| Contact: Graham Ross
Friday, July 14, 2000
A 'BLOCK' PARTY AT ARLINGTON INTERNATIONAL IN SUMMER OF 2000
It's been quite a season at Arlington this summer for trainer Chris Block, whose career continues to blossom dramatically.
Among the highlights this summer for Block and his family are: a "hat trick" of wins on Prairie State Festival Day June 17 and a training double Thursday that put the 34-year-old conditioner one victory shy of leading trainer honors.
But bigger than either of those personal achievements, in Block's eyes, is the reopening of Arlington after two dark summers.
"I've waited two years for this place to reopen," Block said. "The reason my parents got heavily involved in the thoroughbred business was because of this place. This is what racing is all about - right here." The Block family, it should be noted, was also the catalyst that brought Chris Block to his emerging status. Born in Champaign, Illinois, Block first became interested in the sport when his father bought a cheap claimer in Southern Illinois while Block was still in grade school.
"About the time of my freshman year in high school," Block said, "I indicated to my parents that I'd like to pursue a training career." With that, Block's father David introduced his son to trainer Bill Mott, for whom he worked during his summer vacations while in college.
"I learned the basics there," Block said of his years with Mott, "but a lot of what I know now I learned through trial and error over the last five years teaching myself. The management of the stable is important, and keeping the horse happy and healthy is a key.
"But the biggest thing I've learned is to try to be patient," Block said. "More often than not, patience has paid off for me in every capacity of the business."
Although Block trains for at least five owners who are not family, the Team Block ownership group makes up a large part of the operation, and consists of father David, mother Patricia, brother Ryan and sister Dina. When Block saddled three winners on Prairie State Festival Day, two were homebreds of David and Patricia Block. "He's the man behind the breeding," Block said of his father. "I get a little involved, but he's the one who stays on top of it."
How did the family celebrate after such a successful day at the races June 17?
"We went out to eat that night," Block said, whose family includes wife Linda and son David. "That day was pretty special. There are not many opportunities like that - when it all comes to fruition. It's pretty rewarding when something like that happens."
Block was also asked to evaluate his chances for leading trainer honors this summer at Arlington when the season comes to a close September 30.
"I'm in a position to hold my own, but probably not to make a run at the title," Block said. "I don't have a lot of cheap horses, and I think to make a run at the title you have to run something just about every day. For instance, I've run a lot of horses during the last few days, but now I won't have anything to run for about a week.
"I don't really think about it (the training title), to be honest," Block said. "It would be fun, but whatever happens - happens. What I'm doing right now keeps me happy. I've assembled a stable so I have horses to focus on the Arlington meeting.
"But," he added, "we're always looking for a good horse, anytime."
'MEET THE TRAINERS' DAY SATURDAY
Four Arlington guests will win a $25 mutuel voucher Saturday when trainers Jere R. Smith Sr., Gene Cilio, Wayne Catalano and Christine Janks take part in Saturday's "Meet The Trainers" Day from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Starting Gate Theater. Each trainer will draw one registered fan's name as a $25 voucher winner.
COUNTDOWN TO 4,000
Tim Doocy, through Wednesday - 3,994 career wins, Arlington Total: 19
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