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Tuesday, March 31, 2009


52nd Illinois Derby Draws Eleven


Stickney, IL---While only one graded-stakes winner is entered for Saturday’s Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby, that doesn’t mean a superstar won’t emerge, either this Saturday or the first Saturday in May.

Musket Man, mild upset winner of the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, will face ten challengers, including the highly touted Illinois-bred Giant Oak, as eleven 3-year-olds try to punch their ticket to the Kentucky Derby.


Horses from some of the top stables in the nation will compete, most attempting to acquire enough graded earnings to qualify for the Run for the Roses. The winner’s share of $300,000 would assure that money will be no issue for those planning a trip to Churchill Downs.

Todd Pletcher brings three horses to the party, among them the highly touted Al Khali and Lord Justice; Ken McPeek has entered Free Country; and Nick Zito supplemented Nowhere to Hide at a cost of $10,000 as he continues to seek a 2009 Kentucky Derby contender.

The horse getting the most attention, locally, is the Illinois-bred Giant Oak. Though still looking for his first career win on the dirt, he did run second on the conventional surface in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club and has been hampered by racing circumstances in his two starts as a 3-year-old, in both the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby.

The morning line favorite is the aforementioned Musket Man, winner of four of five lifetime starts and a neck winner of the Tampa Bay Derby.

The Illinois Derby will go as the 7th race on an 11-race card and will be televised live by NBC. Scheduled post time is 4:15 central standard time.

The field in post position order with jockeys and morning line odds:

1. Nowhere To Hide, Lopez, 5-1; 2. Giant Oak, Bridgmohan, 9-2; 3. Lord Justice, DeCarlo, 8-1; 4. Toccet Rocket, Riggs, 20-1; 5. His Greatness, Sterling Jr., 20-1; 6. Perfect Song, Rose, 6-1; 7. Free Country, Razo Jr., 6-1; 8. Musket Man, Coa, 7-2; 9. Al Khali, Velasquez, 6-1; 10. Il Postino, Campbell, 20-1; 11. Knight Shot, Karlsson, 30-1.


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