2008 Illinois Derby Recap

Recapturetheglory wires Illinois Derby field over speed-favoring track, Denis of Cork fifth
by Kenneth Strong

April 5, 2008 They finished the way they started – well almost – in the 51st running of the $500,000 Illinois Derby-G2 on Saturday, over a track which was not kind to rallying types like even-money favorite Denis of Cork.

Longshot Recapturetheglory jumped to the lead inside at the start, set pressured fractions of 24.17, 48.64, 1:12.84, opened a short but clear lead into the final turn, turned back a bid from Golden Spikes passing the eighth pole after a mile in 1:36.89 and drew away to a 4-length victory over that one. The final time for the mile and an eighth over a fast track was 1:49.01.

It was three-quarters of a length back to third-place finisher Z Humor, who had tracked the pacesetters from perfect position only to spin his wheels while trying to rally in the drive. The same could be said for fourth-place finisher Atoned, who saved ground before trying to rally and being unable to gain ground, and outside stalker Denis of Cork, who gave his best in the drive for no better than fifth, beaten 8 1/2-lengths by the winner. Denis of Cork may not be a super horse, but he was better than fifth best in this race.


Recapturetheglory received a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for the win, which came in his second start off a layoff. In his previous start on Feb. 29, he had finished third after setting the pace in a mile and a sixteenth allowance race on the grass, for which he earned an 80 Beyer Speed Figure. His lifetime best Beyer Speed Figure of 86 had come as a 2-year-old going a mile and a sixteenth in a dirt allowance race at Churchill Downs.

Numerous races on the card were won by speed types and the apparent speed-bias was accentuated when Recapturetheglory drew out from mid stretch. But it was made even more obvious by four rivals digging in with everything they had in the drive only to find themselves going nowhere.

Denis of Cork was undefeated in three starts and coming into this race off a nice win in the Feb. 18 Southwest Stakes-G3 at Oaklawn Park. Atoned was making his second start off a 5-month layoff after just missing in the Mar. 15 Tampa Bay Derby-G3 behind Big Truck. He may have bounced, but he certainly looked like he was trying to rally in the stretch. Second-place finisher Golden Spikes, who forced the pace from the outside for six furlongs and made a bid in the stretch before being turned back, came into this race off a fifth-place drubbing beaten nine lengths in the Fountain of Youth Stakes-G3.

Something about this race just doesnt jive.

The winner, deftly ridden by E.T. Baird and trained by Louie Roussel III, returned $33.80 to his backers. The 3-year-old colt by Cherokee Run-Cold Awakening by Dehere increased his earnings to $330,080 from a record of 2-1-2 in six starts.

Recapturetheglory now adds to the speed lining up for the 134th Kentucky Derby. You can be sure he will get a much more severe test of class in that race.

Illinois Derby Results and Payoffs

April 5, 2008 – 7th Race Hawthorne

1 Recapturetheglory $33.80 $15.60 $10.00

6 Golden Spikes $6.80 $5.40

3 Z Humor $4.80

4 Atoned

$2 Exacta 1-6 paid $180.80

$2 Trifecta 1-6-3 paid $789.60

$1 Superfecta 1-6-3-4 paid $1,622.80