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Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/3/05)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Team Block's Fort Prado, undefeated this season including his impressive tally in the $86,950 Black Tie Affair Handicap on Prairie State Festival Day June 25, gave trainer Chris Block everything he was looking for when he breezed a half-mile in :48 Sunday.

The 4-year-old Illinois-bred colt, who won the $42,000 Mister Gus Stakes May 30, was getting a final tune-up in preparation for Saturday's $150,000 Sea o' Erin Breeders' Cup Mile over Arlington's world famous turf course.

"He's doing good now and he's ready to go," said trainer Chris Block Wednesday during training hours. "I was pleased with the breeze because we've been waiting for this race for quite a while now."

As a sophomore last season, Fort Prado captured the $88,050 Springfield Stakes by four and a-half lengths during the 2004 Prairie State Festival, but had to survive a somewhat frivolous objection for altering course slightly before the result was allowed to stand. At the time, the son El Prado was coming off a maiden-breaking win at previous asking.

"He's matured a lot this season," said Block, "and we're looking forward to him stepping forth once again. He seems to get better each time he goes up there this year."

Fort Prado appears in a position to be inherit headliner status in the Team Block empire, but Team Block's Mystery Giver, away from competition after suffering a ruptured suspensory ligament in last year's Grade I Arlington Million, has not yet been retired.

"Mystery Giver is not out of the picture yet," Block said Wednesday. "He's under a program that has him under tack down at our farm in Ocala, while also swimming on an Aquecizer at a farm nearby."

Mystery Giver, second in last year's Grade III Arlington Handicap and third in Churchill's Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, captured the Grade II Mervyn Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap in New Orleans in 2004.


Ken & Sarah Ramsey's Kitten's Joy, early favorite for the upcoming Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 13 as the showcase event of Arlington's season, was named the top-seeded horse in Monday's latest World Thoroughbred Championships Poll for contenders in the John Deere Turf Division.

The Arlington Million, the $750,000 Beverly D. and the $400,000 Secretariat -- Illinois' only three Grade I races conducted on an annual basis -- make up Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing on the second Saturday in August.

Including Kitten's Joy, who won Churchill's Grade II Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap July 4, four of the top 10 leaders in the John Deere Division are consider possible starters in next week's Million, and a fifth -- James Scatuorchio's English Channel -- is the projected favorite in next Saturday's Grade I Secretariat Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds.

Also, Michael Bello's Megahertz and Claiborne Farm's Wend, the top two leaders listed in Monday's Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf Division, both remain projected starters in next week's Beverly D. as the sister race to the Arlington Million.


Dr. Michael Smurfit & Heligbrodt Racing Stable's Merger, the Irish import who disappointed when sixth in Arlington's Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel's on July 23 as the second leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple, breezed seven furlongs in 1:34.60 over Arlington's firm turf course Wednesday morning in preparation for the Grade I Secretariat Stakes, third and final leg of the Triple.

Trained by Ireland's all-time leading conditioner Dermot Weld, who saddled Moyglare Stud's Jazz Beat to finish second in the Secretariat three years ago, Merger accomplished Wednesday's breeze under Weld assistant Tom Daly with the "dogs" well out from the rail.


Gary Tanaka's Billy Allen, the European All-Weather champion who finished fourth in Saturday's Grade II Washington Park Handicap on Arlington Park's main course, has vaulted into the seventh position among the top 10 leaders for this week's World Thoroughbred Championships' Dodge Classic Division.

However, Billy Allen is also now expected to serve as a pioneer among future European invaders crossing the Atlantic to compete in American main track races, because the European All-Weather Championship is likely to expand in future seasons.

The British Horseracing Board announced last week that Britain's all-weather circuit will feature an increased fixture list in 2006 with the introduction of polytrack surfaces at Kempton and Newbury and a whole new track at Great Leighs.

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