Hawthorne Race Course (4/15/15)
Contact: Jim Miller, 708-780-3700
Cross the Line, Whiskey Ticket Head Illinois Derby Field
STICKNEY, IL – The field for the Grade III $400,000 Illinois Derby was drawn on Wednesday as nine horses have entered for the 1 1/8 mile race. The Illinois Derby will go as race nine on a ten-race Saturday card at Hawthorne and will be part of the WGN-TV live broadcast from 5:00-6:00 pm. Also on the Illinois Derby undercard is the Grade III $150,000 Sixty Sails Handicap.
A pair of California invaders lead the way in the Illinois Derby as Cross the Line and Whiskey Ticket look to take a lot of action. From the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer, Cross the Line has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite. After breaking his maiden in his third career start, Cross the Line won his first start as a three-year-old, winning the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields on January 7. He followed that effort with a late closing second in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby. In his most recent race, Cross the Line finished fifth in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, won by Dortmund. Florent Geroux takes the call on Cross the Line in the Illinois Derby.
In last year's edition of the Illinois Derby, trainer Bob Baffert came in with the favorite, Midnight Hawk. He would eventually lose by a whisker to Dynamic Impact. This year Baffert sends Whiskey Ticket to the Illinois Derby. Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, Whiskey Ticket steps up off a debut victory on March 19 where he battled back to a head victory after a lengthy stretch battle. Martin Pedroza gets the return ride for the 7-2 second choice in the morning line.
A third from the West Coast in the Illinois Derby is the James Cassidy-trained Verraco. Following a pair of sprints on the polytrack to open his career last fall, Verraco moved to the dirt and broke his maiden going one mile at Santa Anita on December 28. Following a turf try where he finished second on January 23, Verraco most recently defeated optional claiming allowance-company on February 27 at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles. His regular rider Elvis Trujillo is back aboard. Verraco is 5-1 in the morning line.
Trainer Mark Casse entered a pair in the Illinois Derby in Kantune and Conquest Curlinate. Kantune started his career in Southern California, running close in each start but his maiden breaker didn't come until he moved to Oaklawn in January. He raced close up early in the Grade III Southwest Stakes in the Oaklawn slop before fading to finish tenth. Kantune ran third most recently behind another Illinois Derby runner, Phenomenal Phoenix, in an Oaklawn allowance. The second Casse entrant is Conquest Curlinate. Following his debut while sprinting at Woodbine, he broke his maiden in his second career start, going around two turns at Oaklawn on January 31. In his most recent race he was a late closing third against allowance company at Oaklawn on February 19.
Trainer Donnie Von Hemel has Phenomenal Phoenix in the Illinois Derby for owners Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch. Breaking his maiden in his second start at Remington Park last November, he followed that race with a fourth-place effort in the Springboard Mile to close out his two-year-old season. He began 2015 with a second-place run against optional claiming allowance company at Oaklawn before running ninth in the Grade III Southwest Stakes. He comes into the Illinois Derby with a game victory against allowance runners at Oaklawn on March 26.
Trainer Mike Campbell sends out Private Prospect in the Illinois Derby for George Mellon's Mellon Patch, Inc. Private Prospect won his first three races, including a pair of stakes victories at Prairie Meadows. He followed that with a near miss in the Grade III Arlington Washington Futurity before running ninth in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He has made three starts in 2015, running fourth in the Smarty Jones and seventh in the Grade III Southwest.
Trainer Mike Maker sends A. Rod Again out for the Illinois Derby as jockey Miguel Mena looks for back-to-back victories in the Illinois Derby. Last year Mena was aboard Dynamic Impact as he outnodded Midnight Hawk on the wire. A. Rod Again broke his maiden in his second start at Churchill Downs last November. After a seventh-place finish to open 2015, A. Rod Again has since finished second and fourth respectively in allowance races at Fair Grounds.
A late addition to the Illinois Derby is the speedy Lewys Vaporizer for owners Richard Ravin and Vince Foglia's Patricia's Hope LLC. Trainer Larry Rivelli brought Lewys Vaporizer back 10 months after his two-year-old debut for an 11 3/4 length victory while sprinting first out on March 27. Lewys Vaporizer stretches out in the Illinois Derby and looks to show speed once again.
The Complete Field for the Illinois Derby:
||Cross the Line
||A. Rod Again
||D. Von Hemel
Sixty Sails - Awesome Flower Looks Tough
A compact field of five was entered for the Grade III $150,000 Sixty Sails Handicap, going 1 1/8 miles on the Hawthorne main track. Heading the field for the Sixty Sails is Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Awesome Flower from the barn of Mike Maker. An 11-time winner of more than $500,000 on her career, the multiple graded stakes-placed mare has won three of four starts in 2015. She opened the year with a win in the Wintergreen Stakes on January 3 at Turfway before running third in the Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes. She followed that race with a win on the dirt at Tampa in the Wayward Lass and most recently handled turf allowance-company at Gulfstream on March 27.
Second choice in the Sixty Sails Is Yahilwa from the barn of James Cassidy. A five-time winner on her career, Yahilwa is also graded stakes placed as she makes her second start of 2015. In her first start back of 2015, Yahilwa ran seventh in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita.
Trainer Tom Amoss has the speedy Parc Monceau in the Sixty Sails for owner Barry Schwartz. A five-time winner, Parc Menceau opened 2015 with a win in the El Dorado Stakes at Delta Downs on January 16. She came back at Delta most recently to run second in the Gold Coast.
A second Mike Maker entrant in the Sixty Sails is Ketel Twist. The four-year-old filly owned by Bed Rock Stables, LLC enters the Sixty Sails off back-to-back wins, both against allowance company at Turfway Park.
Rounding out the field for the Sixty Sails is the Ben Colebrook trained Sea Shadow. A winner of four of her last five, Sea Shadow has been racing recently at Parx, posting three allowance wins following her maiden breaker.
The field for the Sixty Sails Handicap:
ABOUT HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE
Hawthorne Race Course races live through Sunday, April 26. Live racing in March takes place every Friday through Sunday. In April, Wednesday cards are added as well. First post daily is 1:50 pm with a special evening card on Saturday, April 25 and a 5:00 pm post. For information, visit our website at www.hawthorneracecourse.com or call Guest Services at 708-780-3733. Fans are welcome at Facebook.com/ClubHawthorne and for up-to-the-minute racing tips become a follower at Twitter.com/ClubHawthorne.