Trainer Derek Ryan is wasting no time planning Musket Man's next destination after the 3-year-old colt used a big stretch run to win Saturday's $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course.
"We're leaving for Churchill (Downs) tomorrow at 7 a.m.," Ryan said after Musket Man shot past four competitors after the final turn to win the Grade 2 race by 2 lengths.
"He really ran a big race today," Ryan said. "Everybody has been questioning his ability to get the distance, but they don't know the horse I do."
The victory on the 11/8-mile track gives the Kentucky-bred colt a likely spot in next month's Kentucky Derby.
"He's got to be one of the top picks now," Ryan said. "He's a very, very talented horse. He's got one of the best dispositions of a horse you could ever have; nothing ever bothers him."
Musket Man was in fifth place approaching the final turn when jockey Eibar Coa maneuvered the colt on the far side into position for a dynamic stretch run.
"He placed himself in a great position and just allowed me to do whatever I needed to do," said Coa, riding Musket Man for the first time. "He showed today that he definitely has the potential to go to the Derby."
Musket Man was a 5-1 morning-line favorite and 5-2 by post time. He paid $7.60 to win, $3.80 to place and $3.20 to show. Second-place finisher Giant Oak returned $4.20 and $3. Show horse His Greatness paid $11.80.