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Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Racecourse (3/30/10)

Contact: Jim Miller
(708) 780-3700

Strong Cast Assembled in Illinois Derby

STICKNEY, IL – On Saturday, April 3, a field of eight will line up to start in the Grade III $500,000 Illinois Derby as one of the strongest casts of runners in the history of the race has been assembled. The Illinois Derby will be run as the seventh race of 11 for the Saturday card with a post time of 4:37 pm. First post for Saturday is 1:35 pm.

When speaking of the strength of the Illinois Derby, the race features five stakes-placed runners, four graded stakes-placed horses and a pair of graded stakes winners. While many horses are looking for a little more in the earnings column to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, this field could send multiple runners on to race on the First Saturday in May.

Leading the field for the Illinois Derby is Gold Mark Farm LLC’s Backtalk. One of the most highly regarded two-year-olds in the country in 2009, Backtalk had posted wins in both the Grade III Bashford Manor and Grade II Sanford last summer at Saratoga. Following a wide trip and fourth place finish in the Grade I Hopeful, Backtalk was sent off as the favorite in the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last fall. Following a flat effort in that event, and given some time off, Backtalk returned this spring with a victory in the Sportsman’s Paradise Stakes at Delta Downs. Trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by Miguel Mena, Backtalk is the morning line choice at 3-1.

WinStar Farm LLC’s American Lion comes to Hawthorne from California looking for his second graded stakes win. The Eoin Harty trainee followed a maiden score at Keeneland last fall with a win in the Grade III Hollywood Preview in November. This year, he has posted third and fourth place efforts, respectively, in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis and Grade II San Felipe at Santa Anita. Ridden by David Flores, American Lion is 7-2 in the morning line.

The “now” horse may be Yawanna Twist. Owned by Steel Your Face Stables and trained by Richard Dutrow, Jr., Yawanna Twist was a winner first out last December at Aqueduct and followed that score with a strong allowance win early in February. His next start came in the Grade III Gotham at Aqueduct as he swung five wide off the turn and was getting to winner Awesome Act nearing the wire, finishing second but only a little over a length back. The 1 1/8 miles distance of the Illinois Derby should suit him perfectly. Yawanna Twist will be ridden by Edgar Prado and is 4-1 in the morning line.

Dave in Dixie is another solid California invader with a huge upside. Trained by John Sadler and owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash, Dave in Dixie kicked off his year with a solid second-place effort in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in February. After a sixth-place effort in the San Felipe, Dave in Dixie will make his dirt debut in the Illinois Derby as Jose Valdivia, Jr. rides. Dave in Dixie is the fourth choice in the line at 9-2.

The entire field for the Illinois Derby:

Grade III $500,000 – 1 1/8 miles – Main Dirt Surface

PP Horse Jockey Trainer M/L
1 American Lion D. Flores E. Harty 7-2
2 Stephen’s Got Hope J. Garcia D. O’Neill 8-1
3 Boulder Creek C. Emigh C. Dollase 10-1
4 Yawanna Twist E. Prado R. Dutrow 4-1
5 Turf Melody J. Rose G. Motion 6-1
6 Dave in Dixie J. Valdivia, Jr. J. Sadler 9-2
7 Backtalk M. Mena T. Amoss 3-1
8 Game Ball W. Martinez M. Casse 12-1

Hawthorne Race Course is in its 101st year of racing under Carey family ownership. Hawthorne races Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday – Sunday with a first post of 1:35 pm daily through April 25. For more information on racing at Hawthorne, visit our website at

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