07/27/2017 7:08PM

Late-running Celtic Chaos wins third straight in John Morrissey Stakes

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Debra A. Roma
Celtic Chaos prevailed by a neck over a game Ostrolenka in Thursday's John Morrissey Stakes at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was looking for a fast pace to increase the chances of his stretch-running Celtic Chaos in Thursday’s $100,000 John Morrissey Stakes at Saratoga. And he might have been a bit concerned after two of the main speeds in the race, Bustin It and Weekend Hideaway, were scratched earlier in the day.

Fortunately for McLaughlin and jockey Eric Cancel, there was still enough speed left in the lineup to set things up yet again for the red-hot Celtic Chaos, who posted his third consecutive victory with a hard-fought, come-from-behind, neck decision over a game Ostrolenka in the 6 1/2-furlong stakes for New York-breds.

Celtic Chaos settled near the rear of the nine horse field, advanced wide into the stretch, rallied down the center of the muddy, sealed track to stick his head in front of Ostrolenka near midstretch then maintained the advantage to the wire. Ostrolenka saved ground while well placed early, split rivals to overtake the tiring pacesetter Brimstone approaching the eighth pole, fought on willingly when headed by Celtic Chaos shortly thereafter, but was not quite good enough. Papa Shot rallied belatedly to finish 2 1/2 lengths further back in third. Gypsum Johnny, the tepid 7-2 favorite, finished fifth after prompting the pace to the stretch.

Celtic Chaos, a son of Dublin, had captured the Affirmed Success Stakes at Belmont in his previous start. He completed 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.65 and paid $13.40.

“We wanted a fast pace and then Bustin It and one or two of the other speed horses scratched,” said McLaughlin, who trains Celtic Chaos for Zilla Racing Stables. “But we knew there was still a lot of pace in there. I was a little worried near the end, I didn’t want any bumping going on because I thought our horse was lugging in just a bit. But Eric gets along with this horse great, and it worked out.”