Illinois Derby (G3):

The $250,000 feature at Hawthorne Saturday is not going to produce a Kentucky Derby starter but could be a steppingstone to the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness. In addition, it could help shed a better light and flatter some of the
Kentucky Derby contestants if any in this field run big.

Todd Pletcher’s HEDGE FUND had no chance late in the Sunland Derby (G3), but did hold gamely for third in a first run outside of the maiden ranks. Sophomore was flattered by runner-up Conquest Mo Money, who came back to post a big second in the Arkansas Derby (G1); and Irap, who could only get fourth at Sunland but captured the Blue Grass (G2) next out. Hedge Fund led through especially swift splits at Sunland before tiring late and the jury remains out on this potentially good colt. Chestnut son of Super Saver could be more of a miler-type, but the Kentucky-bred may handle this company and can continue to shine a positive light upon Kentucky Derby-bound Sunland Derby winner Hence with a victory.

Dallas Stewart’s HOLLYWOOD HANDSOME was a closing fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) most recently and the son of Tapizar might be moving best of all in the stretch today. $200,000 yearling was especially wide at Fair Grounds in his first graded tussle but kept coming in an admirable effort. He fits the profile of an improving colt who has moved forward since removing the blinkers and would make Girvin look good with a strong showing.

IT’S YOUR NICKEL was outclassed a bit in what I thought was a deep running of the Blue Grass in advance of this and gets a look with a more reasonable cast for conditioner Kenny McPeek. The Battaglia Memorial romper has improved slightly with each lifetime race to date and I still think his best is yet to come, with a pedigree that screams distance.

Federico Tesio S.:

A small field of five will run in Laurel headliner on Saturday and I am hard pressed to find a standout in the field. The New York-bred CARRADINE did pop a 100 BRIS Speed figure last time at Aqueduct and it is a sign of confidence to me that pilot Cornelio Velasquez will come down to ride the son of Grasshopper. Bay colt has the pedigree to stay and if he duplicates his recent performance, I might have to take him a bit more seriously going forward. A decisive victory is warranted for the Linda Rice trainee.

Todd Pletcher’s ACTION EVERYDAY was exposed some in the Gotham (G3) when no factor after rolling home easily in his first pair at Tampa, though he could be a big presence in this field. $400,000 son of The Factor is still lightly raced and in my eyes is not a true distance type, though the colt has ability for sure and could evolve into a nice one.

TWISTED TOM and O DIONYSUS finished a nose part in the local prep for this last time, the Private Terms S., but I would need to see a breakthrough performance to have either in my blogs going forward.