STICKNEY, Ill. — Backtalk will look for a chance to follow in his famous father's footsteps with a win in Saturday's Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Racecourse.
The 3-year-old son of 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the Grade III, $500,000 Derby prep race.
One of the most highly regarded 2-year-olds in the country in 2009, Backtalk won both the Grade III Bashford Manor and Grade II Sanford last summer at Saratoga.
Following a wide trip and fourth-place finish in the Grade I Hopeful, Backtalk was sent off as the favorite and didn't fare well in the Grade I Breeders' Futurity at Keene land last fall. Following a flat effort in that event, and given some time off, Backtalk returned this spring with a victory in the Sportsman's Paradise Stakes at Delta Downs.
American Lion, the second choice at 7-2, will look for his second graded stakes win. He followed a maiden victory at Keeneland last fall with a win in the Grade III Hollywood Prevue in November. This year, he has posted third- and fourth-place efforts, respectively, in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis and Grade II San Felipe at Santa Anita.
Other top contenders in Saturday's eight-horse field include Yawanna Twist (4-1), Dave in Dixie (9-2) and Turf Melody (6-1).
The race will be on TVG at 5:37 p.m.
Blind Luck wins Fantasy
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Blind Luck has a ways to go before matching the accomplishments of racing's finest fillies.
Her stretch run in the Fantasy Stakes was a good start.
Blind Luck overtook Tidal Pool with an impressive final surge Friday at Oaklawn Park, winning by 2½ lengths in the same race that featured Rachel Alexandra and Eight Belles the last two years. Those fillies later ran in Triple Crown races, but that's not on the agenda for Blind Luck just yet. She'll be pointed to the Kentucky Oaks instead of the Kentucky Derby.
"The Oaks has been our target," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "If I can get that, then I'll worry about everything else later on."
Blind Luck won for the sixth time in nine career starts and the first time on a non-synthetic surface since June.
Despite saving ground on the rail, jockey Calvin Borel and Tidal Pool weren't able to hold on in the 11⁄16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.
"We had no problems and my filly really ran well," Borel said. "You will hear more from her. This filly's time will come and she is going to win some big races."