It may be as close as a sure thing as there is in horse
racing that trainers Chris Block and Christine Janks will each saddle at least
one winner at the Prairie State Festival. Block, the leading conditioner
in the annual Illinois-bred showcase, added two more wins to his record, which
now stands at 19 victories in the series of races. Janks, who is the
second-leading trainer in the Festival, posted a victory as well.
It didn’t take long for Block to find the winner’s circle,
taking the $89,200 White Oak Handicap, the first of the six stakes races, with
Team Block’s defending champion Shrewd Operator scoring by nine lengths in
1:09.89 under jockey Eduardo Perez.
won here last year and then had some problems so we gave him time off,” said
Block. “We got him ready and he loves the synthetic (track). His big
problem is always breaking sharp. He broke good today and he just took Eddie
(jockey Perez) right around there. He’d been training really well coming into
it. He’s a fast horse. If he gets a clean break, he’s capable of
doing something like that (running 1:09.89) so I wasn’t shocked.”
7-year-old son of Twining earned $49,509 to boost his bankroll to $307,972
while improving his overall record to eight wins from 18 starts. On
Arlington’s Polytrack, Shrewd Operator boasts a record six wins from nine
starts. Sent off as the 5-2 betting favorite, he paid $7, $4.40 and
Bear, Illinois champion sprinter of 2010 and winner of this race in 2009,
finished second and returned $4.20 and $3.60. Big Looie ran third, paying $4.
Keeley’s Peyote Patty, second in last year’s Lincoln Heritage Handicap,
returned to win this year’s renewal of the $86,600 race, leading from gate to
wire to score by a length under jockey Tim Thornton and covering the mile and a
sixteenth over “good” turf in 1:43.84.
got a lot heart,” Block said of the daughter of Cactus Ridge. “Timmy (jockey
Thornton) does a great job with her – they’re pretty successful together. She
just left there running and she showed her heart and determination that last
eighth of a mile.”
6-year-old mare won for the sixth time in 18 trips to the post. She
picked up $50,401 to push her earnings to $246,643.
was second in the eight-horse field and it was another 2 ¾-lengths back to 9-5
favorite Dundalk Dust.
Patty, second choice in the wagering at 2-1 odds, paid $6.20, $3.20 and
$2.60. Pathway returned $3.40 and $2.80. Dundalk Dust paid $2.20.
waited until the last of the six stakes races to score her victory, taking the
$90,100 Black Tie Affair Handicap with Robert & Kelly Dobbs &
Carson Springs Farm’s Tazz. It marked the seventh straight year she’s saddled
at least one winner during the Prairie State Festival.
Corey Nakatani, the son of Roar of the Tiger broke on the lead and was
challenged much of the way by Racing Bran. He put that rival away turning
for home and held off the late rallies of runner-up Princeville Condo and Free
Fighter to prevail by a length in 1:43.69 for the mile and a sixteenth over
was being patient with him and letting him be comfortable and happy where he’s
at,” Nakatani said. “I just let him relax. When I asked him, he
leveled off, kicked clear and was able to win the race.”
been trying to get him on the (Polytrack) because as a 3-year-old, he ran a
really big (speed figure) on it, but his races never seem to fill so he’s had
to run on the turf,” Janks said. “He’s sort of learned to run on the turf
and does better and better every race, so I thought he warranted a chance
earned $50,816 to boost his bankroll to $224,676 while improving his overall
record to seven wins from 20 starts. On the Arlington turf, his ledger
shows three victories from eight starts.
other Prairie State Festival races, Gary & Beth Leverton’s Wild Hope
rallied from far back to overtake longshot Kel’s Dreamer inside the furlong
marker to win the $101,900 Isaac Murphy Handicap. Tanner Riggs rode the
Frank Kirby-trained daughter of Quaker Ridge who covered the six furlongs in
seemed like there was quite a bit of pace,” Riggs said. “The horses up
front were congested. Going up the backside, the track was kicking up a little
bit and I was afraid she wouldn’t run into that stuff. From the half-mile
pole on, she was creeping up on them, creeping up on them. Before the
quarter pole, I angled her out and she kept steadily coming. She got past that
horse (Kel’s Dreamer) in the end.”
the 9-5 favorite, ran third in the nine-horse field.
was a bit difficult to handle,” said her rider, Corey Nakatani. “I tried
to pull her out and she went in.”
Isaac Murphy was Wild Hope’s fourth victory in 16 starts. She earned
$65,054 to elevate her bankroll to $239,032.
Hope paid $15, $6.40 and $4. Kel’s Dreamer, a 38-1 outsider, returned
$26.20 and $9.80. Cruise paid $3.20.
Call Racing Partnership’s Our Lady in Red rallied wide into the stretch and
overtook frontrunner Cityrap nearing the wire to win the $92,900 Purple Violet
Stakes by a neck. Julio Felix guided the Richie Scherer-trained daughter
of Pioneering through the mile over Polytrack in 1:39.47.
Purple Violet was the second stakes victory for the 3-year-old filly who
previously won the $100,000 Pretty Jenny Stakes over six furlongs at Hawthorne
had no concern about the Polytrack,” said Scherer. “I had more concern
about the mile.”
was a lot of speed in the race and I wanted to stalk the pace,” Felix added.
“I got a little bit further back than I wanted to be, but she’s a great horse.”
filly ran a little green but she’ll get better,” said jockey Corey Nakatani of
his trip aboard Cityrap. “I tried to get a little separation from them at
the quarter pole but she ran a little green before she finally switched
leads. She got to looking at the crowd. She’ll get better.”
Lady in Red earned $50,630 for the win, her third in 10 starts, to boost her
bankroll to $154,760. She paid $9.40, $4.40 and $3.40. Cityrap
returned $4.60 and $3.20. Third Chance finished third in the nine-horse
field and paid $3.40.
Rudolph’s Hydro Power exploded from the gate and led throughout en route to a 1
¾-length victory in the $92,350 Springfield Stakes under jockey Brian Hernandez
Jr. The Joseph “Spanky” Broussard-trained son of Aptitude covered the
mile in 1:38.56.
were confident,” said Hernandez. “The best thing for him was he drew
outside so we were able to see where we were going to set up. We used the
whole race track to get good position. Anytime he makes the lead,
especially against 3-year-olds, he’s going to keep going.”
Springfield was the third victory in 13 starts for the 3-year-old colt, who
added $50,534 to his earnings which now stand at $130,997.
Forest was second in the 11-horse field, a neck clear of third-place finisher
Rivershire. Mavericking, the 5-2 post time favorite, finished fifth.
Power paid $11, $5.60 and $5.20. Forbidden Forest returned $9 and $6.40.
Rivershire paid $11.60.