Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all enjoyed your hibernation from Chicago racing! This unusually warm Chicago weather has not required a thaw from the normal deep-freeze we’re accustomed to seeing here. Rather, this warmer weather has already sprouted the 2012 spring and summer stakes schedule for Illinois racing! Let’s take a closer look at what the Chicago stakes schedule has to offer this spring.
April - Hawthorne kicks us off in style!
April 7 - The Illinois Derby - The gem of the spring, the Illinois Derby provides an early test for stakes-class three-year-olds running at 9 furlongs.
- This race has been run since 1923 (the Cubs STILL haven’t won a world series since then) and this race has seen its share of great runners over the years.
- Recent champions include War Emblem (2002), Pollard’s Vision (2004), Greely’s Galaxy (2005), Recapturetheglory (2008), and Musket Man (2009).
- War Emblem went on to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 2002! Chicago represent!
- Pollard’s Vision actually won the Illinois Derby while being blind in his right eye!
- Last year I had the pleasure of handicapping the race for my friend Nick Costa’s blog and this year I’ll make my first trip to be at this event in person!
Wow, ok, so how can you follow the Illinois Derby? You do it with…the…
April 21 - Sixty Sails Handicap - It’s baaaaack! Yes folks it’s the return of the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap run at 1 1/8 miles, this race for the ladies. Here are a couple of interesting facts about this race:
- First, the dam of Illinois-bred champion Giant Oak, Crafty Oak, not only won this race in 1999, but she also has the stakes record (1:46.3).
- Second, the 1992 version of this race showed the “supreme power” of Illinois-bred horses as the state-breds finished 1-2-3 in this race. Awesome!
- Finally, I am very excited to be in attendance for this race (thought you’d find THAT exciting. Fine, well it is for me!)
April 28 - Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Chuck Barris! Ok, not really, but even better it’s the Illinois Champions Day! This day on the final weekend of the spring meet features the best of Illinois racing. There are six, count ‘em, SIX $125,000 stakes races on the line.
•Contested at six furlongs for three-year-olds are the Land of Lincoln Stakes (for the boys) and the Pretty Jenny Stakes (for the girls).
•Contested at six furlongs for older horses are the Robert S. Molaro Handicap (for the boys) and the Governor’s Lady Handicap (for the girls).
•Contested at 8 ½ furlongs for three-year-olds and upward are the Milwaukee Avenue Handicap (for the boys) and the Peach of It Handicap (for the girls).
A great day of racing for sure as you can certainly expect “exclusive” Horse Racing Nation coverage from the South side!
I'm very excited to be a part of the action this spring from Cicero! Hawthorne will definitely get the year started off great for all of us! I encourage all of you to check it out. Which races are you looking forward to most??