06/23/2011 4:39PM

Arlington Park: Hydro Power looks live in Springfield


Joseph “Spanky” Broussard, a Louisianan by birth and temperament, has been training horses since 1969. A million racing memories float around the 70-year-old Broussard brain, most of which can be brought up in fairly photographic detail. One drawback to Broussard’s longevity: He has outlived many longtime owners, and Broussard’s string has dwindled to a handful this year. Still in the Broussard fold is owner-breeder Richard Rudolph, whose 3-year-old Hydro Power should give Broussard a solid chance to take down the Springfield Stakes on Saturday afternoon at Arlington Park.

The Springfield is one of six Illinois-bred stakes on the Prairie State Festival, all offering purses of about $100,000. The Springfield, one of the day’s more competitive events, is one of two 3-year-old-restricted stakes, both of those to be contested over a one-turn Polytrack mile.

Hydro Power rates a narrow edge over capable opponents like Mavericking, Forbidden Forest, and Table Games. A homebred son of Aptitude, he ran in a series of open races over the winter in Louisiana and moved far forward when back in with Illinois-bred this spring at Hawthorne, where he finished second to the solid older horse Denham in the Milwaukee Avenue Stakes. Hydro Power’s last 10 starts have come on dirt, but he won his maiden by four lengths racing on Arlington Polytrack last summer, and seems well drawn in post 10.

“We liked him from the start,” Broussard said. “He had some setbacks, but I think he’s over them now.”

The Purple Violet, the female counterpart to the Springfield, also drew a contentious field. Our Lady in Red may wind up favored off a win this spring in the Pretty Jenny Stakes, but she is far from a sure thing to outpace Cityrap, Seans Silverdance, and Third Chance. Cityrap’s strong recent course and distance performance came against older horses, where she easily beat the very decent Happy Henrietta.

Lincoln Heritage: Block has top two

An Illinois-bred stakes day would seem hollow without contenders from trainers Chris Block and Christine Janks, and both could have live runners in multiple stakes Saturday.

Block’s best chance could come in the Lincoln Heritage, for fillies and mares at one and one-sixteenth miles on turf. In an eight-horse field, Block figures to have the top two betting choices, Dundalk Dust and Peyote Patty.

Dundalk Dust had an excellent autumn 2010 that culminated with a win in the Grade 2 Falls City at Churchill. Dundalk Dust’s 2011 debut, in the March 12 New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds, was a bust, but the filly was diagnosed with an internal infection that caused weight loss. Back at her feed tub again, Dundalk Dust has turned in a long series of regular morning workouts and should return to something close to her best Saturday.

Peyote Patty, who should be on or near the early lead, returned from an 11-month layoff on May 22, setting the pace and finish a close fourth in an open allowance race. She finished second in the 2010 Lincoln Heritage before her break.

Shrewd Operator makes his first start since Aug. 6 in the White Oak Handicap, but Block has won with eight of his last 21 starters coming back from a similarly long layoff. Shrewd Operator, a 7-year-old with just 17 career starts, won the 2010 White Oak, and will be tough to deny in the six-furlong Polytrack dash if a strong inside speed bias present on Wednesday persists through the weekend. His opponents include River Bear, the 2009 White Oak winner; Mighty Rule, second in the 2009 White Oak and third last year; and pace rival Royal Express, another Broussard-trained runner.

Janks, meanwhile, has horses entered in five of the six stakes, but Cruise looks like her best chance. Five-year-old Cruise, who beat similar foes in the Governor’s Lady this past spring at Hawthorne, is one of nine fillies and mares entered in the six-furlong Isaac Murphy, in which she finished fourth last year. Last-out Polytrack winner Rose Mountain looks like her chief rival.

Black Tie Affair: Princeville Condo looks tough

Wrapping up the stakes sequence is the Black Tie Affair for older turf horses, a race that features several old hands in the division as well as a couple of newcomers. Gathering Cloud, an East Coaster trained by Barclay Tag, is scheduled to make his first Illinois-bred start, but drew poorly on the outside of an 11-horse field. One stall inside him is the Block-trained Hoodwinked, who makes his stakes debut after a good second-place, open-allowance finish last month.

But Princeville Condo looks like the one to beat. Second by a nose by return rival My Sonny Boy in this race last year, Princeville Condo finished a close third in his 2011 debut May 8 despite having to rally into a slow pace. He has since worked well and rates an edge over Denham, who brings a five-race winning streak into the Black Tie Affair.