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Arlington Park Stakes Advance: Prairie State Festival

Contact: David Zenner


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (June 24, 2004) -- Led by Mystery Giver, the 2002 Illinois Horse of the Year, 60 of the best Illinois-registered horses in training have been entered for the six $75,000-added stakes races that comprise the fifth annual Prairie State Festival to be held Saturday, June 26, at Arlington Park.

The six races that make up the showcase for state breds are:

  • The Purple Violet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile
  • The Springfield Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile
  • The Isaac Murphy Handicap for fillies & mares, 3-year-olds & upward at six furlongs
  • The White Oak Handicap for 3-year-olds & upward at six furlongs
  • The Lincoln Heritage Handicap for fillies & mares 3-year-olds & upward at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf
  • The Cardinal Handicap for 3-year-olds & upward at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf

Team Block's Mystery Giver, the 2002 Cardinal Handicap hero and 127-pound highweight for this year's renewal, will be the likely favorite in his attempt to earn a second victory in the grassy race, the eighth race on Saturday's 10-race program. The Chris Block-trained son of Dynaformer most recently ran third in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day. Earlier this year, he notched his biggest victory when he captured the Grade II Mervyn Muniz Jr. Handicap at the Fair Grounds.

Prominent among those slated to face Mystery Giver are three other past Cardinal winners: R 'n R Breeders II's Act of War, defending Cardinal champion; Gene Hoffman & Team Block's Reno Rumble, the 2001 victor; and Carolyn K. Friedberg's Minor Wisdom, the 2000 hero who is also a graded stakes winner.

Also entered in the Cardinal are two other graded stakes winners: Butterfly Stable's Scooter Roach, the adjudged winner of the 2002 Grade III Hawthorne Derby; and Irish Acres Farm's Colorful Tour, a multiple grade III stakes winner and champion Illinois older male last year.

The Mark Cristel-trained duo of Samantha B and I Can Fan Fan are among the distaffers to beat in the Lincoln Heritage Handicap. The former, by Dance Brightly, is the starting highweight off her front-running performance in open optional claiming company last time from which she was claimed by her current owners Judy Cristel and Charles J. Sigrist. The latter, a daughter of Lear Fan, is winless in two trips to the post this year but a winner against state-bred rivals over this course last year.

Hussar Racing Stable LLC's Lighthouse Lil is another well-regarded runner in the Lincoln Heritage lineup. Trained by Chris Block, the daughter of Hold for Gold had her four-race win skein snapped when she ran third to Samantha B. in her last start.

The defection of defending champion and highweight Summer Mis from the Isaac Murphy throws the six-furlong dash wide open though Lamont H. Nienast LLC's Synco Peach may have stamped herself as the one to beat. She has been red-hot of late, rattling off three straight victories at Hawthorne Race Course this spring. The Percy Scherbenske-trained daughter of Whadjathink broke her maiden here last year.

Pacella, Rizza & Schwed's Wiggins, champion Illinois 3-year-old last year, shortens up in distance to run in the six-furlong White Oak Handicap. Winner of the one-mile Springfield Stakes during last year's Prairie State Festival, the son of Cartwright is equally adept at the sprint distance of the White Oak, with two wins and a second from three starts at six panels.

The well-matched field for the White Oak also includes Richard F. Rudolph's San Pedro, winner of the Play Fellow Handicap here last summer; Asiel Stable's Shandy, hero of the $100,000 Chicagoland Handicap at Hawthorne in April; Terry Young & Eugene Renfrow's Silver Bid, runner-up to Shandy in the Chicagoland.

The Everett Stables Inc.'s tandem of Slewville and Wish for Gold, the one-two finishers in the $100,000 Lady Hallie Stakes at Hawthorne in April, return to the Chicago area for the Purple Violet Stakes. Since winning at Hawthorne, Slewville ran sixth in the open $100,000 Go For Wand Stakes at Delaware Park.

The Springfield Stakes may prove to be the most wide open on the card. Included among the sophomores slated to run in the Springfield are: Asiel Stable's Prairie King and Jaguar On The Run Stable's Jaguar Friend, the one-two finishers in the $100,000 Land Of Lincoln Stakes at Hawthorne in April; Richard Perkins & Edward Stewart's Persuaggle, a double-digit allowance winner last time out; Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s Out for a Spin, an impressive maiden victor at first asking; and C. B. Racing Inc's American Link, winner of his last two over this track.

Arlington Park -- the Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. -- will run a 96-day meet in 2004 from Friday, May 14 through Sunday, Sept. 19. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates eight off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities: Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Chicago, Trackside McHenry, Trackside Rockford, Trackside South Beloit, Trackside Waukegan and Longshots featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at

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