01/06/2016 11:50AM

2015 Eclipse Awards: I'm a Chatterbox

Barbara D. Livingston

There’s a saying in baseball that sometimes the best trades are the ones that don’t get made. The back story of Eclipse Award finalist I’m a Chatterbox falls along similar lines, as she failed to meet her reserve at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale, drawing a high bid of just $30,000, and thus was retained by breeders Fletcher and Carolyn Gray.

That was indeed a fortuitous turn of events, because after three races as a 2-year-old, I’m a Chatterbox was sent to trainer Larry Jones at the Fair Grounds. She announced her arrival by winning the Silverbulletday Stakes wire to wire by eight lengths, while eased up late by Florent Geroux.

Things didn’t go as smoothly in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra five weeks later, but I’m a Chatterbox overcame a wide trip from the far outside post and rallied from last to win going away.

Five weeks after that, I’m a Chatterbox certified her dominance in Louisiana with a decisive triumph in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks.

“She is a really nice filly,” said Jones. “We have been very blessed to get to race her.” I’m a Chatterbox would run exclusively in Grade 1 stakes for the remainder of the season, beginning with a rallying third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks.

:: 2015 Eclipse Awards: Finalist profiles

The Kentucky Oaks began a rather frustrating three-race stretch for I’m a Chatterbox, who returned from a freshening to lead throughout in Saratoga’s Coaching Club American Oaks, only to be disqualified and placed second for brushing with Curalina in deep stretch.

“You do get upset,” Jones recalled. “But we kind of licked our wounds. You know, you just have to grow up and take it. It was a disappointment. I know my filly ran a winning race. We didn’t tell her she got DQ’ed.”

After finishing a close second in the prestigious Alabama Stakes (and beating Curalina by better than three lengths), I’m a Chatterbox reached the zenith of her campaign by running down pacesetter Calamity Kate to win the Cotillion Stakes. In so doing, she surpassed $1 million in earnings and became the first Grade 1 winner produced by her sire Munnings.

“What a performance,” said Geroux, who rode the chestnut filly in all eight of her 2015 races. “She is a true champion.” While the year ended on a down note with a troubled trip in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, I’m a Chatterbox won or placed in six stakes from January through October and earned over $1.25 million, which is not too shabby for a yearling that nobody wanted.