MUSKET MAN WINS THE ILLINOIS
The Kentucky Derby!
Musket Man took over at
the top of the lane and cruised to an impressive two-length victory in
the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr. II) April 4 at Hawthorne Park. It was
the second straight graded stakes victory for the son of Yonaguska , who
also took the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) last month.
with five wins in six lifetime starts and gutsy performances in
his last two tries, Musket Man will head to the Kentucky Derby (gr.
I) as a legitimate contender. The dark bay colt, which
was only a $15,000 sale yearling, is owned by Eric Fein and Vic Carlson
and trained by Derek Ryan.
I suppose we have to go to Kentucky now,” said Ryan, tongue-in-cheek
following the race. “He really ran a big race today. Everybody has
been questioning his ability to get the distance, but they don’t
know the horse. I do. I know what I’ve got, and I knew he would
have no trouble getting the distance and he showed it today.”
Ridden by Eibar Coa for the first time, Musket Man raced mid-pack in the
early stages of the 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby while Perfect Song, as expected,
took the field of 10 through splits of :23.84, :47.67, and 1:12.30 under
Mario Pino. His Greatness pressed the pace in second, while Al Khali and
Giant Oak were also close up.
As they made their way around the far turn, Coa guided Musket Man four-wide
into striking position. They easily took over from a tiring Perfect Song
approaching the eighth pole and powered through the stretch. Giant Oak
was the only threat as they neared the sixteenth-pole, but the Illinois-bred
could not get to the winner, who stopped the clock in 1:49.91 on a track
Giant Oak was a clear second under Shaun Bridgmohan, five lengths in front
of third-place His Greatness. Nowhere to Hide was fourth.
Musket Man, who also won the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs this winter,
has only had one setback in his career, that coming in the Feb. 14 Sam
F. Davis (gr. III) over the same strip when finishing third. As a 2-year-old,
he broke his maiden at Belmont and won an allowance sprint at Philadelphia
Musket Man was bred in Kentucky by Jim E. Nelson and Sergio De Sousa,
and is out of the Fortunate Prospect mare Fortuesque. He has earned $572,600.
Sent off as the slight favorite, Musket Man paid $7.60, $3.80, and $3.20.
The exacta (8-2) returned $29.20 while the trifecta (8-2-5) with 51-1
His Greatness was worth $481.40