A Look Ahead at the Illinois Derby, Lady Hallie

The following is a release from Sportsman's Park:
Sportsman's Park
Daily Notebook


Dogwood Stable's Distilled, one of the leading candidates for this Saturday's $500,000 Illinois Derby, worked five-eighths of a mile on a fast track Monday morning at his Hialeah Park homebase. The chestnut son of Hennessy covered the distance in 1:02 1/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15. The drill was one-fifth of a second quicker than that of A. P. Valentine, who prepped Monday for the Grade III Flamingo in 1:02 2/5.

The drill, originally scheduled for Sunday, was postponed until Monday when the south Florida track came up sloppy on Sunday. Despite the setback, all systems are 'Go' for his Illinois Derby run. "He went terrific," said Dogwood President Cot Campbell. "Everything is right on schedule."

The Todd Pletcher charge leaves Florida on a 5 a.m. Tuesday flight to Lexington, Ky. He will be vanned from Keeneland to Chicago on Friday morning and will be bedded down in the stakes barn (Barn 8) on the Sportsman's/Hawthorne backstretch.


The connections of Secret Romeo will decide Monday afternoon whether or not to start in the Illinois Derby. Entries for the Grade II, mile and an eighth race will be drawn Tuesday. "He's ready to go if we decide to run there," said trainer Gerald Bennett via telephone Monday morning. "I was waiting to see how the race shapes up. "He needed his last start," said Bennett of Secret Romeo, who finished sixth in the Grade III Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in his last start. "We got a late start with him but he blew out well since that race. I've seen the past performances of the race and I think we have as good a chance as anyone."

A Michigan-bred son of Service Stripe, Secret Romeo has won four of 10 lifetime starts including three restricted stakes at Great Lakes Downs in Muskegon, Mich.

A look at the Illinois Derby probable starters:


Big Will
Phillip S. Maas
Jeffrey Thornbury
James Lopez
Will stable with Gene Cilio in Barn F

Cherokee Kim
Wenga Inc.
Jerry Fanning
Danny Sorenson
Arrives Thursday. Will be in Stakes Barn (Barn 8)

Dogwood Stable
Todd Pletcher
Mike Smith
Arrives Friday. Stakes Barn.

Dream Run
John D. Murphy
Paul J. McGee
Randall Meier
Arrives Friday. Stakes Barn

Fan Club's Mister
Patricia Miessler &Cliff Raber
Rickey B. Harris
On grounds. Barn 8

Halo's Stride (supplemental nomination)
Linda & Don Urbas
Robert L. Desensi
Ray Sibille
Arrives Friday. Stakes Barn

Percy Hope
Waterfall Stable
Anthony Reinstedler
Jon Court
Arrives Friday. Stakes Barn

Private Son
Roy K. Monroe
Ken McPeek
Chris Emigh
Arrives Friday. Stakes Barn

Saint Damien
Victoria Racing Stable Inc.
Ken McPeek
Lonnie Meche
Arrives Friday. Stakes Barn

What's Up Dog
Terry Bruner
Hector Magana
On grounds. Barn G

Still listed as possible for the race are Tom Boy Stable's True Concern and Gary & Mary West's Mongoose. Late word from Kentucky suggests that trainer Elliott Walden may send a horse or the Illinois Derby. The Churchill Downs-based horseman did not elaborate.


As expected Gary A. Tanaka's On A Soapbox received top impost of 121 pounds for Sunday's $100,000 Lady Hallie Handicap though she is not expected to run. Her stablemate, Humble Clerk, is slated to start and was assigned 115 pounds for the mile and sixteenth race that serves as a prep for the April 29 $300,000 Sixty Sails Handicap (Grade III). Others listed as probable at their weight assignments: Lady Melesi (116 pounds); Please Sign In (115) and Adam's Time (113).