Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, June 7, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/07/2013 #

In Today’s Notes: Block’s Sophomore Colt Cammack A Memorable One

On June 1, a simple dark bay colt from the Chris Block barn, wearing the familiar Team Block green and yellow silks, made his debut a winning one in a 6 ½-furlong maiden special weight for Illinois-breds.  In what could have been viewed as merely the second race on a Saturday afternoon card, a closer look reveals that this was a special victory for what could be a special colt.

The colt’s name is Cammack, and he is a strongly built colt with a lot of scope to him and physical potential.  By one of the best sires in the world, Giant’s Causeway (sire of such horses as European champion Shamardal and Arlington Classic-winning two-time Grade I victor Giant Oak), Cammack is out of the Fortunate Prospect mare Fort Pond, making him a half-brother to one of the most decorated Illinois-breds in history, 2006 Illinois Horse of the Year Fort Prado (also trained by Chris Block).

On Saturday, under Eduardo Perez, Cammack dropped back nine lengths from a glacial :24.33 and :48.15 pace in the sprint event, and then switched to the five path to run down Five Sheikh’s and Valiant City to win by a half-length at second-choice odds of nearly 3-1. 

“Early on it seemed like, in the race, he didn’t know what was going on.  I was concerned he wasn’t going to pick up.  Then he got into the clear at the head of the lane and I thought, okay, he’ll make a run.  Then, he started striding out and won impressively,” recollected a pleased Block. 

A trainer who often patiently allows his charges to start a few times and learn the game before winning, the victory on debut was even more impressive, even if it did not shock his trainer.  “I’m not surprised he ran well, but I was surprised me that he was that far back early on the race,” Block said. 

The colt himself is a developmentally typical Giant’s Causeway – a sire known for throwing somewhat precocious offspring who perform optimally when given time to mature (like the aforementioned Giant Oak).  “He’s been a slower horse to come around, but each time you do something with him, he picks it up and moves forward.  Now he has to take a big step forward and run against winners.”

The win was very special for the Block family, as he was named for a close family friend and fixture on the Arlington backstretch for years, Addison Cammack (for whom a stakes is also named on Saturday), who passed from lung cancer in December of 2011. 

“The night before Addison died, my dad told me to go in before they turn off his oxygen and tell Addison that his name will live on and be given to the Giant’s Causeway/Fort Pond colt,” Block said.  “It was very special for him to win the other day.  Sure, we chose one with some pedigree and hope.”

There are some notable similarities between his older brother and now successful sire Fort Prado and the young Cammack.  “I would say to a degree he is intellectually similar to Fort Prado.  Fort Prado was mentally smart and very laid back.  This horse seems to be that, as well,” explained Block.  “He’s very willing to do whatever you ask him to do, like Fort Prado.  And, I think you’ll see him become more like Fort Prado the older he gets.

“He came out great and has looked really good since Saturday,” reported the trainer.  “I think maybe we’ll try the grass with him next.  Probably an Illinois condition on the grass and see how he goes.”

As far as to whether he will be as versatile as his half-brother, who could run to his form on everything short of a trampoline, “I don’t know if he’ll be as versatile as Fort Prado – I think he will run on turf and we now know he will run on synthetic, but as far as turf – we don’t know yet,” said the trainer.  Block confirmed that the plan is to bring him back in the next month at Arlington.  No matter what, the initial win by what could by a special colt is already special to the Block family.