Updated on 09/17/2011 11:49AM

Mystery Giver's luck changes at last

Four Footed Fotos
Mystery Giver ($5.80) wins the $150,000 Robert Carey Memorial Handicap by a half-length over Al's Dearly Bred.

STICKNEY, Ill. - Tough luck has followed Mystery Giver this season, but fortune swung to his side late Saturday afternoon at Hawthorne Race Course. Getting a clean run from the back of the pack, Mystery Giver swooped to the lead in mid-stretch and captured the $150,000 Robert Carey Memorial Handicap by a half-length over Al's Dearly Bred, who took the worst of things around the far turn and at the top of the stretch.

The best Illinois-bred grass horse since Breeders' Cup Turf winner Bucks Boy, Mystery Giver brought a seven-race losing streak - dating back to February - into the Carey, a race in which he ran seventh as the 2-1 favorite last season.

But the jockey Carlos Marquez, riding Mystery Giver for only the second time, stayed well clear of trouble this time. He let Mystery Giver settle into last place in the eight-horse field, as the longshot Canaverous set splits of 23.94 seconds for a quarter-mile and 47.25 for a half.

"He's a big horse, and if you get him stopped you're not going to get him started again," Marquez said.

So Marquez let Mystery Giver begin rolling on the far turn, though it forced him several paths wide. Meanwhile, jockey Eddie Martin was buried on the rail with Al's Dearly Bred. With nowhere to run on the turn, Martin waited for the horses to fan out in the stretch before making his move.

"I had to wait," Martin said. "I had no place to go with him."

Marquez made the lead with Mystery Giver inside the eighth pole as Al's Dearly Bred finally was guided to the outside, and though Al's Dearly Bred was making up ground with each stride, Mystery Giver held him off at the finish.

Major Rhythm finished third - no match for the top two - as Mystery Giver ran one mile on firm turf in 1:34.70 while paying $5.80 to win as the favorite.

Trainer Chris Block, whose family bred and owns Mystery Giver, has anguished over Mystery Giver's losing streak this year. He and a host of other Blocks could finally let out pent-up excitement in the winner's circle Saturday. Their luck had turned.

* Burning Roma, who may have been favored in the Carey, grabbed a quarter on Thursday while training at Monmouth Park and didn't make the trip to Chicago for the race.