Updated on 09/18/2011 2:13AM

Vacare ships to prepare for QEII


With an easy win over older horses last weekend at Santa Anita, the 3-year-old turf filly Wait a While has been ordained the best thing since sliced bread. But squirreled away at Hawthorne Race Course is another 3-year-old filly who is unbeaten on grass, Vacare, who will take her show on the road this weekend for a start in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Oct. 14 at Keeneland.

Trainer Chris Block said Vacare would ship to Keeneland by van Saturday in order to breeze over the turf course there Monday and make final preparations for her race next Saturday.

"I'd like to get her a work on the grass down there once, since that grass is a different kind of turf course than she's used to," said Block, who trains Vacare for her breeder, Bob Lothenbach. "But I think she'll handle anything you put her on. I just want to make sure I cross every 't' and dot every 'i.' "

Vacare has won all three of her starts. She made her debut June 9 at Arlington and won a maiden turf race by four lengths after a wild, come-from-the-clouds rally. She raced more professionally - and won just as easily - in an entry-level allowance race July 27 and glided to an effortless close-to-the-pace win in the Sept. 9 Pucker Up. Vacare turned in a strong five-furlong turf work Sunday at Hawthorne, but she has yet to face anything like the competition she'll find in the QEII, a race expected to draw a full field of 12 that includes several Grade 1 winners.

"I think even if she runs a phenomenal race, a huge effort, she still could finish fourth and be beaten a length," said Block.

Vacare's horse-trailer will stop on the way to Keeneland at Hoosier Park and drop off her stablemate Iosilver, who races Saturday night in the $100,000 Schaefer Mile, a race he won last year by 16 lengths. Iosilver hasn't follow through on that big win this year, with only three starts and no wins. But Iosilver has been working steadily since finishing sixth in the July 29 Washington Park Handicap and may bounce back to form in the Schaefer.

"He's good right now, he's fresh, and he seemed to like that track down there, so that's why we're going back," said Block.

Pretty Jenny favored in feature

Trainer Christine Janks toyed with the idea of sending Pretty Jenny to Keeneland for a stakes race, but found a better spot Friday at Hawthorne in the featured sixth race, carded at six furlongs for $100,000 claimers or high-end allowance horses. And high-end Pretty Jenny is: She's won 7 of 13 career starts, establishing herself as one of the better Illinois-bred fillies in training.

The Friday feature drew a field of eight, but Pretty Jenny looks like a standout. Janks has worked steadily with Pretty Jenny to make the most of her talent, changing course when circumstances so dictated. Janks said she thought coming into this season that Pretty Jenny might be at her best sprinting on turf, but when that didn't work out, Janks returned her to dirt. And to avoid getting dirt kicked back in her face, which Pretty Jenny sometimes resents, a change in strategy put Pretty Jenny on the front end in her most recent start, a good-looking two-length win in an open overnight stakes Sept. 4 at Arlington. The move to Hawthorne isn't a chink in Pretty Jenny's armor, either: She's gone 4-2-1-0 there, and worked a bullet five furlongs on Sept. 19 prepping for this start.

Late-running Trout River Red might have a chance at an upset if a fast early pace materializes, but all things being equal, she's not likely to beat the favorite. Nor should Aroarable, Asyouwish, or Dutchie, three others that skeptics looking to beat the favorite will consider.