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Arlington Park Barn Notes (6/17/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


At the age of 39, trainer Chris Block is increasingly mentioned among the nation’s top young conditioners, but in his native state of Illinois he has already assumed a dominant status.

During the six-year history of Arlington Park’s Prairie State Festival -- an annual grouping of six stakes races restricted to Illinois-breds -- Block has saddled nine winners, far more than any other active trainer.

(Second position still belongs to the late revered Gene Cilio, who died in 2003 after saddling five winners through the first four years of the Festival.)

Illinois’ eyes can be expected to focus on Team Block’s Fort Prado June 24, should the 5-year-old gray run in the seventh running of the $75,000 Black Tie Affair Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth over Arlington’s grass course.

“Fort Prado is doing well, but we’re going to wait and see what the weights are before we make any decision (about running him),” said Block Saturday morning. Fort Prado, defending champion in the Black Tie Affair, also captured the Sea o’ Erin Breeders’ Cup Mile last August and was eventually named Illinois champion older male and turf male of 2005.

Block also nominated Team Block’s Mystery Giver to this year’s Black Tie Affair ‘Cap, but that two-time Illinois Horse of the Year is coming back slowly from major injuries sustained in the 2004 Arlington Million and is not ready for such an immediate test.

However, Block is expected to start Hussar Racing Stable LLC’s Lighthouse Lil in the $75,000 Lincoln Heritage Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf, and in preparation for that, the 7-year-old mare breezed a half in :48.20 Saturday morning at Arlington.

“She worked good,” said Block. “She’s ready to go.”

“She worked real good,” confirmed Illinois State clocker Bobby Belpedio, “and galloped out in 1:01 4/5. She was very sharp this morning.”

Lighthouse Lil, incidentally, won the Lincoln Heritage two years ago, but finished seventh in last year’s renewal.

Block trainee Cause She’s Crafty, owned by Virginia H. Tarra Trust, is nominated to the $75,000 Purple Violet Stakes on Prairie State Festival Day.

“She’s usually close in her races,” said Block of the Giant’s Causeway filly, “but we don’t know how she’ll do in a one-turn race. But we’re going to give her a shot.”

Team Block’s Stumbling Block, a $75,000 Springfield Stakes nominee, is less certain as a Prairie State Festival contestant.

“We’ll probably breeze him tomorrow (Sunday),” said Block, “and decide what we’re going to do with him after that, but (Team Block’s) Creative Force will not run.”


Christine Janks, who has saddled more stakes winners than any other trainer at the meeting and was tied for the lead in the trainer standings through Friday night, appears well positioned to add to her stakes total in the upcoming Prairie State Festival.

Among her prominent nominees to the Illinois-restricted series is the Estate of William Lydon and Carson Springs Farm’s Ms. Lydonia in the $75,000 Lincoln Heritage Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass. The Labeeb mare was third in Arlington’s $42,375 Reluctant Guest May 28.

“’Cisco’ (jockey Francisco Torres) really fits her well and he says she’s really coming into herself right now,” said Janks.

Janks has cross-nominated Arbaway Farm, Carson Springs Farm and the Estate of William Lydon’s Modjadji to the $75,000 Isaac Murphy Stakes and the Lincoln Heritage.

“I’m not sure about where I’ll run her next week,” said Janks. “Neither race is ideal for her, and there’s always something like the ‘rain factor’ to consider, so we’ll wait and see.”

The Janks-trained S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership’s High Expectations is cross-nominated to the $75,000 White Oak Handicap at six furlongs and the $75,000 Black Tie Affair Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass on Prairie State Festival Day.

“He’s most likely for the sprint,” said Janks Saturday morning.

Other Prairie State Festival possibilities nominated by Janks include Arbaway Farm, Carson Springs Farm and the Estate of William Lydon’s Pretty Jenny, as well as the S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership’s Big Rushlet and Hoping for Sun; all of whom are “unlikely” at this time.

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