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Apr 06, 2012

Full field of 14 to start in Illinois Derby


Stickney, IL (Sports Network) - The 55th edition of Saturday's $500,000 Illinois Derby has attracted an evenly matched field of 14 three-year-olds for the 1 1/8-mile stakes at Hawthorne Race Course. A total of 17 horses were entered leaving three as also eligibles.

"We're thrilled to have the largest field we've ever had for the Illinois Derby," said track president Tim Carey. "We're extremely proud that the race has shaped up the way it has, especially since we were able to raise the purse this year. It's indicative of what we could accomplish and the kind of horses we could have running in Illinois on a regular basis if we had slots at the racetracks to fund a competitive purse structure."

Lightly raced Currency Swap will start from post four with Shaun Bridgmohan riding. Trained by Teresa Pompay, the colt will be making just his fourth career start but has earnings of $197,000. In spite of his short resume Currency Swap has been made the 4-1 morning-line favorite.

After winning in his first start last August, the Klaravich Stables' colt won the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga in September. He began 2011 with a second to Gemologist on March 16 at Gulfstream Park.

"My dream is to go to the Derby, but I want to go to the Derby with a horse I think has a really good shot," Pompay said. "I'd love to be able to win the Illinois Derby and have that option, and if he won there and the owners said 'Let's go!' I'd love to give Kentucky a try. He's proved to me he's a real special horse and I'm hoping he runs a terrific race on Saturday."

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won last year's Illinois Derby with Joe Vann, will saddle Our Entourage, the 9-2 second pick. Owned by Mike Repole, who raced Uncle Mo, Our Entourage has five career starts with two wins for $84,100. The colt will be ridden by Eddie Castro from post 11.

The colt won his lone start this year, a turf allowance at Gulfstream Park. He finished fifth in last November's Remsen Stakes.

"He was only beaten by a couple lengths in the Remsen," said Pletcher, "and he's been training well all winter on the dirt in good company, so we're optimistic he'll handle the dirt just fine."

From the rail out here is the field for the Illinois Derby: Romancing the Gold, Irad Ortiz Jr., 15-1; Hakama, Julian Pimentel, 6-1; Ring It Up, Lindey Wade, 15-1; Currency Swap, Shaun Bridgmohan, 4-1; Pretension, Javier Santiago, 5-1; Skyring, Ramon A Vazquez, 20-1; Saturday Launch, Christopher Emigh, 15-1; Z Rockstar, Quincy Hamilton, 10-1; Fastestwhogetspaid, Israel Ocampo, 30-1; Frankie Is Rock, Eduardo Perez, 30-1; Our Entourage, Eddie Castro, 9-2; Morgan's Guerrilla, Rosie Napravnik, 10-1; Done Talking, Sheldon Russell, 20-1; and Slamit, Channing Hill, 20-1.

The also eligibles are Explain, Francisco Torres, 20-1; Arm Force, Eddie Castro, 15-1 and Defiant Flyer, Seth Martinez, 30-1

All starters will carry 122 pounds.

The Illinois Derby has a scheduled post-time of 6:46 p.m. (ET).

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