06/22/2006 12:00AM

Fort Prado resumes campaign


CHICAGO - That strange-looking pink streak running down the right shoulder of the otherwise gray Fort Prado is the product of a youthful encounter with a farm fence. The fence is one of the few things Fort Prado hasn't outrun.

A 4-year-old who has won 10 of his 20 turf starts, has this season won the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup at Louisiana Downs, the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup, and the John Connally Breeders' Cup at Sam Houston. On Arlington Park's Prairie State Festival of 2004, he won the Springfield Stakes, and on the same day last year he was a comfortable winner of the Black Tie Affair, a race that Fort Prado will be heavily favored to win again Saturday at Arlington.

The Black Tie Affair goes as race 8, the last of six consecutive $75,000-added stakes for Illinois-breds. Five of them, the Black Tie Affair included, drew fields of 11 or more. Race 3, the Purple Violet, marks Original Spin's first start at Arlington since she won the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie last season.

Fort Prado might be frying bigger fish right now had his already

excellent 2006 campaign not been derailed by a foot bruise that kept him out of the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and forced him to miss several days of training.

"His foot got resolved, and this is the race I have for him," said trainer Chris Block, who has sent out the winner in this race three of the last five years.

Block said he is eager to get Fort Prado going again after a 10-week break between starts.

"I just want to lead the horse over and run," he said.

Fort Prado has an excellent finishing burst, and if jockey Robby Albarado keeps him out of trouble and the horse runs his race, Fort Prado wins. But there is always the danger of traffic in a field this large, plus the question of whether Fort Prado will be as sharp now as he was before his break.

If Fort Prado falters, , a 7-year-old who finished second in the 2005 Black Tie Affair, could step up. Fort Prado and Scooter Roach ran at equal weights in the 2005 Black Tie Affair; this time, Scooter Roach gets eight pounds.

"Maybe that'll make a difference," said Dave Kassen, trainer of Scooter Roach.