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Hawthorne Racecourse (2/25/06)

Contact: DAK Productions
(708) 222-4540

An Illinois-Bred...and Proud of it!

In simulcast land on Saturday, the Illinois-bred grass star Fort Prado shined more brightly than ever, capturing the $125,000 Tampa Bay Breeders’ Cup in scintillating fashion. Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, the 5-year-old son of El Prado overcame a sluggish start and road trouble to stop the timer in 1:40.76 (one second off the course record) over 1 1/16 miles of firm going. The win boosted his career earnings over $500,000.

“He had to put the breaks on for five or six strides, but once he had clear sailing, he just exploded,” said trainer Chris Block. “It was a huge race.”

Block indicated that, barring any setbacks, Fort Prado would be pointed for either the $200,000 Connally Breeders’ Cup Turf on April 8 at Sam Houston or the Grade II $250,000 Maker’s Mark Mile on April 14 at Keeneland.

Block’s comebacking lawnmower Mystery Giver was once again denied a starting gate spot when he failed to draw in off the also eligible list for the Tampa BC, but the connections plan to keep him at Tampa “until a race comes up, hopefully by the end of March.”

Fort Prado may have won the race on Saturday, but a day earlier it was announced that he had lost a close vote to Original Spin for 2005 Illinois Horse of the Year honors. As a consolation prize, the gray flash did home top honors as Illinois top Older Handicap Male and Male Turf Horse.

“Obviously I’m partial to my horse (Fort Prado),” Block said about the voters’ decision. “We went all year long and she (Original Spin) only did her thing the final few months.”

“That being said, she did win a Grade III (Arlington Washington Lassie) and hit the board in the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Fillies behind Eclipse Award winning Folklore),” he continued. It’s great for her connections (trainer Tony Mitchell and the Russell L. Reinemann Stables), they deserve it.”

Original Spin, who also earned divisional hardware as the top Illinois-bred 2-year-old filly of 2005, is set to make her 2006 debut in the Grade II $150,000 Forward Gal Stakes on March 5 at Gulfstream. If all goes well, she will then ship to Keeneland to continue preparations for the Grade I Kentucky Oaks, to be run the first Friday in May at Churchill Downs.

Other divisional Illinois champions (with trainer) included: 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding -- Creative Force (Block); 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding -- High Expectations (Christine Janks); 3-Year-Old Filly -- Pretty Jenny (Janks); Older Handicap Female -- Jaguar City (Bobby Springer); and Female Turf Horse -- You Dancing Devil (Greg Geier).

Hawthorne's 2006 Spring Thoroughbred Dates

February 24 through May 4 – live racing five days per week (Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; dark Wednesdays and Thursdays and Easter Sunday April 16) with a post time of 1:10 p.m.




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