboard to winning the Run for the Roses.

However, in 2002 the race was run four weeks before the Kentucky Derby, and with just two weeks until the first Saturday of May this year and no Derby points up for grabs, this race serves as a prep for the Preakness.

Three runners in the field are Triple Crown nominated—Hedge Fun, It’s Your Nickel and Hollywood Handsome.

It’s Your Nickel is 4-1 on the morning line and comes back two weeks after a sixth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland.

Hollywood Handsome is also 4-1 on the morning line and was a rallying fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds in his last outing.

Also today is the local prep for the Preakness, the $125,000 Federico Tesio which will be run at Laurel Park. A field of five line up and again Pletcher will have one of the main contenders in Action Everyday, who was fourth in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct in his last outing.

Let’s head out to Hawthorne for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Hawthorne Race 5 The Illinois Derby G3 Post time 6:17 CT

2 Hedge Fund   3-1

7 Hollywood Handsome   4-1

3 It’s Your Nickel   4-1

1 Multiplier   9-2

Hedge Fund ships in for the Todd Pletcher barn that has won this race four times, most recently with Joe Vann in 2011. The colt made his stakes debut in the Sunland Derby (G3) last out and he set the early fractions and weakened to finish third. The runner up Conquest Mo Money came back to run a good second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) last Saturday.  The fourth-place finisher was Irap, who came back to win the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland on April 8.

The son of Derby Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver owns solid early and mid pace numbers and could take this group gate to wire. He is a half-brother to $1.3 million earner Stanford, who goes in the Charles Town Classic (G2) Saturday night at Chuck Town.

Hollywood Handsome was outrun early and made a mild late rally to finish fourth last out in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds in his stakes debut, sent off at 36-1. The colt broke his maiden three back in the mud and was a close up third against Alw-1 optional claimers in his first start against winners.

He looks to be on the improve for the Stewart barn that is very good at getting three-year-olds to outrun their odds. He does not need to move forward much off his last effort to be in the mix in this spot.

It’s Your Nickel wheels back quick after checking in sixth in the Blue Grass two weeks ago. The colt stalked the early pace and had no punch left in the stretch. He won the John Battaglia two back on poly at Turfway Park by 6 ½ lengths in a good looking effort. Looks like he can bounce back with a better effort here facing a softer group.


WIN: #2 to win at 2-1 or better.

EXACTA: 2,7 / 1,2,3,7

TRIFECTA: 2,7 / 1,2,3,7 / 1,2,3,6,7


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