07/16/2016 7:03PM

Rocky start for I'm a Chatterbox, but solid Delaware Handicap win

Hoofprints, Inc.
I'm a Chatterbox pulls clear to win the Delaware Handicap on Saturday.

STANTON, Del. - I'm a Chatterbox has now finished first in three Grade 1 races. But on Saturday, at Delaware Park, she came very close to being disqualified for a second time.

She was taken down from first and placed second in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga last summer, won the Cotillion at Parx Racing in September, and then crossed the finish line first by 2 1/4 lengths in Saturday's Delaware Handicap.

At the start of the 1 1/4-mile Del Cap, I'm a Chatterbox bobbled and then ducked inward from post 4, causing a chain-reaction collision with the three horses to her inside. Jockey Florent Geroux straightened I'm a Chatterbox and went on to win the $750,000 race by 2 1/4 lengths.

"When she broke in I tried to straighten her right away," Geroux said.

Paid Up Subscriber, who broke from post 1 and was involved in the bumping incident, rallied to finish second. Her jockey, Ricardo Santana Jr., lodged an objection against the winner for interference after the start, but it was not allowed.

"I was bothered a lot," Santana said.

Al Stall Jr., the trainer of Paid Up Subscriber, said he was surprised there was not a stewards' inquiry into the start. After his rider's objection was not allowed, he said he disagreed with the call.

"Her hindquarters were knocked out from under her as a result of the domino effect," Stall said.

Larry Jones, the trainer of I'm a Chatterbox, said the incident at the start reminded him of the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic, when Bayern broke inward at the start and bumped horses, won the race, but was not taken down.

"It was a mile and quarter race," Jones said. "They had time to overcome it."

John Wayne, the executive director of the Delaware Racing Commission, spoke with the stewards and relayed their reasoning to the media after the race.

"They said the 4 horse [I'm a Chatterbox] came in, had bumps with the 3 [Milaya] and 2 [Money'soncharlotte], which in turn bumped the No. 1 [Paid Up Subscriber]. After the bump, the No. 4 lost ground as much as anyone else and was four lengths behind the one after the bump," Wayne said. "They thought that the bump and the fact that the 4 horse was four lengths behind the 1, it didn't cost the 1 horse a placing. And the 1 horse never lost stride for the rest of the race."

Once Geroux straightened I'm a Chatterbox, she moved past the horses to her inside and took up a stalking position off front-running Mei Ling. She engaged Mei Ling on the far turn, took the lead nearing the stretch, drew clear, and then held off Paid up Subscriber.

"When she wanted to move up after the start I let her," Geroux said. "I wanted to secure a safe spot. All the way around she was traveling well."

Paid Up Subscriber saved ground early while racing in the second flight behind Mei Ling and I'm a Chatterbox. She rallied when asked and in mid-stretch momentarily looked like she was getting to I'm a Chatterbox. She finished 4 1/4 lengths clear of Penwith in third.

Mei Ling finished fourth, a nose behind Penwith. It was then 14 1/2 lengths back to Milaya in fifth, and another four lengths back to the trailer, Money'soncharlotte.

I'm a Chatterbox paid $3.20 to win. She was timed in 2:02.64.

"She ran really good," Jones said. "We've prepped her for this spot all year. This race has always been our goal."

I'm a Chatterbox, a 4-year-old daughter of Munnings owned by Gray and Carolyn Fletcher of Missouri, is now 7 for 14 with earnings of more than $1.8 million.

Jones acknowledged that the next logical spot for I'm a Chatterbox would be the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Aug. 27, but said, "Let us just enjoy this one for a little while before we start making any plans."