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Gulfstream Park: Lucky Chappy faces tough task in Mac Diarmida
By Mike Welsch
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Lucky Chappy may be the most talented horse not to have won a race, let alone a graded stakes, in almost 20 months. Trainer Graham Motion is hoping to put an end to that dubious distinction when he sends Lucky Chappy out as one of the favorites Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $150,000 Mac Diarmida.
Lucky Chappy won’t have an easy time picking up that elusive first U.S. victory. Among his nine rivals in the 1 3/8-mile turf race is Newsdad, a multiple Grade 2 winner who was beaten a nose by the veteran Simmard in this same race one year ago.
Other key contenders include Twilight Eclipse, winner of Calder’s Grade 2 McKnight in his 2012 finale; Teaks North, who led throughout to capture the Sunshine Millions Turf in his first start for trainer Michelle Nevin; multiple Grade 3 winner Ioya Bigtime; the Grade 1-placed Fifty Proof; and the red hot Nikki’s Sandcastle.
Lucky Chappy joined Motion’s barn after being purchased privately by Team Valor following a pair of turf wins in Italy at 2. In nine starts on this side of the Atlantic, Lucky Chappy has finished second in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby; second, beaten a nose, in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby; third behind Unbridled Command both last summer in Saratoga’s Grade 3 Saranac and again in his 3-year-old finale in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby; and fourth despite a tough trip in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
“He’s such a hard-knocking horse who has always been right there but just hasn’t been lucky enough to win one,” said Motion. “We gave him a break after he didn’t finish too far behind Unbridled Command in the Hollywood Derby, and he’s been training great for his return. This seems like the logical spot to come back in although things will be a bit different this year because he’ll have to compete against older horses for the first time. I do believe the added distance should be to his advantage. I think it’s really going to help him.”
The Mac Diarmida will be Lucky Chappy’s first start beyond a mile and one-quarter.
Newsdad has been freshened by trainer Bill Mott since rallying from last to defeat Nikki’s Sandcastle by two lengths in the Grade 2 Fayette over Keeneland’s artificial surface in late October. The win snapped a four-race losing skid for Newsdad and was his first since he captured the Grade 2 Pan American over just three rivals here last spring.
Twilight Eclipse will turn back an eighth of a mile from his surprising 1 3/4-length triumph over Mucho Mas Mucho in the McKnight three months earlier. The runner-up returned to flatter that effort when springing an upset of his own to win the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale here last month. Under the allowance conditions of the Mac Diarmida, Twilight Eclipse will carry high weight of 123 pounds as a result of his win in the McKnight.
A fast pace should be assured with Ioya Bigtime, Teaks North, and Fifty Proof in the field. All three have done their best work when on the lead.
Ioya Bigtime led from gate to wire to capture the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs in September. Teaks North went wire to wire to register an impressive 2 1/2-length victory over Doubles Partner last month in the Sunshine Millions. Fifthy Proof used a similar strategy to capture Woodbine’s Sir Barton in his 2012 finale.
Was that another Graham Motion horse that flopped? It seems like it's becoming a habit, he grabs all the headlines but never the cash.
Not too much of a surprise here, gutsy effort by Teaks North to hang in there, another good Eddie Prado ride. The winner always looked like he was going to challenge for the lead when they straightened up for the wire and sure didn't disappoint. I don't think the winner is quite ready to challenge Point Of Entry just yet but he can make a nice living in Grade 2's and 3's perhaps. Lot's more to come from the Mott barn at this meet, beware.
Kathie, I visited Fair Hill last summer and saw Lucky Chappy in Team Valor's barn. He is a Gray or Roan colt, but I do see where your coming from. I remarked he was a horse who didn't know what color he wanted to be, brown up front and gray in the back. He was smaller then I expected, particularly since he was stalled right next to Aruna who is a HUGE mare.
Could someone please tell me what COLOR this horse is??? My eyes tell me roan, or gray....but BROWN????? is what it says on his registration. What, the Identifier just looks the other way!?!? And, where the heck did it come from....I looked at his pedigree and the SINGULAR gray is Native Dancer, 5! generations ago!
One last point of interest in the Mac Diarmida from an unsucessful handicappers view, is the Chris Block entrant. This guy is as sharp a horseman as you'll come across and another who only enters to win, beware. Good luck to all on Saturday.
Can't help but notice the two riders drawn to the Mott horses. Does it get much better on the turf at Gulfstream when Lezcano and Velazquez ride your horses? Hopefully Team Valor takes the majority of the betting dollars and these two guys offer some better value. Personally, I am a big Lezcano fan on the green but you can never count out John Velazquez in the feature race of the day.
Teaks North has been re-born now that he's in Nevin's barn. Sometimes a woman's touch works best...
Maybe Graham the Great can substitute Animal Kingdon, for UN-Lucky Chappy so AK can get that Stakes win on turf he wass supposed to get last Saturday!!!!!!!!!!
Lucky Chappy ran third in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf not the Juvenile Fillies Turf
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