Four Illinois divisional champions from 2004 are prominent among 65 horses entered for the six $75,000-added stakes races that comprise the sixth annual Prairie State Festival to be held Saturday at Arlington Park.The six races that make up the showcase for state-breds are:
-- The Purple Violet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile;
-- The Springfield Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile;
-- The Isaac Murphy Handicap for fillies & mares, 3-year-olds & upward at six furlongs;
-- The White Oak Handicap for 3-year-olds & upward at six furlongs;
-- The Lincoln Heritage Handicap for fillies & mares 3-year-olds & upward at 1 1/16 miles on the turf;
-- The Black Tie Affair Handicap (formerly Cardinal Handicap) for 3-year-olds & upward at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.Team Block's Fort Prado, champion Illinois 3-year-old male last year, and Butterfly Stable's Scooter Roach, a multiple graded stakes winner on turf, share top impost of 123 pounds in the Black Tie Affair.The former, a son of El Prado, won the $88,050 Springfield Stakes on the main track during the 2004 Prairie State Festival. The Chris Block trainee most recently captured the $42,000 Mister Gus Stakes over the local grass course last month. Scooter Roach, the adjudged victor of the Hawthorne Derby (gr. III) as a 3-year-old, won the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the Southside turf course last fall. Last time out, the Dave Kassen-trained son of Mi Cielo was fourth in the Mister Gus.Hussar Racing Stable LLC's Lighthouse Lil, champion turf female last year, returns to defend her title in the Lincoln Heritage. Injured shortly after winning last year's $85,850 Lincoln Heritage, the daughter of Hold for Gold made her first start in 11 months when she ran seventh in the $42,375 Reluctant Guest Stakes on May 29. In that one-mile turf test, the Chris Block-trained 6-year-old mare made a late rally to be beaten only four lengths.She will share top impost of 120 pounds with two other others -- Jaguar On The Run Stable Ltd.'s Jaguar City and Charles J. Sigrist's Samantha B. The former, by Slew City Slew, was first through the line in the $100,000 Peach Of It Handicap on dirt at Hawthorne Race Course in April but was disqualified for interference at the start. More recently, she captured the seven-furlong Your Ladyship Handicap here. She is also entered in the Isaac Murphy.A daughter of Dance Brightly, Samantha B. is looking for her first victory of the season after running a good second in open company in the Reluctant Guest.
Nancy A. Vanier's Win Me Over, champion Illinois 2-year-old in 2004, faces state-breds for just the second time in six starts this season when he heads to post in the Springfield Stakes. In his only other 2005 start in restricted company, the Brian Williamson-trained son of Friendly Lover won a second-level allowance race in Stickney. His best open company run came when he finished second in the $40,000 Flag Officer Stakes at Hawthorne.Everest Stable's Slewville, champion 3-year-old filly, will have her work cut out for her in the Isaac Murphy Handicap. She is winless since capturing the $85,850 Purple Violet Stakes during last year's Prairie State Festival though she did run second in a second-level allowance race at Arlington last month.Among those Slewville may face in the Isaac Murphy are the high-weighted Jaguar City and Jim Edagr's Fighting Fever, heroine of the $100,000 Governor's Lady Handicap at Hawthorne in April.