Sweetnorthernsaint Wins Illinois Derby

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2006 Illinois Derby Recap: Sweetnorthernsaint Wins

Sweetnorthernsaint Powers Away Late in Illinois Derby, Punches Kentucky Derby Ticket
by Ultimatecapper.com Horse Handicapper Kenneth Strong

April 8, 2006 – Sweetnorthernsaint powered away from nine rivals to win the $500,000 Illinois Derby-G2 on Saturday by 9 1/4 lengths over California invader Mister Triester and punched his ticket to the 132nd Kentucky Derby on May 6.

Pressing from just back and outside a slow pace of 23.52, 48.06 and 1:13.10 set by Mister Triester ($27.60-1), Sweetnorthernsaint collared that rival on the final turn and opened up in early stretch, getting the mile in 1:37.74. He then drew away under a strong hand ride from Kent Desormeaux to stop the timer in 1:49.82 for the mile and an eighth over the fast strip.

Mister Triester dug in to hold the place, a length in front of California Derby winner and second choice Cause to Believe ($2.30-1). It was a further 1 1/2 lengths back to Lewis Michael, who was the victim of a tough trip.

Trained by Michael Trombetta, Sweetnorthernsaint returned $4.60, $3.20, $3.00 across the board and increased his earnings to $377,000 for owners Joseph Balsamo and Ted Theos. His lifetime record now stands at 3-0-1 from six starts. More importantly, he now has enough graded stakes earnings to get him into the Kentucky Derby – where he might be the sleeper you’re looking for.

The son of Sweetsouthernsaint-Ice Beauty by Waqouit has performed admirably despite class raises in his last two starts, something that is almost always the sign of a good horse.

In Saturday’s race he defeated the same horse Kentucky Derby favorite Brother Derek had defeated earlier in the year by 8 1/4 lengths in the Santa Catalina, Mister Triester, by 9 1/4 lengths. And Mister Triester ran his race in the Illinois Derby. Sweetnorthernsaint also defeated California Derby winner Cause to Believe in the Illinois Derby, although that one’s late run was voided by a slow pace that left him to close to the lead.

Sweetnorthernsaint’s rapid and steady improvement after a terrible career start might just put him on track to run the race of his life in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

After a horrible lifetime debut last August as a 2-year-old in which he finished 12th beaten 24 lengths on the turf, Sweetnorthernsaint received a trainer change. He then won a $40,000 maiden claiming race at Laurel on December 21 by 16 lengths only to be disqualified.

In his first start as a 3-year-old he dominated a Maiden Special Weight field at Aqueduct going six furlongs and winning by 7 3/4 lengths. He then made his stakes debut on a sloppy track at Laurel, winning the Miracle Wood stakes by 10 lengths going a mile. Then he stepped way up in class for the mile and a sixteenth Gotham Stakes-G3 at Aqueduct on March 18 and finished a game third beaten only three-quarters of a length.

His race in the Gotham showed that he didn’t need the lead to run a big race and also set him up perfectly for his Illinois Derby score. There’s no question this horse is a contender. His Beyer Speed Figures in his two races before the Illinois Derby were 104-104. Still, one question remains.

Did he get enough out of his Illinois Derby win to prepare him for the toughest race of his life, the mile and a quarter Kentucky Derby on May 6?

If you think he did, you’ll get great odds .