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Triple Crown updates Illinois Derby updates

Sportsman's Park Daily Notebook

Contact: David Zenner (773) 242-1121 ext. 310

Monday, April 8, 2002


Repent, who finished second to War Emblem as the 1-2 favorite in Saturday's $500,000 Illinois Derby (Grade II), will undergo surgery to remove a chip from his left front ankle in the next few days.

"We want to bring the horse back at 100 percent," said trainer Ken McPeek via telephone from Kentucky early Monday afternoon. "It's a very minor injury. If all goes well, he'll be back in training in 60 to 90 days."

When asked if Repent's injury changes his plan for Ashland Stakes (Grade I) victress Take Charge Lady, McPeek remained fairly certain that he would point the filly for the Grade I Kentucky Oaks instead of facing the boys in the Grade I Kentucky Derby.

"She'll be favored in the Oaks, and we've still got (probable Blue Grass favorite) Harlan's Holiday," McPeek said. "Based on how the race shapes up, she would have to have a heck of a chance to win The Derby for us to consider going that route."


The 112 Beyer Speed Figure earned by War Emblem when winning Saturday's Illinois Derby is the highest figure earned by a 3-year-old going two turns this year. By contrast, Came Home who won the Grade I Santa Anita Derby earned a BSF of 96.


Racing secretary Allan Plever assigned top weight of 122 pounds to WinStar Farm's Pompeii for Sunday's $100,000 Lady Hallie Handicap, a mile and a sixteenth test for fillies and mares.

Should she accept the impost, Pompeii would be making her first start since finishing unplaced in the $2 million Grade I Breeders' Cup Distaff at Belmont Park last October. The daughter of Broad Brush was three for eight last year including a score in the Grade I $400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga in August and a runner-up finish in the Grade I $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap at the upstate New York oval the previous month.

The status of Pompeii for Sunday's local headliner remained uncertain as of Monday morning according to stakes coordinator Chris Polzin, who checked off the names of six distaffers who are likely at this stage to contest the Lady Hallie, which serves as a prep for the Grade III $300,000 Sixty Sails Handicap later this month.

Of those, Adam's Time and Pretty Gale each received the imposts of 114 pounds.

Wexler Stable's Adam's Time, a Charlie Vinci-trained daughter of Gilded Time, prepped for the Lady Hallie with a strong second-place finish at odds of nearly 20-1 in the six-furlong Cicero Handicap here last month. Last year, Adam's Time ran third in the Lady Hallie and fifth in the Sixty Sails.

Also expected to start Sunday is Pretty Gale, who races for the Russell L. Reineman-Frank Springer owner-trainer combo that sent out Illinois Derby hero War Emblem. A 4-year-old daughter of Mountain Cat, Pretty Gale ran second in the $150,000 Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap in her most recent start.

Rick Olson's Lady Tamworth and Steve Richardson's Technical Key were each assigned 113 pounds for the Lady Hallie.

The former, by No Louder, was fourth here in an allowance here on March 16, while the latter, a 5-year-old Technology mare, wired her foes in the $50,000 Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay Downs in March.

Rounding out the current list of potential starters are Richard Perkins' Twilight Aurora (112 pounds), fourth and third respectively in a pair of allowance races over this oval this season; and Sandbar Farm's Lunar Star (111 pounds), beaten a nose in a third-level allowance race here on March 12.


Sandbar Farm's undefeated 3-year-old Cashel Castle is en route to his Sportsman's Park home base after winning for the fourth time in as many starts when he scored by 4 lengths in the Grade III $111,300 Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland on Sunday.

"That was by far his best race," said trainer Chris Block as he was driving back from Keeneland. "We learned two things from that race. Pat (jockey Day) pushed on him from the gate and he didn't like it. Pat said that as soon as he stopped pushing on him, he picked up the bit and went on his own. Second, he was steadied a bit on the turn and that didn't faze him. He switched leads right on cue. Pat had him under a hold down the lane and never had to move his hands.

"From what I could see before we loaded him onto the van, he looked like he came out of the race pretty good," Block continued. "He's coming back to Sportsman's Park, his favorite place to train. We'll see in the next three or four days how he eats and make sure there are no ill effects from (Sunday's) race. If all is well, the (Grade III $100,000) Derby Trail (at Churchill Downs on April 27) is next."


As agent to jockey Larry Sterling Jr., Randy Curran had plenty of reason to smile when War Emblem cruised to a front-running score in the Grade II Illinois Derby. But it was for more than financial reasons that Curran found the victory especially satisfying.

"It was 36 years ago that I first came on the track at Fonner Park in Grand Island, Nebraska," said Curran, who celebrated his 51st birthday the day before the Illinois Derby. "One of the first jobs I had was cleaning stalls for Bobby Springer's dad, Ben, who was the outrider in our part of the country.

"My grandfather, Andy (A. H.) Johnson trained horses," he continued. "Ben had his ponies near our horses and I told Ben that I'd clean his stalls, too. Now 36 years later, my jock wins a half-million dollar race for his son.


The final count of entries for Chi Town Challenge II was 2,436 which included all 1,736 players from the first contest as well as 700 new contestants. More than 1,700 people were eliminated on Day 1, leaving 735 players to continue.

Players can now track selections on line by clicking on the "favorite horses" link on the contest page of the Sportsman's Park web site at www.sportsmanspark.com.




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