11/15/2005 12:00AM

Block claim hardly a lock in repeat bid

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CHICAGO - Chris Block has made his mark winning batches of maiden and allowance races, with consistent success at the stakes level. A claiming trainer he has not been. But Block hooked a good one when he claimed Precocious Kat for the Moabo Stables on Sept. 16 at Arlington. Taken for $25,000, Precocious Kat finished third in a second-level allowance race before clearing that condition by 11 lengths on Oct. 26 at Hawthorne, and she climbs the allowance ladder in the featured first race on Thursday at Hawthorne.

was one of eight horses that went into the feature, a third-level dirt-route allowance with a $35,000 claiming option. And while it may not be reasonable to expect the same sort of blowout victory she notched three weeks ago, Precocious Kat appears capable of winning again.

That would be especially true if the main track favors inside paths and speed, as often has been the case in recent weeks. Precocious Kat is no runoff, but she has a decent cruising speed, which is more than can be said of most of her opponents on Thursday. Precocious Kat has drawn the rail, and with a decent break she may inherit the early lead.

Jockey Eddie Perez, having one of the best meets of his career with 28 wins here this season, will try to keep her there.

Those looking to beat Precocious Kat, the likely favorite, can't be blamed. Precocious Kat has no long record of high-level performances, and her recent victory - which came in a seven-horse field whittled down by a move from turf to dirt - may merely have been a blip on the radar. But who can beat her? Maybe , who has won 3 of 9 starts, and has yet to turn in anything but a solid effort in seven starts this season. Capistrano takes a tough jump from statebred-restricted to open allowance company, but her trainer, Brian Williamson, believes she can make it.

"I've always thought she was a real nice horse," he said. "She won pretty easy last time, just went around and circled the field. She came out of the race good, and she's training good and everything. I think she can do it."

could challenge for the early lead, but exits a dull performance. Touch of Victory looks logical, but drew the outside post, leaving her rider a choice between dropping to the back of the field out of the gate, or risking a wide run on the first turn. Neither option is appealing, and Touch of Victory has yet to find the winner's circle after 10 starts this season.