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SPORTSMAN'S NOTES

Sportsman's Park Daily Notebook

Contact: David Zenner (773) 242-1121 ext. 310
sportsmanspub@aol.com

Thursday, February 28, 2002
1 Day Until Opening Day

CASHEL CASTLE MAKES 3-YEAR-OLD DEBUT SATURDAY

"A lot of people are going to think I'm crazy to bring him out of Florida into Chicago," trainer Chris Block said when speaking of his star 3-year-old Cashel Castle, who will make his seasonal bow in Saturday's eighth race, "but I have a lot of confidence in the surface and that's part of the reason he's here. (Track superintendent Albert Jozwiak) does a wonderful job and I've had horses come off that track in good shape."

Undefeated during his 2-year-old campaign including an eight-length score in the $100,000 Hoosier Juvenile, Sandbar Farm's Cashel Castle was prepping for his sophomore debut in the Grade II Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park when he was sidelined by a minor injury to his right front ankle.

"It was a minor situation," Block explained. "We think it was a strain of the suspensory and that's all it was -- nothing more than that. We took precautionary measures, did some diagnostic work, took some ultrasounds and everything checked out good. We eased him back into training and everything was just fine. He only missed about five days of training and then we went back into it. We really took our time to make sure he was okay. He was all right so we proceeded."

After missing the Hutcheson, Block decided to ship the horse back to his winter base in Ocala and then on to Chicago, where he has been training for Saturday's headliner, a 5-furlong open allowance race with a purse of $45,000.

"There really was nowhere to run him down there," said the 35-year-old conditioner. "It would have been 'throw him to wolves' running long, which I don't think is fair to the horse or to us. My choices in Florida were the Tampa Bay Derby, which is a mile and a sixteenth, or the Swale which is seven furlongs on Fla. Derby day, but he had a problem at Gulfstream and I wasn't comfortable taking him back down there where it happened and neither was the owner. I needed to find a race around one turn to move him in the direction that I want to move him.

"Three-quarters (of a mile) would have been ideal but you have to take what you can get," he said, turning his attention back to the matter at hand. "This seemed liked the logical spot. I thought the race might not go. I was very surprised (to see 12 horses in the race). The 12-hole isn't ideal, but we're stuck with it. It's a fairly long run up the backside and I'm confident that 'Eddie' (jockey Eusebio Razo Jr.) will be able to get him into position by the time they hit the turn. I'd rather be out there than down inside where he might have to check. This way he's got a clear run. He should like it here. He ran at Hoosier (which is also a 7-furlong oval) and liked it there."

Block takes nothing for granted and is making no definite plans beyond Saturday's race.

"Nothing's ever given to you in this game," he said. "Bernie Flint's colt (World Champion) is salty and the other ones aren't there to run around out there. They're going for the money. I'd be pleased as punch to have him run a big race in there. (My horse) needs a solid race to get back in action and I think this is it.

"My philosophy is to take one race at a time," he said when asked about the future for Cashel Castle. "He's had a long layoff but he's ready to run. If everything goes as planned we'll set a schedule after that. I'm not going to point to any certain race at this point. You have to take each step and analyze afterwards."

TV SHOW SCHEDULE

As another reminder, because of FOX Sports Net Chicago's commitment to NASCAR, college basketball and the Chicago Bulls, the first edition of "Post Time at Sportsman's Park" will air at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1. The show will move to its regular 5:30 p.m. time slot the following day.

On Sunday, March 3, there likely will not be a show because of lack of available airtime. On Monday, March 4, the show will air at 4:30 p.m. while on Tuesday, March 5, the show is slated for a 7 p.m. timeslot.

Beginning Friday, March 8, the program will move to its 5:30 p.m. timeslot on a regular basis.

GOLF SHIRT GIVEAWAY SATURDAY

Be sure to come to Sportsman's Park Saturday, March 2 as Sportsman's and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association are giving away free golf shirts to the first 5,000 paid admissions (after 10:30 am).

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