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The Dark Horse

Factoids - 2012 Illinois Derby

We’re only one week away from the $500,000 Illinois Derby taking place at Hawthorne Race Course and I absolutely can’t wait to be there in person!  So to prepare for this historic event, I did some poking around on the internet to see if I could find some facts, figures, and other interesting information regarding this great race.  So here we go!

The Illinois Derby has been run each spring since 1923 at various tracks around the Chicago area including:

• The first Derby was held at Hawthorne Race Course way back in 1923!
• Then the race must have been so good, they decided not to run it between 1924 and 1932.
• It was then run at Aurora Downs from 1933-1938 (I'm guessing that track was in Aurora, Illinois - home of Wayne Campbell).  
• Then for some reason the race took a break between 1939-1961.  Did it have anything with the Cubs losing all the time?  
• The race came back to Sportsman’s Park in 1962 and took a breather during 1970-1971.  
• The Derby was transferred to its current home at Hawthorne in 2003 where it has been run ever since.  Oh, and the race was also run at Hawthorne in 1999 (did YOU party like it was 1999?).  

(Joe Vann photo courtesy ESPN) 
Joe Vann (Silver Deputy-Polish Flower) took the Illinois Derby last year pulling away down the stretch; and the race has also had its share of other great runners over the years:

• Two sons of Bold Ruler (Bold Favorite and King of the Castle) won the race back to back in 1968 and 1969.
• One of my favorite horses of all time, Lost Code, won the race in 1987.
War Emblem won the race in 2002 and proceeded to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Haskell later in the year!
Pollard’s Vision, named after Seabiscuit, won the race in 2004.
Sweetnorthernsaint won the race in 2006 and went on to finish second in the Preakness.
• In recent years the race was also won by Greely’s Galaxy, Recapturetheglory, and Musket Man.

(War Emblem photo courtesy Thomas Allen Pauly!
Here are some other interesting facts:

• The race has been run at 1 1/8 miles since 1933.  Before then it had also been run at distances of 1 ½ miles and 1 ¼ miles.
• Only one filly has ever won the race and that was Mata Hari in 1934.
Wild Rush has the stakes record time of 1:47.51.
• Jockeys Kent Desormeaux and Jerry Bailey each have won the race three times.

This year’s Illinois Derby is scheduled to run on April 7th.  At the time of this writing the extended weather forecast is calling for a beautiful sunny day and 62 degrees.  I will assume the track will be fast and the turf to be firm!  What’s that, turf racing in Chicago in the spring??  

The field will be drawn this Wednesday (like an early Christmas - the anticipation…) and some of the horses tentatively scheduled to appear include:


I’m really looking forward to a great day of racing at Hawthorne!!  Brian Zipse will be joining me in Cicero for exclusive Horse Racing Nation coverage.  Feel free to join us at the track, or watch the big event on-line.  

Keep an eye out for the Chicago Dark Horse race preview later this week!
Don't forget to leave a comment or thought below!


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Older Comments about Factoids - 2012 Illinois Derby ...

oops, I always do that. Good luck.
lol, cocoa. God luck with that.
I cant think of a prep race that could be less interesting. These all look like second or third tier horses. I guess all of you agree thats why the main topic is about horse color. I think the bay will win , I mean the chestnut.!
Vic- I know of horses that are registered wrong, I just don't think it is that big of a problem. Most of the time horses that are registered wrong are done so by people who probably shouldn't be breeding horses anyway. Good horsemen will know the genetics of the foal and make the correct color choice, or wait until it is certain to register. I broke a dun roan filly for a guy a couple of years back that the AQHA said could not be registered that way. They claimed that it could not have 2 different alleles present, they changed that rule when the horse turned 3.
@ Mary, The AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) recognizes sorrel as chestnut, but the Jockey Club does not recognize sorrel, only chestnut. Anyway, as for the sorrel girl, it's taking all I have to look past her thinking Secretariat is better than Kelso, but I manage.
Add all this to the fact that the COLOR designation on the certification of any horse of a controlled breed is made as a baby and coats mature to often completely different colors by adulthood. They keep theri foal certificate designation not matter what they look like later
hsh, ever person I talk to calls one color another. I have narrowed it down to people in the west calling chestnut = dark bay, and sorrel = chestnut. dark bay = bay. My favorite color is either dark bay or blue roan. Friend bought a beautiful grulla mare, tiger stripes and all...
I am not an expert by any means, but I do know a fair amount about Quarter Horse colors and the genetics of said colors. The terms sorrel and chestnut are completely interchangeable. Some people will argue that fact, but the real fact is that there is no genetic difference between either color. Palomino on the other hand has obvious genetic differences. It is end result of a "base coat color" of chestnut (or sorrel) that the dilution gene made lighter. Same way as a buckskin is the base coat color bay with the dilution gene. Horse color genetics are incredibly interesting. I think my favorite color of all is the grullo. You just don't see it very often and when it is on a real eye catcher... they are magnificent.
Oh no, not like Charlie Brown in love with the little red-haired girl, cocoa?
cocoa, I think sorrel is like a chestnut, but with a lighter mane and tail. Some expert will correct us both.
Gabriel, you may want to follow "Yummy With Butter"--I always thought he had a cute name!
Horses, the only horse color I call girls is "sorrel", because I can't ever remember that color. It's like raspberry blond, or maybe strawberry? And quite honestly, I've never seen a Palomino male!
Girls, dolls, or horses? If horses, even the males?
Every Palomino I know has been named "Barbie".
No problem. Gabriel makes very good comments. It's fun to be able to answer questions. I love the name Buttery Pancakes, too. That would be perfect for a light chestnut or a darker palomino, wouldn't it? Maybe a Quarter Horse.
Thanks so much Mary! Sorry for the confusion everyone - Gabriel is my 8-year old son and he's still learning about racing! His fond memories will be with Zenyatta, Rachel, and Uncle Mo. I will educate him regarding War Emblem. Still, he is part of the next generation of racing whom we need to teach!
Gabriel, War Emblem is our own American Black Beauty. A Prince bought him just before the 2002 Derby after seeing him race and win one race, the Illinois Derby. If you watch a replay, you might see what the Prince saw. I did. He won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but stumbled very badly at the start of the Belmont. That summer, very sadly, the Prince who got his wonderful Derby winner passed away. War Emblem won one more race after that, the Haskell Invitational, then he was retired after the Breeders' Cup Classic, in which he had a very brief moment in the lead at the far turn. I still remember the call. He is at stud in Japan now, not harmed by the tsunami or earthquake, still picky about his dates, missed by me. I will visit him when he comes home.
@gabriel - one of few horses able to win the Derby on lead.
War Emblem??? What The Heck Is War Emblem?!?!?!?!
Wow, I really liked War Emblem! Have fun you guys!

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 (Whoa - it's me - the DARK HORSE)
Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
While finishing school in Chicago, I spent every possible moment at Arlington Park with my dad.  We took the time to develop computer programs (on the ever popular Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS) to try to find patterns and handicap races more accurately.  My dad taught me a lot about handicapping races, paying particular attention to class moves!

Since then, I have become more involved with horse racing each passing year through a variety of different media-based roles. Once deemed the "second best racing ambassador in Chicago" (hey I've been called worse), 
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This blog is eternally dedicated to the memory of Tim "Tiznow" Reynolds.

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