07/29/2001 11:00PM

Block owes Ioya Two for first graded stakes


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Chris Block's voice was croaking Sunday and virtually gone on Monday. "I'd trade my voice any day for a graded stakes win," Block whispered.

Block, the 33-year-old trainer, shouted himself hoarse Saturday when Ioya Two gave him the first graded stakes win of his career, beating Megans Bluff by a nose in the Grade 3 Modesty. "I think it's a little overdue," Block said, "but more so for my parents than for me."

Block's parents are David and Patricia Block, who along with Block and his two siblings make up the ownership group Team Block, which owns Ioya Two and several other good turf runners. Block's parents bred and raised Ioya Two at their central Illinois farm near Philo, Ill.

"They work awfully hard trying to raise a good horse," Block said.

Since Ioya Two's days on the farm, the Blocks have acquired a 60-acre farm near Ocala, Fla., where they send their young horses to be broken after they've been weaned in the fall. The Blocks have 10 broodmares now, including Ioya Two's dam, Ioya. They mainly breed to race but will sell a couple yearlings each season as well.

Ioya Two had been in peak form while wintering at Gulfstream Park in 2000, but her physical well-being declined just before she tried to win a graded stakes. She had won restricted and listed stakes before, but her Modesty win, in which she just outlasted the multiple graded stakes winner Megans Bluff, hit a new plateau. "She just ran so hard," Block said. She also has substantially enhanced her value as a broodmare with a graded stakes win.

Now Block must decide whether to tackle Grade 1 opposition in the Beverly D. stakes on Arlington Million Day. Immediately after the Modesty, Block said no, he was not leaning toward the Beverly D. But by Sunday and Monday, with Ioya Two seeming perky, his resolve seemed less strong. "We'll have to wait and see," he said.

Beverly D. next for Megans Bluff

If Ioya Two does go to the Beverly D., she is likely to meet Megans Bluff again. Megans Bluff will use her narrow defeat in the Modesty as a springboard to the Beverly D. provided she continues to train well in the coming weeks.

"I bought my plane tickets last night," trainer John Hennig said. "We'll see how she responds in the next three weeks. She usually does just fine."

Megans Bluff lost the Modesty, but did so in a completely unexpected way. During a 20-start career, Megans Bluff has always raced close to the early pace, whether she was running on turf or dirt. But after getting away from the gate poorly and taking a bump, Megans Bluff and jockey Craig Perret wound up racing in ninth place on the first turn and down the backstretch. Still far behind turning for home, Megans Bluff flew through the stretch to miss catching Ioya Two by a nose.

Hennig said no plans were made to take Megans Bluff off the early pace, and that she and Perret had just adapted to circumstances. "She's always had natural speed," Hennig said. "But she's learned to settle where you want her to. She's just more mature and more seasoned."

But Hennig said the powerful rally wouldn't necessarily alter Megans Bluff's running style. "What you do with her in the future would hinge on what kind of racetrack she was running on and the way the race came up."

Megans Bluff will continue training at Hennig's base at the Churchill Downs training center in Louisville. As she did before the Modesty, Megans Bluff will van to Arlington the day before she is to race here.