Musket Man tops 11-horse Illinois Derby field
Musket Man won the Tampa Bay Derby and will compete in the Illinois Derby
The colt will leave from the No. 8 post in the $500,000 Derby
Giant Oak and nine other 3-year-olds are also competing in Saturday's race
CICERO, Ill. (AP) -- Tampa Bay Derby winner Musket Man is set to go against Giant Oak and nine other 3-year-olds in Saturday's $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Park.
Musket Man, the only graded stakes winner in the field, was made the 7-2 morning line favorite with Giant Oak the second choice at 9-2.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has three entries for the 1 1/8th-mile race: Lord Justice, Al Kahli and Il Postino.
The Grade 2 Illinois Derby is one of several final prep races Saturday before the Kentucky Derby on May 2.
Musket Man leaves from the No. 8 post and will be ridden for the first time by Eibar Coa. The colt has won four of five career starts, his only loss a third-place finish in the Sam F. Davis Stakes a month before his Tampa Bay Derby win on March 14.
Giant Oak has been a disappointment this year after running second to Beethoven in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29. The Illinois-bred colt was a troubled fifth as the favorite in the Risen Star at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 7, then rallied from last to finish fourth in the Louisiana Derby on March 14.
Giant Oak leaves from the No. 2 post and will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan.
Pletcher has won three of the last eight Illinois Derbys, and he's hoping one of his entries can pull off a big win to earn enough money to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
Lord Justice won an optional claiming race at Aqueduct on March 6; Al Khali won a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park on March 6 in his United States debut; and Il Postino is coming off an 113/4-length win in a $20,000 maiden claiming race at Gulfstream on Feb. 26.
The rest of the field is Nowhere to Hide, Toccet Rocket, His Greatness, Perfect Song, Free Country and Knight Shot.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.