11/28/2006 1:00AM

Corrupt to rest up for turf campaign


CHICAGO - Chicago racing is not Saratoga, not Keeneland, not Del Mar, not Churchill or Gulfstream. But Chicago horses are having a fine fall outside Illinois. Dreaming of Anna won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Street Sense, who raced this past summer at Arlington, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. And Saturday, on Churchill's closing day, Chicago-based horses won both 2-year-old turf stakes. Corrupt, starting his career with two wins, took the Grand Canyon Stakes as the 6-5 favorite, and Ciao, a 22-1 shot, won the Caressing Stakes.

Corrupt is the latest in a long line of Illinois-bred grass standouts bred and owned by Team Block and trained by Chris Block. Corrupt was a flashy winner of a Hawthorne maiden race in his career debut, and he ground out a one-length win in the Grand Canyon. Corrupt has moved on to the Block's farm near Ocala, Fla., with racing plans as yet unresolved.

"He's going to Ocala for a little lay-up time," Chris Block said Tuesday, "and then we'll decide after the first of the year what we'll do. I don't know if we'll go on and try to run in Florida or send him to New Orleans. We're not sure yet, other than we want to give him a little rest right now. It certainly looks like he's going to excel on the grass, so we'd like to have a nice fresh horse in 2007."

Block said Corrupt has battled lung infections and "doesn't have a real strong immune system yet," another reason he might benefit from a winter break. Another Block homebred named Trigger Happy, a sister to the graded stakes horse Fort Prado, won a Hawthorne turf maiden earlier this month, and she, too, has gone on to Florida.

Ciao also is likely to rest until next year, trainer Frank Kirby said. Ciao, an Iron County Farms homebred by Lear Fan, probably would have won a two-turn turf race at first asking had she not raced greenly in the stretch, but she cleared the maiden ranks Nov. 2 at Hawthorne and upset the Caressing with a strong late surge.

"She's really sound, but I think we're just going to take her home for a little while and get her ready for Keeneland," Kirby said "She ran hard in all her races, so I guess we'll rest her a little bit."

Sitting out proves shrewd

When Breeders' Cup Sprint horses started getting mentioned for the De Francis Dash last Saturday at Laurel Park, trainer Jim DiVito started thinking twice about sending Coach Jimi Lee for the race. In the end, DiVito stayed home, probably a good call, since Coach Jimi Lee would have needed a career-best race to contend in the De Francis, in which Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Thor's Echo turned back Diabolical and Nightmare Affair, who had been third in the BC Sprint.

"That turned out to be a pretty tough race," DiVito said.

Coach Jimi Lee won't run again until 2007 and is headed to a training center in Ocala. DiVito said the Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream is a possible early-year goal.

Back at Hawthorne, DiVito proved a good handicapper, his prediction that Mare's Ex would be a better route horse than sprinter born out on Friday. Mare's Ex won his career debut in a sprint, finished a troubled fifth in the six-furlong Sun Power Stakes, and won an Illinois-bred entry-level route allowance Friday, a good prep for his major goal, the Dec. 16 Jim Edgar Futurity.

"I thought the horse was impressive because at the eighth pole it looked like he was going to get beat," DiVito said. "He got two turns under his belt, which should help."

Horsemen's votes due

The election period for offices in the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is nearly over. Members' ballots must be post-marked by this Friday to be counted. The counting of the ballots will be conducted on Dec. 8 by the ITHA's auditor, Ulbrich and Company, and within two weeks elected officials will take office.

Frank Kirby has challenged incumbent president Joe Kasperski this year, and several seats on the ITHA board also are being contested. Kasperski has come under fire from a segment of the ITHA membership during the last year for what some have called improper use of association funds. The current ITHA administration contends the organization has been properly audited and has done nothing wrong.

* Race 2, a second-level Illinois-bred sprint allowance, serves as the feature on Thursday's nine-card. Officer Bob and Rochester Cat look like the top two betting choices, but Fielding, who hasn't raced since August, has lured leading rider Chris Emigh and also will receive betting support.