Pacesetter Pollard's Vision, the one-eyed colt, repelled the charge of Song of the Sword in the stretch and pulled away to win the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr. II) for 3-year-olds by 2 3/4 lengths at Hawthorne.
Ridden by Eibar Coa, the Todd Pletcher-trained Pollard's Vision won the 1 1/8-mile test in 1:50 4/5 while favored at odds of 8-5. Song of the Sword, who was second by 2 3/4 lengths over Suave, lost for the first time in four career starts.
Pollard's Vision, a stubborn third in his most recent start, the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), appeared to have a class edge over most of the field. The Carson City
colt quickly jumped to the front and held a comfortable lead over Chrome Soldier and Skipaslew through the clubhouse turn and down the backstretch through fractions of :23 4/5, :47 4/5 and 1:12 3/5.
On the far turn, stakes-debuting Song of the Sword, ridden by regular jockey Richard Migliore, gathered himself for a run at the leader from the outside and engaged Pollard's Vision briefly in upper stretch.
However, Pollard's Vision had plenty left for the stretch as he easily put the challenger away.
"We wanted to be close to the pace and that was the way we broke," Coa said. "By the first turn we had the lead to ourselves and we were running very easy. By the quarter pole I was a little concerned, I saw the horses coming. But I knew I had plenty of horse left and he gave it to me when I asked."
Migliore said he was pleased with the effort by the runner-up.
"We got to the 3/8 pole and it looked like the eventual winner was going pretty easy and I thought it was time to apply some pressure to take him," he said. "My horse ran hard. We just couldn't beat him. The other horse just kept finding an answer for us. We ran well considering it was only the fourth start of his life."
Pollard's Vision's first graded stakes win earned $300,000 for owners Edgewood Farm. Bred in Kentucky by Charles A. Smith, the dark bay colt out of the Dixieland Band
mare Etats Unis, was a $70,000 Keeneland purchase a year ago. He has won three of 10 in his career with earnings of $445,811.
He paid $5.40, $3.60 and $2.80. Song of the Sword returned $3.80 and $3.20. Suave, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, was $3.60 to show.
O.K. Mikie rallied from last after six furlongs to finish fourth, followed by Skipaslew, Kilgowan, Pure American, Dancefortyniner, Chrome Soldier, Farnum Alley and White Mountain Boy.