05/12/2010 11:00PM

A soft spot for Striking Hight


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - From Mystery Giver to Fort Prado and on to younger horses such as 4-year-old Giant Oak, Team Block, the prominent Illinois family partnership, always seems to have a grass stakes horse - or two or three - for the summer at Arlington. Striking Hight, a 3-year-old homebred gelding, would seem to be the latest in the line of Team Block turfers, and he figures to be favored in the featured eighth race Friday at Arlington Park.

One wonders, though, how high trainer Chris Block thinks the ceiling might be for Striking Hight, since he was entered under the Friday feature's $62,500 claiming option. Race 8 also is open to entry-level allowance horses, but Striking Hight cleared that condition with a turf win Jan. 22 at Fair Grounds, where he raced for trainer Richie Scherer. More recently, Striking Hight finished a distant second to Workin for Hops in the March 27 Grindstone in New Orleans. Workin for Hops came back with a non-threatening effort in the American Turf on Oaks Day at Churchill.

Striking Hight, however, doesn't have to be the second coming of Round Table to win the Friday feature, a one-mile race for 3-year-olds that attracted 11 entries. The field includes two coupled entries: Battle Music and Orchestra for trainer Raja Malek, and African Moon and Forestry Type for trainer Dale Bennett. While both Malek horses have turf experience, Bennett might be hoping for a rain-off onto Polytrack for Forestry Type.

All four of those horses, as well as Guiding Missile, wintered at Tampa Bay Downs, where the turf-allowance competition typically is not as demanding as it is at Fair Grounds.

Also spending the winter months in New Orleans was Jumpin Jack Cat, a gelding still trained by Scherer who looks like a potentially live longshot Friday. Jumpin Jack Cat's only Fair Grounds start came on dirt, and in his lone turf try here last summer, he rushed to the lead on the backstretch, then faded after a duel. Scherer and an ownership partnership claimed Jumpin Jack Cat or $25,000 last summer, and the connections seem to believe their investment might still pan out, since Jumpin Jack Cat is entered for a tag almost $40,000 higher. He worked three times at Hawthorne in April and has posted two May drills since shipping over to Arlington.

Officer McNeal had a rough Illinois-bred sprint-stakes trip last time out and makes his turf debut for trainer Wayne Catalano.

* Arlington's first race Friday will be 1 p.m. Central.