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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/18/04)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Team Block's Mystery Giver, Illinois' 2002 Horse of the Year who returned lame following a 10th-place finish in last Saturday's Grade I Arlington Million, will not get an ultrasound test until this weekend in efforts to diagnose the extent of his injury.
"We have to wait until the swelling goes down before we can do the ultrasound," said trainer Chris Block Wednesday. "So far, the swelling has not gone down significantly, so we're probably looking at Friday, Saturday or Sunday at the earliest."
Mystery Giver's injury involving his right hind became apparent when he failed to show his usual closing kick in the Million, and confirmed when he came back 'off' in that leg when returning to be unsaddled. While the injury is not life threatening, it is quite likely that the 6-year-old gelding's racing career might be over due to a ruptured suspensory ligament.
"I don't have any gut feelings about the extent of the injury," said Block. "At this point I'd have to say it's possible that he could return to competition after about a one-year layoff, but I don't really know. What I do know is that if he could come back and be competitive in top Illinois-bred races such as the Cardinal (Handicap on Prairie State Festival Day) I'd say we might bring him back, but if it's going to be in the claiming ranks, I'll tell you right now the answer is 'no.' We'll just have to wait and see where the injury takes us.
"Mystery Giver has always been the rock of our stable," said Block. "It will be hard to replace a horse like that in a small stable like ours. He's always been a sound horse, so it was a shock to everybody. He's provided us with a lot of enjoyment, and as a homebred, we are, of course, especially proud of him.
"It was quite a roller coaster of emotions on Million Day," said Block. "I got pretty emotional leading him over to the paddock for one of the best races in the world. I really thought he was in a position to make a difference in the race, and then we had to deal with what happened after the race. The sting of that is just beginning to let up."
Before his disappointing outing in the Million, Mystery Giver had finished second by a head in the Grade III Arlington Handicap, final major local prep for Arlington's showcase event run on July 24. The son of Dynaformer won the Grade II Mervyn Muniz Jr. Handicap last March in New Orleans and was third in Churchill's Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day this spring.
Godolphin Racing Inc.'s Sulamani, adjudged winner of last year's Grade I Arlington Million, added to those laurels Tuesday by defeating the previously unbeaten Bago, a sophomore owned by The Niarchos Family, in the Group I Juddmonte International at York in England.
The Irish-bred Sulamani, a 5-year-old, came from well back in the Juddmonte and was scoring his fifth career victory in Group/Grade I competition. Irish-bred Norse Dancer, a 4-year-old colt by Halling, finished second in the Juddmonte, with the French-bred Bago, a son of Nashwan, third in the first loss of his career. That highly regarded 3-year-old won the Group I Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp June 27 and the Group I Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly June 7.
Sulamani finished a half-length behind Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum's Storming Home in last year's Million before that rival was placed fourth and the Godolphin color bearer was moved up as the winner.
Jockey Rene Douglas, bidding to become the first rider in Arlington Park history to win four consecutive titles at Chicago's traditional summer meeting, remains almost exactly on his pace of last year.
In 2003 at Arlington, the Panama-born reinsman scored his 100th win of the season on Arlington Million Day, Aug. 16. This year, Douglas is just slightly behind that pace with 94 wins through the conclusion of Sunday's program on Aug. 15.
Douglas is currently tied with two Hall of Fame reinsman with three straight Arlington titles. Steve Brooks won three straight Arlington titles from 1947-49, and Bill Hartack accomplished that same feat from 1955-57.
Through Sunday, Douglas had 31 more wins than Eusebio Razo Jr., his nearest pursuer this year and also the runner-up at the conclusion of last season.
However, the 2004 trainer's race was rapidly tightening through Sunday, with Frank Kirby, who has led most of the season, now only one win in front of Steve Asmussen, who is in turn a single win in front of Chris Block.
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