Spagnola's Chlobee/ Gulick's Princess / Block's Wile E Peyote

The 5-year-old Illinois-bred mare Chlobee won race 9 on May 19 at Arlington at odds of more than 36-1. For most horses, that’s a long price. For Chlobee, it’s standard.

Chlobee has gone post-ward at double-digit win odds in 10 of her 13 career starts, and she never has been bet below about 8-1. This past weekend’s win was her third career victory. Last September, she won an Illinois-bred first-level allowance at odds of just less than 12-1, a low price by Chlobee standards. When she captured an Illinois-bred maiden race on May 12, 2017, Chlobee blew up the tote board, paying $210.40 to win.

“She was out there warming up before her first win and when I sat down and saw the odds, I thought she was worth a couple dollars. I said that to the person next to me, but I didn’t get up and do it,” said Ida Spagnola.

Spagnola, who lives in Cicero, trains Chlobee. She has a pair of unraced 2-year-olds in the barn, but otherwise, Chlobee is it – basically a one-horse stable. Spagnola was 12 when her father got a riding horse, and she has been equine-oriented ever since, breaking horses at a farm when she was 21 and galloping racehorses on the Chicago circuit before taking out a trainer’s license in 2001.

“I guess I always liked horses better than I liked people,” Spagnola said.

Spagnola sent out 123 starters as recently as 2013. That number dwindled to 60 in 2017 and plummeted to just 2017. Now it’s just Chlobee and the pair of 2-year-olds, but Chlobee is more than just a curiosity – she’s pretty good.  

Chlobee is by the underappreciated (and, unfortunately, deceased) stallion Kitalpha, and her dam, La Perica, by Carnegie, comes from a strong European family that includes good racehorses that became sires such as Mark of Esteem and Local Talent. La Perica also produced King Rootin Tootin, whom Spagnola also trained through a career that produced more than $160,000 in purse earnings. Chlobee is up over $83,000 now, and if one draws a line through the dirt races and a soft November turf race last fall at Hawthorne, she essentially has improved throughout her career.

A stakes-race start June 9 in the $75,000 Mike Spellman Memorial is a possibility for Chlobee’s next race. She’ll be a longshot there if she runs – as if that means anything when it comes to Chlobee.

Princess gives Gulick first graded-stakes score

Veteran horseman Jim Gulick first started spending the summer stabled at Arlington in 1991. He’s had his ups and downs, for sure, and when his stable shrank too drastically he sent a few horses to Chicago from his farm in Central Florida to train in other local outfits rather than stable at Arlington himself. Gulick didn’t have an Arlington string between 2013 and 2016, but he got back in the game last summer, had a solid season, and is going great guns this May.

Gulick trains a six-horse string of race-ready runners and they are firing on all cylinders. His fifth victory from six starters came Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Arlington Matron, with Princess La Quinta home by one length for the first graded-stakes win of Gulick’s career.

“It means a lot, especially coming here at Arlington,” Gulick said shortly after the Matron.

Gulick co-owns Princess La Quinta with Arlington regular Al Moorehouse, and Gulick bought the filly for just $6,500 as a yearling. Princess La Quinta was injury-prone as a young horse: After she badly cut a leg after escaping from a field, and nearly lost an eye following a run-in with a tree branch, Gulick, running his hand down her withers, found old sutures from a considerable shoulder wound suffered sometime before the filly came under his care.

But Princess, as she is fondly known, is a runner. She’s won four of five starts over Arlington’s Polytrack and handles turf, as well. And she is worth a whole lot more than $6,500 right now.

Wile E Peyote an Illinois-bred with a future

“If he runs today it won’t be because I pushed him to do it,” trainer Chris Block said in the Arlington paddock a few minutes before Wile E Peyote made his career debut on May 19.

Pushed or not, Wile E Peyote did win, capturing an Illinois-bred maiden-special-weight Polytrack sprint in his first foray into actual competition. And to look at the beast, it’s not a surprise.

Wile E Peyote looks like a pure athlete, with good bone to go with good muscle. He looked a bit lost getting ready for his debut, and might not have kicked in until deep stretch, and he ought to have plenty of room to improve upon a three-quarters length win.

Wile E Peyote, a 3-year-old gelding, did some breezing last year at age 2 but was given time to grow out of irritating shin issues, Block said. Tim Keeley bred and owns Wile E Peyote, who is by the excellent (and, unfortunately, deceased) stallion City Zip and out of the very good Illinois-bred racemare Peyote Patty. Peyote Patty, owned by Keeley and trained by Block, won five Illinois-bred stakes races during a career that spanned 2007 – 2012. Her second foal to race could easily follow in her footsteps.