04/17/2008 11:00PM

Beware of Block barn on turf


STICKNEY, Ill. - Fort Prado, followers of the Chicago racing circuit know, but there will be more than just the one good turf horse under trainer Chris Block's Arlington Park shed row this spring and summer.

Fort Prado will be a part of the Block contingent, having just finished a typically fine third in the Grade 3 Shakertown last Sunday at Keeneland. There is a race Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill, the Aegon Turf Sprint, for Fort Prado, but at five furlongs, that spot may be on the short side, Block said, and Fort Prado could well pass. With or without the Churchill start, Fort Prado - one of the best Illinois-breds in recent years - will soon take up residence at his usual summer home, the Arlington backstretch.

But keep an eye out for a couple other Block trainees in coming weeks.

Free Fighter just finished a close Polytrack fifth in the off-the-turf Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland, and is a better horse on grass, as evidenced by a blowout Fair Grounds turf allowance win in February.

Amazing Results won two minor stakes at the Fair Grounds meet, and already has made his way to Chicago for the next phase of his campaign. Both 3-year-olds are Team Block homebreds and Illinois-breds.

Amazing Results, out of Ioya Two, is the more advanced horse mentally, Block said, while Free Fighter is long on talent, but still figuring things out.

"He's not a dumb horse, just full of himself," Block said. "I think he'll get better with age."

And add still one more name to the Block roster: Choragus. While she beat less-than-sterling opponents Sunday at Hawthorne, Choragus won a maiden special weight at six furlongs by almost seven lengths, and was timed in 1:11.40 over a fairly slow-playing surface. Choragus, a half-sister to the good Illinois-bred Toll Taker, was bred and is owned by Robert Lothenbach, who bought her back when Choragus didn't meet her reserve at an auction.

"We kind of took our time with her, not really by design, and it's worked out all right," Block said. "She's a June foal, so she isn't really even 3 yet."

Choragus raced greenly in her debut win, and Block suspects she may turn out to be a better filly at longer distances.

Wade thrown but unhurt

For those watching Hawthorne on Thursday, race 2 turned into a scary flashback to last Nov. 30, when a nasty spill broke jockey Randy Meier's arm, and sent apprentice Lyndie Wade into unconsciousness for several days. Just past the three-eighths pole in a dirt sprint on Thursday, Wade went down again, when his mount, Chadder, clipped heels and fell. But this time, Wade got right back up and escaped unscathed.

"He got right up and was waiting for the ambulance," said Wade's agent, Jay Fedor.

Wade didn't ride again on Thursday, but that's because his only other mount on the card was scratched. After working himself into shape at Oaklawn during March, Wade made his comeback here a week ago.

It was hard from an outsider perspective not to think quickly back to Wade's serious but ultimately short-term injury sustained about 4 1/2 months ago, but Fedor said Wade didn't appear troubled.

"He never said anything about that," said Fedor. "I think it was kind of good that he hit the ground, bounced, and he was all right. It kind of put him at ease."

Fedor said Wade was "mad at himself" for what transpired Thursday. Wade, a 17-year-old apprentice, tried to squeeze Chadder through a slight hole on the inside at about the half-mile pole, but couldn't make it, and wound up having to steady and take back. He continued looking for an inside path, but eventually gave up, and was trying to ease off the fence when he clipped heels.

"That may be his biggest problem: he wants to ride tight," Fedor said. "That's how they ride in Louisiana, and that's where he's been taught."

Hangman to get better setup Sunday

The featured sixth race on Sunday seems ripe for an early pace fight, and if that scenario plays out, either Hangman or Brahms Lullaby stands to benefit.

The Sunday feature, carded at six furlongs for third-level allowance horses or $40,000 claimers, drew a field of seven, and four horses - Chillin Villain, Out for a Spin, Foxie's Boy, and Diamond Account - all have front-end tendencies. Foxie's Boy sometimes presses, as does Out for a Spin, but Chillin Villain has drawn inside, and almost always shows his speed, while Diamond Account zipped through a half-mile split of 45.20 seconds here April 6 on his way to a $25,000 claiming win.

So, even if the early pace does not max out, the fractions should at least be honest, which definitely was not the case when Hangman finished third at this class level March 29. Trained by Rusty Hellman, Hangman was fifth of six that day while Foxie's Boy dawdled through a 23-second opening quarter-mile, and small wonder Hangman could not make up much late ground and finished third by 1 3/4 lengths

Hangman won here in December, and won a second-level allowance Jan. 27 at Oaklawn. He threw in a clunker there Feb. 28, but the recent Hawthorne race represented a return to form, and Hangman came back with a bullet half-mile breeze on April 15.

Brahms Lullaby cleared his second allowance condition March 20 at Hawthorne, but had a good trip against less talented rivals than he meets Sunday.