The winner of the Grade 3, $500,000 Illinois Derby will grab enough graded cash to make the starting gate in Kentucky Derby 2012 and morning line favorite Currency Swap tries two turns for the first time.
#4 Currency Swap (4-1), the 2011 G1 Hopeful winner, recently returned from an injury and finished a distant 2nd behind G1 Wood Memorial favorite Gemologist. He has some distance influences on the dam side (Pine Bluff) and looms a pace factor at the very least. He could regress 2nd off the shelf and might not want to go this far at less than ideal odds.
#11 Our Entourage (9-2) is 0-for-2 on dirt and gets one shot at Derby glory for Repole/Pletcher. He appears better on turf but this race is wide open and anything can happen. Won’t offer enough value for wagering purposes but he is not without a shot.
#8 Z Rockstar (10-1) is my value oriented top choice for Donnie Von Hemel. The improving son of Rockport Harbor earned the best last race number in a sharp optional claiming tally at Oaklawn Park and projects a stalk and pounce trip under Quincy Hamilton. He is back in three weeks and can compete here if able to duplicate his last.
#12 Morgan’s Guerilla (10-1) is 2-for-2 and looms an early presence under Rosie Napravnik. Other early runners include Private Terms runner-up #2 Hakama (6-1).
Horses with tactical ability include #1 Romancing The Gold (15-1), #3 Ring It Up (15-1), #5 Pretension (5-1), #6 Skyring (20-1), #9 Fastestwhogetspaid (30-1), #10 Frankie Is Rock (30-1), and #14 Slamit (30-1). NY-bred Pretension might be the best of the pressers.
The late runners are #7 Saturday Launch (15-1) and #13 Done Talking (20-1).
#15 Explain (20-1), #16 Arm Force (15-1), and #17 Defiant Flyer (30-1) are also-eligibles and need help drawing into the body of the race.
$20 to win/Place #8 Z Rockstar