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Suntracer, Peyote Patty Give Block Illinois Owners Sweep
Faced with a choice between next Saturday's inaugural running of the $400,000 American St. Leger and this afternoon's $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes for Suntracer, trainer Chris Block opted for the latter and the move paid off as the Team Block colorbearer rallied from last to nip the pace setting Mr. Mischief on the wire in the mile and a sixteenth race.
Under a perfectly timed move by jockey Eduardo Perez, the Illinois-bred son of Kitten's Joy had but one horse beaten as the field of seven entered the stretch but closed furiously on the outside to score a nose victory in 1:44.16 over a course labeled "good."
"I actually thought he got beat," Block said of the photo finish. "Eddie saved ground on both turns and made a big run. The horse has been moving forward with each start. He had an eye injury and now his confidence is back. I thought he'd run well today.
"I don't believe so," the trainer said when asked if there was a chance Suntracer would return for the American St. Leger. "(Stablemate) Ioya Bigtime will run there. The more we thought about it, this race made more sense for Suntracer and it paid off."
For the homebred Suntracer, who finished third in the Grade III Stars and Stripes last time out, the Illinois Owners Stakes was his first win in three starts this year and his fourth in 19 races overall. He picked up $58,800 for the score to boost his bankroll to $338,898.
Mr. Mischief held the place and it was three-lengths back to third-place finisher Princeville Condo. Mavericking, Snapped, defending champion Tazz and Taptowne completed the order of finish.
The 2-1 choice, Suntracer paid $6.20, $3.60 and $2.40. Mr. Mischief returned $3.60 and $2.60. Princeville Condo paid $3.
The filly and mare division, run three races later, went to Timothy Keeley's Peyote Patty, winner of this race in 2009 and third in the 2011 edition. Tim Thornton rode the 7-year-old Cactus Ridge mare, also trained by Chris Block, who covered the mile and a sixteenth over "good" turf in 1:45.38.
"We knew it would take a couple of starts to get her back in the groove (as a 7-year-old)," Block said. "I can't say enough about this mare. She's got the heart of a lion. She shows up every time. It's like another day at the office for her. A lot of the credit goes to Tim – he has such a great relationship with her."
It was the second straight win for Peyote Patty and her 10th in 25 trips to the post overall. She added another $58,800 to her bankroll which now stands at $465,497.
Pacesetter Katie the Lady was a clear second, 2 ½ lengths to the clear of Cumulonimble, who ran third in the seven-horse field.
Hooh Why, One Last Dance, Pathway and All for Thee completed the order of finish.
Peyote Patty paid $10.60, $5.40 and $3.20. Katie the Lady returned $5.60 and $3. Cumulonimble $2.20.