08/10/2011 4:52PM

Arlington: Block formidable with five runners in two Illinois Owners stakes


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – No trainer has more powerful Illinois owners than Chris Block, a fact prominently displayed in a pair of $60,000 stakes restricted to Illinois-owned horses on Friday at Arlington Park.

In the male division of the Illinois Owners, Block has two of the 10 entries, Hoodwinked and Ioya Bigtime, but it’s on the female side that Block holds the strongest hand. There, Block has three of the nine entrants in the 1 1/16-mile grass race, including likely favorites Askbut I Won’ttell and Peyote Patty.

“I don’t really like it,” Block said of pitting capable stablemates against one another, “but there’s no place else to run.”

Block has long said that Dundalk Dust, his third horse in the female division, performs best on dirt, and there’s a chance Dundalk Dust could be scratched. But either of Block’s other two is capable. Askbut I Won’ttell has more proven class, and probably deserves to be favored, and Block said her 0-for-3 record over the Arlington grass course is merely circumstantial.

“She had a terrible trip in the Modesty the last two years,” Block said.

Indeed, Askbut I Won’ttell finished fourth, beaten just more than three lengths by Fantasia, in the July 9 Modesty after getting blocked at the eighth pole. She has yet to hit the very best form she showed last winter, but Askbut I Won’ttell has worked strongly since the Modesty and is dropping in class from three Grade 3 races.

Peyote Patty, meanwhile, moved into Block’s barn earlier this year, and won the Lincoln Heritage Stakes on the Prairie State Festival on June 25 in her second start for the barn. Peyote Patty was sent to the lead by jockey Tim Thornton that day, but is capable of hanging back and pressing the pace if front-running Doilookfatinthese is determined to lead. The 6-year-old Peyote Patty is a game and consistent performer who runs well at Arlington, but she may not be quite good enough to hold off an in-form Askbut I Won’ttell.

On the male side, Block said he wasn’t yet certain whether Ioya Bigtime would start in the Owners Stakes or in an open second-level turf allowance also on Friday’s card. Hoodwinked, however, is a go for the stakes, and has a chance to win. In the Black Tie Affair during the Prairie State Festival, Hoodwinked moved easily into contention on the far turn and looked like a possible winner, but flattened out in the final furlong and wound up seventh. The 4-year-old Hoodwinked has made only six starts and still has room to improve, especially if he prefers to be held up until the stretch run.

The pick to win the race, however, is Cool C Note, who enters in the best form of his life. Claimed for $40,000 this past winter by trainer Mike Tomlinson, Cool C Note won an allowance on Polytrack here by five lengths in June, and was equally impressive stepping up in class and switching to turf on July 1, drawing away for a 1 1/4-length win over two horses, Cross Village and Hattash, who are part of Friday’s field.

Cool C Note might wind up with a good trip stalking likely leader Exchanging Kisses, a horse who, if left to his own devices in the early stages, also could win the Illinois Owners.