12/13/2008 1:00AM

Summer's Empire collects third straight victory

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Summer's Empire won for the third straight time, taking the $110,075 Jim Edgar Futurity by three-quarters of a length on Saturday at dark, windy Hawthorne Race Course.

Winless coming into this meet, Summer's Empire left the maiden ranks in October, cleared his entry-level allowance condition at first asking in November, and ground out a victory in the Edgar, a two-turn race for Illinois-bred 2-year-olds. The colt remained unbeaten in both dirt and route races.

In his allowance win last month, Summer's Empire scored with a sharp wide move that carried him from the back of the pack to the lead at the top of the Hawthorne stretch. Saturday, his trip was much different, with new rider Jesse Campbell letting Summer's Empire run up just behind the leaders around the first turn. The pace on a fast-playing track was moderate, 24.59 seconds to the quarter and 48.58 to the half, and midway around the far turn, Campbell asked Summer's Empire to make his move. He moved a path or two off the fence, sent Summer's Empire through small hole, and took on front-running Last Demand, and Summer's Empire surged to a clear lead. But the rail was good Saturday, and Last Demand fought on, perhaps gaining a neck on the winner from stretch call to finish.

Summer's Empire ($3.20) was timed in 1:45.33 for 1 1/16 miles miles on a good track. Bred and owned by Richard Otto, Summer's Empire, an Empire Maker colt, is trained by Tony Mitchell.