Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, September 06, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/06/2013 #

In Today’s Notes: Straight Line Winner Fordubai Makes Bee-line to Indiana Derby; Block Prepares Possible Triumvirate for Pucker Up; Arlington Stakes-placed Jockey Moreira Wins Eight in Singapore

Jim Tafel’s Fordubai, winner of the $65,000 Straight Line Stakes on Arlington Million Day, is doing very well, according to trainer Greg Geier.  The son of E Dubai’s impressive victory in the aforementioned opening race of Million Day has set him up well for a foray out of town as soon as the meet ends. 

“He’s doing wonderfully.  He’s just perfect right now,” reported Geier of the locally based colt.  “I thought he would run really good that day.  I didn’t realize he’d pick it up that much, but he sure did.  In the allowance he ran in 1:39 and change and then won going 1:37 and change (in the Straight Line).  He definitely picked it up. We’re probably looking at the (Grade II) Indiana Derby (Oct. 5), right now.”

The homebred has won two consecutive races at one-turn miles at Arlington, including an allowance against older horses prior to the Straight Line, and will be stepping back up to two turns on the main track for the first time since finishing a good second in the Grade III Illinois Derby.  The winner that day, Departing, subsequently ran decently in the Preakness Stakes before demolishing the Grade II West Virginia Derby field and ultimately being pointed toward this Saturday’s Grade II Super Derby. 

“We’ll definitely look and see how the Super Derby horses do.  I beat (Super Derby entrant) Cameo Appearance (who finished third in the Straight Line) and we finished right behind Departing.  If they run one-two, I’m looking really good,” Geier deduced. 

In the meantime, Fordubai has been a pleasure to train, even if he is a little lackadaisical.  “He doesn’t do any more than he has to do – it’s just the way he is,” explained Geier.  “He’s just a steady horse when he trains.  When you work him, he has to work in company.  When he works by himself, he works very slowly. He works tomorrow with Street Spice.” 

Street Spice, another Tafel homebred, ran poorly for in the Straight Line, but credibly in a roughly run Illinois Derby when fifth after going very wide and being bumped multiple times.  Geier believes the newly gelded son of Street Sense will only get better, especially since it is believed that he does not care for synthetic courses.

While Street Spice was initially a little more highly regarded at the beginning of the year, it is Fordubai who has become the stable star.  “I don’t think we’ve got to the bottom of (Fordubai) yet,” Geier continued. “There’s more to him, definitely, we just haven’t got it all out of him yet.  He has won here, but I think he – like (his jockey) Eddie (Castro) said – just does what he has to do.  He looked like he was beaten at the top of the stretch.  He just decided to start running and caught that horse who was pulling away.  He is one of the better ones I’ve ever had - just a nice animal.”

Trainer Chris Block hopes to bag his second consecutive win – and third overall – in the Grade III $175,000 Pucker Up Stakes next Saturday with what could be a troika of talent in the race’s 50th edition.   “I O Ireland, My Option and maybe Alette will run,” the locally based trainer confirmed.  In 2006, the conditioner annexed his first Pucker Up with Lothenbach Stable’s talented multiple graded stakes winner Vacare.  Last year, Team Block’s eventual Illinois Champion Female Turf Horse Leading Astray won for the trainer.

I O Ireland is a half-sister to stable star Ioya Bigtime who is just now coming into her own – as evidenced by a victory in last month’s $75,000 Hatoof Stakes (division two).  “She’s coming around and maturing,” said Block.  “She’s doing well and falling into a routine where we’ve been able to get two or three races underneath her and that has worked out as far as using her abilities in the correct way.  We had a rough winter down at Gulfstream (Park) and strategy-wise it didn’t work out too well on the turf there.”

The class of his trio is Tim Keeley’s multiple stakes winner My Option, the Illinois Champion 2-Year-Old Filly of 2012 who this season won the Grade III Arlington Oaks in a hard-fought photo before finishing third in the first division of the Hatoof last out.  “The real question with her is whether or not she’s good enough on turf,” Block said of the filly who has won stakes on Polytrack and dirt, while also breaking her maiden on the turf. “Her last race was solid, but she didn’t win and I think she deserves another shot at the grass.  I think, in her own age group, she’s worthy of that.”

When asked if the grueling Oaks may have taken a little bit out of her, Block agreed that such could have been a detriment to her Hatoof performance.  “That maybe was the case.  I hope that was (why she didn’t win),” he concluded.

While I O Ireland and My Option are definitely being aimed toward a start in the Pucker Up, Richard Otto’s highly regarded Alette is less certain.  In the second division of the Hatoof, she ran unexpectedly poorly after two straight solid performances over the local grass.  “(Alette’s race was) not even close to what I expected last time.  I don’t have an explanation, which is why she is not definite (for the Pucker Up) yet.  She’s much better than that.”

Block also took the time to share his excitement for Illinois stallion Fort Prado, whose first crop is now two years old.  “I have about 10 of them in here right now.  They’re going to be a little slower to come around.  They’re not sprinters – they’re definitely two-turn horses.  I believe a lot of them are, at least.  Physically they’re there, but mentally they need light to turn on.  But, they are very intelligent horses, that’s for sure,” he explained. 

“We’ve only had a few run.  I think this fall will be critical to his career, but it’s next year that will be huge for him.  This meet, in particular, next year you’ll see a lot of them rounding into maturity by then and we’ll be able to see what they can do,” Block continued.  “Sons of El Prado are doing well.  That’s one of the reasons why we sent him to stud is because El Prado has been producing so many good sires.”

Fort Prado was a star on the track for many seasons for Team Block, and still remains completely in their ownership.  He was Illinois Horse of the Year, Champion Older Male and Champion Grass Horse, as well as a course record-setter at Tampa Bay Downs for 1 1/16-miles and an earner of more than $1.2 million in seven seasons of racing that saw him win 18 of his 59 starts.

Joao Moreira, the Brazilian-born three-time champion jockey in Singapore who rode at Arlington on May 25, made history on Friday by winning eight consecutive races at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore.  In May, he rode Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Sisterhood to a good second in the Grade III Arlington Matron and Glen Hill Farm’s Procurement to a close fifth in the Grade III Arlington Classic.  On Friday, he broke the Singapore record of seven winners, which was previously held by Saimee Jumaat.