Multiplier got up in the final strides of the $250,000 Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne, nailing 9-5 favorite Hedge Fund by a neck. Ridden by James Graham, the Brendan Walsh-trained son of The Factor jumped straight to stakes company off a maiden win in his fourth career start and completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.98
It was the second-fastest Illinois Derby since the race was inaugurated in 1968. The middle leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico on May 20, is now a viable option for the improving Multiplier.
Owned by Joe Senkovich’s American Equistock, Multiplier saved ground in fifth from his inside post as Stand and Cheer sped forward to show the way in splits of :23.47 and :47.24. Hedge Fund was tracking the speed in second and surged to the front on the far turn, opening a clear lead as he entered the stretch drive.
Multiplier gathered momentum while passing rivals on the far turn and accelerated into the lane, rallying determinedly to catch the Hedge Fund late. He was off as the 4-1 third choice among five rivals.
“Turning for home I was pretty sure we were going to get there,” Graham said. “For a moment when Jose’s (Valdivia) horse (Hedge Fund) spurted away, he kind of caught my horse flat but Multiplier went right after him all the way to the wire and got up by maybe a neck.
“He might have settled a bit too well. He’s kind of lazy. But he has a great career ahead of him. Have you seen him? He’s gorgeous. All kidding aside, he’s a beautiful horse and Brendan has done a great job with him. I’m just happy to be a part of this.”
Hedge Fund easily held second, 4 ¾ lengths better than It’s Your Nickel in third.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Mark Stansell and sold for $62,000 as a weanling at the 2014 Keeneland November sale. He RNA’ed for $220,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale. Multiplier is the first stakes winner out of the Grade 3-placed Trippi mare Trippi Street.
A closing third when making his debut at Fair Grounds on January 21, Multiplier came back to post a neck second four weeks later and was exiting a 1 ¾-length maiden score at the New Orleans track on March 18. He’s now earned $187,310.