Illinois Derby

The Illinois Derby is a race for Thoroughbred horses for three year olds run over a distance of one and one-eighth miles (9 furlongs) on the dirt at Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney/Cicero, Illinois, just west of Chicago in early April each year. The event was first run in 1923 at the Hawthorne Race Course. The purse is $250,000.

Illinois Derby
Grade III race
LocationHawthorne Race Course
Stickney/Cicero, Illinois, U.S.
Race typeThoroughbred - Flat racing
Race information
Distance1 18 miles (9 furlongs)
Weight122 lbs (55.3 kg)
Purse$250,000 (2017)


The race was named in honor of the home state in which it was run, the state of Illinois. The inaugural running of the race took place at Hawthorne in 1923 and was won by In Memoriam, the 3 year-old champion with Zev that year. The race was then run at Sportsman's Park from 1924 through 1931. It moved to Aurora Downs racetrack in 1932 and was run there until 1938. In 1939 the race went on hiatus until through 1962. Then the race was revived at Sportsman's Park Racetrack again in 1963 where it remained through its 2002 running. The race was not run 1939-1962 and 1970-1971.

The race was first graded in 1973 when the grading system started as a grade three stakes race and in 1997 was elevated to a grade two stakes race. The inaugural running of the race in 1923 was run at ​1 14 miles.

Prior to 2000 the race was run between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes thus competing with the second leg of the Triple Crown for good runners. Beginning in 2001, the Illinois Derby was moved to four weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby and instantly become a major Triple Crown prep race.

The 2002 Illinois Derby won by War Emblem was the last Derby run at Sportsman's Park Racetrack. War Emblem went on to become a "Dual Classic Winner" by winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. War Emblem helped elevate the prestige of the Illinois Derby by displaying that a race winner could go on to even bigger glory.

In 2004 Pollard's Vision also helped increase the stature of the race when he won it. Pollard's Vision was a colt who was blind in his right eye, he was named in honor of Seabiscuit's jockey Red Pollard, who also lost sight in his right eye.

In 2006 Sweetnorthernsaint, the Illinois Derby winner that year, helped the stature of the race after recording the highest beyer speed figure of the year in the race and was installed as the morning line favorite in the Kentucky Derby. Sweetnorthernsait went on to become the Preakness Stakes runner up to Bernardini in the race where Barbaro was fatally injured.

In 1997, at Sportsman's Park, Wild Rush set the record for the fastest time in the Illinois Derby at 1:47.51.

It had been a Grade II race with an offering a purse of $500,000, however it was reduced to a Grade III race for 2010 by the American Graded Stakes Committee.[1] Since that time. For 2012, the purse has been reinstated to $500,000, but reduced to $400,000 in 2015.

Winners since 1968Edit

Year Winner Jockey Trainer Owner
Time Purse$ Gr.
2019 Race not run
2018 Race not run
2017 Multiplier James Graham Brendan P. Walsh American Equistock 1:47.98 $250,000 III
2016 Race not run[2]
2015 Whiskey Ticket Martin A. Pedroza Bob Baffert Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram, Paul Weitman 1:50.82 $400,000 III
2014 Dynamic Impact Miguel Mena Mark E. Casse John C. Oxley 1:49.07 $750,000 III
2013 Departing Brian Hernandez Jr. Albert Stall Jr. Claiborne Farm 1:50.78 $750,000 III
2012 Done Talking Sheldon Russell Hamilton Smith Skeedattle Stable 1:53.88 $500,000 III
2011 Joe Vann Florent Geroux Todd Pletcher Zayat Stable 1:51.91 $300,000 III
2010 American Lion David Flores Eoin G. Harty WinStar Farm 1:51.31 $500,000 III
2009 Musket Man Eibar Coa Derek S. Ryan Eric Fein & Vic Carlson 1:49.91 $500,000 II
2008 Recapturetheglory E. T. Baird Louie J. Roussel III Louis J. Roussel III & Ronald Lamarque 1:49.01 $500,000 II
2007 Cowtown Cat Fernando Jara Todd A. Pletcher WinStar Farm 1:51.21 $500,000 II
2006 Sweetnorthernsaint Kent Desormeaux Michael Trombetta Joseph J. Balsamo & Ted Theos 1:49.82 $500,000 II
2005 Greeley's Galaxy Kent Desormeaux Glen Stute B. Wayne Hughes 1:49.62 $500,000 II
2004 Pollard's Vision Eibar Coa Todd A. Pletcher Edgewood Farm 1:50.80 $500,000 II
2003 Ten Most Wanted Pat Day Wallace Dollase James Chisholm, J. Paul Reddam, Michael Jarvis 1:51.47 $500,000 II
2002 War Emblem Larry Sterling Jr. Frank R. Springer Russell Reineman Stable 1:49.42 $500,000 II
2001 Distilled Mike E. Smith Todd A. Pletcher Dogwood Stable 1:51.37 $500,000 II
2000 Performing Magic Shane Sellers Alex L. Hassinger, Jr. The Thoroughbred Corp. 1:50.86 $500,000 II
1999 Vision and Verse Herbert Castillo William I. Mott W. Bruce Lunsford 1:48.47 $500,000 II
1998 Yarrow Brae Willie Martinez D. Wayne Lukas Michael Tabor & Susan Magnier 1:51.21 $500,000 II
1997 Wild Rush Kent Desormeaux Richard Mandella Frank Stronach 1:47.51 $500,000 II
1996 Natural Selection Randy Romero Mohamed Moubarak Buckram Oak Farm (Mahmoud Fustok) 1:48.60 $500,000 III
1995 Peaks and Valleys Julie Krone James E. Day Pin Oak Stable 1:48.99 $500,000 III
1994 Rustic Light Earlie Fires Robert Hale Phillip Brooks & Robert Hale 1:51.89 $500,000 III
1993 Antrim Rd. Aaron Gryder Glenn Wismer Alyce & Joseph Novogratz 1:48.68 $500,000 III
1992 Dignitas Jerry D. Bailey George R. Arnold II John Peace 1:49.09 $533,500 III
1991 Richman Jerry D. Bailey William I. Mott William F. Lucas 1:49.36 $530,000 III
1990 Dotsero Aaron Gryder Tim Muckler J. Malkin, B. Glazov, et al. 1:50.60 $315,000 III
1989 Music Merci Gary Stevens Craig C. Lewis Harvey & Thea Cohen 1:50.20 $515,000 III
1988 Proper Reality Jerry D. Bailey Robert E. Holthus Mrs. James A. Winn 1:50.20 $535,000 III
1987 Lost Code Gene St. Leon L. William Donovan Wendover Stable 1:49.60 $313,550 III
1986 Bolshoi Boy Richard Migliore Howard M. Tesher Art Belford & John Greathouse 1:52.20 $315,000 III
1985 Important Business Juvenal L. Diaz LeRoy Jolley Ilene & Skip Taylor 1:51.60 $320,000 III
1984 Delta Trace Keith K. Allen Robert J. Frankel Ann & Jerry Moss 1:51.80 $210,000 III
1983 Gen'l Practitioner Jose A. Santiago Leo Sierra William Blair 1:50.40 $210,000 III
1982 Star Gallant Ray Sibille Lenny Imperio Mahmoud Fustok 1:52.60 $210,000 III
1981 Paristo David Ashcroft George R. Handy Robert & Ruth Feinberg 1:49.60 $155,000 III
1980 Ray's Word Richard DePass Smiley Adams Not found 1:52.00 $155,000 III
1979 Smarten Sam Maple Woody Stephens Ryehill Farm (Jim & Eleanor Ryan) 1:49.40 $150,000 III
1978 Batonnier Ronald Hirdes Jr. Harry Trotsek Edward Seltzer 1:51.60 $105,000 III
1977 Flag Officer Leslie Ahrens George J. Getz Chuck Schmidt & Philip Teinowitz 1:52.20 $105,000 III
1976 Life's Hope Sandy Hawley Laz Barrera Harbor View Farm 1:51.40 $125,000 III
1975 Colonel Power Phil Rubbicco John O. Meaux Harvey Peltier Sr. 1:50.20 $105,000 III
1974 Sharp Gary Gerland Gallitano Joseph DiAngelo Edward R. Scharps 1:50.00 $105,000 III
1973 Big Whippendeal Larry Adams John Fulton Kinship Stables 1:50.20 $75,000 III
1972 Fame And Power Gerland Gallitano John O. Meaux Harvey Peltier Sr. 1:50.00 $70,000
1971 Race not run
1970 Race not run
1969 King of the Castle Braulio Baeza Edward A. Neloy Ogden Phipps 1:51.40 $80,000
1968 Bold Favorite Robert Nono Del W. Carroll Michael G. Phipps 1:50.20 $75,000

Earlier winnersEdit

  • 1967 - Royal Malabar
  • 1966 - Michigan Avenue
  • 1965 - Terra Hi (1st Div)
  • 1964 - Nushka
  • 1963 - Lemon Twist
  • 1939 - 1962 Race not run
  • 1938 - Gov. Chandler
  • 1937 - Case Ace
  • 1936 - Rushaway
  • 1935 - Sun Portland
  • 1934 - Mata Hari
  • 1933 - Sweeprush
  • 1923 - In Memoriam

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Two Fewer Graded Stakes in 2010
  2. ^ Paulick Report Staff (25 February 2016). "Hawthorne: Illinois Derby, Sixty Sails Likely Dropped From Spring Schedule". Paulick Report. Retrieved 21 April 2017.

External linksEdit