2012 Illinois Derby for Mike Repole and Our Entourage

2012 Illinolis Derby at Hawthorne Race Course

Last year, Mike Repole was thoroughbred racing’s most entertaining and outspoken owner. Repole had not one, but two Kentucky Derby contenders, including the favorite – undefeated champion Uncle Mo. The Derby didn’t exactly turn out as Repole had hoped. Uncle Mo became ill and never made the race, and his other contender, Stay Thirsty finished 12th.

“Last year was a special year. I wasn’t naïve about it even as I was going through it,” Repole said. “I knew it was a once in a lifetime type of year to have two of the top 20 3-year-old colts in the country. I was thankful and appreciative then, and knew I may never ever get back to the Derby again. Looking back on it, even though I had a lot of fun going through the experience, it was pretty stressful.

Now, Our Entourage is taking Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher to the 2012 Kentucky Derby prep race, the Illinois Derby on Saturday, April 7 at Hawthorne Race Course. Our Entourage is part of a large field of mostly unheralded sophomores all in need of graded earnings in order to punch their 2012 Kentucky Derby tickets.

“We can take him to Keeneland to run for $100,000 on turf or we can take him to Illinois for a shot at the Derby,” Repole said. “Where else am I going to run him? He’s been working great in company with Todd’s best 3-year-olds all winter. He’s worked with Windsurfer two works ago and El Padrino before that, and you couldn’t separate them. He’s also worked well with Discreet Dancer and Gemologist. Then on Sunday he breezed with Stay Thirsty and you couldn’t separate them either. They both went :47 and 4/5 and galloped out well. Granted, it was only the second four-furlong work for Stay Thirsty this year, but he’s also the Travers winner, so obviously Todd has enough confidence in Our Entourage to work him against good horses.

“I definitely think his better surface is turf, but he hasn’t raced on dirt since the Remsen, and he looks like a turf horse that can dirt. We saw what happened in some of these recent Derbies with Big Brown and Animal Kingdom, so you never know. He’s matured as he’s gotten older and he’s going in there with five starts and a couple of two-turn wins, and no matter what happens he’ll gain some experience.”

With the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby being run on the same day, Repole locked up one of his favorite New York-based riders for the Illinois Derby—Eddie Castro. Castro’s instructions will likely to put Our Entourage near the pace and give him a chance turning for home.

“It would be nice to go back to Louisville for the Derby, especially with this horse who I named for the large entourage I take with me. Of course, my entourage is a little different than most; mine is with my 7-year-old niece and my 86-year-old grandmother, and all my family and friends, but it’s still an entourage.”

The Illinois Derby has attracted a full field of 14. In post position order, the horses are: Romancing the Gold, Hakama, Ring It Up, Currency Swap, Pretension, Skyring, Saturday Launch, Rockstar, Fastestwhogetspaid, Frankie Is Rock, Our Entourage, Morgan’s Guerrilla, Done Talking, and Slamit.