08/15/2003 11:00PM

Arlington: 'Mystery' lowers sights

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Not this year. The trainer Chris Block has not lost faith in Mystery Giver, but instead of running in the Arlington Million, Mystery Giver does his Million week racing this season in Sunday's $50,000-added John Henry Stakes. Fifth with a tough trip in the 2002 Arlington Handicap, Mystery Giver nevertheless got a shot in last year's Million. He was 30-1 in the race, and ran like a longshot, finishing ninth by more than 11 lengths. It wasn't fair, really, since Mystery Giver is a much better horse than that. Anyone who saw him cruise to a 3 1/2-length win in the $150,000 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup this past winter could have seen that. Mystery Giver has been plagued by inconsistency, but on his best day, he has a solid edge on seven rivals entered against him in the John Henry, a grass race at 1 1/16 miles. Mystery Giver was 4-5 when he faced statebred horses in the Cardinal Handicap, his first start of this meet. Not only did he lose, Mystery Giver came in on horses approaching the first turn, and was disqualified to ninth.

In this year's Arlington Handicap, Mystery Giver cranked up in the stretch and finished well for third, beaten a length by the Million-bound Honor in War. Off that race, he poses a formidable target on Sunday.