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Illinois Champions Dundalk Dust and River Bear Featured in Prairie State Fest
Illinois champions Dundalk Dust and River Bear are prominent among the 56 horses who passed the entry box Wednesday for the six $100,000-added stakes races that comprise the 12th annual Prairie State Festival to be held Saturday, June 25, at Arlington Park.
The six races that make up the showcase for state-breds are:
Dundalk 5 LLC’s Dundalk Dust, champion 3-year-old filly and champion turf female, will shoulder top impost of 122 pounds in the Lincoln Heritage. The Chris Block-trained daughter of Military is unraced since a seventh-place finish in the $100,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes at the Fair Grounds in March. Last year, she ventured into open company and captured the Grade II Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs in November en route to her year-end honors.
Block also trains the race’s second highweight, Timothy Keeley’s Peyote Patty, who was assigned 121 pounds. Winless since capturing the 2009 Illinois Owners’ Stakes here, the 6-year-old daughter of Cactus Ridge was runner-up in this race last year and most recently ran fourth after making the pace in an open company third-level allowance on May 22.
Dana Waier Thoroughbreds’ River Bear, champion male sprint horse and winner of the 2009 White Oak, is among seven entered for this year’s renewal as is the race’s defending champion Team Block’s Shrewd Operator. However, highweighted for this year’s running is Scarlet Stable’s Mighty Rule, winner of the $100,000 Robert S. Molaro Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course in April.
Kenneth Hutchens’ Denham seeks his sixth straight victory as he will head to post as the 122-pound highweight in the Black Tie Affair. The son of Unreal Zeal’s unbeaten streak extends to last December at Hawthorne and also includes a victory in the $100,000 Milwaukee Avenue Handicap on that track’s Illinois Champions Day in April.
Among those the Tom Dorris trainee will face in the Black Tie Affair are the race’s defending champion William Stiritz’ My Sonny Boy and Grade III stakes winner Frank Mancari’s Free Fighter, claimed by his current connections in March at Gulfstream Park.
Carson Spring Farms’ Cruise, winner of the $100,000 Governor’s Lady Handicap at Hawthorne in April, is the 122-pound highweight in the Isaac Murphy. The Christine Janks-trained daughter of Posse comes into the race off a sixth-place finish in open company in the $60,000 Prairie Rose Stakes in Iowa on May 31.
Among those she’ll be facing in the Isaac Murphy are two Frank Kirby-trained entrants: Gary & Beth Leverton’s Wild Hope, who finished second to Cruise at Hawthorne last out; and Hondo Ranch’s Rose Mountain, a winner in an open company allowance race over this course on May 28.
Prominent entrants in the Purple Violet Stakes include stakes winners Third Chance, heroine of the $100,000 Showtime Deb Stakes at Hawthorne and owned by Ron Magers, Roe Conn and Robert Marcocchio; Slapshot Racing’s Seans Silverdancer, winner of the $100,000 Illinois Debutante at Hawthorne last December; and Last Call Racing’s Our Lady in Red, who captured the $100,000 Pretty Jenny Stakes in April.
The Springfield Stakes drew a field of 11 sophomores including Virginia Tarra Trust’s Table Games, winner of the $100,000 Illinois Futurity last December, and the stakes-placed Mavericking, owned by Team Block. Both horses are trained by the Prairie State Festival’s leading trainer Chris Block.