Perhaps Joel Quenneville had a premonition.
After his defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks lost Thursday's first game in their opening round playoff series to the Blues in triple overtime he likened it "to getting beat on a bob of the head in the Illinois Derby."
That's what happened to his horse Saturday at Hawthorne Race Course.
About 15 minutes after the Hawks suffered another overtime loss in Game 2 in St. Louis, Midnight Hawk, the horse the coach co-owns, was beaten by a bob of the head in the Illinois Derby.
"With a head bob you never know if you're going to get it," said Dynamic Impact's jockey, Miguel Mena, after his mount thrust his nose in front at the wire to win the Grade III $500,000 race by a nose.
Falcons line coach Mike Tice, who owns Midnight Hawk in partnership with Quenneville, Hawks assistant Mike Kitchen, high-profile thoroughbred owner Mike Pegram and brand-name Kentucky breeder John Sikura, was philosophical.
"That's why they call it horse racing," said the former head coach of the Vikings and offensive coordinator of the Bears. "Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. When they hit the wire I was afraid we lost."
Although Midnight Hawk stumbled leaving the starting gate, jockey Martin Garcia offered no excuses for the defeat of the overwhelming favorite at odds of 2-5.
"He tried to break sharply," Garcia said. "The ground was kind of loose. He recovered (from the stumble) right away and he hit the lead."
Dynamic Impact was close behind and they dueled for the remainder of the 11/8-mile race.
"I was hoping someone would chase the favorite instead of me but no one did so it was up to us," Mena said. "I was able to put some pressure on him."
With a quarter mile to run, Mena took Dynamic Impact from inside Midnight Hawk to outside the front-runner. He believes that was the key to victory.
"That's when the running started for him," Mena said. "From then on I got excited. I knew we were going to be dangerous."
At the stretch call Midnight Hawk led by 11/2 lengths but Dynamic Impact was on the move and in the late stretch he moved alongside. Still, it wasn't until they arrived at the finish line that the 9-1 fourth choice in the eight-horse race bobbed his nose out front.
Going the distance in 1:49.07, Dynamic Impact paid $21.20, $6 and $4.80 in winning for the second time in his six-race career. His other conquest came in his preceding outing, a $60,000 maiden race, at Oaklawn Park.
"He's finally starting to come around," Norman Casse, son and top assistant of trainer Mark Casse, said of the son of 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow. "There's a reason we came here. This could be a serious horse down the road."
Finish lines: For the first time in Midnight Hawk's six-race career Mike Smith wasn't his jockey. Smith was in West Virginia to ride Game on Dude for trainer Bob Baffert in Saturday night's $1.5 million Charles Town Classic. Garcia is Baffert's morning exercise rider on Midnight Hawk and is a successful jockey in Southern California. … Hawthorne's premier race for fillies and mares, the Grade III $150,000 Sixty Sails Handicap, also was on Saturday's card and Flashy American was a 3/4-length winner over Sonja's Angel. … There were two major races restricted to Illinois-breds, both 6 furlong sprints: C'Mon Feet won the $85,049 Third Chance Handicap for fillies and mares in a three-horse photo-finish with Missjeanlouise and My Option and 9-year-old River Bear captured the $102,725 Robert S. Molaro Handicap for older males, coming from far back to defeat runner-up Four Left Feet by 1/2 a length.