10/22/2006 11:00PM

Vacare out of BC Filly-Mare Turf


CHICAGO - Trainer Chris Block is not one for taking wild swings at the pinata, and his conservative approach has prevailed upon the camp of owner Bob Lothenbach, who elected not to pay the $20,000 it would have taken to pre-enter Vacare by midday Monday in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Vacare, however, is going to the Fasig-Tipton selected mixed sale in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 5 - selling as Hip No. 241, consigned by Chesapeake Farm - and could command top dollar as an unbeaten grass filly coming off an impressive victory in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

Block said he leaned against the Breeders' Cup because Vacare would face three hurdles simultaneously: She'd be coming back only three weeks after the QEII, and would be facing older horses for the first time at a distance a quarter-mile farther than she's ever raced.

"It's the combination of everything put together that makes it a large hill to climb," Block said.

Vacare debuted this past summer at Arlington, winning a maiden race, an entry-level allowance, and the Grade 3 Pucker Up before posting a mild upset Oct. 14 in the QEII. By Lear Fan out of a Valid Appeal mare, Vacare gave Block his first win in a Grade 1 race - and now could be headed into someone else's shed row.

"Of course I'd love to keep her, but business is business," Block said.

Lothenbach, who bred Vacare, hasn't yet set a reserve on Vacare's sale, according to Block. If Lothenbach doesn't get his price, Vacare could wind up back in Block's care.

"What I'm going to do right now is train her lightly for the next 10 or 12 days and have her healthy and safe to go to the sale," said Block. "I'm going to nominate her to the Mrs. Revere [at Churchill] in case he does buy her back and he wants the opportunity to run her in there, or we could send her to Ocala [Fla.] and freshen her the rest of the year."

Mystery Giver, Rapid Proof battle on Wednesday

While Vacare's future is unsettled, Block finally has found a race for his aging star Mystery Giver - and an excellent race it is for an October Wednesday at Hawthorne. The featured sixth race drew the third-, fourth-, and sixth-place finishers from the Sept. 30 Carey Memorial Handicap, plus Lord Carmen, second by a nose earlier this fall in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf, and Gigawatt, a Grade 3 turf-stakes winner in April.

Mystery Giver, who runs for a $100,000 claiming option, hasn't started since he finished a close third in an Aug. 8 optional-claimer at Arlington. Off more than a year after suffering a severe leg injury in the 2004 Arlington Million, Mystery Giver has progressed steadily through four 2006 starts, but how much he has left to give at age 8 remains to be seen.

"He's doing good," Block said. "I've just been waiting for a spot to run him."

Mystery Giver won the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz, highlight of the Fair Grounds turf season, in 2004. Rapid Proof, another horse in the Wednesday feature, won it a year later, only to be disqualified after testing positive for an illegal race-day medication. Three weeks after his short-lived win in the Muniz, Rapid Proof won the $216,000 Connally BC at Sam Houston - and then went on a seven-race losing streak that spanned 15 months.

In June, after a bad loss running for a $62,500 claiming price at Churchill, Rapid Proof left the Kentucky base of trainer Hal Wiggins and came into the Arlington barn of Lon Wiggins, and his flagging career has turned around. A string of four good efforts came to a peak in the Grade 3 Carey, where Rapid Proof finished second by a head.

Lon Wiggins said he could point to "nothing really specific" that turned Rapid Proof around - but that may be natural modesty talking. Wiggins outfitted Rapid Proof with a shadow roll attached to the outside of his bridle to get the horse into his races sooner, and Rapid Proof's form turnaround coincided with the equipment change.

Come on Jazz, who was badly cut after a strong effort in the July 2 Stars and Stripes at Arlington, closed well for third in the Carey and has turned in strong dirt breezes since that race. His half-mile work Oct. 14 was second-fastest of 50 at the distance that morning.

Riders playing musical chairs

There was upheaval in the local jockey colony over the weekend, with Eddie Razo and Cisco Torres going down with injuries, Eddie Martin leaving for New York, and second-leading rider Jose Ferrer handed a 30-day suspension.

Torres, who just finished a 30-day substance-abuse rehab program in Kentucky and resumed riding last week, fractured his wrist Saturday morning in a starting-gate accident. He's expected to miss at least four weeks.

"It's in a cast, but I don't think its real bad," said Torres's agent, Bobby Kelly.

Saturday afternoon, Razo went down a furlong past the finish line when his mount, The Toast Man, stumbled. He separated his shoulder and is out of action, with a medical evaluation that will determine whether surgery is required scheduled for Tuesday, according to his agent, Lindy McDaniel.

Razo ranks fourth in the standings with 18 wins, three more than Martin, who has left for New York, agent Jimmy Ernesto confirmed Monday.