We couldn’t have asked for a better day for a Chicago April. With sunny skies for most of the day and 65 seasonable degrees, the 55th running of the Illinois Derby was a battle to the very end. 12-1 long shot Done Talking won the Illinois Derby by ¾ of a length as jockey Sheldon Russell found the seam in deep stretch and flew by Morgan’s Guerrilla and Rosie Napravnik.
With a fairly even start, and having to endure most of the long Hawthorne
stretch out of the gate, the field was 6-wide across the first turn. Long shot Frankie Is Rock
had the early lead at the first quarter with Our Entourage
, Morgan’s Guerrilla
all up close. For a Hawthorne route the fractions were fairly quick as they were run in 23.4 and 48.3.
There wasn’t too much of a change in position on the backstretch as Frankie Is Rock held the lead through a half mile with Our Entourage, Morgan’s Guerrilla, and Slamit still close behind.
The race really started to take shape ¾ of a mile in as the positions started to change. Morgan’s Guerrilla started to make his move and took the lead at the top of the stretch. Our Entourage eventually faded and dropped to finish 5th as Saturday Launch charged in from behind and passed a tired Frankie is Rock to finish 4th. Hakama, who started unexpectedly slow (more on that later) came home with a fury to finish a close 3rd.
But now let’s talk about our winner Done Talking. This horse come out of the 13th post and immediately saved ground as much as possible sitting in the 5-path in the third flight of horses early on. In fact throughout the entire backstretch Done Talking seemed unhurried as he sat back and watched the race unfold in front of him. He really started to make his move around the turn, for when the horses entered the stretch he was quite wide but cut the corner and put himself in a great spot to strike. Morgan’s Guerrilla had the lead for a brief moment while drifting out, but Done Talking found a seam between him and Our Entourage and came clear by ¾ of a length.
What a race! How many of you had this one? I know HRN’s own Jasen Mangrum of Handicapper's Corner did! In fact, he text me before the race to find out of Done Talking had the front wraps on (trying to get some ‘inside dirt’). Obviously that paid off.
This was a race that could have gone any of 14 different directions, and it certainly did! It was great being up close to the action both in the paddock and on the track. Racing fans really must have wanted a piece of the action in Cicero today as handle for the day just missed $5 million and attendance on track was up 37% from last year! I have to hand it to Hawthorne for putting together a great card and an amazing graded stakes race!
(photo courtesy Four Footed Fotos)
13- Done Talking
12- Morgan’s Guerrilla
However after the race I had to do something I’ve never done before, and this was like official journalistic work too. I had the privilege to interview jockey Julian Pimentel for the official media quotes! He was very easy to talk to and very willing to tell me how his race was run. It was evident that both he and I expected his horse, Hakama, to be a lot closer to the pace if not on the lead. Here’s how he described his trip, "My horse was a step slow out of the gate and I expected him to be closer to the pace. Since he broke slow I tried to save ground as much as I could. "He was wide around the turn but he closed very well and I thought he ran a good race."
Whoa. Right from the jockey himself! Thank you Julian!
So will Done Talking end up in the Kentucky Derby? Trainer Hamilton Smith explains, “Hopefully it’s on to Louisville from here. The mile and a quarter should suit him with his late run, which is what you want. When the speed is backing up, hopefully he’ll be kicking on.” Speaking for myself, I certainly hope we see him at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May! This ends the Dark Horse recap of the 2012 Illinois Derby. What were your impressions of this race?