With just over two weeks to go until the Kentucky Derby, trainer Bob Baffert is going into the race as strong as any trainer has in recent history. Two weeks ago it was the Baffert trained Dortmund who dominated the Santa Anita Derby and appeared primed to be the favorite on Derby Day. Maybe not though.

Last weekend at Oaklawn Park we saw an equally dominating performance in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. In that event, the Bob Baffert trained American Pharoah made a mockery of the field. Sitting just off the early pace, jockey Victor Espinoza never had to move on American Pharoah, winning as easily as could be by eight lengths.

When the field is drawn in a couple of weeks for the Kentucky Derby, Dortmund and American Pharoah will be the favorite and second choice, but who will be which? Regardless, we know Bob Baffert will have a pair of major threats on the first Saturday in May. 

Major Player in Illinois Derby?

The field for this Saturday’s Illinois Derby at Hawthorne was drawn on Wednesday morning as Bob Baffert could have another up and coming three-year-old star. Last year Baffert’s Midnight Hawk lost by a whisker to Dynamic Impact in the Illinois Derby after a stretch battle.  This year, Whiskey Ticket could be the horse to beat. A somewhat unknown, Whiskey Ticket comes into the Illinois Derby with just one career start. That race came on March 19 at Santa Anita, a maiden breaker while going one mile.  Whiskey Ticket’s breeding suggests he can run all day and he will likely set the pace in Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 event.

The biggest challenge to Whiskey Ticket in the Illinois Derby could come from Cross the Line from the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer. Cross the Line has a stronger resume than Whiskey Ticket as he has won twice and ran second in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby. His most recent race was a fifth-place effort behind Dortmund in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

The weather looks great for a fine weekend of racing at Hawthorne Race Course. Races will be conducted on the turf as well and the outdoor barbeque will be grilling all day Saturday. First race for the ten race Saturday card is 1:50 PM with the Illinois Derby being run at 5:45 PM.  If you can’t make it out to the track, make sure to place your wagers online at