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.
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.
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.
Don't forget to leave a comment or thought below!