05/19/2010 12:00AM

Stakes canceled, reinstated quickly


In highly unusual race-day developments last Saturday, Arlington temporarily canceled the female division of the $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes before reinstating the race less than one hour later.

The cancellation of the race was announced before noon, following a decision earlier in the morning to move Saturday's turf races, including the two Owners stakes, from a rain-soaked turf course to Polytrack. The female division of the Owners stakes scratched down to four horses, at which point Arlington officials decided to abandon the race entirely, presumably because the short field would not produce handle sufficient to cover the race's purse. Bets already taken on the race were refunded, and Saturday's late pick four wager was canceled.

Less than an hour later, Arlington reversed course - too late to save the late pick four - and decided to keep the stakes, race 9, on the program. That decision apparently was prompted by complaints from the connections of at least two of the four remaining horses in the Owners stakes, including trainer Chris Block, who wound up winning the race with Askbut I Won'ttell, owned by a partnership including Block's family, the prominent Illinois ownership group Team Block.

Upon learning of the initial cancellation, Arlington stewards contacted the Illinois Racing Board, but the board decided not to stand in the way of the cancellation.

"The track has the right to cancel a race, and we don't have specific rules that compel them to run a race that's carded," said IRB executive director Marc Laino.

That situation could change, however, since at least one IRB commissioner believes a rule should be in place to prevent the sort of race-day cancellation Arlington initially intended to carry out. Laino said that the board would take up the matter during their monthly meeting in June.

Track president Roy Arnold did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the cancellation and reinstatement, nor has Arlington issued any public releases on the situation.

* Six sprinters entered under third-level allowance conditions or for a $62,500 tag go in Friday's featured fourth race. The horse to beat is Big Rushlet, who had an excellent 2009 Arlington meet for trainer Roger Brueggemann.