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Hawthorne Derby: Can Willcox Inn Rebound?

The 47th running of the Grade 3 $200,000 TVG Hawthorne Derby anchors the strong Saturday card. There were 33 nominations for the race. The connections of 10 chose to run.


The race, for three-year-olds, is at a mile and an eighth over Hawthorne’s turf course. This will be the first time over the local course for any of these runners.

 

Arguably, the one to beat in here is All In Stable’s Willcox Inn. Willcox Inn by Harlan’s Holiday out of the Gone West mare De Aar, has yet to win outside of Illinois but he was third in the 2010 Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity on Keeneland’s synthetic track and 3rd in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill last year. He started off this year with a second-place finish in a Fair Grounds non-graded stakes race, followed by a lackluster effort in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, again on Keeneland synthetic. But, trainer Michael Stidham added blinkers after that start, Willcox headed back to the grass and promptly won the $100k Arlington Classic. He followed that victory with another in the Grade 2 American Derby and stamped himself as one of the top 3-year-old turf runners in the country. He finished fourth in the Grade 1 Secretariat in his most recent start. Regular rider Robbie Albarado will be back in the irons. Morning odds line Maker, Jim Miller, laid him as the 5-2 favorite.

 

Mrs Fitriani Hay’s Breathless Storm, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, has been installed as the second choice in the morning line at 7-2. Coming off two straight victories, the last in the $101,000 Jersey Derby at Monmouth, has shown some improvement in every start since coming to this country. He raced in Great Britain as a 2-year-old. Interestingly, this son of Storm Cat faced future Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom in his first start in the U S. He finished fourth in that race.

 

Suntracer could very well be the sleeper in this race. He finished fourth in an Allowance Optional Claiming race in last but that was a stakes-quality field and he was taking on very tough older company. He even took the lead in that race but he wasn’t able to sustain his drive. In his two previous races, he finished second to Willcox Inn in both the American Classic and The American Derby. He has been pegged at 6-1.

 

 



 

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