Zayat Stables' JOE VANN (Silver Deputy) salvaged one of the three Kentucky Derby (G1) prep races on Saturday for trainer Todd Pletcher, winning the $300,000 Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne. It didn't make up for Pletcher's disappointment in seeing champion Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) weaken to third in the Wood Memorial (G1) minutes later, but Joe Vann gave his conditioner something to celebrate when taking his stakes debut. Unfortunately, the dark bay is not nominated to the Triple Crown.
Joe Vann brought a two-race win streak into the Illinois Derby, winning a maiden special weight and an allowance/optional claiming event at Laurel Park, and the dark bay colt tracked Lagoon of Diamonds (Encosta de Lago) in second with jockey Florent Geroux during the opening five-eighths a mile. He assumed the lead midway on the far turn and drew off into the stretch, scoring comfortably by 4 1/4 lengths over Zoebear (Bellamy Road), who nipped The Fed Eased (Montbrook) late for second. Zoebear is still a maiden and recorded his fourth second-place effort in six career starts.
The Fed Eased had seven lengths on fourth-placer and 7-2 second choice Sour (Lemon Drop Kid), who was followed under the finish line by El Grayling (El Prado [Ire]), 2-1 favorite Watch Me Go (West Acre), Roman Flame (Roman Ruler), Lagoon of Diamonds, Vouch for Victory (Quest), Smarter Than Ever (Smarty Jones), Southern Sculptor (Langfuhr) and Future Empire (Empire Maker).
Off as the 5-1 fourth choice among 12 three-year-olds, Joe Vann paid $12.60, $6.80 and $5.20. The early splits on the fast track were :23 4/5, :48 1/5, 1:13 3/5 and 1:39, and Joe Vann completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:51 4/5.
Bred in Kentucky by Monticule, Joe Vann is the first foal out of the Danzig mare Polish Flower and was purchased by Ahmed Zayat for $150,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He counts as half-sisters a two-year-old filly by Forest Danger and a 2011 filly by Distorted Humor. This is the female family of 1980 Canadian International (G1) winner Great Neck (Tentam) and Venezuelan champions Sibarita (Slew Prince) and Demons Cloak (Demons Begone).
Joe Vann's overall ledger reads 8-3-1-1, $217,615.