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Arlington Park stakes recap (6/26/04)

Contact: David Zenner


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (June 26, 2004) -- When the Arlington Park stakes schedule is announced during the winter, trainer Chris Block always makes a point to circle the date of the Prairie State Festival on his calendar, and with good reason as two of his runners found the winner's circle on Arlington's annual celebration for Illinois-registered horses. Block trainees took top honors in the Springfield Stakes and in the Lincoln Heritage Handicap.

Team Block's homebred Fort Prado returned from a three-month layoff to annex the $88,050 Springfield Stakes by 4 lengths with jockey Jesse Campbell in the irons. The win was the second straight for the son of El Prado who got the mile in 1:36.31 and paid $28.20, $15 and $8.

Fort Prado survived a claim of foul from trainer Frank Springer, who saddled runner-up Jaguar Friend, alleging interference in the stretch. The claim was disallowed and the result stood. Jaguar Friend returned $14.60 and $8.

"It's never easy, is it?" said Block after the lengthy inquiry. "You work hard to get a horse ready, he runs a huge race, and then you have to wait through something like this. I can't see (grounds for an objection.) The two horses inside me were beat horses, and they were coming out. That made it look like my horse was coming in but he was clear."

Prairie King, part of a Richard Hazelton-trained trio, finished third and paid $2.80.

Block was back in the winner's circle when Hussar Racing Stables LLC's Lighthouse Lil rallied from last to first to win the $85,850 Lincoln Heritage Handicap. C. H. Marquez Jr. rode the 5-year-old Hold for Gold mare who covered the mile and a sixteenth over "good" going in 1:44.39. Sent off as the 9-5 favorite, Lighthouse Lil paid $5.80, $3.80 and $2.60.

"She's a come from behind filly so I didn't have much to do," Marquez said. "I just saved as much ground as I could and I asked her to run at the three-sixteenths pole and she did the rest. I just was along for the ride. She's a nice filly."

Trainer Mark Cristel accounted for the next two slots, finishing second with I Can Fan Fan and third with Samantha B. I Can Fan Fan paid $20.60 and $6.20 while Samantha B. returned $2.80.

However, Block's day ended on a sour note when Mystery Giver finished sixth as the 3-5 favorite in the $84,650 Cardinal Handicap, which was won in a shocking upset by James M. Kelly's Runaway Victor, who prevailed by a head over Colorful Tour. Ridden by apprentice jockey Cruz Contreras, the son of Runaway Groom covered the mile and a sixteenth over "good" turf in 1:44.46 and paid $60, $22 and $11.40.

"I had this horse since he was a yearling except for a short time," said winning trainer Doug Matthews. "I claimed him back last year (for $4,000). I have always felt that this horse will run with the competition no matter where you put him. He just tries really hard."

Colorful Tour paid $14.40 and $12.80. Home of Stars was another length back in third and paid $12.20.

In the other Prairie State Festival races:

Invading trainer Edward Colletti Jr. took home first and second money in the $85,850 Purple Violet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Everest Stables Inc.'s Slewville raced four wide throughout to prevail by of a length under jockey Hiram Rivera. The daughter of Petionville covered the mile over a fast track in 1:37.43.

Ms. Lydonia was second through the finish but disqualified and placed fourth for interference to Barrel Racer in the stretch. The disqualification moved Slewville's stablemate, Wish for Gold, from third to second. The entry returned $5.40, $4.80 and $4.20 as the 17-10 betting favorite. Earlier this year, the tandem ran 1-2 in the $100,000 Lady Hallie Stakes at Hawthorne Race Course.

"Mr. Nielsen (owner) deals with a lot of broodmares," Colletti said. "He tries to drop foals in every state to keep the breeders awards coming. It's been a lot of fun. Wish For Gold is going to stay here with Tommy Tomillo to run through her state-bred conditions. We'll see how Slewville comes out of the race and go from there."

Barrel Racer was moved up to third and paid $3.40.

Ben Barnow's Dharma Girl rallied from just off the pace to win the $85,750 Isaac Murphy Handicap for fillies and mares by a length in 1:10.28. Carlos Silva rode the Richard Hazelton-trained daughter of French Deputy who paid $36.20, $15.20 and $9.20.

"She broke sharp," Silva said. "I just followed the speed and at the three-eighths pole I got a shot to get out and she did the rest."

Jaguar City was second in the 10-horse field and paid $9 and $6.20. It was another 3 lengths back to third-place finisher, Cashmere Miss, who paid $5.20. Synco Peach, the 7-5 post time favorite, stumbled at the start and finished eighth.

Favored Silver Bid, owned by Terry Renfrow & Eugene Young, won the day's final stakes race -- the $83,650 White Oak Handicap for older sprinters -- by three-quarters of a length. The Joel Berndt-trained son of Buckbean cruised the six furlongs in 1:09.70 and paid $4, $2.80 and $2.40 as the even-money favorite.

"I thought he ran a good race," said Berndt. "He laid right off the pace and Rene rode a patient race. He (Silver Bid) has never won a stakes so this is pretty special. He gives us his all every start."

Manitowish was second in the eight-horse field and paid $6 and $3.60. It was another half-length to third-place finisher Wiggins, who paid $3.20.

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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