10/31/2001 12:00AM

Cashel Castle a star in the making


STICKNEY, Ill. - It's the rare top-quality horse that makes his way to Hawthorne in November, but fans here might see a stakes horse in the making on Friday. Cashel Castle, a standout 2-year-old winner early last month at Arlington, makes his second start in the ninth race, a first-level sprint allowance for juveniles.

Cashel Castle exuded quality in his Oct. 7 debut, and not only through his 4 3/4-length win. Rating inside of and behind horses for much of the race, Cashel Castle came through an opening along the rail at the top of the stretch and buzzed past his rivals, drawing away at the finish while under little pressure from rider Eddie Razo.

It was a strong performance for an unraced maiden, but Chris Block, who trains Cashel Castle for Barry and Sandra Buckholz, was not entirely surprised. Block had noted from the beginning how professional and poised Cashel Castle was in his training. The colt conducted himself like an older horse, and he ran like one in the afternoon.

And for that reason, it's not fair to expect Cashel Castle to improve as much as the typical talented second-time starter. He shouldn't have to, as none of his seven rivals Friday has delivered a performance in the same league. If the visual nature of Cashel Castle's debut needed validation, it came when the colt who finished second in the race, Opportunist, returned to win well. Cashel Castle also has worked a pair of sharp half-miles since his debut, and is well drawn on the outside.

Block said he considered shipping Cashel Castle to Churchill for an allowance race next week, but thought the better of it. "I don't want him to have to ship now," he said. "I want him to get the best education he can right now."

One more for Ioya Two

Block said that the wonderfully honest turf mare Ioya Two could make one more start this year, in the Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs, before getting a winter break in Florida. On Sunday, the Illinois-bred Ioya Two won Arlington's final stakes race, the Estrapade Handicap, by more than two lengths, completing a perfect summer at Arlington.

Ioya Two's crowning achievement this year was a win in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap. Block's plans for her since that race were thrown into chaos by a series of races that were rained off the turf. When she ran out of options this fall, Ioya Two, naturally a route horse, even ran in a five-furlong sprint, which she won.

"I'm awfully proud of her," Block said. "She never was really able to get into a racing routine. The Cardinal is coming back a little quick, but she'll have a chance to get some rest over the winter. So if she's doing well next week, we'll go ahead and take a shot."

Fan Club's Mister is back

Another Illinois-bred turf stakes horse, Fan Club's Mister, has returned to training after getting a month's rest and is being pointed to the Woodchopper Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Fan Club's Mister won the Grade 2 American Derby this summer and ran a creditable race in the Grade 1 Secretariat. When he last raced, he was narrowly beaten in a statebred handicap by the older horse Reno Rumble, and came out of that start with a twisted ankle, trainer Rickey Harris said.

"It was really nothing, but I decided I didn't want to rush him back," Harris said. "He deserved a rest."

Harris, who will be wintering at Fair Grounds for the first time this year, said Fan Club's Mister might make one start before the Woodchopper, which is restricted to 3-year-olds.