|Sportsman's Park Stakes Advance
Contact: David Zenner (773) 242-1121 ext. 310
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
FAMILIAR NAMES TOP ILLINOIS CHAMPIONS DAY RACES
CICERO, Ill. (March 26, 2002) -- Five of last year's six Illinois Champions Day winners return for another shot at state-bred glory including four horses defending their respective titles when Sportsman's Park presents the 2002 edition of Illinois Champions Day on Saturday, March 30.
Illinois Champions Day, which has become one of the most anticipated and festive afternoons of racing on the Illinois Thoroughbred calendar, will be the biggest and richest it has ever been in its 12-year history at Sportsman's Park.
Each of the six stakes races on Illinois Champions Day has been increased in value to $100,000 (including $75,000 added plus $25,000 from the Illinois Breeders' Fund), reflecting an added money increase per race of 33% over 2001. The aggregate six-race purse total of $600,000 makes it the single richest day of racing in history for Illinois registered conceived and/or foaled Thoroughbreds.
Only horses which are Illinois-bred (conceived and foaled) will be eligible for the $25,000 Breeders' Fund supplement. Illinois-bred horses finishing in the first five places will share in the supplement and any money not distributed this year will be carried over to next year's Illinois Championship Day stakes.
Chicago Six, second in Sunday's $104,450 Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup Handicap, returns on just six days rest to defend his title in the 1 1/16-mile Milwaukee Avenue Handicap. Last year, the Jere R. Smith Sr. trainee won both races in a seven-day span en route to being named Illinois champion handicap male of 2001. The 7-year-old son of Wild Again will carry top weight of 127 pounds including jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr.
Among those slated to face Chicago Six are: Eyebrow Raiser, who finished a well-beaten sixth in the Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup on Sunday; former Illinois champion Lil Mephistopheles; and stakes winners Paddy's Spy and Act Of War.
Classic Appeal and Tic N Tin, the 1-2 finishers in last year's Chicagoland Handicap, top a field of seven entered for this year's renewal of the six-furlong dash. Tic N Tin will carry high weight of 121 pounds spotting Classic Appeal two pounds. Tic N Tin will be ridden by Shane Laviolette while Carlos Silva has the mount aboard Classic Appeal.
Others in the Chicagoland include: former Illinois champion Magic Doe, Meadow Champ, winner of the Land Of Lincoln Stakes during last year's Illinois Champions Day card; and stakes victors Davey's Cutlass, Out of My Way and Freeway Ticket.
Puny, who has only made one start since winning last year's Governor's Lady Handicap, returns to the site of her biggest victory. In her most recent start on Feb. 12, the Mike Nance-trained daughter of Bull Shoals ran third in an allowance race at Beulah Park in Ohio. Julio Felix has the mount on Puny, who gets in with 116 pounds.
Among those she'll have to face in the Governor's Lady are: Capitol Lady, the race's 121-pound high weight and stakes winners Come September, Q.P. Cat, Lil Bobbie Too and Rain Boots.
Faccia Bella, a champion Illinois-bred as a 2-year-old, seeks her second straight victory in the one-mile Peach Of It Handicap. The 6-year-old Dixie Brass mare has won only once since last year's Illinois Champions Day but will nevertheless shoulder high weight of 119 pounds including jockey Carlos Silva.
The competitive group assembled for the Peach Of It also includes stakes winners Out of Options, Tap Your Feet, Explosive Action and Falasha.
Three-year-olds are featured in the Land of Lincoln Stakes and in the Violet Stakes, both six-furlong events. Colorful Tour, champion Illinois 2-year-old last year and winner of the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity at Hawthorne Race Course, is the 3-1 morning line favorite in the Land Of Lincoln while Tejano Honey, Illinois champion 2-year-old filly of 2001, gets the program nod in the Violet.
Highlights of Illinois Champions Day will be telecast on NTRA "2Day at the Races" on ESPN2 from 5:00-5:30 p.m. Central time. There will be full coverage of at least two of the races in their entirety plus the stretch drive of a third.
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