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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/8/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Team Block’s Fort Prado raised the bar for Prairie State Festival standards when winning Saturday’s $84,150 Black Tie Affair Handicap at Arlington Park – proving once again why he is the reigning Illinois Horse of the Year.
Coming from well off the pace, the gutsy gray son of El Prado, shouldering the top impost of 125 pounds, gradually wore down the pacesetting Tenpointfive, owned by Gregory Fraterrigo, and got up in the final jump for a nose tally in the mile and a sixteenth turf test.
With the victory, Fort Prado, trained by Chris Block, became the first horse to win three straight renewals of any of the six Prairie State Festival stakes, as well as the first horse to visit the winner’s circle four times in any of those stakes restricted to state-breds. The 6-year-old won 2004’s Springfield Stakes as a sophomore.
“It was an amazing accomplishment,” said Block Sunday morning during training hours. “He’s just a race horse. The race set up the way I thought it would and I knew Tenpointfive would be tough to catch, especially with the big (nine-pound) spread in the weights, but Fort Prado shows up every time you lead him up.
“He came out of the race very well and is doing fine this morning,” said Block. “We might take a look at the Sea o’ Erin as he next start.”
The $100,000 Sea o’ Erin Mile will be run on Arlington Million Day Aug. 11 this season, joining the Grade I Arlington Million, the Grade I Beverly D. and the Grade I Secretariat Stakes to make up this summer’s International Festival of Racing.
Team Block’s Secret Kin finished clearly second best to Richard Rudolph and Michael Vranich’s Magnetic Miss in Saturday’s $84,800 Purple Violet Stakes for sophomore fillies, while no match for the winner.
“I was very, very proud of her,” said Block of Secret Kin. “We’d been battling a foot bruise with her, so we didn’t come into the race with ideal conditions, but I thought she ran a very game race, and she’s doing fine this morning.
“However, you can’t take anything away from Spanky’s filly,” Block said, speaking of trainer Spanky Broussard’s winning Magnetic Miss. “That filly ran huge.”
Other Chris Block trainees – Team Block’s Creative Force, eighth in the Black Tie Affair; and Darrell and Sadie Brommer’s Carl N Frosty and Hussar Racing Stable LLC’s Lighthouse Judge, seventh and ninth respectively in the $88,300 Springfield Stakes, all came back well, the trainer said.
Illinois-based trainer Christine Janks saddled two winners during Saturday’s Prairie State Festival at Arlington Park – the second straight year she has accomplished that feat.
However, when Janks saddled Arbaway Farm and Carson Springs Farms’ Modjadji to win Saturday’s $83,750 Isaac Murphy Handicap for older fillies and mares, she also saddled that ownership’s Pretty Jenny to run second. The two mares finished a neck apart.
“Actually, I was hoping Modjadji would beat Pretty Jenny to the wire,” admitted Janks Sunday morning. “I’ve always felt she hasn’t gotten to show just how good she is, and yesterday (Saturday) she vindicated me. Because they have the same owners, it didn’t really matter.
“Pretty Jenny ran as hard as she could,” Janks said, “and they both got good trips and they both came back good.”
Janks also saddled S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership’s High Expectations to win Saturday’s $82,550 White Oak Handicap, with that aptly named 5-year-old gelding winning that six-furlong sprint for the second straight season.
“He’s just an iron horse,” said Janks. “He’s like a big, stout Sumo wrestler, and he’s getting so big we might have to find another girth for him. He came back fine, and all my horses are doing well this morning.”
Arbaway Farm and Carson Springs Farms’ Ms. Lydonia finished seventh in Saturday’s $83,950 Lincoln Heritage Handicap after winning that same race last summer.
“She doesn’t like you to take a hold of her,” said Janks, “and she got in tight early in the race and the jockey (James Graham) had to grab her. But I don’t think anyone was going to beat Royal Leah (Triple C Thoroghbreds’ Lincoln Heritage winner) yesterday (Saturday).”
Veteran trainer Joseph “Spanky” Broussard saddled Richard Rudolph and Michael Vranich’s Magnetic Miss to win Saturday’s $84,800 Purple Violet Stakes, for 3-year-old fillies, by four and a quarter lengths after taking command early in the running.
The conditioner reported all well with the bay daughter of Artax Sunday morning. In fact, Broussard was continuing to enjoy the decisive victory.
“I saw in the morning paper where they referred to me and Earlie Fires as the ‘old’ crew,” joked Broussard, speaking of himself and Hall of Fame Jockey Earlie Fires, “but they forgot to mention the other members of our team.
“I’m 66, and Earlie is 60,” said Broussard, “but the owner (Rudolph) is somewhere in his sixties; the groom, Angel Robelledo is 65; and the hot walker, Augustine Garcia, is 76. They are a big part of this horse’s success as well.”
Triple C Thoroghbreds’ Royal Leah, trained by Mike Stidham, was the three quarter-length winner of Saturday’s $83,950 Lincoln Heritage Handicap, for fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth on turf, and was doing well back at the barn Sunday morning, according to Stidham.
“She looks great today,” said Stidham Sunday. “We felt she’d run well as long as she had a pace to run at, and fortunately, that was the case. Everything worked out great for us.”
Juddmonte Farms Inc.’s Chester House won the Grade I Arlington Million in 2000, and now one of his sons has won a Prairie State Festival race, providing an international “nick” to the Illinois-bred program.
Nick Mamatas and John Kerber’s Gentleman Chester, a 3-year-old son of Chester House, came from far back to win Saturday’s $88,300 Springfield Stakes, a six-furlong sophomore sprint, by three and a quarter lengths.
Coincidentally, Gentleman Chester is trained by Ralph Nicks, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
“We were very pleased with his performance,” said Nicks, speaking over the phone Sunday morning from his Kentucky headquarters. “He’s in fine shape, so everything seems to have turned out right for us.”
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