Illinois Derby Day in Photos: A Return to Hawthorne

Illinois Derby Day in Photos: A Return to Hawthorne
Photo: Heidi Carpenter

On hiatus last year, the 1 1/8 miles Illinois Derby (G3) returned to Hawthorne Race Course for 2017. Once regarded a Kentucky Derby prep, the Illinois Derby has unfortunately been left out of the Derby points system.

One can hope that changes in the near future. One of the oldest racetracks in America, Hawthorne was founded in 1891 and has been family-owned since 1909. From the grandstand, look out at the old industrial smokestacks in the distance and the simple weathered brick-and-mortar tote board--you’ll find no infield video screen here--and one can almost imagine themselves in the heydey of Chicago racing. Arlington Park may be the jewel of Chicagoland but Hawthorne reflects Chicago’s true, gritty spirit.

Sophomore sire The Factor had another stakes winner when his son Multiplier won the Illinois Derby. With James Graham up, the steely gray colt hung back in fifth and hugged the rail all the way around before taking a wider path at the top of the stretch to hold off favored Hedge Fund. Trained by Brendan Walsh, the Illinois Derby was Multiplier’s first stakes try and second win in four starts.

The post parade for the Illinois Derby (G3).

Multiplier squints against the kickback as James Graham sits coolly early in the Illinois Derby (G3).

The field enters the first turn in the Illinois Derby (G3).

Multiplier and James Graham edge past Hedge Fund and Jose Valdivia, Jr. in the Illinois Derby (G3). 

Multiplier and James Graham edge past Hedge Fund and Jose Valdivia, Jr. in the Illinois Derby (G3). 

Multiplier and James Graham win the Illinois Derby (G3) over Hedge Fund and Jose Valdivia, Jr.

Multiplier and James Graham are led to the winner's circle after winning the Illinois Derby (G3).

James Graham pretends to drink from the Illinois Derby (G3) trophy cup.

The Robert S. Molaro Handicap and Third Chance Handicap (each 6-½ furlongs on the dirt) followed the Illinois Derby. 2014 Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) winner Recount took the former with Robby Albarado up, while swaybacked beauty My Mertie won the Third Chance Handicap with Edgar Perez up.

Recount and Robby Albarado warm up in the post parade prior to the Robert S. Molaro Handicap.

Recount and Robby Albarado win the Robert S. Molaro Handicap.

Recount and Robby Albarado win the Robert S. Molaro Handicap.

Recount and Robby Albarado pose in the winner's circle after winning the Robert S. Molaro Handicap.

My Mertie and Edgar Perez lead the Third Chance Handicap field down the stretch.

My Mertie and Edgar Perez win the Third Chance Handicap.

My Mertie and Edgar Perez win the Third Chance Handicap.

My Mertie and Edgar Perez are led to the winner's circle after winning the Third Chance Handicap.

My Mertie heads back home to the barns after winning the Third Chance Handicap.

 Meet Heidi Carpenter

 

An equestrian since 1986, Heidi has loved horses for as long as she can remember. She fell in love with the sport and history of Thoroughbred racing as a young girl after reading about the great champions of yesteryear, including Man o' War, Lexington, Equipoise, and Citation.

Heidi has a great interest in the stories, connections and images abound in Thoroughbred racing. She also enjoys studying pedigrees and racing history.

Heidi lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband (who is also a racing fan) and four cats, and has her beloved horse, Limerick, boarded nearby. Registered as Amanda Bry, Limerick is a 1991-model OTTB mare that Heidi has had since 1996. Heidi also runs Racing Reviewer.

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