ARLINGTON HEIGHTS–The 2012 Prairie State Festival featured a mix of everything. It featured long priced headscratching winners, short priced popular winners, and five riders taking stakes races for six different trainers. Absent from the winners’ circle this year were trainers Chris Block and Christine Janks, a pair of trainers who have dominated Prairie State Festivals and other Illinois-Bred stakes in the past.
- In the first of the stakes, the White Oak Handicap for older male sprinters, the Rusty Hellman trained RIVER BEAR was the heavy 4-5 favorite. Hellman did have a winning horse, but it was the other one, CAPT. BULLET BOB. He stayed close to the early pace of :22.73 and :45.87 before taking the lead in the final jumps over FOUR LEFT FEET. RIVER BEAR, the heavy favorite, finished fifth. CAPT. BULLET BOB ran the six furlongs on polytrack in 1:10.66 and paid $18.60 to win. Rider Danish Sukie felt that RIVER BEAR didnt “handle this polytrack” and had “no response at all.” On the other hand, winning rider Tim Thornton “let [CAPT. BULLET BOB] relax and hoped nobody else was coming. He just kept digging in and never gave up.”
CAPT. BULLET BOB (front, orange silks) surprises in the White Oak Handicap.
- In the Springfield Stakes for three-year-old males, the requisite Illinois-Bred stakes bomb was here with 20-1 longshot SANDIA CREST getting the win by 1 1/4 lengths. He closed from the back of the pack off quick early splits of :22.95 and :45.90, went five wide into the stretch, and gave rider James Graham the win. He was the only rider to have more than one victory on the Prairie State Day program. Said Graham after the race, “At the half mile pole he started taking me, I let him take me as far as he wanted. When I asked him to go he went, it was over.” SANDIA CREST paid $42.40 to win and ran the single turn mile on polytrack in 1:38.29.
SANDIA CREST closes to win the Springfield Stakes.
- In the Isaac Murphy Handicap, parimutuel order was restored as Govenor’s Lady winner THIRD CHANCE retained her crown as the queen of the Illinois-bred sprinters. She was second down the backstretch behind KIP BERRIES, took the lead at the half-mile pole, and drew away to win by 6 1/2 lengths. She stopped the clock for six furlongs on polytrack in 1:10.92 and paid $3.40 to win as a popular choice at 7-10 odds. Winning rider Cisco Torres called her “a pleasure to sit on. She makes everybody’s job easier. She comes up, gets up, and she gets her picture taken.”
THIRD CHANCE decisively takes the Isaac Murphy Handicap.
- In the Purple Violet Stakes at a single turn polytrack mile, LA TIA took the lead at the start of the race and never relinquished it. She carved out fractions of :23.39, :46.59, and 1:11.32. She would go under the wire the winner by 8 1/2 lengths with a final time of 1:38.24. Sent off at 6.5-to-1, she paid $15.00 to win. Trainer Williamson after the race was “pretty confident and LA TIA came out of the last race great. She got the lead with all those sprinters in there, but that worked out good.” Both trainer and rider of DOLLY PEACH, the runner-up, felt that a mile was too far, however, in post-race interviews.
LA TIA convincingly wins the Purple Violet Handicap.
- In the Lincoln Heritage Handicap, the showdown of the last two winners of this race went to CUMULONIMBLE, the 8-5 favorite. She sat third for most of the race behind the :47.69 half mile timed speed duel between KATIE THE LADY and PEYOTE PATTY, the eventual 3-4 finishers (Pathway was second). CUMULONIMBLE, gave James Graham his second win of the day, covering 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.66. She paid $5.20 to win. Winning trainer Wayne Catalano didn’t have explicit plans for her next start, citing either the G3 Modesty or the Illinois Owners’ Stakes in August as places she’ll run next.
CUMULONIMBLE scores for the second time in the Lincoln Heritage.
- In the Black Tie Affair Handicap, also at 1 1/16 miles on grass, it was a wire-to-wire victory for E. T. Baird with MR. MISCHIEF the sneaky thief. He would open a two length lead on the backstretch and hold it all the way around through early splits of :23.88 and :48.06, crossing the line by a length and a half and stopping the timer in 1:42.82 After the race, Baird said that he “runs really competitive races and [he’s] always gotten along well with him.” Defending Illinois Turf and Illinois Sophomore Champion Suntracer was second. MR. MISCHIEF was the 5-1 third choice and returned $12 for every two dollars invested.
MR. MISCHIEF leads every step of the way to take the Black Tie Affair.
All photos above are courtesy of Four Footed Fotos. Special thanks to Arlington Park Sr. Communications Director Dave Zenner for considerations.