10/31/2002 12:00AM

Mystery Giver at crossroads


CHICAGO - Mystery Giver made his first start a year and a half ago at Hawthorne. Last fall, he turned a corner winning the Autobot Stakes there. Mystery Giver will be at another crossroads at Hawthorne on Saturday when he faces nine opponents in the Robert Carey Memorial.

A strong performance would build on Mystery Giver's recent win in the $100,000 Sea O' Erin at Arlington, and would send him south for the winter with a full head of steam.

"The Autobot last year kind of propelled him to go on and have a good winter at Fair Grounds," said trainer Chris Block. "It got him in a groove."

This past summer mixed accomplishment and frustration for Mystery Giver's connections. He was impressive winning a statebred stakes early in the Arlington meet, and as the summer wore on Mystery Giver's once lanky frame continued to broaden and strengthen. The homebred colt from the Block family stable ate with more gusto than ever before and stood up better to the rigors of training.

But, he was off the board with a tough trip in the Arlington Handicap and finished last when the Blocks took an ambitious shot in the Arlington Million. Only with his Sea O' Erin triumph did Mystery Giver show the fruits of his steady improvement.

"He's still doing really good," said Block, who has been impressed with several of Mystery Giver's Arlington workouts since the Sea O' Erin.

At one mile on turf, the Grade 3, $150,000 Carey is a bit shorter than Mystery Giver's ideal trip, but it will have to do.

"It's what fits into his schedule," Block said. "He ran well over that course, and it's the most logical spot. He's won going a mile, and the long stretch there should help him."

The 7-year-old La Reine's Terms has been on a nice streak and heads the opposition. In from Maryland for trainer Lawrence Murray, La Reine's Terms has won all four of his starts this season. All have come on turf. He exits a strong win in the Maryland Million Turf and can give Mystery Giver all he wants Saturday if he's able to transfer his strong form to Chicago.

Aslaaf has kept allowance company exclusively this season, but beat a strong group of horses at Keeneland last month. Canadian invader Kimberlite Pipe had an excellent 2001 season, but has yet to finish third or better in five starts this year. His last race was a close fourth on Sept. 29 in the Chief Bearhart and was his best recent effort. Also entered are Al's Dearly Bred, Buckhari, Fighting Indians, Major Omansky, Robin Zee, and Smilin' Slew.

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