07/06/2008 11:00PM

Unpaid Crusade gets softer spot


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Unpaid Crusade has twice started in races restricted to Illinois-breds, and the results have not been pretty - for the other horses, that is.

In June 2007, Unpaid Crusade made his career debut in a two-turn, Illinois-bred grass maiden and won by almost six lengths. Last September, after two losses in open company, he raced in an Illinois-bred entry-level allowance race and cruised to a three-length win.

Wednesday, in the featured fourth race at Arlington, Unpaid Crusade is scheduled to start in a second-level Illinois-bred turf allowance, and a similar result will be widely expected. Unpaid Crusade was one of just seven horses entered in the main body of a race carded for about one mile on turf, with Pineapple Joe eligible to start only if the feature is rained from turf onto Polytrack.

Unpaid Crusade has lost all five of his starts against open company, most recently finishing fourth as the favorite here May 17 in a second-level allowance race. But on that day, much was against Unpaid Crusade, a 4-year-old Team Block homebred trained by Chris Block. He broke from post 9 and was last of 10 in the early going, while up front Yankee Injunuity slowed the pace to a walk over a wet turf course. Unpaid Crusade and Rene Douglas rallied but ran out of time, losing by less than two lengths, a performance that was flattered when Yankee Injunuity returned to take a third-level turf allowance in his next start.

There is not much early pace entered in Wednesday's fourth race, either, but this time Douglas and Unpaid Crusade drew post 1, and against softer, thinner competition, the pair should land in the winner's circle at a short price.

Block has another horse for the race, The Alcova Kid, who won here opening week and was fourth in a blanket finish at this class level on June 1. But the one time The Alcova Kid faced Unpaid Crusade, he was beaten three lengths.

Nolan's Territory probably has more upside than The Alcova Kid and could wind up as Unpaid Crusade's exacta partner. Nolan's Territory is 2 for 2 at this meet, having captured a one-mile Polytrack maiden race on May 22 and an entry-level, two-turn turf allowance on Juneo12.

The Block barn also is a major player in Wednesday's opener, a $50,000 Polytrack route claimer that's the other higher-class race on the program. Block also entered two in this spot, with Iosilver likely to be favored in a short field.