Stickney, IL--Conditions for the 30th running of the $110,075 Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity were less than ideal as nine two-year-old colts and geldings did battle in the one mile and one-sixteenths event. But nothing could stop the odds-on favorite Summer’s Empire from rolling home a one-length winner over Last Demand through a driving cold rain. The time for the race was 1:45.33 on a track listed as good.

The son of Empire Maker and 2003 Illinois Horse of the year Summer Mis was ridden to victory by Jesse Campbell and trained by Anthony Mitchell. It was the third straight victory, all at Hawthorne, and his $66,045 share of the winning pushed his career total to $103,485.

With the track playing kindly to speed, and with Summer’s Empire, at this stage in his career a deep closer, the strategy for victory needed some tweaking.

“There wasn’t a lot of speed in the race so we stayed close,” said Campbell in the winners circle. “I actually thought about going for the lead coming out of the far turn but I tried to show a little patience. The horse showed some heart and he obviously has a lot of talent.”

Summer’s Empire was indeed up close throughout, tracking Last Demand for much of the race before challenging the Brian Williamson-trained gelding at the top of the stretch. It wasn’t easy, but in the end the Richard Otto-owned ‘Empire’ grinded past Last Demand to register the one-length victory.

“We know this horse. He’s honest and he’s just starting to figure things out,” said Mitchell. “After this, I hope that he’s figured out a whole lot more. He really had to run to win this race. We’ll give him a little break after this and see how things fall when we bring him back. Obviously if there’s a shot to move him after this we’ll take it.”

It was three and one-half lengths back to the third place finisher Ocean Ace, giving Williamson the second and third place finishers in the Illinois-bred stake.

Summer’s Empire paid $3.20 to win.