04/29/2004 12:00AM

Another live one on turf for Block


CHICAGO - You could ask more of the guy. You could ask him to be perfect, since he had one turf starter at this National Jockey Club meet who lost. The other three horses whom trainer Chris Block sent out to run on the Hawthorne grass course this spring came back winners. It was much the same last fall, when Block won far more than his share of grass races at the Hawthorne meet. Saturday, bettors have another chance to catch a Block-trained grass horse, as he sends Big Bold Sweep out in Hawthorne's featured 10th race.

All eyes, of course, turn to Churchill Downs on this day - even Block's. Block has Mystery Giver in the Grade 1 Early Times Turf Classic there, a grass race on another plane. At Hawthorne, it is Big Bold Sweep that goes for Block and his family's ownership group, Team Block. Big Bold Sweep was last of six here April 13 in his 2004 debut, but that was a dirt sprint, and like Block, Big Bold Sweep likes the grass.

Last season, Big Bold Sweep won two of five grass starts, including one on the Hawthorne turf. He is an Illinois-bred and is unproven against the level of open company he faces in Saturday's feature - part of a 12-race program including the Derby simulcast - but Big Bold Sweep showed flashes of real ability last year. If he can put things together Saturday, Big Bold Sweep has a good chance to beat his nine opponents in this 1 1/16-mile race.

He faces an international cast. Among the entrants are two Argentine-breds; a horse who began his career in Mexico; and Rodolfo, who has started nowhere but Hungary, that hotbed of Thoroughbred talent. Rodolfo was bred there, and for whatever it is worth, he won the Group 1 Magyar Derby last July at Budapest.

Caiman, the horse with Mexican roots, has some class. His first start in this country came against Second of June in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes, and in his most recent start he won a second-level dirt allowance here, rating and rallying from off the pace for this first time in a seven-start career. Caiman, by the A.P. Indy sire Malibu Moon, has a reasonable chance of transferring his ability to turf for trainer Angel Medina, who is stabling for the first time in Chicago.

Other prime contenders are Noble Ruler, who won a lower-level dirt race in his first start of the meet, and Smilin' Slew, a six-time winner on turf.