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Apr 08, 2011

Illinois Derby draws field of 12


Stickney, IL (Sports Network) - A field of 12 Kentucky Derby hopefuls have been entered in Saturday's $300,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course. The 1 1/8-mile race will have a post-time of 5:37 p.m. (et).

Initially the purse for this year's Illinois Derby was going to be $250,000, down from $500,000 in recent renewals. However, race sponsor TVG brought additional money in order to boost the purse.

"We want to do everything we can to make it the most competitive race possible while continuing our run on sending winners from our race to the (Kentucky) Derby," stated assistant General Manager Jim Miller.

Leading the entries in the 54th Illinois Derby is Tampa Bay Derby winner Watch Me Go. The three-year-old colt will start from post four with Luis Garcia again in the saddle.

"I knew this horse was something special," Garcia said after the Tampa Bay victory at 43-1.

Trained by Kathleen O'Connell for Gilbert Campbell's Stonehedge Farm South, Watch Me Go is the winner of four of his nine career starts for $311,345. Based at Tampa Bay Downs this winter, the colt was third to Brethren in the Sam F. Davis Stakes four weeks prior to his last race.

"He was only third in the Davis, but he showed me something," Garcia noted. "That was his first time stretching out and learning to relax behind a good pace."

The colt has earned $311,345 with four wins in nine career starts.

From the rail out here is the complete field for the Illinois Derby: Lagoon of Diamonds, Eduardo Perez, 15-1, Smarter Than Ever, Jozbin Santana, 15-1; Joe Vann, Florent Geroux, 6-1; Watch Me Go, Luis Garcia, 7-2; Vouch for Victory, Julio Felix, 15-1; Sour, Brian Hernandez, Jr, 6-1; The Fed Eased, Jose Valdivia, Jr, 5-1; Zoebear, Seth Martinez, 10-1; Roman Flame, Tim Thornton, 30-1; El Grayling, Victor Lebron, 9-2; Southern Sculptor, Luis Medina, 12-1 and Future Empire, Tanner Riggs, 30-1

All starters will carry 122 pounds.

War Emlblem won the 2002 Illinois Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

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