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SPORTSMAN'S NOTES

Sportsman's Park Daily Notebook

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

Monday, March 18, 2002

WAR EMBLEM PASSES TEST; ILLINOIS DERBY MAY BE NEXT

Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s War Emblem rebounded nicely from a sixth-place finish in the Grade III Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds to post an impressive 10-length score in a $45,000 allowance race Sunday that served as an unofficial prep for the Grade II $500,000 Illinois Derby which will be run on Saturday, April 6.

The son of Our Emblem sprinted to the lead right out of the gate and led from flagfall to finish through sensible fractions of 23.61, 47.06 and 1:12.46 en route to a final time of 1:39.22 under jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr.

"He's a nice colt," said trainer Frank "Bobby" Springer. "He should have been closer (in the Risen Star). We took him back (off the pace), and he fought with the jockey (Jaime Theriot) for 7/8 of a mile. He was a little wide, too. He made the lead at the head of the lane, but he had given up too much (energy) early fighting with that jock."

Springer said that depending how the horse trains, War Emblem may return to Sportsman's for the Illinois Derby where he may find himself in a rematch with Risen Star and Louisiana Derby (Grade II) victor Repent, whose connections have mentioned the Illinois Derby as a likely target.

"He'll have to come catch me this time," Springer said speaking about the possible rematch. "(Repent) comes from a long way off of it, and I don't know if he can catch me on this racetrack. The reason we ran in this race was to get one in over this racetrack and maybe be ready for the Illinois Derby."

War Emblem will be shipped to Keeneland to train for his possible start in the Illinois Derby.

"He's a tough one to train, and the exercise boy that works with him will be down there," explained Springer, who has horses in Kentucky as well as Illinois. "It makes it easier not having to worry about what he's going to do during training. He has his own mind about everything. You kind of just have to do things his way - it seems to work out better that way."

CASHEL CASTLE FINE MORNING AFTER COMEBACK WIN

Sandbar Farm's Cashel Castle, a 5-length victor in his sophomore debut Sunday, was said to be in fine fettle Monday morning after easily dispatching of 10 older rivals in a six-furlong allowance optional claiming race.

"He came back in good order," said trainer Chris Block via telephone from Ocala this morning. "He ate up last night and was very sharp this morning. The race served its purpose. It didn't faze him at all."

Sunday's race was the fifth attempt by Block to get a race for his emerging star who went three for three as a 2-year-old including an eight-length romp in the $100,000 Hoosier Juvenile at the Anderson, Indiana racetrack. After a slight injury kept him out of the Grade II Hutcheson in February, a cancellation of a race because of snow and two subsequent entries into races that didn't fill, Block was forced to run Cashel Castle against older horses.

"When I put him in against older horses, I was concerned," Block admitted. "Those horses have a lot of back class. The race turned out to be an excellent prep for where we want to go."

Block said the horse would remain at Sportsman's to train for a possible appearance in the Grade III Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland on April 7.

"He likes training at Sportsman's and he's glad to be there," Block said.

Block was not present for Sunday's local race because he was in Florida to saddle Ioya Two to a third-place finish in her seasonable debut in the $100,000 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

"I was very happy with her performance considering she was coming off such a long layoff," Block said of the 7-year-old mare who hadn't started since November at Churchill Downs. "I was hoping to get a prep into her before the Hillsborough but they didn't have one this year."

O'KEEFE HAS LUCK O' THE IRISH ON ST. PATRICK'S DAY

Owner Dennis O'Keefe, whose silks are covered with green shamrocks, was in the winner's circle Sunday following the victory by Bailadora, owned in partnership with trainer Chris Dorris, in the fourth race. O'Keefe was photographed holding a shillelagh in the winner's circle.

"I've never won a race on St. Patrick's Day before," O'Keefe said. "I've had two run second (Kelly McGuire and Sassy Irish), but never a winner."

DUBAI WORLD CUP SIMULCAST HERE SATURDAY

Four races from Nad al Sheba Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates including the $6 million Dubai World Cup (Group I) will be simulcast to Sportsman's Park and the entire Illinois intertrack and off-track network Saturday morning beginning at 9 a.m. Central.

The four races are the $2 million Dubai Sheema Classic at 9 a.m., the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at 10:10 a.m., the $2 million Dubai Duty Free at 10:50 a.m. and the Dubai World Cup at 11:40 a.m. There will also be coverage but no wagering on the $2 million UAE Derby.

PEREZ BAGS SUNDAY HAT TRICK

Jockey Eduardo Perez notched his first hat trick of the meet Sunday with victories aboard Bailadora in the fourth race, I Love Chicago in the fifth and Lite Toast in the 10th race. Riders Lupe Macias and Eusebio Razo Jr. each had a double on the card.

With two wins on the card, trainer Frank Kirby moved back into a tie with defending champion Mike Reavis, who had one victory Sunday. Each has seven scores, three more than Gene Cilio and Richard Hazelton.

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