Cilio Hits Double in Prairie State Festival

For the second time in three years, trainer Gene Cilio was the standout of the Prairie State Festival, saddling two winners in the six-race extravaganza for Illinois-registered horses.

The veteran conditioner scored in the $84,150 White Oak Handicap with Out of My Way and followed a half an hour later with a tally in the $86,150 Cardinal Handicap with Act of War.

Cappas, Founder Group & Crown's Way Farm's Out of My Way, winner of the 2000 Springfield Stakes, added to his Prairie State Festival ledger with a 3 1/2-length tally in the White Oak.

Curt Bourque rode the 6-year-old gelding who covered the six furlongs in a stakes record 1:09.16 and paid $6.80, $3.80 and $2.80.

"He was nine miles the best horse in the race," Bourque said. "When I moved my hands, he went."

Pacesetter Take Achance On Me was second and paid $4.80 and $3.40. Manitowish finished third and paid $6.80.

R'n R Breeders Act of War picked up his second Prairie State Festival stakes score with a two-length victory in the Cardinal with Bourque again in the irons. Act of War covered the mile and a sixteenth over firm turf in 1:42.15. The Lord At War horse previously won the 2001 edition of the Springfield Stakes.

"He only had one other grass race and it was a very soft turf at Hawthorne," Cilio said. "He just didn't understand the footing and he was way back. He made a hell of a run to finish second. I knew he'd care for the grass. Earlier on I couldn't get him on the grass so I got him in a mile and an eighth race to make sure he was good and tight. There was no doubt in my mind that he'd be a turf horse."

Defending champion Mystery Giver was second through the finish line but was disqualified and placed ninth for interference in the first furlong of the race. Scooter Roach was moved up to the place spot and Ivan Jay Perry was moved up to third.

Act of War paid $10.20, $6 and $4.60. Scooter Roach returned $25.80 and $12.60. Ivan Jay Perry paid $6.20.

Trainer Chris Block, who had five wins in the Prairie State Festival to lead all conditioners in the event entering the 2003 edition, added another with Keeping the Gold, who took the day's first stakes race, the $86,450 Purple Violet, by a length over favored Julie's Prize.

The daughter of Langfuhr was ridden by Eusebio Razo Jr. and covered the mile over a fast track in 1:36.48 after vying for the lead from the rail.

Julie's Prize was trapped behind the early speed and made a rally in the stretch only to come up short.

"There were five across the track," lamented Julie's Prize's jockey, Larry Sterling Jr. "I couldn't go anywhere. Where you gonna go? A little daylight and we get there."

It was seven lengths back to Rathleen who finished third in the 10-horse field.

Keeping the Gold paid $8.40, $3.40 and $2.80. Julie's Prize returned $2.60 and $2.20. Rathleen paid $4.80.

Richard Otto Stables Inc.'s Summer Mis, winner of the 2002 Purple Violet Stakes, remained perfect in Prairie State Festival competition with a 1 1/4-length score in the $84,550 Isaac Murphy Handicap in 1:10.62 for six furlongs.

The Summer Squall filly was ridden by Sterling and paid $5.60, $3.60 and $2.60.

Seven Brides was second and paid $3.40 and $2.60. Win Won was another 3/4-length farther back in third and returned $2.60.

Pacella, Schwed & Rizza's Wiggins, champion 2-year-old of 2002, picked up his first stakes victory as a sophomore when he captured the $86,800 Springfield Stakes by five lengths over Home of Stars in 1:36.22 for one mile.

Wiggins, ridden by Razo, paid $9.60, $6.80 and $4.20. Home of Stars returned $5 and $3.40. Lord Jones was third and paid $4.

Trainer Michele Boyce finished one-two in the $84,600 Lincoln Heritage Handicap with Barr Three LLC's Kate the Great holding off defending champion Ellie's Rose in the mile and a sixteenth turf race. Hall-of-Fame jockey Earlie Fires guided the 4-year-old filly to a wire-to-wire victory in 1:42.41 for a mile and a sixteenth on the turf.

It was a bittersweet score for owners Sam & Jack Barr, who were not in attendance. A 2-month-old brother to Kate the Great succumbed earlier Saturday to an unknown virus.

Kate the Great paid $10.60, $4.40 and $2.60. Ellie's Rose returned $3.20 and $2.20. Soccory was third paid $2.20. The Boyce exacta came back $36.40.

(Chart, Equibase)