Dynamic Impact ran down 2-5 favorite Midnight Hawk in the stretch to win the $500,000 Illinois Derby by a nose at Hawthorne Race Course on Saturday.
Ridden by Miguel Mena, Dynamic Impact ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.07 against seven rivals.
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"Nobody chased the favorite, so I had to go and put some pressure on him," Mena said.
Midnight Hawk, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, stumbled out of the gate, but recovered and went to the lead, where he stayed until losing the photo finish. Dynamic Impact trailed by 2 lengths at the head of the stretch.
"I was glad I was able to put him on the outside at the quarter-pole," Mena said. "He wasn’t liking it on the inside and I had no choice since I had to put some pressure. By the time we got to the eighth-pole, I said, `He’s coming back, he’s coming back.’"
Midnight Hawk started to waiver at the quarter-pole.
"He got a little tired (at the end)," jockey Martin Garcia said.
Dynamic Impact paid $21.20, $6 and $4.80. Midnight Hawk returned $2.20 and $2.10, while Irish You Well returned $4.80.
Dynamic Impact, who was facing graded stakes winners for the first time in the Illinois Derby, is trained by Mark Casse and owned by John Oxley.
Among the owners of Midnight Hawk is Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and assistant coach Mike Kitchen, along with Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice. The Blackhawks also lost a heartbreaker, 4-3 in overtime at St. Louis, just minutes before the race.