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Apr 17, 2015

West coast runners invade Illinois Derby


Stickney, IL ( - Nine 3-year-olds have been entered for Saturday's 58th edition of the $400,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course.

The three program picks have come in from California for the 1 1/8-mile race, one each fron the barns of Hall of Fame trainers Jerry Hollendorfer and Bob Baffert.

Hollendorfer, who will have champion Shared Belief at the Charles Town Classic, sends out Cross the Line as the 3-1 morning line favorite. The colt, co-owned by the trainer, will start from post 3 with Florent Geroux riding. Geroux won the 2011 Illinois Derby aboard Joe Vann.

Cross the Line was fifth two weeks ago behind Dortmund in the Santa Anita Derby as a 27-1 longshot. Earlier this year he won the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 7 followed by a late closing second behind Metaboss in Golden Gate's El Camino Real Derby. Cross the Line has earned $143,920 with two wins in six lifetime starts.

Baffert has 7-2 second pick Whiskey Ticket making just his second career start on Saturday. The colt, owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, won his debut effort four weeks ago at Santa Anita as a 14-1 longshot. Whiskey Ticket and jockey Martin Pedroza will break from post 6.

Also making his stakes debut is Verraco the 5-1 third choice for trainer Jim Cassidy. The gray colt will again be ridden by Elvis Trujillo, leaving from post 2.

Owned by D P Racing, Verraco won an allowance race on Feb. 27 at Santa Anita after finishing second on Jan. 23 over Santa Anita's turf course. The colt has two wins in five starts for $65,910.

Here is the field for the Illinois Derby from the rail out: Kantune, Chris Emigh, 6-1; Verraco, Elvis Trujillo, 5-1; Cross the Line, Florent Geroux, 3-1; A. Rod Again, Miguel Mena, 10-1; Conquest Curlinate, Shaun Bridgmohan, 8-1; Whiskey Ticket, Martin Pedroza, 7-2; Lewys Vaporizer, Santo Sanjur, 15-1; Phenomenal Phoenix, Luis Quinonez, 6-1 and Private Prospect, Emmanuel Esquivel, 12-1

The Illinois Derby will be part of the WGN-TV live broadcast from 6:00-7:00 p.m. ET.

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