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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (6/21/09)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


For the second consecutive year trainer Chris Block saddled two winners on Prairie State Festival Day, and on Sunday morning during training hours all appeared well at the Block barn with all of his participants in Saturday’s races.

“It seems that everybody came back fine,” Block said. “We were real pleased with how they all ran. The only one that was a little disappointing was (Team Block’s) Amazing Results (fifth in Saturday’s White Oak Handicap.) I thought he’d run a lot better than that. He’d never run three-quarters in his life – he’s either gone five-eighths on the turf, or seven furlongs or a mile on the other. I guess we can give that as his excuse.”

However, it was Team Block’s Fort Prado, returning for the fourth time as the hero of the Black Tie Affair Handicap after being runner-up last season, that was the highlight of the 10th anniversary edition of the Prairie State Festival.

“I’m very proud of him,” Block said. “He’s got a lot of fans – a lot of followers. There is always a lot of people around the paddock taking pictures of him because they’ve really followed him through his career and he’s still there for them to root for.

“Fort Prado has covered them all,” Block said when it was mentioned to him that his elderly gray is the only horse to have won PSF stakes on dirt, turf and Polytrack. “He’s a warrior. He’s eight years old and still competing well in stakes company and could have easily won a couple of those races (where he lost) if it wasn’t for tough trips.”

Block’s other trip to the winner’s circle Saturday came two races earlier after Virginia Tarra Trust’s Apple Martini won the Lincoln Heritage Handicap.

“She’s a tough little gal,” said Block. “She’s not the upper echelon, graded stakes type but she runs well in these Illinois (stakes) races and even those non-graded ones. If you put her in the right spot, she’s pretty tough. She’s very versatile – you can go on turf, dirt or Polytrack with her – it doesn’t make any difference to her.”


Illinois-based conditioner Christine Janks, easily the runner-up behind Chris Block on the all-time Prairie State Festival leading trainers list, extended her PSF win streak to five straight years Saturday when Carson Springs Farm, Arbaway Farm and Ken Meeker’s Nicks won the Isaac Murphy Handicap.

“We were this far away (holding his thumb and forefinger very close together) from winning three races,” said Janks’ longtime assistant Rob Dobbs during training hours Sunday morning. “They all ran good. (High Expectations) doesn’t really run that good on the Polytrack anymore but he made his run. He was running at the end. They just didn’t come back to him.

“We’d have taken a dead-heat with Sun for Fun (second by a nose to Apple Martini in the Lincoln Heritage),” Dobbs added. “She dead-heated in a race last year” (and finished three-quarters of a length behind Apple Martini in the 2008 Purple Violet.)

“They all came back good,” Dobbs added of Janks’ Saturday starters. “Christine was sick last week. This week she was feeling better but she had so many things going on down there with 80 to 90 head at the farm, it’s hard for her to get away sometimes.”


Longtime Illinois-based trainer Tom Dorris made a return trip to the Prairie State Festival winner’s circle Saturday for the first time since 2001 after W.R.C. Thoroughbreds’ Bow Tie Pasta took down the 2009 Purple Violet Stakes

Dorris, who saddled David Halfacher’s Rain Boots to win the 2001 Isaac Murphy, also keeps a string at Fairmount Park and left shortly after Saturday’s races.

“She (Bow Tie Pasta) came back real good,” said trainer Chris Dorris, Tom Dorris’s son Sunday morning during training hours. “Dad went home (downstate) last night.”


Virginia Tarra Trust’s Giant Oak, hero of the 75th anniversary edition of the prestigious Arlington Classic, breezed five furlongs Sunday morning at Arlington in 1:00.80 while prepping for the Grade II American Derby on July 11.

With regular rider Eddie Razo in the irons, Giant Oak galloped out in 1:12.60 and then ticked off seven-eighths in 1:27.

The American Derby is the middle jewel of the Arlington’s Mid-America Triple following the Arlington Classic, and the sophomore series is to be completed by the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million Day Aug. 8.

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