Updated on 09/17/2011 11:14AM

Ten Most Wanted finally turns pro

Ten Most Wanted ($6.60) wins Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne by four lengths under Pat Day.

STICKNEY, Ill. - A diamond in the rough before Saturday, Ten Most Wanted sparkled in the , leaving the rest of the field behind with a powerful stretch run that stamped him as a Kentucky Derby contender.

Racing in mid-pack until the far turn, Ten Most Wanted ($6.60) and jockey Pat Day started their run outside the quarter pole and reached the longshot Fund of Funds in midstretch before drawing away to a four-length win in the Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby.

It was the first time Ten Most Wanted had turned his raw ability into a professional race, and his performance probably landed him a slot in the Kentucky Derby field, trainer Wally Dollase said. Last year's Illinois Derby winner, War Emblem, went on to win both the Derby and the Preakness.

Ten Most Wanted had only a maiden win to his credit before this race, and had finished fourth in the Sham and third in the El Camino Real Derby in his last two starts. Day rode him in the El Camino Real, but got Ten Most Wanted to relax for the first time Saturday.

"He's learning, and he finally ran a professional race," said Dollase. "He was very anxious in his previous starts and was able to rate well today. Some of the things we've been doing with him in the morning have started to pay off."

The Illinois Derby pace was fast. Lx Commander ran a quarter-mile in 23.03 seconds and a half in 46.73 while dogged by Alysweep, the Gotham winner, who jockey Richard Migliore said never came off the bridle. Runnin' on Nitro, who was expected to be part of the pace, was far back early.

Day saved ground with Ten Most Wanted, who stayed within striking distance while traveling smoothly, but it was Fund of Funds who sat just off the early leaders and then made a quick move to the lead coming into the stretch. Fund of Funds opened a clear lead, but Ten Most Wanted quickly countered and wore him down with a sustained stretch run, running the 1 1/8 miles in a good 1:51.47. Foufa's Warrior finished third, Lone Star Sky fourth.

Dollase said Ten Most Wanted leaves Sunday for Keeneland, where he'll train until about April 20 and then ship to Churchill Downs. "I know the owners will want to head to the Kentucky Derby, and this horse is bred to go a mile and a quarter," he said.