02/25/2010 12:00AM

Blinkers boost Marilyn's Guy

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Marilyn's Guy has stepped up his game considerably since trainer Chris Block made a key equipment change with the horse back in December.

"We added blinkers two starts ago," Block said. "It seems to have focused him in a little better."

On Friday at Oaklawn, Marilyn's Guy should go favored in the ninth, a one-mile money allowance that drew stakes winners Spotsgone and Cryptolight. He enters off a runner-up finish to Grade 2 winner Win Willy in a $65,000 optional claimer, equalling his best Beyer Speed Figure, a 96.

Block added blinkers to Marilyn's Guy's equipment after a win in a first-level allowance at Hawthorne over 1 1/16 miles in November, a race in which the horse had ducked in during the stretch run. In his first start with the hood, Marilyn's Guy rolled to a seven-length win in a second-level allowance at Hawthorne in December. He then came to Oaklawn and finished 2 1/2 lengths behind Win Willy on Jan. 21.

"We were looking to see if he would take another step forward off the Hawthorne race and he did," Block said. "Certainly, running second to Win Willy was no slouch."

Marilyn's Guy will break from post 3, under Chris Emigh.

"It wouldn't hurt to have some pace," Block said. "He's showing to be somewhat of a middle closer. He doesn't seem to get himself too far back. My concern is this is a flat mile. I was looking for more ground for his next start. That doesn't bode well for his style. He's a closer, and you have the shorter stretch. But that's the distance, and that's what we have to adjust to."

Friday's race will end at the sixteenth pole, like all one-mile races at Oaklawn.

Spotsgone is looking to rebound from a rare off-the-board finish. He was eighth last out in the $100,000 Essex Handicap after finding himself farther back than usual. Spotsgone can make an impact with a return to his front-running ways.

Cryptolight moves back to dirt, the surface on which he won $75,000 Fall Stakes at Mountaineer in October. He finished seventh in the Grade 3 River City Handicap on turf at Churchill in his last start Nov. 27. Trainer Joe Martin has given the mount to Luis Quinonez.