Hawthorne Racecourse (4/7/12)
Contact: Jim Miller
Illinois Derby AM notes
You can’t beat this weather, this card, or the great wagering race for the 55th running of the TVG Illinois Derby today! All 14 horses have arrived and have gotten a good night's rest. Many of the expected starters were able to get onto the track this morning to stretch their legs. Some quick notes on the runners in preparations for today’s marquee event:
#1 – Romancing the Gold - Has been on grounds for three days. Trainer Jeremiah Englehart arrived yesterday and was very high on this horse. He said the horse’s personality appeared to change after the start on February 3 and it shown in that next start out. His plan is to lay close to the pace and there was no concern with the rail draw.
#2 – Hakama – Trainer Michael Trombetta looking to strike again in the Illinois Derby as he had Sweetnorthernsaint win this race in 2006 and go off as the Kentucky Derby favorite that year. Hakama has been onsite for 4 days and has been able to gallop over this track a few times.
#3 – Ring It Up – One of the early arrivals for this race (Tuesday), Ring It Up is very visually impressive. He ran a good race in a division of the Southwest and gets a jock in Wade who got his start on the Chicago circuit.
#4 – Currency Swap – The morning line favorite, Currency Swap shows the makeup of a Grade I winner. His mannerisms are good and he has been here since Tuesday. He has looked strong in the morning on track and a good race from Gemologist in the Wood could mean we will get good things from Currency Swap in this race.
#5 – Pretension – The horse that may be overlooked. He has been here since Tuesday and has also looked tremendous in morning gallops. Gets regular rider Javier Santiago back in the saddle. Santiago was supposed to ride him in the Gotham but fell ill the morning of that race.
#6 – Skyring – Arrived Friday morning but schooled in the paddock during the Friday card. A recent maiden winner, he will need a big race, but to look at him, he is one of the more visually impressive looking runners in this race.
#7 – Saturday Launch – The connections must think highly of this runner as he scratched from the Translyvania at Keeneland yesterday to run in this spot. Trainer Kenny McPeek has said he was pointing toward this race since a turf win the second week of March and he gets a benefit from having local jock Chris Emigh in the saddle.
#8 – Z Rockstar – One of the first to arrive to Hawthorne for this race, he may not be the largest in stature but has a confidence about himself. He has schooled numerous times in the paddock and has gotten on the track. He comes off a career best race while stretching out in his last and also gets a local rider in Quincy Hamilton aboard.
#9 – Fastestwhogetspaid – A local longshot, he is the most proven over this surface and is also visually impressive. Was an upset sprint winner in his last but is better around two turns.
#10 – Frankie Is Rock – Another local threat, his last two on the poly were decent before running a good allowance race over this surface against a good bunch in his last. Like Fastestwhogetspaid, Frankie is Rock in not Triple Crown nominated.
#11 – Our Entourage – One of the last to arrive, along with Morgan’s Guerrilla and Saturday Launch (all arrived Friday afternoon), he may be better on the grass. That being said, he held off a wall of horses in his last and Pletcher has won 4 of the last 11 Illinois Derbies.
#12 – Morgan’s Guerrilla – Arrived last night for this race. Two things going for him, Mike Maker loves him and Rosie Napravnik has won over this Hawthorne track before. He’s the one I expect to make the lead and try to wire these.
#13 – Done Talking – A threat if there is a speed duel as he will close from the clouds. He has been on the grounds for the majority of the week and is the stone closer. Sheldon Russell is in to ride.
#14 – Slamit – Tim Ice got his first taste of Hawthorne with some success here last fall. After a slow start, Slamit has gotten things going the last two races and could continue to improve. He’s a shot from the second flight today.