Advance deposit wagering provider Xpressbet will be the sponsor of the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr. III), set to run April 19 at Hawthorne Race Course
The 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby Presented by Xpressbet serves as a key race for 3-year-olds seeking to continue along the path to the Triple Crown races.
Several recent Illinois Derby participants have used the race as a springboard to the classics, including 2002 winner War Emblem
, who subsequently captured the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I); 2009 winner Musket Man
finished third in the Derby and Preakness; Denis of Cork
, fifth in 2008, went on to be third in the Derby and second in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I); 2006 winner Sweetnorthernsaint
finished second in the Preakness; and 2003 winner Ten Most Wanted
was second the Belmont.
In each of its last two renditions, the Illinois Derby was contested by a full field of 14 runners. The race no longer earns top finishers points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby but it seems like a logical prep race for the Preakness.
"Each year, the Illinois Derby attracts a large field of exceptional racehorses, and its positioning on the calendar makes it a valuable prep race for the Preakness Stakes, which is one of The Stronach Group's premier events," said Xpressbet president Ron Luniewski. "We're proud to partner with a great organization like Hawthorne, and we're happy to support the racetrack, its patrons, and the Illinois horsemen and racing industry."
Hawthorne assistant general manager John Walsh added, "Xpressbet is a great partner, and we're thrilled to have them on board as the sponsor of the Illinois Derby Presented by Xpressbet. At this time of the year on the racing calendar, hope springs eternal for thousands of horses, and anything feels possible. We're eager to watch the top horses in the Illinois Derby go on to contest in top divisional races like the Preakness, Belmont, Haskell (gr. I), and Travers (gr. I)."
Xpressbet customers can wager on the Illinois Derby online, over the phone, or with their mobile device. Customers that hit Hawthorne's Late Pick 4 on Illinois Derby Day through Xpressbet will win a share of 1,000,000 XB Rewards Points. For a full list of Xpressbet Rewards Promotions, click here
First post at Hawthorne on Illinois Derby Day is 2:45 p.m. ET. In addition to the Illinois Derby Presented by Xpressbet, the card also features the $150,000 Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares. Other stakes on Illinois Derby Day are the $100,000 Robert S. Molaro Handicap and the $100,000 Third Chance Handicap, both for Illinois-breds.