Saturday, April 7, 2012

Illinois Derby Racing Roundup

An overflow field of 17 young Thoroughbreds was drawn for the 55th running of the $500,000 Illinois Derby (G3) which is the ninth of ten races on today’s card at Hawthorne Race Course.

Only 14 of those horses – with Currency Swap as the 4-1 morning line favorite – will make it to the starting gate. Currency Swap currently has $150,000 in graded stakes earnings and he might squeak by with a second-place finish but a win in today’s race would stamp his ticket to the Kentucky Derby – all the others in the field will need to win.

After a five-month layoff, Currency Swap returned to racing in March at Gulfstream Park for his debut as a 3-year-old and finished a 7-length runner up to Gemologist who is the morning line favorite of Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) which will be run today at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Currency Swap has room to improve in his second start of the season and another move forward will make him competitive in today’s race.

Our Entourage is the 9-2 morning line second-choice and he looks like he has the potential to give trainer Todd Pletcher his fourth victory in the Illinois Derby.

The son of Street Cry looked good winning his 3-year-old debut in February at Gulstream Park running 8½-furlongs on the turf in a sharp 1:40. 85. Breaking from post nine, Our Entourage moved quickly into position chasing the pace and took the lead in the stretch to prevail by one length at the finish.

Another move forward in today’s race will make Our Entourage very competitive.

Saturday Launch (15-1) comes into the race off a sharp win in a one mile turf race at Gulfstream Park on March11. In sixth-place at the top of the stretch, Saturday Launch angled to the outside and made a nice rally to get up at the finish and win by a half-length.

That race was the second start of the season for Saturday Launch who finished third in his 3-year-old debut in a 9-furlong turf race at Gulfstream Park.

Saturday Launch has room to improve in his third start for the season and another move forward will make him competitive in the Illinois Derby.

Honorable mention goes to Done Talking (20-1) who has room to improve in his second start of the season. I liked him as a long shot in the Gotham Stakes (G3) but he finished 10th coming into the race off of a three-month layoff.

Done Talking probably needed the race and if he looks good in the paddock, I’m willing to give him another chance.

Prior to the Gotham, Done Talking finished fourth to victor El Padrino in the Remsen Stakes (G2) and was only beaten by a length. El Padrino has since gone on to win the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and finished fourth in the Florida Derby (G1).

Done Talking closed fast in the Remsen and earned a 113 Brisnet Late Pace Figure for that effort. Any improvement in that performance will make Done Talking very competitive in today’s race.

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