On a day where speed was generally holding, Willcox Inn ($4.20) stormed from near the back of the pack to easily win by 4 ½ lengths in the Hawthorne Derby.
Today featured a very stiff head wind coming down the stretch with winds gusting over 30 miles per hour out of the West. Champion horse Willcox Inn saved ground in the first part of the race as jockey Robby Albarado was keeping the horse fairly reserved on the rail. Albarado must have known that the race would have more of a sensible pace than what was showing on paper with fractions of :24.0 and :48.2 for the first half mile. The pace did end up setting up well for Willcox Inn's victory. 150-1 shot Legendary King took the pack through the first turn and actually led for 6 furlongs! (At 150-1, that’s crazy right? You should have seen Lethal’s odds too as they were 190-1! Could you imagine the superfecta possibilities?) After that point it was all Willcox Inn. He split horses around the turn and took over at the ¼ pole. Without looking back, he left the rest of the field in the dust for victory.
You almost have to feel bad for Suntracer as he finished 2nd to Willcox Inn yet again for the third time this year! Do you think that Chris Block almost wishes that Willcox Inn would just scratch already? Suntracer really ran a good race though as he had to come from last to get up for the place just beating 54-1 shot Friendly Banter by a neck. Actually, Friendly Banter was in second for the entire trip and still held on for third. For a while we (Brian Zipse, Dave Zenner, Scott Dick, and I) had thought that the horse might even hold on for a win or place! The value that Hawthorne offers shines again as the trifecta paid $496.80 and the superfecta paid $2,500! Not bad considering an even money favorite won, right?
Today was also my first ever visit to the Hawthorne’s Gold Cup room too! It was a pretty large area with lots of room to move around. We had a big table waiting for us that had a lot of space to spread out our past performances, laptops, my shredded mutual tickets, and food. The buffet was very good, huge, and there was quite a tasty selection to choose from. The Gold Cup room also had their very own very friendly mutual tellers. One of them told me, “Hey, look at those odds on 10, 11, and 12. You should put $1 to win on each of them.” What friendly advice! It was a maiden race with a lot of first timers so I decided to burn the $3 on a chance that I could make a little extra money. Well, that didn’t win but neither did any of my other picks today other than Willcox Inn. That certainly didn’t put a damper on the fantastic afternoon I had!
Check out my exclusive videos from the Derby for Horse Racing Nation!
- The paddock on Derby day
- Willcox Inn in the paddock
- More Derby day paddock
- Hawthorne Derby post parade
- Willcox Inn visits the Winner's circle
Don’t forget next Thursday, 10/20/11, I’m going to co-host the pre-game coverage with Jim Miller in his weekly “Jim vs.” contest. The way it works is that for each of us a mythical $2 WPS wager is placed on our top of three picks. Whoever ends up with the most money at the end of the day “wins.” Jim is a very good handicapper so I’ll have to be on top of my game in order to take down the champion. Be sure to check out my television debut!
Photo by Four Footed Fotos