05/30/2013 4:50PM

Arlington Park: Block loaded for Purple Violet

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Four-Footed Fotos
My Option has a 3-for-4 record, her one defeat coming by a neck in her racing debut.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Four racing weeks into Arlington’s 2013 race meet, Chris Block is the leading trainer – by third-place finishes. One-quarter of Block’s 32 starters through May 29 have checked in third, while three horses have won and four came home second. But the net Block has cast over the $100,000 Purple Violet Stakes here Saturday should be wide enough to end the frustration.

Block has three of the nine entrants in the Purple Violet, a one-turn Polytrack mile for 3-year-old Illinois-bred fillies that shares a good Saturday card with the $100,000 Springfield Stakes and the $65,000 Meafara. The best of Block’s fillies might be My Option, the leading Illinois-bred 3-year-old filly until proven otherwise, but Block’s other two, I O Ireland and Alette, are more than mere filler.

My Option – a Timothy Keeley homebred whose older half-sister, The Best Option, runs one race earlier Saturday – is a neck away from an unbeaten four-race career, her narrow loss coming in her career debut last summer at Arlington. At 5 1/2 furlongs, that maiden race was shorter than My Option’s best distance, and she has since performed strongly at two turns on turf, two turns on dirt, and in a dirt sprint to start her 3-year-old season. That dirt sprint, the Pretty Jenny on April 27 at Hawthorne, was especially impressive, with My Option rallying from fourth after a slow start to win by five lengths, suggesting she wintered well and has developed into an even better filly at 3 than 2.

I O Ireland has won only 2 of 6, compared with 3 of 4 for My Option, but has faced stronger competition. Only her maiden win last summer at Arlington came against Illinois-breds, and I O Ireland has run – to no great effect – in open stakes her last three starts. Having raced exclusively on turf, I O Ireland is an unknown quantity on Arlington’s all-weather main track.

So, too, is Block’s third, Alette, who made a modest debut last summer on Arlington turf, but won her second start, a two-turn dirt race this spring at Hawthorne, by more than 14 lengths. Like all three of Block’s starters, Alette has a pedigree far above standard for an Illinois-bred, being by Lemon Drop Kid and out of an El Gran Senor mare.

There are two dangers to the Block trio: Front-running Beeway, who almost certainly will try to lead all the way in the Purple Violet after breaking from post 1, and Bold Kitten, who did not show her best when well beaten by My Option in the Pretty Jenny.

Springfield: Fear the Kitten drops in

The $100,000 Springfield, another one-turn Polytrack mile, this one not sex-restricted, is on paper a one-horse race, with Fear the Kitten exiting a series of graded stakes to make his first start against Illinois-breds.

Trained by Mike Maker, Fear the Kitten, made no impact in the May 11 Peter Pan at Belmont and may appreciate the move from dirt to a synthetic surface almost as much as his class drop. In his last Polytrack start, Fear the Kitten was a closing fifth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, and anything close to that sort of performance would make him very difficult to beat.

Meafara: Catalano looms large

While Block and his show horses stand the best chance in the Purple Violet, Wayne Catalano and his cascade of Arlington winners rule the top of the $65,000 Meafara, an overnight stakes for 3-year-old fillies carded for six furlongs on Polytrack.

I’m Already Sexy, a Keeneland Polytrack maiden winner last fall who has been working Arlington bullets, might rate slightly over Gold Edge, though Gold Edge – trained then by Lon Wiggins – won the Arlington-Washington Lassie last summer.

The field is solid for an overnight stakes, with Flower Spell, Chortle, Awesome Mama, and Hit Girl also in with a chance.