Lucky Chappy tops Grade III Kent Stakes
Team Valor International’s Lucky Chappy will be seeking his first victory in North America when he faces 10 rivals in the $200,000 Grade III Kent Stakes at Delaware Park this Saturday. The mile-and-a-eighth turf test is for 3-year-olds.
Since breaking his maiden and following with a stakes score in Italy last year, Lucky Chappy has posted six solid efforts stateside without a victory. In his most recent, the Irish-bred conditioned by H. Graham Motion ran third in the mile-and-an-eighth Grade Saranac Stakes at Saratoga on September 2. In the Saranac, the son of High Chaparral closed from 18-lengths behind to finish 1½-lengths behind winner Unbridled Command.
“I think part of that was because of his running style and I think part of that was because he got shuffled back a little further then the jockey Alan (Garcia) wanted to be going into the last turn,” said Motion. “When he needed to be making his move, he could not. For that reason, he ended up having an awful lot to do when they turned for the stretch. I think he ran a very good race, he just ran out of room to get there.”
Previously, he finished second, beaten a length over a yielding course in the mile-and-a-quarter Grade II Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on July 21.
Motion acknowledges that the mile-and-an-eighth distance of the Kent Stakes may be a little short for Lucky Chappy, but he is hoping to gain an advantage this Saturday.
“I think a mile-and-a-quarter is what he needs,” Motion said. “A mile-and-a-quarter or maybe even a little further, but these opportunities to run against 3-year-olds are becoming fewer and fewer. The one thing I like about this weekend is that he might get some ground that is less than firm, which I think would help his style.”
Last year, in his North American debut, he finished third, beaten 2-lengths in the Grade III Bourbon Stakes over the Keeneland turf. He followed by finishing fourth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Juvenile at Churchill Downs. He has a career record of two wins, four seconds, and two thirds from 14 starts, with earnings of $326,277.
Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer rates as the second choice. Since dancing in every dance in the Triple Crown series early this spring, the Kentucky-bred trained by D. Wayne Lukas is one-for-three. In his most recent, the son of English Channel notched 1½-length victory in a Saratoga turf allowance on August 25. Previously, he finished fifth in the Grade II Hall of Fame Stakes, which was originally scheduled for the turf, at Saratoga on August 10. On July 14, he finished fifth in the Grade III American Derby at Arlington Park. He sports a career record of two wins, two seconds and a third from 15 starts with earnings of $308,714.
R.A. Hill Stable and Shirley K Stable’s Corinthian’s Jewel could be the colt peaking at the right time. Last year, the Kentucky-bred conditioned by George Weaver made one start and finished sixth. This year, the son of Corinthian has made three starts and he has won his last two. On July 6, he broke his maiden going a mile-and a sixteenth on the Monmouth Park turf. He followed by posting a 1¼-length score in the mile-and-an-eighth $60,000 Restoration Stakes at Monmouth Park on August 19.
“He made one start at two and we started with him again in late May,” said Weaver. “He is relatively lightly raced, but he has been improving. We were happy with his second-place finish in his debut this year. He improved again to break his maiden and he improved again to win the overnight stake at Monmouth. He has been improving this whole season and we are very happy with him. We are just hoping he takes another step forward this Saturday.”