Edited from a release
Alysweep, winner of the grade III Gotham at Aqueduct in his last, leads a very competitive field of 10 3-year-olds slated to start in the grade II, $500,000 Illinois Derby on Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile event will go as Hawthorne's eighth race with a 4:25 CDT post.
The Patrick Reynolds trainee is the morning-line favorite at 5-2. Owned by Michael Dubb and Mark Doneson, Alysweep has won four of seven career starts and has really jumped up after being claimed for $75,000 when he broke his maiden last December. He has since posted wins in an allowance start and a pair of stakes, grabbing his victory in the Gotham in front-running style. Alysweep will carry 124 pounds with regular rider Richard Migliore aboard.
Second choice in the Illinois Derby is Walter New's Lone Star Sky. Trained by Tom Amoss, the late-running colt has won three times, and finished second in three more starts, along with a third-place effort from ten starts. The graded stakes winner finished second to Badge of Silver in the grade III Risen Star Stakes on February 16 and was placed third in a fast closing run in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) on March 9. Calvin Borel will be back up on Lone Star Sky, carrying 120 lbs.
Maryland-bred Cherokee's Boy is the most heavily raced colt in this field, making his 11th start in Saturday's Illinois Derby. Owned by ZWP Stable and trained by Gary Capuano, he's a winner of five of ten starts and recently disposed of Maryland-bred stakes-company on March 1 in winning the Deputed Testamony Stakes. Regular rider Ryan Fogelsonger is aboard Cherokee's Boy, carrying 116 lbs.
Ten Most Wanted carries the hopes from the west coast for Horizon Stable and trainer Wallace Dollase. The lightly raced colt has hit the board in three of four career starts and recently finished a close-up third in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Golden Gate on March 8. Pat Day will ride Ten Most Wanted, as he carries 114 lbs.
Foufa's Warrior looks to upset this field as the most lightly raced entrant of the Illinois Derby contestants. A winner of two of three starts, Foufa's Warrior won the Maryland Juvenile Championship on December 31 and followed that race up with a second-place effort behind Cherokee's Boy in the Deputed Testamony on March 1. Harry Vega rides once again for owner Sondra Bender and trainer Lawrence Murray. Foufa's Warrior will carry 118 lbs.
Runnin' On Nitro is the only supplement to the Illinois Derby as he looks to toss a bit of speed into this event. Owned by trainer Wesley Ward, Ron Brewer and John Haagsma, Runnin' On Nitro comes in off an impressive allowance victory at Gulfstream on March 1. Jason Lumpkins will be aboard as Runnin' On Nitro carries 114 lbs.
Fund of Funds is a second New York invader looking for the cash as he makes his stakes debut. Owned by Klaravich Stables and trained by Richard Violette, Fund of Funds has posted a 12 1/4-length maiden score on February 20, followed by a strong second-place effort on March 16. Shaun Bridgmohan rides as Fund of Funds carries 114 lbs.
Lx Commander is trying to follow the path the War Emblem took last year to his Illinois Derby score. Owned by Ed Wright, Miles Childers & LTB, Inc., Lx Commander was an impressive allowance winner at Hawthorne on March 18 for trainer Bernard Flint. Chris Emigh will be aboard on Saturday, carrying 114 lbs.
Blackinton ran second to Lx Commander in that March 18 allowance race as this one looks to score for owner Paul Cumberland and trainer Michele Boyce. A winner of two races in six starts, Blackinton makes just his second start of the year and first in stakes company. Zoe Cadman rides as Blackinton carries 114 lbs.
Brian Dude rounds out the Illinois Derby field. Owned by longtime local owner Avers Wexler of Wexler Stables, Inc. Brian Dude is another making his first stakes start. He just missed in two-turn allowance company in his last and also makes just his second start of 2003. E.T. Baird rides Brian Dude, carrying 114 lbs.
The field for the April 5 Illinois Derby, with jockey, weight, and odds, from the rail out:
1--Foufa's Warrior, Harry Vega (118), 15-1
2--Ten Most Wanted, Pat Day (114), 4-1
3--Fund of Funds, Shaun Bridgmohan (114), 12-1
4--Lx Commander, Chris Emigh (114), 20-1
5--Blackinton, Zoe Cadman (114), 30-1
6--Runnin' On Nitro (S), Jason Lumpkins (114), 8-1
7--Cherokee's Boy, Ryan Fogelsonger (116), 6-1
8--Brian Dude, E.T. Baird (114), 30-1
9--Alysweep, Richard Migliore (124), 2-1
10--Lone Star Sky, Calvin Borel (120), 7-2