07/28/2001 12:00AM

Arlington Handicap winner a good buy


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The self-deprecating Burk Kessinger has nothing to be ashamed of. Make No Mistake, a 6-year-old horse Kessinger selected for private purchase after his last race, won Saturday's Grade 3 $250,000 Arlington Handicap while making his first start for his new owners, Bruce Barton and Alvin Haynes.

"I was the idiot who was responsible," Kessinger joked after Make No Mistake outfinished Takarian by a neck in a hard-fought stretch duel.

On Kessinger's advice, Barton and Haynes bought Make No Mistake from Moyglare Stud Farm after the horse finished second to Hap in the May 19 Dixie Handicap at Pimlico. Make No Mistake had bone chips removed from his knee last year, but Kessinger said that Christophe Clement, the horse's former trainer, had done an exceptional job bringing Make No Mistake back to the races.

"He X-rayed as good as a horse could X-ray for a 6-year-old," Kessinger said.

Make No Mistake had to overcome a tepid early pace to win the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Handicap. Orleans Road and Takarian raced together through a half-mile in 50.77 seconds and three-quarters in 1:14.56, but Robby Albarado moved Make No Mistake into contention on the backstretch. "I had to position him a little closer," Albarado said. "I knew they'd go slow, but not that slow."

Orleans Road faded on the turn while Takarian ran on. Make No Mistake hooked him at the top of the stretch, and the two ran together to the finish, with Make No Mistake going clear at about the sixteenth pole. El Gran Papa, the narrow second choice, finished third.

Make No Mistake paid $5.40 to win as the favorite and was timed in 2:02.53 over a course labeled good.

The winner and the runner-up are both under consideration for the Arlington Million.

Modesty: Ioya Two's the one

Earlier this week, trainer Chris Block recalled he hadn't even nominated the mare Ioya Two to last year's Modesty Handicap. When Wade for Me, a horse Ioya Two compared with favorably, won the race, Block wondered what might have been.

This year, Block not only nominated and ran Ioya Two in the Modesty, but also he won it.

Ioya Two is a classy Lord at War mare, bred and owned by Block's family, which races under the name Team Block. Like Wade For Me last year, Ioya Two is an Illinois-bred. The Modesty was the first graded stakes win for the 34-year-old Block.

Ioya Two ($16.40) capitalized on an absence of pace in the Modesty, a 1 3/16-mile turf race. When Megans Bluff, the favorite, failed to show her typical early speed, jockey Mark Guidry sent Ioya Two through on the inside to grab the lead from Jig on the backstretch.

Said Block, "I told Mark, 'If she's on the lead, so be it. She's going to give you all she has down the lane.' "

Megans Bluff, who seemed hopelessly beaten on the far turn, came flying in the stretch. She cut relentlessly into Ioya Two's lead in the final half-furlong, and was ahead a jump past the wire, but Ioya Two held on by a nose to win in 1:55.47.

Solvig finished third and Historie Sainte fourth.

Round Table to Discreet Hero

Discreet Hero continued his rise in the 3-year-old division with a 1 1/4-length win in the Grade 3 $125,000 Round Table Stakes.

Racing close to a solid pace set by longshot Western Pride, Discreet Hero stayed wide on the far turn, reached contention at the top of the stretch, and drew clear in the final furlong. It was the colt's third straight win for owner B. Wayne Hughes and trainer Al Stall.

Discreet Hero had never run in a graded stakes, nor had he raced around two turns before the nine-furlong Round Table.

Western Pride held on well at odds of 21-1 to finish second, more than two lengths ahead of X Country. Discreet Hero paid $5.40, and was timed in 1:49.73.