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Contact: David Zenner (773) 242-1121 ext. 310
Saturday, March 30, 2002
COAST-TO-COAST WORKS FOR ILLINOIS DERBY
At least four tracks from California to Florida played host Saturday morning to horses prepping for next Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Illinois Derby at Sportsman's Park.
Likely Illinois Derby favorite Repent drilled five furlongs at Gulfstream Park in 59 3/5 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12 2/5. Jerry Bailey, who has the mount on the Select Stable colorbearer, was aboard for the move.
"I was very satisfied with the work," said trainer Ken McPeek, who also indicated that his big three --- Repent, Harlan's Holiday and Take Charge Lady --- will be flown from Florida to Churchill Downs on Sunday. Repent will then be vanned to Chicago Friday in advance of Saturday's headliner.
Jockey agent Tom Morgan confirmed Saturday morning that Meadowbrook Farms & Anderson's Fonz's, who was being pointed toward either the Santa Anita Derby or the Blue Grass Stakes, would instead be coming to Sportsman's to contest the Illinois Derby. The son of Out of Place worked five furlongs at Hollywood Park in 59 3/5 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 with Garrett Gomez in the irons though locally based reinsman Alfredo Juarez Jr. will have the mount on race day.
"It was a super work," said trainer David LaCroix.
Fonz's will fly from California to Chicago on Tuesday and be bedded down with trainer Joe McKellar's stock in Barn 3 in the Sportsman's Park stable area.
Closer to home, Italio-Erin Stables' One Tuff Fox had his second and final work over the Sportsman's Park surface Saturday morning shortly after the mid-morning renovation break, going seven furlongs in 1:25.92 and galloping out a mile in 1:41.49 over a track labeled good.
"He was going good," said clocker Terry Salvino, who caught the drill. "The rider pushed him a little last the 70 yards or so. He finished out good and galloped out strong."
"I flew in to watch him breeze," said trainer Richard Dutrow as he watched the horse cool out after the move. "I brought (Rudy Rodriguez) who breezes all of my horses and I was just looking for him to tell me how he went. He said that he went real good. We'll train him easy (the rest of the week). He's ready."
Dutrow acknowledges that the step up from an "a-other-than" victory at the Fair Grounds to a Grade II race is a big jump, but he's happy with how his horse is coming up to the race and is looking for a big effort from the son of Foxhound.
"After the race down at the Fair Grounds, we started looking things over for his next spot," the trainer said. "We were hoping no big horses would show up for this, but we were wrong. There are so many big races coming up at this time and he's sort of like a speed horse, so we thought we'd take a shot. It seems to be a speed track and he really likes the turns here.
"We're satisfied with things just because our horse is training so well," he continued. "It seems he really likes the track and he's a happy horse right now. He's training very, very well. I figure if we're going to take a chance and see if he can run a big race, let's do it right now. We're hoping he comes into the race good and we're hoping that he breaks good. That's what we're hoping for. It's all hoping."
Also on the local front, Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s War Emblem, 10¾-length winner of the $45,000 Illinois Derby prep on March 17, went five furlongs at Hawthorne Race Course in 1:03 with jockey Zoe Cadman aboard; and Stiritz & Zander's Robin Zee covered the same distance there in 1:06 4/5.
AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR
How fitting that on the day of the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta that Sportsman's Park's inaugural $5,000 Chi Town Challenge is down to its last four contestants from an original field of 1,736. On Friday, five players were eliminated when 3-2 favorite R. T. Gulch finished last in the eighth race, one was eliminated when Another Dance ran fifth of six in the opener and another knocked out when Robyn's Proof was fifth in the second race.
Larry Sterling Jr. and Alfredo Juarez Jr., one-two in the jockey standings, each bagged a double on Friday's card. Entering Saturday's action, Sterling holds a one-win advantage over Juarez, 21-20.
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