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Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Racecourse (4/11/08)

Commentary from Mitch Demick

Illinois Derby "Carousel"

This year’s Illinois Derby is getting ruthlessly bashed because the first three finishers were one, two and three after the first quarter. Huh? I’m not going to pretend that inside speed didn’t play favorably, but take a look at the day’s results, and then tell me “a ridiculous speed bias turned this year’s running into a carousel,” as Lauren Stitch opined in the Daily Racing Form.

Absolutely nothing illogical won on April 5, Illinois Derby Day. Closers did emerge victorious on multiple occasions on the same day some sort of injustice was perpetrated on the favorites. The winner of the Derby, itself, Recapturetheglory, had run second to Cool Coal Man as a two-year-old, and then returned at three to run a respectable third in his grass debut. In addition, Recapturetheglory had won a two-turn race over the Hawthorne surface, and had the services of a jockey (E.T. Baird) who has made a pretty good living, at times, at this same track.

That Denis of Cork, unraced in nearly seven weeks, and without previous experience over the surface, and Atoned, winless since an off-the-grass event in August ’07, were uninvolved in this year’s Illinois Derby, could very well be circumstance and nothing else.

At the very least, let the race breathe for a month or so and see what becomes of the “obvious” contenders. As a handicapper and as a spokesman for Hawthorne, I believe the 2008 Illinois Derby will ultimately rest on its merits.

Race 1: Last Samurai closed from 7 back behind the sole speed horse, Sapia Sika
Race 2: Saratoga Vicar was 5th and wide, and closed to win
Race 3: Skating Sam was 4 wide and raced in the second flight of runners
Race 4: Happiness sets extremely slow fractions and runs his race
Race 5: Distorted Groom runs big, High Expectations closes from over 12 lengths back to be beaten just over a length
Race 6: La Wildcat (Who has won over the track) runs a big race but Douglas has J Z Warrior in 5 path at 3/8ths pole, costing him ground
Race 7: Winner sets slow fractions, jocks on Z Humor, Atoned and Denis of Cork all have horses wide in turn, costing them ground
Race 8: Lazer Sun breaks from outside, rates wide and closes. Pacesetter runs 7th
Race 9: Lone speed wires bad bunch
Race 10: Bic Vic breaks 10th, rates in 7th and wins while wide. Pacesetter runs 9th




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