|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
With two horses in each of Million Preview Day's main events, trainer Chris Block has a chance to be in the spotlight when the sun sets on Arlington Park Saturday evening.
As expected, Block will give Team Block's Ioya Two a chance to defend her championship in the Grade III Modesty Handicap Saturday. Also, Team Block's Mystery Giver, hero of the $90,450 Cardinal Handicap here June 22, will have the opportunity to make it two in a row in the Grade III Arlington Handicap earlier that afternoon.
But in addition to that pair owned by his family, Block will be the trainer of record for Richard L. Duchossois' Innit in the Modesty, final local prep for the Grade I Beverly D., and saddle Duchossois' National Anthem two races earlier in the Arlington 'Cap. That 10-furlong test is Arlington's main preview for the Arlington Million three weeks later.
The Beverly D. and the Million, along with the Grade I Secretariat, will be contested as part of Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing August 17.
"Mr. D.'s horses will start in my name," said Block Thursday morning on the Arlington Park apron during training hours, "but I just got them a few days ago. They'll be running on Ron McAnally's training. They're both good horses, easy to figure out and easy to be around, and they're both good eaters. As long as they get good rides, they should both run well.
"I breezed them both Monday," said Block, while still speaking of Innit and National Anthem. "They didn't breeze fast, but I wasn't concerned about that because the 'dogs' were up. They both finished up well. That's all I care about. Ron's got 'em dead fit, anyway. Those were maintenance works. They should be ready to go Saturday."
However, Block was also informative concerning the status of Mystery Giver and Ioya Two, who he trains for his own family going into Saturday's Million Preview Day.
"Mystery Giver is doing as well as I could have him do right now," said Block of the Cardinal winner. "He deserves a shot at this thing (Arlington 'Cap). He has quality, and I think come Saturday, he'll be sticking his nose into the midst of it at the eighth pole and make it interesting. Everything is going really well for him since that last race. He's eating good. He looks like he's kept his weight, and he looks like he's mentally focused. Richie (trainer Scherer) had him all winter for me, and we agree about Mystery Giver. If he's eating good, he's probably doing good.
"As for Ioya Two," Block said of the 7-year-old mare who is defending champion in the Modesty, "she's doing as well as she's always done. The question is -- has she lost a step? And the answer is -- I won't know until I run her Saturday. She had a brisk work the other day, and she galloped out strong.
"Obviously, I'd like to have her coming into this race off a better race than her last one," said Block, speaking of Ioya Two's fourth-place finish in the $87,150 Lincoln Heritage Handicap on Prairie State Festival Day. "If she has lost a step, she's not going to get there, of course, but if she's still got it in her, she'll make 'em run down the lane."
Team Valor's Windward Passage, hero of Oaklawn's Grade III Rebel Stakes March 23 but apparently overmatched since then, gets a chance to make amends for recent defeats when he heads a field of 10 named to Saturday's $100,000 Round Table Stakes.
Along with the Grade III Arlington Handicap and the Grade III Modesty Handicap, the nine-furlong Round Table completes Saturday's threesome of stakes events billed as Million Preview Day. In all, the three stakes offer nearly a half-million dollars in purse money placed as they are three weeks before the Arlington Million and International Festival of Racing August 17.
After capturing the Rebel, final local prep for the Grade II Arkansas Derby, Windward Passage finished third in that main event contested April 13 at the central Arkansas oval. The altered son of Captain Bodgit then finished fourth in the Grade III Lone Star Derby at that Grand Prairie, Texas, course May 11, and most recently was sixth in his turf debut in Churchill Downs' Grade III Jefferson Cup June 8.
Rene Douglas, the red-hot leading rider at Arlington Park, is named to handle the reins aboard Windward Passage, who is trained by Steve Asmussen.
Facing Windward Passage are: Donna Moore, Paul Saylor, Frank Justice and William S. Farish's A. P. Five Hundred, Robby Albarado; Irish Acres Farm's Colorful Tour, Carlos H. Marquez Jr.; Shelley Bates & Don Von Hemel's Cowboy Stuff, Pat Valenzuela.
Also, Linne & Nancy Calkins & C. B. Racing Stable Inc.'s Fighting Indians, E. T. Baird; Michael Tabor's Pass Rush, Larry Melancon; James C. Spence's Rainy Parade, Mark Guidry; Carl C. Dykema's Resident Rogue, Chris Emigh; Robert P. Evans' Sharp Gold, Frank Lovato Jr.; and Calvin Johnston's Thunderpumper, James Lopez.
Pass Rush and Thunderpumper finished second and third respectively, four and a half lengths apart, in the $250,000 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows July 5.
Colorful Tour was the hero of the $83,250 Springfield Stakes June 22 here at last asking in Illinois-bred company, and Cowboy Stuff tallied by three-quarters of a length in the $75,000 Cyclones Handicap June 29 at Prairie Meadows in a race restricted to Iowa-breds.
Irish apprentice jockey Michael Doyle and veteran Louisiana reinsman Ray Sibille both escaped serious injury in a two horse spill Wednesday at Arlington Park, although both cancelled the remainder of their scheduled mounts that afternoon.
"I'm battered and bruised, but nothing is broken," said Doyle later Wednesday afternoon. Doyle, a visitor from Wexford County in the Southeastern portion of Ireland, appeared to be the more seriously shaken of the two riders while both were still on the track.
"Everything is okay, but my back, my neck and my shoulder are a little sore," Doyle said. "I'll take tomorrow morning off and get a massage."
"I landed on my side," said Sibille shortly after the spill. "I'm okay, but I got the wind knocked out of me, so I'll take the rest of the day off and be back tomorrow."
Leading rider Rene Douglas completed a four-win afternoon Wednesday to increase his margin over Elvis Trujillo, second in the standings, to 20 wins.
On Million Preview Day Saturday, the Round Table will be contested as the fifth race of the afternoon. The Grade III Arlington Handicap will be the seventh race on the program, and the Grade III Modesty Handicap will be the ninth event of the afternoon.
The eighth race will be the American Airlines Saturday Sweepstakes.
Friday's Miller Lite Party In the Park band will be Loose Screws, a modern rock band.
Friday's Party on the Patio Band at Trackside Arlington Park will be Flashpoint, a rock 'n roll band.
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