Barn Notes: Friday, May 24, 2013

In Today’s Notes:

• Block and Janks Dominate Purple Violet Nominees


Next weekend’s Purple Violet Stakes has drawn a healthy amount of nominees from local trainers, including three each from Chris Block and Christine Janks. Veterans to Illinois racing, both Block and Janks have previously proven victorious in the eight-furlong main track event for Illinois-restricted 3-year-old fillies – Block in 2003 and 2009, and Janks in 1997.

Janks, whose Illinois racing background impressively stretches back to the 1960s when she began as an exercise rider here at Arlington, has nominated a triumvirate led by the speedy Pretty Jenny Stakes runner-up Beeway. The swift daughter of sprinter/miler Champali ran honorably in defeat to reigning Illinois-bred Champion 2-Year-Old Filly My Option after setting solid fractions under Rosemary Homeister, Jr. S.D. Brilie, Ltd.’s homebred will hope to stretch her speed in her first attempt on a synthetic surface and at a distance beyond six furlongs.

Also exiting Hawthorne Race Course’s Pretty Jenny is David E. Campbell’s stakes-placed homebred C’mon Feet. The daughter of Cigar Mile-winning Purge will try to improve upon a disappointing ninth in the Pretty Jenny. Though she was unplaced in her only synthetic attempt (in her debut at Arlington International Racecourse last July), the deep-closing bay filly could appreciate the increase in distance.

Perhaps the most dangerous of the three is the promising Catafire, also owned and bred by S.D. Brilie, Ltd. The daughter of Grade I-winning seven-furlong specialist Latent Heat has proven that she likes Arlington, including a debut victory in September and a heartbreaking photo-finish loss in an allowance on May 8 over six panels. What made the latter race even more impressive was that it was the filly’s first in nearly seven months. The second attempt off a layoff, in tandem with an increase in distance, should help the filly whose speed figures stack well against any of those nominated.

After finishing second in the 2012 standings, trainer Chris Block hopes to improve upon last season’s impressive four stakes wins. In the Purple Violet, Block’s trio includes arguably his single best sophomore fillies from both turf (I O Ireland) and dirt (My Option) hooking up on common synthetic ground.

I O Ireland brings the most substantial credentials into the Purple Violet and should go off as the favorite. The brilliantly bred Giant’s Causeway half-sister to Ioya Bigtime broke her maiden on the Arlington turf in September and won an allowance at Keeneland before competing in three of Gulfstream Park’s four two-turn turf stakes for sophomore fillies (including a rough trip last out in the Grade III Hercomesthebride Stakes).

On an interesting note, Team Block’s chestnut homebred will be making her first start around one turn in the Purple Violet. She will also be trying a surface other than turf for the first time. Still, she should have enough speed and synthetic prowess, like so many other Giant’s Causeways, to perform optimally. Furthermore, she has worked very well every seven days on the local course, highlighted by a bullet for five furlongs on May 4.

Timothy J. Keeley’s My Option, if entered, should go off as the second choice in the field. Fresh off an easy and super-impressive five-length victory in the aforementioned Pretty Jenny Stakes at Hawthorne, the daughter of Belong to Me makes her first start on a synthetic course since a runner-up result in her debut in September – her only loss. The sizeable filly has a stride and running style that will both appreciate the stretch out from the Pretty Jenny’s six furlongs.

Chris Block’s third nominee is an intriguing chestnut homebred of Richard Otto by the name of Alette. The daughter of Belmont Stakes-winning Eclipse Champion Older Horse Lemon Drop Kid is coming off an eye-popping 14-length victory in a maiden special weight at Hawthorne in her second start. After a lackluster seventh in her debut at Arlington on the grass in August, Alette was given time off until her aforementioned breakout victory in April.

With bloodlines that rival those of I O Ireland in quality, Alette is bred to run on any surface at a distance of ground, but may be at a disadvantage going one turn in the Purple Violet. Still, being out of an El Gran Senor mare from a female line that includes Sir Ivor, Vaguely Noble and Ribot (who each finished first or second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe), the promising charge should stay the trip better than many of those not ready for the step up from sprint races.

The trainers also with multiple nominees are Scott Becker and defending meet champion Wayne Catalano, who each nominated a pair. Becker nominated maiden Rosie My Rosie and Pretty Jenny third-place Scarlet Power, who just missed second in a photo with the aforementioned Beeway. Each of the Becker fillies are on the improve and are owned by William Stiritz.

Catalano nominated So Long for Now and Bold Kitten. The latter is a homebred of Ramsey Stable and a member of the proliferating pack of Kitten’s Joy offspring hitting the track in the signature red and white silks. So Long for Now, a Catalano homebred, was nominated after a respectable six-furlong wire-to-wire victory at Arlington on May 12. By Pioneering, a Mr. Prospector half-brother to Storm Cat with a great synthetic record, So Long for Now improved significantly with a switch to the Polytrack in that race.