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Joe Vann Pulls Away in Illinois Derby

Trainer Todd Pletcher has had his success through the years at Hawthorne and he was successful once again this year when Joe Vann was victorious in the Grade 3, $300,000 TVG Illinois Derby at Hawthorne.

Owned by Zayat Stables, LLC and ridden by Florent Geroux, the three-year-old Silver Deputy colt stalked the early pace set by Lagoon of Diamonds through fractions of :23.81, :48.37 and 1:13.65. Moving at the top of the stretch, Geroux and Joe Vann took over and opened up, winning in runaway style by 4 1/4 lengths, stopping the clock for the 1 1/8 mile distance on the fast track in 1:51.91.

Zoebear closed late after a rail trip to finish second, followed by The Fed Eased, and Sour. Sent off at odds of 5-1, Joe Vann returned $12.60, $6.80 and $5.20. Zoebear came back $8.80 and $6.20 while The Fed Eased returned $6.20.

With the win, Joe Vann earned $167,400, boosting his career earnings to $217,615, to put him into the mix for drawing into the field for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, though he isn’t nominated to the Triple Crown.

Winning rider Florent Geroux was elated. “My instructions were simply to enjoy myself. Mike, Mr. Pletcher’s assistant, told me to place him wherever I wanted. He told me that he had good natural speed and I could place him close if I wanted to. So, that’s what I did. He ran a very good race. I was only about a half-length off the leader. When I asked him at the quarter pole, he just took off. The thing that helped me was that I watched a couple of his races. In one of his maiden races, at Saratoga last August, he beat Mucho Macho Man who could be one of the top Kentucky Derby contenders. “I knew he was a very nice horse. “This race was huge. The win in the Illinois Derby was one of the biggest of my career. I really like Hawthorne. I want to thank all of the horsemen who helped me. I am very proud to ride for Mr. Pletcher today. I would like to thank him, his owners, and all involved.”

Seth Martinez, the rider of second-place finisher, Zoebear, was equally happy. “The trainer (Scott Becker) told me, being on the outside, to get him out of the gate in good order, take him back, and make one run with him. That’s what I did. I followed instructions. I was fortunate enough to get through on the fence. It worked out really well.”

Morning-line favorite Watch Me Go finished sixth. According to rider Luis Garcia, "He was training like a monster. On the backstretch he was off the bit a little bit; he's not like that, he's usually on the bit. When I asked him he didn't have anything. He acted like he was going to do it, but he just stayed even."


 

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