By Jim Miller —-
STICKNEY, IL – After a one year hiatus, the Grade 3, $250,000 Illinois Derby, Presented by Xpressbet, returns to Hawthorne Race Course on Saturday. The 1 1/8 mile Illinois Derby will be joined by a pair of Illinois-bred stakes, the Robert S. Molaro Handicap and the Third Chance Handicap, to headline the 10-race Hawthorne card. The Illinois Derby will be run as race 5 with a 6:17 PM Central post, followed by the Molaro and Third Chance Handicap. First post for the Illinois Derby card is 4:10 PM.
The 3-1 morning line favorite in the Illinois Derby is Mr. Misunderstood from the barn of trainer Brad Cox. A winner of four of seven starts on his career, Mr. Misunderstood has won three straight, including back-to-back victories against optional $50,000 company at Fair Grounds. Owned by Flurry Racing Stables, LLC, Mr. Misunderstood will be ridden on Saturday by Florent Geroux.
The third-place finisher of the Grade 3 Sunland Derby in his last, Hedge Fund is the 7-2 second choice in the Illinois Derby. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Hedge Fund stepped up into the Sunland Derby off a maiden score at Gulfstream Park on February 4. He set the early fractions in the Sunland Derby before tiring late in that race. Jose Valdivia, Jr. is slated to ride.
At 4-1, Hollywood Handsome is the third-choice for owners Mark and Nancy Stanley and trainer Dallas Stewart. After a maiden win in January at Fair Grounds and a late-closing third-place effort in allowance ranks, Hollywood Handsome rallied to finish fourth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in his most recent start. Robby Albarado comes in to ride.
American Equistock and trainer Brandon Walsh’s Multiplier breaks from the rail. Rallying late in each of his starts, Multiplier got up in time in his most recent race, a maiden score at Fair Grounds on March 18. James Graham will ride Multiplier as he is 9-2 in the morning line.
Trainer Ken McPeek will send out It’s Your Nickel. A three-time winner on his career, It’s Your Nickel was victorious in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway on March 4. He faded to sixth in the Blue Grass at Keeneland in his most recent start after chasing the pace early in that race. Channing Hill rides as It’s Your Nickel is 6-1 in the morning line.
Trainer Scott Becker has a pair in the Illinois Derby with St. Louie Guy and Stand and Cheer. A winner of four of 10 on his young career, St. Louie Guy enters this race off a nine-length score against optional $75,000 company over this surface two weeks ago. Stand and Cheer makes his second career start at Hawthorne. His only other race was his only victory, a runaway 10 ¼ length triumph last October. Most recent races have included a pair of runner-up efforts against optional $50,000 company. Victor Santiago rides St. Louie Guy at 6-1 while Chris Emigh will be aboard Stand and Cheer, who is 8-1 in the morning line.
The field, with post positions for the Grade 3, $250,000 Illinois Derby, Presented by Xpressbet:
PP Horse Jockey M/L Odds
1 Multiplier J. Graham 9-2
2 Hedge Fund J. Valdivia, Jr. 7-2
3 It’s Your Nickel C. Hill 6-1
4 Stand and Cheer C. Emigh 8-1
5 St. Louie Guy V. Santiago 6-1
6 Mr. Misunderstood F. Geroux 3-1
7 Hollywood Handsome R. Albarado 4-1
Recount Leads Solid Field in Molaro
Nine Illinois-bred sprinters will contest the Robert S. Molaro Handicap as 9-5 morning line favorite Recount is the highweight at 125 lbs. To be ridden by Robby Albarado, Recount enters off a strong allowance win at Oaklawn in his last. The winner of 10 of 26 races on his career, Recount is owned by Doubledown Stables, Inc. and trained by Jim DiVito.
The field for the Robert S. Molaro Handicap:
PP Horse Jockey M/L Odds
1 Lewys Vaporizer F. Geroux 3-1
2 Infinite Mischief C. Emigh 5-1
3 Purging The Stone U. Lopez 12-1
4 Goneghost V. Santiago 8-1
5 Recount R. Albarado 9-5
6 Caitlins Road S. Saez 15-1
7 Urban Cool S. Sanjur 10-1
8 Scitech J. Valdivia, Jr. 8-1
9 Briar’s Gold J. Graham 30-1
My Mertie the Favorite in Third Chance
Trainer Michele Boyce’s My Mertie will be looking for her first career stakes victory as she is the 9-5 morning line favorite in the Third Chance Handicap. Second in the Minaret at Tampa on February 18, My Mertie will be ridden by Edgar Perez in the Third Chance.
The field for the Third Chance Handicap:
PP Horse Jockey M/L Odds
1 Go Lady Jay J. Lantz 8-1
2 My Mertie E. Perez 9-5
3 Game Time Decision F. Geroux 3-1
4 Karla With A K S. Sanjur 6-1
5 Exquisite Lady C. Emigh 12-1
6 Bella Carmella J. Felix 12-1
7 Dandy Gal C.H. Marquez, Jr 7-2
About Hawthorne Race Course
Founded in 1891, Hawthorne Race Course is the 4th oldest racetrack in the nation and the oldest sporting venue in Illinois. Located in Stickney, Illinois on the edge of Chicago’s city limits, Hawthorne hosts thoroughbred racing in the Spring and Fall/Winter, and standardbred harness racing during the Summer. The family-owned and operated business has been an innovator in horseracing for more than 100 years and features the nation’s most rewarding players program. Hawthorne is open daily for simulcast at 8 AM. There are nine Club Hawthorne OTB’s throughout Illinois: Bloomington-Normal; Bolingbrook; Chicago; Crestwood; Glendale Heights; Joliet; Mokena; Oakbrook Terrace; & Prospect Heights.
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