The 47th running of the Grade 3, TVG Hawthorne Derby brought together
some of the best 3-year-old turf runners in the country. Contested at a
mile and an eighth over a firm turf course, this final Illinois graded
stakes race of 2011 boasted a strong field of 10, headed by the talented
He didn’t disappoint.
Sent off at $1.10-1, this Michael Stidham charge won by a comfortable
four and a half lengths.
Legendary King was sent right to the lead and maintained that position
for the first six furlongs but six furlongs was about it and he faded
quickly. Willcox Inn, still sixth at that point, started making his
move. He drew within striking distance on the far turn, shifted out to
challenge for the lead at the quarter mile marker and powered his way to
the front. He was never challenged.
Team Block’s Suntracer, who had finished second to Willcox Inn in the
Arlington Classic and the Arlington Derby, came along late to finish
second again, just passing Friendly Banter as they approached the wire.
Eddie Perez, 2nd on Suntracer: "He broke good, we had a good trip. I
just can't beat that horse."
Tim Thornton, 3rd on Friendly Banter: "It set up exactly like we thought
it would. When I asked him to run he responded, we just got outrun."
“We were disappointed that we couldn’t run at Delaware. We came here
thinking that we would do pretty well but we didn’t think we would
romp,” said co-owner Marty Nixon.
Where are you going next? TVG’s Mike Joyce asked trainer Michael
Stidham, “We’re looking at the Hollywood Derby,” he replied, ignoring
hoots and heckles from All In Stable’s Marty Nixon and some of the other
representatives of Willcox Inn. They obviously want to head to the
Breeders’ Cup with this talented sophomore.
“Actually, on numbers, even though Willcox Inn finished fourth in the
Arlington Million, he moved forward in that race. We felt really good
about that effort. He came out of the race in good shape. We wanted to
run in Delaware in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes but obviously the weather
didn’t allow us to do that. But, we’re happy to be here. He’s just a
solid little horse that really puts his effort into every race.
“I was a little concerned because there were some nice horses in this
race but the way he drew off was quite impressive.”
Willcox Inn earned $120,000 for the victory, boosting his career
earnings to $480,943.
They covered the mile and an eighth in 1:48.97 following fractions of
:24.12, :48.47, 1:12.39, and 1:36.85.
Willcox Inn paid $4.20, $3.00, and $2.60. Suntracer paid $6.80 and
$4.40. Friendly Banter returned $12.20.