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Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Racecourse (4/5/07)

Contact: Mitch Demick (708) 222-4542

Mott and Asmussen Take Aim at Illinois Derby With Good Reason

When trainers enter graded stake races with horses still eligible for first-level allowance conditions, one usually questions the wisdom of such decisions. When the trainers' names are Bill Mott and Steve Asmussen, one might just think . . .hmmm. Such is the case on Saturday, when the two prolific trainers send out Sacrifice Bunt and Reporting for Duty, respectively, in the 50th running of the Grade 2 Illinois Derby.

While skipping conditions is not standard operating procedure for the Mott Stable, Sacrifice Bunt has a pedigree that makes passing up this race a difficult task for the horse’s connections. “Mr. Lunsford is very excited about coming here,” Mott said. He was referring to owner Bruce Lunsford, who won this race in 1999 with Sacrifice Bunt’s full brother, Vision and Verse.

But sentiment aside, the Hall of Fame trainer of the great Cigar, amongst many others, feels his horse “is doing well,” punctuated by a 59.2 five furlong morning workout on March 24 at Gulfstream Park. Although the son of Storm Cat is eligible for easier company, Mott points back to Sacrifice Bunt’s only attempt in an allowance race as more than meets the eye. “That March 3rd race at Gulfstream could have easily been carded as a stake race,” Mott noted. “Bunt” ran a troubled fifth in that start, but finished only 4 lengths behind Chelokee, who in turn ran a tough luck third in the Florida Derby. Also in that race was future Lane’s End participant, For You Reppo, and the talented Sightseeing. Mott has called upon Jesse Campbell for the ride.

Asmussen presents similar reasons for entering Bob and Cathy Zollars’ Reporting for Duty. “Two back he ran a good second to Ketchican in an allowance race, and that horse was second in the Louisiana Derby.” In addition, the chestnut colt by Deputy Commander has a win over the Hawthorne track, his only win to date, and he continues to train like he can be a factor. “He is a consistent horse who is working well and I think he deserves a chance,” Asmussen explained. Reporting for Duty has been strictly a stone cold closer and may have his work cut out for him on Saturday, but asked if he would change race tactics, Asmussen simply stated, “that’s who he is.” Hawthorne’s own Chris Emigh has the riding assignment.

When two trainers the caliber of Bill Mott and Steve Asmussen say their horses are doing well and deserve the chance to compete at this level, the racing community should probably take notice.

Hawthorne Race Course races five days a week, Thursday through Monday through April 29, except Easter Sunday and Monday, April 9. Located at Cicero or Laramie Avenues at 35th Street, gates open daily at 7 am. Call (708) 780-3700 or visit the Web site at




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