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Bambazonki Waits for Kitten's Joy

Lothenbach Stable’s 2-year-old Bambazonki would have been among the favorites in Saturday’s $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park after winning his only two starts on turf at Arlington Park and Keeneland, but his connections will pass on Saturday’s race to resume his career in the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes on Jan. 20.

“We’ll wait for the Kitten’s Joy,” said trainer Chris Block from Chicago Wednesday morning. “We’re looking forward to having a nice 3-year-old on turf and looking forward to that race, but with that said, we won’t rule out the idea of trying him on dirt at some point. He’ll run in the Kitten’s Joy and we’ll evaluate where we go from there.”

A $100,000 Keeneland September yearling sales purchase by Hard Spun, Bambazonki finished second in his career debut on Polytack at Arlington in late August, broke his maiden on turf next out there on Sept. 23 by two lengths and won a hard-fought neck decision last out over the Keeneland course on Oct. 19.

Bambazonki is among six runners Block has stabled at Gulfstream this winter, most stakes-quality runners as has been the pattern for the Chicago-based horseman the last few years as he has enjoyed considerable success here with such stars as 2011 Donn Handicap (G1) winner Giant Oak and Graded stakes-winning turf stakes mares Never Retreat and Askbut Iwon’tell.

All three of those stars have been retired, but Block and his family’s Team Block Stable have a potential emerging star filly here that could help fill the void in 3-year-old Leading Astray, second last out in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in mid-November.

An Illinois homebred daughter of Belong to Me, Leading Astray has won five of eight starts with two seconds and a third, scoring her biggest victory in the Pucker Up Stakes (G3) at Arlington in mid-September and finishing third in the Valley View Stakes (G3) at Keeneland in October before the Mrs. Revere.

Block reports that Team Block’s 5-year-old long-distance turf star Ioya Bigtime is getting a brief break on a farm in Ocala, but will return to his select spring at Gulfstream after Christmas. The son of Dynaformer won the Stars and Stripes Stakes (G3) at Arlington in July and the Kentucky Cup Turf (G3) at Kentucky Downs in September.

In two starts since, Ioya Bigtime finished second by a neck in the Sycamore Stakes (G3) at Keeneland and a close-up fourth last out as the favorite in the W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) at Calder on Nov. 24, all of the above run at 1 ½ miles on turf.



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