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Hawthorne Racecourse (4/4/06)

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(708) 222-4540

Illinois Derby Gives Triple Crown Prospects a Cause to Believe!

Key Kentucky Derby prep to be shown live on NBC

In 2002, an upstart speedster named War Emblem used the Illinois Derby as a springboard to Kentucky Derby glory. On Saturday, April 8 at Hawthorne Race Course, ten current Triple Crown candidates hope that their comparable road to the roses will produce equivalent results in Louisville four weeks from now.

Saturday’s 49th running of the Grade II $500,000 Illinois Derby has been carded as the seventh of ten races. Scheduled post time is 4:12 p.m. (CDT). The early forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures hovering around 50 degrees.

Along with the Santa Anita Derby, the Illinois Derby will be shown live on NBC during the network’s hour-long broadcast (4 to 5 p.m. CDT). The program serves as a precursor to NBC’s live Kentucky Derby program airing Saturday, May 6 (4 to 5:30 p.m. CDT).

Hawthorne’s morning-line maker Jim Miller has installed Peter Redekop and Peter Abruzzo’s Cause to Believe as the 5-2 morning-line favorite off victories in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows (1-29-06) and California Derby at Golden Gate Fields (3-11-06).

The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee has finished no worse than second from nine career starts (9-6-3-0) while banking $335,565 in the process. The son of Maria’s Mon, sire of 20001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, will break from post-position number seven. He is scheduled to arrive at Hawthorne Tuesday evening, and regular rider Russell Baze will be astride.

The early second choice in the Illinois Derby is Joseph J. Balsamo and Ted Theos’ Sweetnorthernsaint. The Michael Trombetta charge, who was entered in a $40,000 maiden claiming race last December, has proven his class as an East Coast 3-year-old. A winner of Laurel Park’s minor Miracle Wood Stakes by ten lengths on February 4, the son of Sweetsouthernsaint was most recently a close third in the Grade III Gotham at Aqueduct. Kent Desormeaux, who guided Greeley’s Galaxy to victory in last year’s Illinois Derby, will pilot, and the team will leave from extreme outside post ten. The gelding left his Maryland base for Chicago on Tuesday morning.

The remainder of the field is as follows (in alphabetical order with trainer):

Team Block’s Creative Force (Block) – Illinois champion 2-year-old of 2005, and the winner of the Jim Edgar Futurity (restricted to Illinois-breds) last December.

Equirace.Com LLC’s Devilofarush (M. Maker) – Winner of two consecutive allowance races, including the Hawthorne’s Illinois Derby prep on March 14. Mike Maker won the 2004 Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup with 27-1 longshot Freefourinternet.

Burr J. Travis’ Itsallboutthechase (G. Sims) -- Runner-up in Gulfstream’s Aventura stakes and a competitor in both the Grade III Holy Bull (5th) and Fountain of Youth (9th).

Frank Calabrese’s Lewis Michael (W. Catalano) – A minor stakes winner on turf, he was third in the Grade III Tropical Derby over the Calder grass on Jan. 1. Campaigned by Chicagoland’s leading owner Frank Calabrese.

Mark H. Stanley’s Malameeze (B. Barnett) -- Most recently third in the Grade II Lane’s End at Turfway.

B. Wayne Hughes’ Mister Triester (G. Stute) -- Most recently fourth behind divisional leader Brother Derek in the Grade II Santa Catalina at Santa Anita. Owner B. Wayne Hughes paid $10,000 to supplement eventual winner Greeley’s Galaxy to the 2005 Illinois Derby.

Centaur Farm’s My Golden Song (Pletcher) -- A close-up fourth in the Grade II Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park in his most recent run, he is trained by Todd Pletcher, a conditioner who has won two of the last five Illinois Derbies (2001 with Distilled and 2004 with Pollard’s Vision). His Monarch Lane finished second behind Greeley’s Galaxy in 2005.

Stronach Stable’s Racketeer (Frankel) – Most recently a close fourth in the Grade II San Felipe at Santa Anita. Trainer Bobby Frankel won the 1984 Illinois Derby with Delta Trace.

1 1/8 miles, purse $500,000, Illinois Derby (G2), 3yo’s (with Hawthorne handicapper Jim Miller’s morning-line odds).

Post Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1 Malameeze Bobby Barnett John McKee 8-1
2 Creative Force Chris Block Eddie Perez 30-1
3 Itsallboutthechase Gary Sims Chris Emigh 12-1
4 Lewis Michael Wayne Catalano Frank Alvarado 20-1
5 Devilofarush Mike Maker E.T. Baird 30-1
6 Mister Triester Glen Stute Brice Blanc 8-1
7 Cause to Believe Jerry Hollendorfer Russell Baze 5-2
8 Racketeer Bobby Frankel Pat Valenzuela 5-1
9 My Golden Song Todd Pletcher Chris DeCarlo 5-1
10 Sweetnorthernsaint Michael Trombetta Kent Desormeaux 4-1

The Grade II $500,000 Illinois Derby, a prestigious prep for the world famous Kentucky Derby, will be run at Hawthorne on Saturday, April 8.

Hawthorne’s spring 2006 Thoroughbred meet runs February 24 through May 4 with live racing five days per week: Friday through Tuesday. Post time is 1:10 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday and 3 p.m. on Friday. Hawthorne is dark Wednesdays and Thursdays and Easter Sunday April 16, but full card simulcasting from racetracks across the country is offered every day.

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