The lucrative, $500,000 Illinois Derby (G3), is the centerpiece of the racing at Hawthorne on Saturday, when four stakes will be held. A few sophomores in here still have hopes still of making their way into the Triple Crown race, and late developers often show up in this race. Trainer Bob Baffert intends to send graded winner Midnight Hawk, who is very consistent and might be the one to beat. The honest son of Midnight Lute was a nice second at Sunland last time to a sharp stable companion, and the potential favorite will likely head to Churchill with a solid showing on this day.  

Midnight Hawk's most serious rival on Saturday might be Class Leader. The late-blooming Smart Strike colt, from the barn of Neil Howard, makes his stakes debut after back-to-back wins at Fair Grounds, the latter a one-length allowance score on March 13.

The 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby does not offer any qualifying points for Kentucky Derby eligibility, and is now seen as more of a prep for the Preakness on May 17. That was the case last year when Claiborne Farm's gelding Departing used a romping win in the race as a springboard to Pimlico.

Also on the nice day of racing is the $150,000 Sixty Sails S. (G3), $100,000 Molaro H and the $100,000 Third Chance H.

2014 G3 $500,000 Illinois Derby

Date: Saturday, April 19
Where:  Hawthorne Race Course, Illinois
Post Time: 6:42pm ET
TV: TwinSpiresTV
Distance: 1 1/8 Mile Dirt
Conditions: FOR THREE-YEAR-OLDS
Purse: $500,000
Illinois Derby wagering may include: $1 Exacta / 50 Cent Trifecta / $1 Superfecta / 10 Cent Superfecta $1 Daily Double

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Field and odds for the 2014 G3 $500,000 Illinois Derby

PP
Horse
A/S
M/E
Wgt
Jockey
Trainer
1 Dynamic Impact 3 C L 122 Mena Miguel Casse Mark E.
2 A Step Ahead 3 C L 122 Emigh Christopher A. Block Chris M.
3 Midnight Hawk 3 C L 122 Garcia Martin Baffert Bob
4 Irish You Well 3 C L 122 Hill Channing Catalano Wayne M.
5 King Cyrus 3 C L b 122 Napravnik Rosie Pletcher Todd A.
6 Emmett Park 3 G L 122 Wydick Lori A. Pincins Robert J.
7 Global Strike 3 C L 122 Thornton Timothy Pletcher Todd A.
8 Class Leader 3 C L 122 Graham James Howard Neil J.