After a one year hiatus, the Grade 3, $250,000 Illinois Derby, Presented by Xpressbet, returns to Hawthorne Race Course on Saturday. The 1 1/8 mile Illinois Derby will be joined by a pair of Illinois-bred stakes, the Robert S. Molaro Handicap and the Third Chance Handicap, to headline the 10-race Hawthorne card. The Illinois Derby will be run as race 5 with a 6:17 PM Central post, followed by the Molaro and Third Chance Handicap. First post for the Illinois Derby card is 4:10 PM.
The 3-1 morning line favorite in the Illinois Derby is Mr. Misunderstood from the barn of trainer Brad Cox. A winner of four of seven starts on his career, Mr. Misunderstood has won three straight, including back-to-back victories against optional $50,000 company at Fair Grounds. Owned by Flurry Racing Stables, LLC, Mr. Misunderstood will be ridden on Saturday by Florent Geroux.
The third-place finisher of the Grade 3 Sunland Derby in his last, Hedge Fund is the 7-2 second choice in the Illinois Derby. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Hedge Fund stepped up into the Sunland Derby off a maiden score at Gulfstream Park on February 4. He set the early fractions in the Sunland Derby before tiring late in that race. Jose Valdivia, Jr. is slated to ride.
At 4-1, Hollywood Handsome is the third-choice for owners Mark and Nancy Stanley and trainer Dallas Stewart. After a maiden win in January at Fair Grounds and a late-closing third-place effort in allowance ranks, Hollywood Handsome rallied to finish fourth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in his most recent start. Robby Albarado comes in to ride.
American Equistock and trainer Brandon Walsh's Multiplier breaks from the rail. Rallying late in each of his starts, Multiplier got up in time in his most recent race, a maiden score at Fair Grounds on March 18. James Graham will ride Multiplier as he is 9-2 in the morning line.
Trainer Ken McPeek will send out It's Your Nickel. A three-time winner on his career, It's Your Nickel was victorious in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway on March 4. He faded to sixth in the Blue Grass at Keeneland in his most recent start after chasing the pace early in that race. Channing Hill rides as It's Your Nickel is 6-1 in the morning line.
Trainer Scott Becker has a pair in the Illinois Derby with St. Louie Guy and Stand and Cheer. A winner of four of 10 on his young career, St. Louie Guy enters this race off a nine-length score against optional $75,000 company over this surface two weeks ago. Stand and Cheer makes his second career start at Hawthorne. His only other race was his only victory, a runaway 10 ¼ length triumph last October. Most recent races have included a pair of runner-up efforts against optional $50,000 company. Victor Santiago rides St. Louie Guy at 6-1 while Chris Emigh will be aboard Stand and Cheer, who is 8-1 in the morning line.
The field, with post positions for the Grade 3, $250,000 Illinois Derby, Presented by Xpressbet:
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