Proven over the Arlington Park turf course this year, grade II winner Willcox Inn switches Illinois venues to Hawthorne Racecourse for the first time in the $200,000 Hawthorne Derby Sponsored by TVG (gr. IIIT) Oct. 15.
Convincing winner of the Arlington Classic and American Derby (gr. IIT) at Arlington, Willcox Inn didn't display the same punch in his most recent start, the Secretariat Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 13, finishing fourth. All In Stable's 3-year-old son of Harlan's Holiday was scratched from the Kent Stakes Sept. 24 by trainer Michael Stidham when the race was taken off the turf.
Willcox Inn carries 122 pounds in the Hawthorne Derby, the same as last month's Ontario Derby winner Derby Kitten. Those two head a field of 10 sophomores vying in the 1 1/8 turf event. The eighth race on the program, the Hawthorne Derby is set for a 5:17 CDT post.
Shooting for Arlington’s Mid-America Triple following his four-length triumph in the American Derby, Willcox Inn caught a yielding turf in the Secretariat. He advanced four wide to get within striking distance but flattened out in the stretch to finish 3 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Treasure Beach.
Robby Albarado has been aboard Willcox Inn for his past three starts and retains the mount while breaking from the inside post. Third in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs, Willcox Inn has won three of eight lifetime starts while banking $360,943.
Derby Kitten will try to make it back-to-back graded stakes wins at Hawthorne for owners/breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker. They teamed to win the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) Oct. 8 with the ex-claimer Headache.
A son of Kitten's Joy , Derby Kitten rallied from seventh on the turn in the Ontario Derby Sept. 24 at Woodbine and drove to a half-length victory after being angled out for room by jockey Mike Smith. Before that the bay colt finished seventh in the Secretariat and was fourth in the American Derby.
During an ambitious 3-year-old campaign, Derby Kitten won the Lexington Stakes (gr. III) on Keeneland's Polytrack in April and followed that with a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Victor Lebron replaces Smith this time, and they drew post 9. Derby Kitten has won three of 14 lifetime races and earned $304,749.
Mrs. Fitriani Hay's Breathless Storm makes his first start since capturing the Jersey Derby by nearly two lengths July 31 at Monmouth Park for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
The son of Storm Cat brings a two-race win streak into the race after beginning his career in England, where he broke his maiden. Paco Lopez rides the chestnut colt from the far outside post.
Team Block, fresh off its first grade I score with Never Retreat in the First Lady Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 8, is represented by its Illinois homebred Suntracer.
Another son of Kitten's Joy, Suntracer is seeking his first stakes win for trainer Chris Block. The chestnut colt finished second behind Willcox Inn in both the Arlington Classic and American Derby before coming up empty in an eighth-place showing in the Secretariat. In his most recent try Sept. 10, Suntracer finished fourth in a tough nine-furlong optional claiming allowance at Arlington.
Team Valor International's Crimson China makes his first appearance since finishing fifth in Saratoga's Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) Aug. 12. Trained by Graham Motion, the Giant's Causeway colt was on the Triple Crown trail this spring, finishing second in the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park prior to running fifth in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) at Keeneland.
Switched to the grass after that, Crimson China won the Lamplighter at Monmouth before a seventh-place effort in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT). He will be fitted with blinkers for the first time and will have a new jockey, Sheldon Russell.
Trainer Wayne Catalano entered Pass the Dice, unbeaten in three starts, and Cavalero, coming off back-to-back wins on the Arlington turf. Both are making their stakes debuts.
$200,000 Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 5:17 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Willcox Inn (KY), R Albarado, 122, M Stidham
2. Suntracer (IL), E E Perez, 116, C M Block
3. Crimson China (KY), S Russell, 114, H G Motion
4. Legendary King (KY), B J Williams, 114, G Dorochenko
5. Cavalero (KY), F Geroux, 114, W M Catalano
6. Friendly Banter (KY), J Z Santana, 114, L J Roussel III
7. Lethal (IL), F Giles, 114, J Haran
8. Pass the Dice (KY), J Alvarado, 114, W M Catalano
9. Derby Kitten (KY), V Lebron, 122, M J Maker
10. Breathless Storm (KY), P Lopez, 120, K P McLaughlin
Blinkers On: Crimson China