Hawthorne Race Course will offer a guaranteed $50,000 Pick 4 pool on the Illinois Derby card. The Pick 4 will involve races 7-10 and begin with the $500,000 Illinois Derby for 3 year olds.
Hawthorne fans can pre-wager on the entire Illinois Derby card all day Friday. Gates open at 8 am. The Friday card also represents a new experiment with post time at 3 pm for every Friday in April.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out Atoned in the Illinois Derby, a race he has won three times in the last seven years. Before he saddled Cowtown Cat last year, he won the race in 2004 with Pollard's Vision. He won the 2001 edition with Distilled, a colt owned by Cot Campbell's Dogwood Stables that is the owner of Atoned.
Z Humor owner Ahmed Zayat ranked second among owners in North America last year with earnings of $6.1 million. His horses won 98 of 521 races. Not bad for a guy who didn't get into the sport until three years ago.
Denis of Cork's owners, Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren, have experienced plenty of success in the winner's circle before. They campaigned 2005 Horse of the Year and Breeders Cup champion Saint Liam. The horse earned $4,456,995 on the racetrack. Denis of Cork is unbeaten in three career starts and is the Illinois Derby morning line favorite at 2-1.
Golden Spikes owner Rob Murphy is a former major league baseball pitcher. He played 15 seasons from 1981 to 1995 and was a reliever for six teams, including Cincinnati, Boston, Seattle, Houston, St. Louis and the Florida Marlins. One of his partners in Golden Spikes is current MLB catcher Paul Lo Duca of the Washington Nationals.
Four of the seven Illinois Derby starters are Kentucky-breds: Golden Spikes, Real Appeal, Recapturetheglory and Z Humor. Atoned and Denis of Cork are Florida-breds and Instill represents the Land of Lincoln.
Horse of course? Recapturetheglory and Instill are the only Illinois Derby starters to have raced at and won over the Hawthorne oval. Denis of Cork has won his first three lifetime starts in three different states in Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana. The Derby also will be Golden Spikes' first start outside the state of Florida. All six of his outings were at Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park in Miami.
Hawthorne Race Course’s Spring Thoroughbred meet begins on Friday, March 7 and will continue through Monday, April 28. Live racing will be conducted Thursday through Monday, regular first post 1:35 pm central time. Hawthorne Race Course is located at 3501 Laramie Avenue, Cicero, IL 60804, gates open daily at 7 am. Call (708) 780-3700 or visit the Web site at www.hawthorneracecourse.com.