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Midnight Hawk Headlines Field for Illinois Derby

Contact : Jim Miller (708) 780-3671

Hawthorne Race Course

Contact : Jim Miller - (708) 780-3700

For Immediate Release


Midnight Hawk Headlines Illinois Derby Field


STICKNEY, IL – There’s a lot of local hopes for a Blackhawks double on Saturday afternoon.  Earlier in the day, the Chicago Blackhawks will be facing off against the St. Louis Blues in game 2 of their first round playoff series.  Later in the afternoon, a horse with Blackhawks ties will take to the track as Graded Stakes winner Midnight Hawk is the morning line favorite in the Grade 3, $500,000 Illinois Derby, Presented by Xpressbet.

            The Illinois Derby will be contested at 1 1/8 miles on Hawthorne’s dirt main track and go as race 9 of a 10 race card that will also include the Grade 3, $150,000 Sixty Sails Handicap for females, and a pair of $100,000 state-bred stakes, the Robert S. Molaro Handicap and the Third Chance Handicap.  The Illinois Derby and Sixty Sails are both parts of a live broadcast on WGN Television from 5:00 – 6:00 PM Central time.  Additionally, WGN Radio, 720 AM will be broadcasting from Hawthorne, along with TVG Network.

            The heavy morning line favorite for the Illinois Derby is Midnight Hawk.  Midnight Hawk is owned in partnership by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc, Mike Pegram, Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville, Blackhawks Assistant Coach Mike Kitchen, and Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line Coach and past Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice.  Midnight Hawk is trained by Bob Baffert.

            Making a splash at first asking, Midnight Hawk won his debut by 6 ¼ lengths last December at Betfair Hollywood Park.  His following start was a win in the Grade 3 Sham at Santa Anita.  In his third start, he ran a close up third to Candy Boy and Chitu in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis at Santa Anita before chasing likely Kentucky Derby favorite California Chrome, running second in the Grade 2 San Felipe.  His most recent race was a second place effort behind Chitu in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby.  With a record of 5-2-2-1, Midnight Hawk has earned $347,000.  In the Illinois Derby he will be ridden for the first time by Martin Garcia and is 4-5 in the morning line.

            Trainer Todd Pletcher has had a lot of success in the Illinois Derby and this year sends out a pair in King Cyrus, and supplemental entry Global Strike for the Grade 3 event.  Owned by WinStar Farm, LLC King Cyrus broke his maiden at first asking as a two-year-old last August at Saratoga.  He ran eighth with a wide trip in the Grade 1 Hopeful in career start number two before running third against allowance-company at Keeneland last fall.  Given time off following that race, King Cyrus returned to run second in the Smooth Air at Calder before most recently running seventh in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in his most recent start.  King Cyrus will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik and is 6-1 in the morning line.

            Global Strike has faced Midnight Hawk already, as he was a part of the Sunland Derby.  Finishing sixth in that race, Global Strike takes another chance at a Graded Stakes placing.  He hit the board in his three starts prior, breaking his maiden in his third career start at Gulfstream on February 22.  Local jock Tim Thornton gets the call as Global Strike is 15-1 in the morning line.

            A winner of two straight coming into the Illinois Derby is Class Leader.  Owned by Lane’s End Racing and trained by Neil Howard, Class leader finished sixth in his debut as a two-year-old at Churchill last October.  Stretching out for his second start, Class Leader broke his maiden around two turns at Fair Grounds and came back to win an optional claiming allowance race in his following start.  Class Leader will be ridden by James Graham and is 5-1 in the morning line.      

Coming from the barn of trainer Robert Pincins is Emmett Park.  Owned by Richard Emmett’s Gore Range Stable, Emmett Park makes career start four in the Illinois Derby.  A winner in his first start at Turfway last December, Emmett Park came right back to defeat Optional claiming allowance-company in his first start as a three-year-old.  He drew the far outside of the field of 14 in the Grade 2 Risen Star, never making an impact but has been given some time off before coming to the Illinois Derby.  Lori Wydick rides Emmett Park as he is 20-1 in the morning line.

            Dynamic Impact runs for trainer Mark Casse as he also steps up to take on Graded stakes company for the first time.  Often times running close, Dynamic Impact broke his maiden on March 1 at Oaklawn, stalking and battling to a victory.  Owned by John Oxley and ridden by Miguel Mena, Dynamic Impact is 6-1 in the morning line.

            Local hopes in the Illinois Derby come from A Step Ahead and Irish You Well. A Step Ahead runs for trainer Chris Block for owners Virginia H. Tarra Trust.  A winner over this Hawthorne track, A Step Ahead is stakes placed and proven around two turns.  Chris Emigh takes the call as A Step Ahead is 20-1 in the morning line.

 Still a maiden, but not to be overlooked is Irish You Well.  Owned by Donegal Racing and trained by Wayne Catalano, Irish You Well has made six starts, posting a second and three third-place efforts.  In the Illinois Derby, Irish You Well gets Channing Hill in the saddle and is 20-1 in the morning line.


The field for the Illinois Derby:



PP       Horse                          Jockey                        Trainer                       M/L

1          Dynamic Impact         M. Mena                      M. Casse                     6-1

2          A Step Ahead             C. Emigh                     C. Block                      20-1

3          Midnight Hawk          M. Garcia                    B. Baffert                    4-5

4          Irish You Well            C. Hill                         W. Catalano                20-1

5          King Cyrus                  R. Napravnik               T. Pletcher                   8-1

6          Emmett Park               L. Wydick                   R. Pincins                    20-1

7          Global Strike               T. Thornton                 T. Pletcher                   15-1

8          Class Leader               J. Graham                    N. Howard                  5-1




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