10/26/2010 3:23PM

Block again has strong turf threat


STICKNEY, Ill. – As unlucky as Hawthorne Race Course got with wet weather last fall, good fortune has fallen in equal proportion on the track this autumn. When rain finally fell around bone-dry Chicago this week, it came during the track’s three dark days, and after 14 racing days Hawthorne already has run 31 turf races this meet. Just 39 grass races were contested during the entire 2009 fall meeting, that despite five-day race weeks compared to four this year.

No one has benefitted more from the expanded turf opportunities than trainer Chris Block, who has sent out the winner in 6 of those 31 turf races. One of those winners, P.S. I Love You, will try for her second win of the Hawthorne season in the featured sixth race here Thursday, an open $29,500 filly-and-mare grass race carded for one mile. P.S. I Love You is one of nine horses in the field’s main body, which includes the coupled entry of Cave Creeker and Grassy Nellie for trainer Louie Roussel. Sasha’s Fierce was entered main-track-only.

P.S. I Love You is 2 for 2 in 2010, but faces her stiffest challenge of the season. Promising last year at age 3, P.S. I Love You didn’t race between November 2009 and September of this year, and when she returned, it was in a $15,000 non-winners-of-two claiming race. P.S. I Love You cruised to victory against those overmatched opponents, and her Hawthorne turf win last out came on a class hike into an entry-level allowance race. While the filly was life and death to hang on over return rival Theatrical Girl, she has two things going for her Thursday: speed and the rail, and the Block-on-turf angle.

But Cave Creeker looks like the horse to beat. Her only poor turf-route performance of the year came in the Grade 3 Pucker Up, where she was sixth over a course probably wetter than she prefers. Cave Creeker bounced back nicely with a fast-closing win over second-level turf allowance foes last out at Hawthorne, and her late kick could be flattered by a solid pace in this spot.

Si Si Mon Amie, a pace factor, also figures. She was a flat eighth Sept. 25 at Woodbine, but that race – like most of Si Si Mon Amie’s recent starts – came against stronger competition than her Hawthorne rivals have generally faced, and was her first outing in two months.