Illinois Derby: Road to the Black-Eyed Susans?
The Illinois Racing Board on Tuesday approved a purse increase for this year’s edition of the G3 Illinois Derby, which will also have a new spot on the racing calendar.
Normally a fixture in early April, Hawthorne’s race will now be run April 20, just two weeks before the G1 Kentucky Derby, but still four weeks from the G1 Preakness Stakes. The purse will also get a sizable increase, from $500,000 to $750,000. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, Hawthorne officials indicated that both changes were in response to the decision by Churchill Downs to exclude the Illinois Derby from its list of races offering qualifying points for entry into the Kentucky Derby.
“We felt it was imperative that we do something,” said Hawthorne President Tim Carey. “We feel horses that might not have made the cut for the (Kentucky) Derby could be looking forward to the Preakness (gr. I) or Belmont (gr. I).”
“Because of the position we’ve been put in it we’ve had to move it (from the first Saturday in April),” Carey continued. “We’re going to brand it as Chicago’s race and we’re looking to get sponsorship so we can increase the purse even more.”