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
Distance: 1 1/8 Mile Dirt
Conditions: FOR THREE-YEAR-OLDS
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
|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.|