Updated on 09/15/2011 2:06PM

Ioya Two tries hand at sprint


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Rain has turned into trainer Chris Block's worst enemy. When Block decided to bypass the Grade 1 Beverly D. with the turf mare Ioya Two, he mapped out a late-summer campaign that would get Ioya Two to her winter quarters in Florida. Two months later, that plan has fallen apart, and Ioya Two has yet to run since winning the Grade 3 Modesty here in late July.

In August, rain washed the Reluctant Guest from turf onto the main track, and Block scratched Ioya Two. The same thing happened again last Saturday in the Top Corsage Stakes.

Fortunately, the owners are understanding, if only because they are Block's immediate family - and himself. That doesn't make the bad luck any easier to accept, however. "It's extremely frustrating," Block said. "She's good right now and she's ready to run."

That's why Ioya Two, a proven route horse, will try something new Thursday at Arlington when she starts in a five-furlong turf sprint - provided the race stays on grass. "She may not run a lick at five-eighths, who knows?" Block said. "But at least it gets her out of the barn. I've got to do something to keep her mind sharp."

Ioya Two is part of a field of 10, which includes Great Fever, who like Ioya Two is a refugee from the Top Corsage. Great Fever was a marathon specialist in her native France, but she, too, needs someplace to run right now, even at a distance far shorter than her best. Also entered were several fillies much more accomplished at sprint racing than Ioya Two, but unproven on turf. Their connections may be hoping for just the thing that has plagued Ioya Two's meet, more rain.

Ioya Two might well have enough tactical speed to stay within striking distance of the early leaders, even at this abbreviated distance. Block has repeatedly said he prefers Ioya Two to race behind other horses, and that sort of trip is assured Thursday. It will be up to leading rider Rene Douglas to rally the mare in time.

Paige's Boo set a fast pace on turf in a $50,000 claiming sprint Sept. 8 and never slowed down, winning by three lengths, and threatens to lead all the way again. On dirt, the Iowa-bred Sumthintotalkabout becomes the horse to beat, but Sumthintotalkabout, by Kyle's Our Man, has never run on grass.

*A field of at least eight is taking shape for Saturday's Grade 2 Arlington-Washington Futurity here, though no nationally known colts are expected to ship in for the one-mile race. The prospective starters include Double Zero Seven, Dubai Squire, It'sallinthechase, Major Storm, No Trouble, Publication, Test of Time, and Tinker. Jeremiah Jack and Second Tuesday are considered possible starters.