Headed by Repent and Changeintheweather, at least nine 3-year-olds are expected to be entered for Saturday's grade II, $500,000 Illinois Derby at Sportsman's Park.
According to the track, likely starters (with riders listed where known) are: Pin Oak Stable's Changeintheweather (Mickey Walls); Anderson & Meadowbrook Farm Inc.'s Fonz's (Alfredo Juarez Jr.); W. K. Pritts & Nancy A. Vanier's Mucho Rapido (Chris Emigh); Italo-Erin Stables' One Tuff Fox (Eddie Martin Jr.); Guy B. and Diane Snowden's Peekskill (Jose Santos); Mercedes Stables' Publication (Randall Meier); Select Stable's Repent (Jerry Bailey); Stritz & Zander's Robin Zee; and Russell L. Reineman Stable's War Emblem. A possible starter for the race is: Doubledown Stables Inc.'s White Flame.
In preparation for Saturday's race, Changeintheweather breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 Monday morning at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., with exercise rider Sarah Cohen in the saddle.
"He's doing very well," said trainer David Bell. "He went five-eighths in a minute and change and finished up well."
As a 2-year-old, Changeintheweather won the Grey Breeders' Cup (Can-I) at Woodbine and was an allowance winner during the current Gulfstream Park meet.
"He was still a little green and I'm not sure he likes to be ridden that aggressively," Bell said when asked about the horse's last race when Jorge Chavez was aboard. "The win wasn't all that impressive, but Chavez said there was more horse underneath him at the wire. Once he got to them (the horses in front of him), he just kind of stayed with them. He's improving all the time. Going farther should help him. I think he wants more than a mile and a sixteenth (the distance of his last race) and hopefully he'll like the mile and an eighth. He's done well and he's been real sharp since we shipped to Keeneland last Thursday. We'll van up to Chicago on Thursday."
Meanwhile, trainer Tony Reinstedler said Peekskill, third in the Florida Derby in his last start, will be equipped with blinkers for the first time in the Illinois Derby.
""We'll add blinkers for the race to help him keep his focus," the trainer said. "He dropped farther back than I wanted him to (in the Florida Derby) and I think the blinkers will help keep him focused and not be so far back. He's a one-run type. If he handles the turns well, he should finish strong. He rewarded us with a nice race in the Florida Derby and he earned the right to go to Sportsman's for the Illinois Derby," Reinstedler Monday morning. "He won't breeze between now and the race. He's done with his major work. We shipped up to Churchill Sunday and he trained here real well this morning. We'll train at Churchill until Friday and then van up for the race."