08/11/2012 4:38PM

Arlington Park: Chris Block sweeps Illinois Owners Stakes with Suntracer, Peyote Patty

Four-Footed Fotos
Suntracer runs down Mr. Mischief to win the $100,000 open division of the Illinois Owners Stakes.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – After hitting a lull this past winter and spring, Suntracer has come back to his best form again. That seemed like the case when he finished a closing third in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes on July 14 at Arlington, and Suntracer drove the point home here Saturday, rallying to win the $100,000 open division of the Illinois Owners Stakes.

Suntracer was hit in the eye by a turf clod while finishing fourth as the heavy favorite Jan. 21 in the Colonel Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds. The injury was pretty serious at first, and even when Suntracer recovered from the acute phase of the wound, he wasn’t the same horse. Wearing a plastic bubble to protect the eye, Suntracer finished a flat 10th in the Mervin Muniz Handicap and a well-beaten seventh in the Elkorn Stakes before his connections backed off.

Trainer Chris Block - who would go one to win the second Owners Stakes of the Day with Peyote Patty - began seeing signs of renewed confidence earlier this summer, when Suntracer finished second in the Black Tie Affair Stakes for Illinois-breds. And the horse he could not run down that day, Mr. Mischief, could not hold him off in the Illinois Owners.

Mr. Mischief set a comfortable pace for the first half-mile, which he ran in 49.20 seconds, and thanks to a faster second-half mile in 48.72, Mr. Mischielf held a 3 1/2-length lead at the stretch call. But Suntracer, who was last of seven three furlongs out, came relentlessly on the outside and put his nose in front about two strides from the wire, winning a tight photo.

“I thought he could get there at the top of the stretch, but three jumps from the wire I thought he was beat,” said Block, who trains homebred Suntracer for his family’s ownership group, Team Block.

Princeville Condo, making his first start since last fall, stayed on well to finish third, three lengths behind Mr. Mischief and three-quarters of a length in front of another Block horse, Mavericking.

The winner, the narrow favorite, paid $6.20 and was timed in 1:44.46 for 1 1/16 miles on good turf.

Peyote Patty wins her second Owners Stakes

Peyote Patty won the fillies and mares division of the $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes for the second time, and the mare has stayed good for so long that her two victories in the race were separated by three years.

From the outside, it didn’t look like Peyote Patty had held her form this year at age 7. She was third by almost eight lengths in her season’s debut, then finished a non-threatening fourth in the Lincoln Heritage Stakes, but Peyote Patty came back to life with an allowance-race win July 15 before beating Katie the Lady by a half-length here Saturday.

“We knew that it would take a couple starts to get her back in the game,” said Chris Block, who trains Peyote Patty for owner Timothy Keeley.

Peyote Patty, with regular rider Tim Thornton up, got a perfect slow-pace-pressing trip just outside Katie the Lady. The two front-runners darted away from the pack with a quick third quarter-mile in 23.83 seconds, and none of the others – including third-place, even-money favorite, Cumulonimble – ever got close to them. Peyote Patty, down two lengths at the stretch call, ran on steadily to take the lead in the final half-furlong. She paid $10.60 to win and was timed in 1:45.38 for 1 1.16 miles on good turf. Hooh Why finished fourth.

Peyote Patty, a daughter of Cactus Ridge, has an interesting history. She needed eight starts to win a maiden race, but once switched to synthetic and turf routes has become a very good horse, winning 11 of her last 17 starts over four calendar years.