Trainer Chris Block’s 2017 Arlington season ended with a loud bang.
There were 12 races closing day at Arlington, Sept. 23, and Block won four of them.
Block had won three races on a single race card before, but never four, and the prolific afternoon finished off a strong end to an Arlington meet that had initially been a source of frustration.
“For the first half to two-thirds of the meet, the horses were running well but not quite getting there,” Block said. “I thought the horses stepped up. Every barn has a few that aren’t up to snuff, aren’t the athletes you hoped they might be, but the ones I thought were okay, they ran that way. They kept their form and even ran a little better as the meet went on. I knew those horses were coming around, and the last month and a half, we finished off really strong. My crew did a great job. That last day was a lot of fun.”
Block won three maiden races Sept. 23 – all of them with horses that ran impressively -- as well as the Les Ahrens Memorial Stakes.
Strollin the Bayou, a 2-year-old Illinois-bred filly owned by Tim Witt’s Moabo Stables, was seven lengths the best in a 5 ½ furlong Polytrack race. Strollin the Bayou is by Stroll and out of the Storm Boot mare Bayou Boots.
Don’task Don’ttell, a Team Block Illinois homebred owned in partnership with Rich Ege, had acted up badly behind the gate before a race on Aug, 12, but after getting rank early in an open two-turn turf maiden race, Don’task Don’ttell relaxed down the backstretch before coming with a big run that sent him to a 4 ½-length victory. Don’task Don’ttell is by To Honor and To Serve and out of the Horse Chestnut mare Askbut I Won’ttell.
“He’s been a horse I thought has had a lot of talent that has been a little bit of a challenge mentally,” Block said. “We put a lot of time into him.”
Block also won the last race of the meet with Flash N Go, a 3-year-old maiden who captured a turf sprint by almost three lengths with a flashy late move. Flash N Go, by Candy Ride, is owned by Bob Lothenbach’s Lothenbach Stables, for whom Block trains Arlington-Washington Lassie winner Bet She Wins.
Win no. 4 on the card came with the Team Block stalwart Cammack, who out-finished favored Kasaqui to win the Les Ahrens, a one-mile turf race. Cammack, under a good ride from Jose Lopez, was home by one length for his 11th win from 30 career starts, and while Cammack is a 7-year-old, the 98 Beyer Speed Figure he earned was the best of his career.
“It was one of the best races of his life, no doubt about it,” Block said.
Cammack is by Giant’s Causeway and out of Fort Pond, who is the dam of the Block’s stallion Fort Prado. There will be no stallion career for Cammack, a gelding, but Block does hope to race him this fall at Hawthorne. Money released for purses by the Illinois Department of Agriculture will fund a series of Illinois-bred stakes races this fall at Hawthorne, and Block said he would like to take advantage of that opportunity.
Daddy’s Boo no surprise
It was fitting seeing Daddy’s Boo in the winner’s circle following the final stakes race of the 2017 Arlington season, the Steve Morgan Memorial Stakes. Jose Valdivia rode the filly for trainer Larry Rivelli and owner Vince Foglia’s Patricia’s Hope LLC, and those were the three dominant entities during this Arlington summer.
Valdivia finished the meet with 141 wins, a shocking 82 more than Santo Sanjur, who was second-leading rider at the 71-day meet. Valdivia’s win percentage of 31.6 was the highest for a leading rider during Arlington’s modern history.
Rivelli set a record for training wins at an Arlington meet with 79, eclipsing Wayne Catalano’s record of 75 set in 2010. Rivelli got to that mark despite the 2017 season having about 270 fewer races than were run in 2010.
Patricia’s Hope LLC, active from start to finish this summer, won their third straight owner’s title.
Daddy’s Boo is among Foglia and Rivelli’s better horses, and she ran like it Saturday, opening an easy lead and cruising to a 4 ¼-length victory over Prado’s Sweet Ride, who is a nice filly in her own right.