Several nationally known trainers entered horses to race Saturday at Arlington, where this year Million Preview Day actually is living up to its grand billing. Steve Asmussen, Mark Casse, Brad Cox, Mike Maker, Shug McGaughey, Ken McPeek, Graham Motion, and Wesley Ward all are running horses on a card that drew more than 120 entrants – two days’ worth of entries on a single program!
But no trainer will saddle more horses Saturday than local horseman Chris Block, and among a handful of Illinois-breds entered in the five stakes races Saturday, it’s Block who trains the one with the best chance of keeping the winner’s share of a stakes purse in-state.
Prado’s Sweet Ride finished second a year ago in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap and she probably has a better chance at winning Saturday than her 10-1 morning-line odds. The race favorite, Daddys Lil Darling, no doubt is formidable, but she is stuck wide in post 13 while shouldering top weight of 124 pounds.
Six-year-old Prado’s Sweet Ride, bred and owned by Darrell and Sadie Brommer, is one of the best racehorses ever sired by Illinois-bred Fort Prado. Her dam is Excellent Ride, by Excellent Meeting, and she’s a seven-time winner of more than $400,000. And not done yet.
“She’s a pretty resilient girl,” Block said. “I think she’s gotten a little better with age. Her 3-year-old season was good, 4-year-old season was okay, but she really came to form last year.”
Prado’s Sweet Ride was advanced enough as a 3-year-old that she won the Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs in the fall of 2015. The filly raced solidly enough the next spring and summer but didn’t really seem to progress until the next winter when Block and the Brommer’s sent her to Fair Grounds to stable with Richie Scherer.
“She was a little immature on the mental said, but it was more physical than mental,” Block said. “She just wasn’t a robust tough and she can be tough on herself. She really gets into the bridle. But I truly believe a lot of the credit for her turning the corner has to go to Richie. Between her 4- and 5-year-old seasons, when she came back to me that spring she was like a different horse. Richie had told me he thought I was going to see a big difference with her, and he was right. She put on weight and muscled up.”
Extra credit to Scherer, who oversaw this transformation while in a fight with cancer for his life. Scherer passed away last summer, and last summer Prado’s Sweet Ride ran her best race, finishing second by one length to the top-class mare Dona Bruja in the Modesty.
On the surface her form coming into Saturday’s race looks lesser, but Prado’s Sweet Ride was compromised in her lone Fair Grounds start last season by an entrapped epiglottis that subsequently was repaired. Her first start this year came on dirt, he second on Polytrack, and the mare is a turf horse. It’s not out of the question she can give her connections a very sweet ride on Million Preview Day.
Rivelli has another fast one
Moving over to the department of the rich get richer: Trainer Larry Rivelli has another very fast Polytrack horse.
Illinois-bred Richiesinthehouse won his third race of the meet on July 1 with the best performance of his career, that despite running on just nine days rest.
“I ran him back quick because it’s hard to pass up the spot, but the horse came through it like a champ,” Rivelli said.
Richiesinthehouse won an Illinois-bred second-level allowance by 8 ½ lengths – easy lengths. He ran seven furlongs in 1:22.65, a raw time that produced a 98 Beyer Speed Figure, one of the best Polyrtrack figures of this season.
“Jose Valdivia said he still hasn’t gotten to the bottom of him. He can run on turf, too, but the key to him is distance: 6 ½, seven furlongs. I don’t know exactly what he is, but he’s sure good on this track,” Rivelli said.
Richiesinthehouse was good enough last year to finish a close second to the talented Devileye in the Arlington Heights Stakes. The 4-year-old gelding is by Sidney’s Candy and out of the Unusual Heat mare, Streamin Heat. Richard Ravin bred him and co-owns him with V-Leaf Stables LLC. Rivelli said he’d look for an open second-level allowance race in which to next run Richiesinthehouse. If the horse keeps on in this vein, stakes racing, perhaps at Presque Isle or Woodbine, which both have synthetic main tracks, might be just over the horizon.