10/25/2001 11:00PM

Snow won't stop Ioya Two


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Rain has cost Ioya Two dearly at the Arlington meet, but Saturday it is snow she might have to contend with.

Winter blew into Chicago this week, just in time for Arlington's final weekend. Cold weather is expected to continue through Sunday, and for Ioya Two and her connections, that means the chance of the Estrapade Handicap being rained off turf has diminished. But don't underestimate the strength of Ioya Two's connection to the rain gods - when she enters, things get wet.

So wet that four times in the last three months she has been entered in a grass race, only to scratch when the race was taken off turf. Earlier this month, trainer Chris Block entered her on consecutive programs, only to see turf racing canceled both days. Fortunately for Block and Team Block, the family ownership group that includes Block, his parents, and siblings, Ioya Two already scored her major win of the year. In July, she won the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap here, a win that significantly boosted her residual value as a broodmare.

Block said he and his family are leaning toward another year of racing for Ioya Two, a lightly raced 6-year-old. First, she actually needs a chance to compete.

In the Estrapade she is not the starting highweight - at 119 pounds, Histoire Sainte gives her a pound - but given a home-track advantage and a win over Histoire Sainte in the Modesty she probably will be the favorite.

Ioya Two showed her amazing versatility and class in her lone start since the Modesty, a five-furlong allowance race that she won with a powerful stretch kick. In the Estrapade she returns to a much more suitable distance, about 1 1/16 miles, and is well drawn to use her speed in post 1. Leading rider Rene Douglas has the call.

Histoire Sainte, owned by Gary Tanaka and trained by Steve Asmussen, must tote top weight because she finished a close fourth behind the Grade 1 class Tranquility Lake in the Sept. 1 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar. Strangely, Histoire Sainte's two wins since being imported from Europe both came in the Sixty Sails Handicap at Fair Grounds.

The pace in the Estrapade comes from Please Sign In and the New York Invader Song for Annie. Song for Annie, trained by Bill Mott, won two stakes last winter but has not been in form since March.

* Jerry Hollendorfer won two races here Thursday to move in front of defending champion Wayne Catalano in the trainers' race. The two were tied entering Thursday's card. Douglas will be a runaway winner of the jockey title.